Emily Wasserman

  • An Interview with Composer Steve Reich

    WILL YOU DESCRIBE SOME of your early work with tape recorders and the idea of “phasing” as a form of musical composition?

    The process of phasing was discovered in 1965 by accident. I had recorded a tape in Union Square in San Francisco, of a black preacher, preaching about the Flood. I was very impressed with the song quality of his speech, it was something that hovered between music and speech. By making tape loops out of his voice (which was something I was working with a great deal then, and which many other people were also doing), the pitch became everything, and what he was saying gradually,

  • “This Is Not Here” (A Report on the Yoko Ono Retrospective at Syracuse)

    The mind is omnipresent, events in life never

    happen alone and the history is forever

    increasing its volume. The natural state of life

    and mind is complexity. At this point, what art

    can offer (if it can at all—to me it seems) is an

    absence of complexity, a vacuum through which

    you are led to a state of complete relaxation of

    mind. After that you may return to the

    complexity of life again, it may not be the same,

    or it may be, or you may never return,

    but that is your problem . . .


    (Yoko Ono, New York, 1966)

    The job of an artist is not to destroy but to change the value of things . . . in

  • H. C. Westermann

    Always outside of the seasonal flux of trends and “isms,” H. C. Westermann maintains his unique position as the magical creator of subtly satirical effects in varied forms. His constructions, block prints, and watercolors on view at the Frumkin Gallery were a thorough delight. Like the best science fiction films, or the comic books you doted on as a kid, they combine a marvelous, obsessive craftsmanship and a personalized technology with a novel sense of the fantastic—all finally, and finely, wrought in to a special blend of deadpan reality and irrational dreamstuff that emerges as more than

  • Talking to Alan Shields

    LATELY YOU’VE BEEN USING clusters and strings of threaded beads, draped into and over many of the newer paintings, as well as striped wands, long colored poles in canvas sheaths, gauze, ropes, and “see-through” grids. Can you describe your working process for any particular painting? What about the canvas hanging in the studio, called Don Duck Wiggly?

    It got so complicated at the center, that I took it out. The cut-out piece then became a small beaded medallion (a separate painting in itself) about two inches in diameter. I did two rosettes like that—one is sewn with a lot of threads over paint,

  • Joseph Raffael, Carlos Villa, Hank Gobin

    JOSEPH RAFFAEL AND CARLOS VILLA (both recently emigrated from New York back to California) have been working with notions of an art that will invoke a strong spiritual aura and an atmosphere of magic or ritual. (In New York, Nancy Graves has developed her sculpture along similar lines; see Artforum, October, 1970.) This inevitably leads back to, or parallels the ways one must look at the arts of primitive cultures, relearning a process of seeing, with the unrationalized openness and trust of a child or a member of those older civilizations. By association, this attitude links Raffael to Gauguin;

  • Meditating at Fort Prank

    If you are really living right and you consider what’s left, if you’ve really found the Pure way to live—can you make it without comparisons? They used to come in like fresh supplies-ideas about who was messing the place up. And with each defeat of the Un-Pure our purity was that much more. It was getting so clean it was hard to breathe. But you could always blame that on the altitude if you needed a reason.

    —William T. Wiley, Dwelling in the Pure and Infinite, watercolor, 1970

    SOME ARTISTS GO THEIR OWN WAY, deliberately eluding strict art historical and critical categories of “major” or “minor”

  • A Conversation with Nancy Graves

    CERTAIN NOTIONS OF PRIMITIVE religion and the origins of art are pertinent to a consideration of Nancy Graves’ thinking. The development of her work attempts to focus away from a traditionally Western, analytical logic of form, and to lead back toward the pre-logical and archaeological sources of conceiving, perceiving and making. Among the early hunting cultures, art arose specifically from the links between finding and making. The most archaic cave paintings from Lascaux and Altamira are intimately related to the actual contours of the rock walls on which they are painted. Conceptually, they

  • Washington

    Heralding the “marriage of art and science” as the possibility of “new ways in which the work of art and the public may come together,” Gyorgy Kepes, director of M.I.T.’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies and organizer of “Explorations—Toward a Civic Art” (seen recently at the Smithsonian’s National Collection of Fine Arts), conceived of the whole affair as an environmental community of objects, interdependent and interacting with each other, their makers, and the public. Roughly twenty artists and many scientists and technicians collaborated in this venture. I say “roughly,” since there were

  • Milton Avery

    The relevance of Milton Avery’s work stems not only from the fact that he contributed personally to the Abstract Expressionist generation through his long-standing friendships with Gottlieb and Rothko, but that the simplicity, dignity, and tact of a vision which made use of large areas of soft flat color, firmly but modestly organized into nearly abstract compositions, is still pertinent to much contemporary painting. These were the constant and basic materials with which Avery had worked for his entire career, spanning almost forty years (he died in 1965). The Brooklyn show was not hung

  • Robert Goodnough

    Robert Goodnough, in each successive exhibition, displays more reduced and spare paintings which show the slow, careful, almost painful metamorphosis of a single-minded esthetic. The present group of works are almost all limited to very close values of pale grey, white, and beige on buff-colored unprimed canvas fields. Thin, diamond-shaped slivers of a generally small, uniform size flutter like faceted clouds or like leaves blown by a sudden gust of wind in diagonal currents across the canvases. The erratic silhouettes of these clouds fuse softly with the grounds, creating delicate contrasts

