Denys Zacharopoulos

  • THE DESPERATION OF THE NEBULAE

    THE MORE HISTORICALLY RELEVANT an artist’s work is, the more it becomes a matter for interpretation, for it rises above the collective sensibility of zeitgeist or general taste. Historical relevance, then, cannot be equated with joining a set of “masterpieces” that inevitably reflect a museological order of values, but, instead, with developing the concept of a work within a set of possibilities that constitute its necessary condition. Ever since modern artists began experimenting with the limits of such a definition, a vaster range of issues has opened up for us, making it possible to think

  • Harald Klingelhöller

    In Harald Klingelhöller’s show here, sculpture was introduced with quotation marks—literally. These were two angular, mirror-covered floor pieces, volumetric forms resembling single quotation marks (like irregular pyramids with quotation-mark-shaped bases, laid sideways). These “quotation marks” introduced or articulated two clusters of cardboard-and-steel elements as a relation of forms in space. Each mirrored piece reflected and developed the other pieces and the physical space around them. Space as a mental reality is a linguistic syntagma, while as a physical reality here it was a flattened

  • Alighiero Boetti

    In the mid ’60s, Alighiero Boetti began an outstanding artistic career, one that would enhance most of the determining aspects of contemporary art. A most peculiar figure, Boetti doesn’t belong to any of the art mainstreams of the last twenty years, even if, in a certain manner, his work is a necessary part of each. To start with, Boetti’s role in the adventure of arte povera was organic; his work also relates directly to post-Minimalism, process art, performance, and mail art. Predominantly, it is a series of mental elaborations specifying possible issues for a most imaginative reconceptualization

  • Jan Vercruysse

    Jan Vercruysse is one of Belgium’s most distinguished artists. In his works as in his biography, the artistic concerns of the ’70s and the ’80s are joined in a very personal way A natural heir to Marcel Broodthaers (whom he happened to befriend), Vercruysse is not in the least derivative in his work. On a formal level, his art seems to deal with architecture and sculpture as constructive/deconstructive processes or units. This may be the reason for its superficial for-mal affiliations with the sculpture of some younger German and French artists. Once the specificity of his work is recognized,

  • Liberations: The Minus Works of Michelangelo Pistoletto

    I believe that if I act according to the dimension of time,

    it will be difficult for others to catch me in the exact spot

    where they are lying in wait.


    —Michelangelo Pistoletto, 1966

    IN MODERN TIMES, MANY ARTISTS have followed a single track, a common overall look to their work, for twenty or thirty years, while others have developed an internal structure and attitude that unite quite different pieces within a homogenous mental space. The first kind of artist makes works that we immediately identify with a certain gaze, or way of looking; the second, works that we identify with a particular mind.

  • Emmanuel Pereire

    Emmanuel Pereire’s work was first shown during the early ’60s in Paris, accompanied by a catalogue essay by Roland Barthes. Although he is a French artist, his work is better known in the United States; this recent exhibition of four large works was Pereire’s first show in his own country in 13 years. Nine years ago at a New York show at the Clocktower, his work was called “bad painting”—then a term used for the reaction against puritan formalist painting. Nothing of the kind could be said of his recent work. Painted on large black pieces of clothlike paper, human silhouettes or body parts seem

  • Jannis Kounellis

    The monumental hall of Bordeaux’s Musée d’Art Contemporain, a plain stone building constructed in 1824 as a warehouse for spices and coffee, ismore than 80 feet high and measures more than 21,500 square feet in area. Jannis Kounellis’ show, held in this spectacular space, demonstrated both the historical origins of his work and what his current art, at its highest level, can achieve.

    Beyond any superficial theatricality or rhetoric, Kounellis’ use of the architectural space in this installation was at once organically integrated and structurally camouflaged. Raw materials such as stone, wood,

  • THE WORLD AND ITS TRADITIONS OR THE TRADITION OF THE WORLD

    WHEN THE IDEA OF ART and of its relationship to the larger world is discussed, it most often finds form in universal concepts. In such discussions geography is sometimes seen in relation to a single historical lineage, for example the metaphysic that associates light with truth in the history of Northern European Romanticism, as posited by Robert Rosenblum in his book Modern Painting and the Northern Romantic Tradition (1975); the January 1985 issue of Artforum took a different approach, expounding a trinitary grouping of diversified ensembles of work within a political geography of North, South,

  • Nouvelle Biennale de Paris

    The “New Paris Biennale” was an other attempt to create a monumental international-art event and thereby to reinstate France as a patron in the field of visual arts. It differed from the Biennale des Jeunes, which presented an extensive inventory of new artists and expressions from the mid ’60s to the mid ’70s, in its focus on the consecrated values and familiar products of the mainstream. In this way, the Nouvelle Biennale conformed to the trend that would make an exhibitions more like the Helsinki Conference, full of pomp and circumstance.

