Hal Foster

  • Brice Marden

    So insistent in our life is fashion that many desire, even in painting, a new look for every new season. New Image Painting, New American Painting, NeoPrimitive Painting. . . . Despite it all, painting is still not designer clothing.

    Next to such seemingly “radical” painters, BRICE MARDEN looks conservative. In an instructive way, he is. The revolutionary, it is commonly thought, would do away with tradition. Often, however, he conserves tradition, only seeing it in an original, unconventional way. An artist may also rediscover a basis of an art in such a way as to reinvent the art. Here,

  • David Reed

    Art now is problematic—silence is not a response. More and more it exists as its own question; it points to itself and asks what, how, and why—but mutely. I thought that questions of good and bad were often beside the point, that even a bad work could be a good specimen (if not good art). Such sociological criticism, if done first, now seems an evasion. A critic is first a critic of an art object and only then a pathologist of culture. He must look, then pick, then argue. So to dismiss making judgments is not radical: nothing is transvalued; one is only deceived. I prefer, of course,

  • Kathleen Seltzer

    KATHLEEN SELTZER takes black-and-white photographs whose very emulsion is style. Her tableaux are like New Yorker ads: a gloved hand here, a gowned leg there, turning elegantly on the finest satin. Cropped coyly, they are enigmatic—and posed so finely it hurts.

    The play of texture and transparency reminds one of Jan Groover, only Groover turned Princess Daisy. Whereas Groover makes a mundane object a reservoir of new vision and so redeems it from its banality, Seltzer makes the mundane as vapid visually as it is ethically—nothing is redeemed. Her subjects bear social nuances like gifts,

  • Sheila Metzner

    Once photography had to be arty: to be an art it had to look like one, i.e., like painting or drama. Then came the modern purge. Photography too had a formalist rage against the impure, the theatrical. Clarity was the call: purity. Out went story, symbol, allegory.

    SHEILA METZNER revives them somewhat. For example, one photograph shows a man in profile comforting a baby in tears but, beneath a cold moon, there is no one to comfort the man. One objects not so much to the picture’s pathos as to its mode: gauzy allegory. Perhaps modernism’s puritanism is too much with me, but the mode here is

  • Patrick Ireland

    Borromini’s Portal is a new work by Patrick Ireland. Though he calls it a “rope drawing,” it has as much to do with architecture, as its title’s reference to the Baroque architect indicates. Really, it is a drawing in and of space—an elliptical design turned to dance, a score (one that plays the room) for the mind’s eye to read. It occurs in the gallery but recurs (and so exists properly) only in memory.

    A huge black rectangle is painted on one wall; on and drawn inside the rectangle are three white rectangles without bases (two vertical lines topped by one horizontal), each set inside the next.

  • Joel Shapiro

    Even when he draws, perhaps especially when he draws, Joel Shapiro is a sculptor. Not in the same sense that Richard Serra is a sculptor when he does his stick drawings (somehow by sheer will, he is able to make them sculpture). I mean that when Shapiro works on paper, his very concerns refer to sculpture. This is no stigma. Now, when many artists cross generic lines all but randomly, it is good to see a practitioner articulate one medium by or on another and thereby clarify both.

    I very much liked the drawings of 1972 and ’73. Done in charcoal on paper, these stressed material labor as much as

  • Katherine Porter

    Katherine Porter’s “Works on Paper 1969–1979” evolve from style to style according to a logic of their own, but one that is not closed to context—esthetic, social or other. Indeed, it is as record, as notes in and to and from the ’70s, that Porter’s work interests me.

    Two early drawings of 1971 equivocate between decorative design and Pop-ish literalism. One shows rows and rows of tiny light bulbs; the other, rows and rows of tiny elm trees. It is her interest in design and texture that abides, for the later works show an allover “step” motif which is somewhat like Johns’ “hatch” motif. In one

  • Massimo Scolari

    It was unlikely but now architecture too is a cultural term cast in doubt, “under erasure” even. More and more, it exists in its own margin, along lines that contravene its own laws. Like other “post-modern” arts, it is often addressed obliquely by methods that it traditionally excluded, or even through other media. To be sure, this is due in part to adverse socio-economic conditions; but it is no less the result of a crisis within architecture, whereby neither modern functionalism nor recent experiments in historicism quite satisfy.

    To refer the drawings of Massimo Scolari to architecture as we

  • Eve Sonneman

    For a decade now Eve Sonneman has worked with paired photographs, often of one thing seen twice, that is, seen lapsed. One photo is taken, seconds pass—she and/or the subject move—and then another is taken. The same subject thus becomes different: it is made unidentical, even self-contradictory; there is coherence but no sequence. Imagine a verb, then another (a synonym related to the first) that together form a contraction that contradicts both—this is close to the form of these photographs. The contraction (call it an apostrophe) is the important thing and it occurs in the thin black margin

  • Michael Heizer

    “Sculpture,” that the hand models and chisels, is the stuff of museum pieces; it is found in the Humanism wing. So exhausted is the mode that it seems beyond irony even. And yet, somehow, “sculpture” remains the term by which much art is articulated Perhaps it remains because so much is defined against it: instead of sculpture we have negations of sculpture; points on a circumference with no center.