  • “Beautiful Painting”

    The first pictures encountered in the “Beautiful Painting” galleries are those of Harvey Quaytman. His assembled paintings call to mind some of the more geometrical/sculptural works familiar to the Park Place idiom of a few years back (Novros, Ruda, Myers, et al.), to which they most likely refer in concept. Quaytman uses bilateral symmetry in one of the major pieces, M. Thonnet’s Tonic, playing off the curving contours of two blackened canvas panels which fan outward from the uppermost points of an axis or fulcrum formed by two right-angled brackets (of painted fiberglass, coating wood or

  • Ray Parker

    Ray Parker is a painter who gained a certain strength of reputation based on the way he was able to extract himself from the more derivative phases of late Abstract Expressionism. By 1958–9, Parker was painting loaf-like suspended forms in muted colors on neutral grounds. His pictures evoked a light, hovering sense of spatial liberation in a period when only a few other young painters were able to pry themselves loose from the stale drips and spatters of 10th Street painting. Since 1965, Parker has worked with hard-edged mobile strands in crisp, even-keyed colors, dispersed over bright monochrome

  • Larry Bell

    In his new works at the Pace Gallery, Larry Bell seems to be retrenching, returning voluntarily to the intimate scale to which he had been limited in his earlier glass cubes, but which he appeared to have transcended in several glass “wall pieces” shown outside of New York last year.

    The glass is still treated by Bell’s elaborate optical lens coating machine, so that evanescent spectrums of rosy, smoky hues slide over the surfaces of the fragile, mirrored pieces. They are extremely narrow strips (three to six inches wide by about six to nine feet long) attached to the wall at waist height like

  • Robert Duran and Brice Marden

    Robert Duran’s transformation to loose, lyrical color paintings began to occur around the time of Duran’s last show (see Artforum, Dec. 1968, p. 58) when he got interested in spraying the separate flat slabs and square posts of his compactly organized sculptures with very pictorial cloudy films of color. What was most vital about this work for me was not the positive forms of the solid units, but, instead, the more freely circulating labyrinthine channels created between and around them. Geometric mystical diagrams familiar to the art of India, China, or folk cultures throughout the world often

  • Frank Roth

    Frank Roth used to paint volumetric automobile-part shapes in oddly jutting perspectives. Although his newer paintings are also concerned with such spatial effects, they are of a more abstract and more delicate nature. The basic idea of these paintings is to create a subtle impression of receding, corridor-like spaces which are realized by geometrically subdividing the field and surrounding some of the units with soft halations of color. The divisions suggest the orthagonal projections of perspective diagrams, but they lead from the corners of a field (sometimes rhomboidal, sometimes square or

  • Alan Saret’s Studio Exhibition

    “MOUNTAINS OF CHANCE, DOCUMENTS OF Ruralism . . . Changing Manufactures” was the way that Alan Saret aptly characterized the concerns of his first one-man show at the Bykert Gallery last year. The current show of watercolors and drawings, and the sculptural pieces simultaneously exhibited at his downtown loft extend these same themes with a new scale and confidence. This assurance was bred, perhaps, by the shift from a fairly small, narrow working space (and from a gallery context for the display of the three-dimensional work) to a spacious high-ceilinged studio in which all of the factors of

  • Duane Hanson, William Stewart, and Yehuda Ben-Yehuda

    Three artists working from different sources and backgrounds have populated the O.K. Harris Gallery downtown with a grisly assortment of human tableaux and animal viscera which are sometimes as startling as they are studied in their effects. Duane Hanson is a Minnesotan who had worked on his figure groups for about four years in Florida before coming to New York; William Stewart is a Texan who recently turned from some film-making to his current preoccupation with animal/ material constructions; and Yehuda. Ben-Yehuda is an Israeli who has done stage design and kinetic scenery, splitting his

  • Jo Baer

    At the Goldowsky Gallery, Jo Baer shows a 1967–69 set which comprised part of the “Spectrum” series seen at last year’s Corcoran Biennial, in addition to a new four-part group of 36 by 39 inch paintings. While I am still mostly unmoved by the rigors of Miss Baer’s sets of white, banded-edged panels, her work nevertheless looks uncompromisingly single-minded, even tough, in the present context of loose, lyrical color painting.

    The three larger works of the “Spectrum” group consist of greyish white fields (each 6 by 6 feet) bordered on all four sides with 3-inch wide black bands, lined on their

  • Edward Ruscha

    Looking at Edward Ruscha’s latest collection of illusionistic word paintings at the Iolas Gallery, one is forced to deal with the inflections of a very private, odd, and wry sense of humor, which, however, is based on a straightforward, almost dumbly systematic method of collecting, enumerating, and recording selected material and images. This treatment of his subjects is in the surreal tradition of René Magritte, but commercial art techniques are also injected, so that the humorous jolts are often as unsettling in their own genre, as the Belgian master’s more fiercely psychological imagery. If

  • Tantra

    INDIAN TANTRIC ART WAS PRODUCED by an esoteric cult of Tantra Yoga followers whose origins may predate the 10th century, A.D. It combines yogic instruction, religion, meditation, science, and a spontaneous folk art expression into a great variety of forms which vary considerably in quality and complexity according to the sophistication of teacher, artist, and student, as well as to the level of thinking and belief signified by the particular art forms. A recent revival (or rather, discovery) of interest in this art has resulted in the exhibition of several rare and sizable collections in this