    The positive side of such a show is the government’s

  • Bazile-Bustamante

    Lately I’ve had a good feeling on entering certain shows—I’ve had to wonder what they’ve been about, what’s been standing there, what the point of the display might have been and what the reasons behind it. The Bazile-Bustamante show gave me this feeling, a feeling that the viewer, without being deceived by the work, has lost the points of reference one usually possesses on entering a gallery. An original Sonia Delaunay carpet lay on the floor, partly covering two lit fluorescent light tubes; on the carpet rested iron plates arranged in the silhouette of two chairs and a table. Facing this a

  • Mario Merz

    In a small village in Burgundy a Mario Merz show looks no less important than in New York, but it certainly looks different. Merz has always pushed the constructions of his mind to respond emotively to their surround. One would be tempted to consider this show an Impressionist moment in his art if Merz hadn’t long ago protected his work against this kind of journalistic argument. A Burgundian fall, a trip in the country, a journey by paths and fields, a sunny walk over a river, a colorful fruit market before a church—if these are privileged images for the Impressionist painter, for Merz they

  • Justen Ladda

    This show was not only Justen Ladda’s first in Europe, but also his first in a private gallery. Those interested by his somehow mythic installations in the South Bronx, in 1981, and at the “Times Square Show,” in 1980, had long been waiting for him to make a European appearance, but his decision to exhibit in a gallery was a surprise. The works displayed were at least as imaginative and rich as Ladda’s previous pieces.

    Since the classical Greeks, images have been considered as “shadows” of the real; Ladda gives the illusionistic transparency of the image the opacity of a shadow cast by a physical

  • Per Kirkeby

    Per Kirkeby’s painting has the strange quality of disorienting the viewer as much as it disorients the painterly discourse. In its lack of “tricks,” of any unusual process of facture or informing ideology, a Kirkeby painting looks the way many paintings look in our century. A painting is an event that happens in front of you, implicating color, canvas, subject matter, light, depth, space, surface, and so on, and if Kirkeby’s work is conventional in that it does all this, yet it is not necessarily traditional. For a tradition involves a privileged viewer, one who can see in a painting the way it

  • Giulio Paolini

    This retrospective exhibition of Giulio Paolini’s art was a considerable achievement. To present 25 years of an artist’s work, including most of his major pieces, and respecting not only the evolution of his esthetic decisions but also their different manifestations over time—this is not the easiest of tasks, for the artist as for the curator. Paolini himself worked on the large catalogue, which presents most of his writings together with extensive documentation of his work. In the catalogue as in the show, the esthetic approach prevails over any didactic one.

    Strangely, the most impressive part

  • Hubris on the Lagoon

    ambition . . . 1. An eager or strong desire to achieve something, such as fame or fortune; will to succeed. 2. The object or goal desired . . . from Latin ambitiō, a going around (for votes) . . .

    The American Heritage Dictionary

    A GROUP EXHIBITION THAT POSES itself as a concrete and conceptual expansion or refutation of the established order of things is clearly a field for ambition. If it is not a direct “going around for votes,” it certainly demonstrates the strong desire of its curator to achieve a certain social, political, cultural, and esthetic situation. When the exhibition is of the

  • Gerhard Richter

    This show, organized by a museum prominent in the French artistic scene, was significant not only because of the astonishing quality and presence of Gerhard Richter’s paintings but also because it made clear the continuity of a body of work that exists naturally in its own time and context, independent of fashion or any ephemeral ideological trend. Though Richter is well-known in France, no comprehensive critical overview of his work has been possible here; this is a legacy of the tendency in Paris in the early ’70s to allow on the one hand formalist painting and on the other photorealism to

  • Julian Schnabel

    “It is, of course, a luxury to create art and, on top of this, to insist on expressing one’s own artistic opinion. Nothing is more luxurious than this. It is a game and a very good game, at least for me; one of the few games which make life, difficult and depressing as it is sometimes, a little more interesting.” (Max Beckmann, 1941).

    For at least two reasons this statement can lead into a discussion of the work of Julian Schnabel: first, in its implicit assumption of a special discipline accorded to art; second, in the mixture of sincerity and self-satisfaction allowed the artist. This show

  • Francois Boué

    Francois Boué is a young French artist who has lived and worked mostly abroad. His interest in cultural variance has brought him to a peculiar type of work independent of national characteristics as they prevail for most of his contemporaries. It does not take place in a specific artistic medium (painting, sculpture, etc.) but attempts a personal synthesis of various artistic, stylistic, and cultural elements, arranging confrontations between their differences and making apparent the discontinuities in their physical and mental space. This systematic, coherent approach to cultural discontinuity

  • Alexandre Gherban

    Alexandre Gherban is a young artist who trained in formal logic and music before investigating the problematic borders of conceptualism in the visual arts. In this sense he is a most relevant figure, indicating the inconsistencies in the work of a wide range of the more or less brilliant amateurs whose provocative dilettantism affects a serious part of the Paris and London art scenes nowadays, and who can be considered as a European issue of graffiti, new wave, or punk art. These mostly French and British object-makers seem to have a little more sense of humor than the German and Italian painterly

  • Jean Pierre Bertrand

    Since his first major show in Paris in 1971, Jean Pierre Bertrand has untiringly developed a quite peculiar body of work. Little known to an American public, his work constitutes an effective contribution to contemporary art.

    Beyond its formal approach or its predilection for the interests usually associated with the art of the ’70s, Bertrand’s work has a strange identity and reveals a strong inner necessity. Grounded in the most extreme points of the opposition between a world fragment (a microstructure) and an unmistakable organic order of the world as totality (a macrostructure), it suggests