    “Negative Sculpture” is the title of three recent works by Michael Heizer. All are in granite—one pink. one grey, one charcoal. Each of the three is composed of five slabs set in to the gallery wall

  • Lucio Pozzi

    For one who holds to terms like artist and style, the work of Lucio Pozzi is hard to consume. This is intended: Pozzi uses many many forms, all equally, in order to confound our sense of relative value. The question is, what criteria is offered instead?

    In the show one came upon cartoons, pointillist watercolors, constructivist wood pieces, modernist paintings, paintings with photographs, etc. I say “pointillist” and “constructivist” impressionistically: here they are not terms to be reinscribed (nor, thank God, happy quotes that make for bland synthesis). “I don’t mix incompatibles,” Pozzi says,

  • Mary Miss

    There are three new structures by Mary Miss, all scaled to the gallery and all termed “Falsework.” The show also includes much information in the form of reference—notes, preparatory drawings, and photographs of work built elsewhere.

    None of the “False works” are single structures. Falsework: Screen consists of three wood platforms set on the floor ten feet or so in front of a wood screen; behind the screen is a boxlike form on stilts. The structure looks familiar, yet, as it is open to any address and is bare of any marks, it is hard to say quite what it is or what its sources may be. Here one

  • Robert Mangold

    Robert Mangold’s Painting for Three Walls is just that: a work of three two-panel paintings painted in the open cube of a studio and installed in the similar cube of a gallery. The center canvas is blue-gray, the one to the left is orange-yellow, and the one to the right is green-brown. As is common with Mangold, each of the supports is not quite a rectangle, (but on paper that sounds more distorted than they actually look). Within each of these “distorted rectangles” is drawn a “corrected rectangle,” that is, a rectangle that looks true. In the yellow and gray canvases the corrected rectangle

  • David Diao

    It is said that there is modernist painting that does not argue—or rather, whose argument is purely visual. To reflect upon such painting one must be before it; it relies on ownership. And then there is modernist painting whose argument can be translated without undue distortion and thus possessed in a way that is not so blatantly consumerist.

    I’m not sure how currently useful the distinction is; however, it sticks with me. When I first saw the work of David Diao, I thought of it in terms of the first category; I now see it more in terms of the second.

    I do not mean that there is any painted word

  • Jan Groover

    Jan Groover’s last series of photographs met with lavish acclaim. Elusive pictures, mostly of cutlery and glass and leaves, were posed in tableaux that defied visual logic, so heady were the reversals of surface and space, of object and reflection.

    Heirs to painting’s still life, they played havoc with the old convention. Classically, still life is a construct of ratios between depicted objects. (It is thus a form of representation different in premise from landscape, where the important relation is the one between the perspectival construct, or the three grounds, and the viewer.) In still life

  • Ralph Gibson

    Like Groover, Ralph Gibson makes photographs that play on the uncertainty of seeing.

    For Groover the uncertainty resides in appearance; appearance as mirage of light and color. The camera, sensitive as it is to such immateriality, tells us all about appearance; it refuses to say that it is a lie. Perhaps there is nothing else; perhaps whatever else there is, is outside the provenance of seeing. If so, the camera, in seeming to deceive itself, actually undeceives us.

    For Gibson the uncertainty of seeing has to do with how what is seen is interfered with by how it is seen. That is, how the human or

  • John Torreano, Erica Lennard, and “Mind Set: An Ongoing Involvement with the Rational Tradition”

    “Cosmetic Transcendentalism” is a term that Donald Kuspit used in the October Artforum to describe the work of Rodney Ripps, Lynda Benglis, and the artist under review here, JOHN TORREANO. To Kuspit such work comprises a new “luxury art” that “accept(s) the fact that in today’s world art and entertainment are one, that modernist self-criticality and theatricality converge, and that the attempt of either side to repress the other only leads to the decisive infiltration of the one by the other.” Our task is to comprehend the “dialectic”: to see how “these artists’ self-conscious use of ‘luxurious’

  • Max Neuhaus

    There is no doubt that the many alternative spaces that opened in the ’70s were crucial to redefining given forms of painting and sculpture. Unlike museums and galleries, these spaces are not neutral; they insinuate themselves into the work. As a result, they have abetted art that is indexical in nature as well as art based on performance.

    The tower of the Clocktower is not as insistent as many such spaces: nevertheless, it does inflect work shown there. In Five Russians (A Tuned Room) Max Neuhaus has made it the very medium of the work. There are four high windows in the tower. In the one to

  • Richards Ruben

    Diagonals are not new to Richards Ruben’s work: he has painted such bands on a grand scale for several years at least. Now, though, there is only one diagonal, and the scale of the work is much smaller. Also the diagonal is now a “cut.” As a line it is subtractive, not compositional or descriptive of any motif. In effect, it subtracts the surface from itself in order to make it the “image” of the work. It also cuts through the surface to expose the many surfaces and many colors that make it up. (The colors, often garish, often earthy, seem also to be added directly to the cut) As the surfaces

  • Lydia Dona

    Lydia Dona paints on cardboard panels that form either horizontal or vertical sequences: sequences, not series, for the panels or frames are not all the same. Size varies as does technique; and displacement, not repetition, is the crux of the work. At least that is the format of two of the four works, Local Direction and French/German Color Proportion, 1; the other two are compositional (and compromise somewhat the merits of the first two).

    Dona’s work recalls Jennifer Bartlett’s; both seem intuitive but are largely systemic. And yet Dona’s work is at once more simple and less obvious than