Hal Foster

  • Hilla and Bernd Becher

    Hilla and Bernd Becher take photographs of set kinds of things (grain elevators, blast furnaces, coal bunkers, water towers, etc.) under set conditions, so that the subject of each (composite) work is uniform and the position of each image is uniform: an equal discrete unit of equal discrete units. Two horizontal lines (of up to eight photographs per row) present specimens of each object-species (the biological analogy is oddly apt) in such a way that each image in the top row corresponds to the image directly below in the bottom row.

    Iconic boldness and presumed sameness delay analysis—the images

  • Sharon Gold

    The six paintings and seven drawings in Sharon Gold’s show look much like the work of last year: thick skins of dark, near-black paint, textured with palette knife, so as to obscure zones of primary color (in the paintings) and earthy color (in the drawings). Lines scratch the black and expose red, yellow, blue: the shock of the gesturalism is such that it devalues the vibrant latency of the color (which is nonetheless intuited).

    Gold is wary of color but also outraged (outrageous) with it. It’s as if she fears its conceits, much as writers fear linguistic norms that couch false consciousness.

  • George Segal

    For the past few years George Segal has been painting his plaster figures with colors that are highly unreal, but the effect is hardly garish. The paint deadens the sculpture, intentionally so. To me Segal’s work is a reflection and a critique of reification, passivity, vacuity. Too often in the white sculpture Segal allowed each attribute (or non-attribute) to be subsumed by its corollary: reification lapsed to a stoicism, passivity to a godly indifference, vacuity to a serenity. This was due, in part, to the white material: as if the sculpture blanched in time, like Greek statuary, to the

  • Donald Judd

    An oft-quoted tenet of Minimalism reads: “Characteristic of a gestalt is that once it is established, all the information about it, qua gestalt, is exhausted.” I thought crudely, and not entirely facetiously, that one could read, for “gestalt,” a “Minimalist sculptor like Donald Judd,” so nearly is the box an unequivocal sign of Judd sculpture and, metonymically, of Judd himself. What new can be said?

    The new show is new; the work, though not unfamiliar, is defamiliarized. Seventeen oblong boxes, mostly open to us, are set evenly along the wall, just below eye-level. The box is a format, within

  • Michael Bishop

    At first sight, the color in Michael Bishop’s photographs seems merely compositional—a tool to accent (not describe) figures and a way to flatten space (in the mutuality of color). The collapse of space, its compaction on the surface, was, of course, a profound reform in painting, and I assumed that Bishop had transferred the strategy, now a convention, to photography—which seemed trivial. But this is not the case, or at least not entirely: color is a more complex issue here.

    The photographs are landscapes that question that category. Landscape is more and more cityscape and our vista

  • Ralph Gibson and Jan Dibbets

    In 1976 Ralph Gibson showed a series of black-and-white photographs of parts or details of things (the edge of a building, the contour of a body) in which there was a vacillation between the incident of the subject and that of the print (traces of its constituent chemicals). Description of subject passed to definition of medium as the terms—the details—seemed to apply to both. In these pages Phil Patton noted “the way grain and texture occupy the same level of fineness without interference.” I think there was interference but of a sort that was sublimated in the commutation of subject and

  • Jeffrey Brosk

    Jeffrey Brosk is a sculptor (and painter) with an architecture degree, so that an interdisciplinary sense to his first New York show is no surprise. This is not to say that the work is uncritical, rather that it is multivalent.

    Of the seven works, two are maquettelike and two are reliefs—models, it seems, for the three architecturelike works. But this is not the case—all the sculptures are formally and materially distinct. In an odd reversal (compelled by the strictures of cost and space) the modellike works employ the actual materials of construction, whereas the full-scale works substitute

  • Edward Youkilis

    Edward Youkilis works with a fiberglass painting base that he may, in spots, use to saturate the canvas and, in others, build up a thick, matte surface. The result is that in any one painting there are two materially contiguous surfaces, one in which color is suspended (each as to the chemistry of the pigment) and another on which it holds fast and hard. On these grounds he traces a given shape, mostly sections of a circle cut out of cardboard (one shape to each series of paintings). These are then filled in with more color, first with a sponge, then a brush.

    Superimposed, the forms read abstractly.

  • Joel Shapiro

    Joel Shapiro is a master of small sculpture. In recent years he has done toylike figures that in effect stigmatized the stigma of preciousness. Sympathy is that kind of appropriation which the tiny chairs, tables, and houses of Shapiro rebuked: all a coarse cast-iron, they denied our bourgeois delight in the master artisan and the pretty object; that is, they denied fetishism (in maker and owner) and reversed our ideas of smallness. They just did not seem that small: the cast-iron connoted an industrial giantism, and the reduction in scale compelled the reverse operation—an imaginative enlargement.

  • Hamish Fulton

    Hamish Fulton is an English photographer who takes long walks in Britain. Large (roughly 40 by 50 inches) and grainy, the photographs he takes on the way are not documents or narratives—there is no incident or event—nor are they metaphors. The press release is erroneous in saying that Fulton is a “Conceptual or land artist”: no concept displaces the image, nor does Fulton displace the land. The photographs are simply landscapes, a road across a moor or through a valley. Land and sky are often gray, and the tones are those of slow time. They are indeed well stated: Fulton does not presume (as

  • Louise Nevelson

    Often, critics belittle an artist and, in so doing, belittle criticism; they may despair of an artist who is unregenerate, impervious to constructive criticism and manipulative of the public, and feel that a critical travesty (arched name-calling) is necessary to repudiate an esthetic travesty. Such is the case with critics and Louise Nevelson, and it does no one any good.

    But the fact remains that she does gear her sculpture toward taste and fashion; there are no grounds for a sincere study of the work. It is especially hard to think well of the recent show, however much one would like to. The

  • Robert Mapplethorpe

    Each of the 12 photographs in Robert Mapplethorpe’s recent show is of a particular kind of flower. There are no titles or captions, so the sole reference is the flower, which makes the photographs portraits of a sort—portraits rather than still-lifes as they are anthropomorphic. That this is portraiture is confirmed by the stylish display: there are wood frames and black borders, which highlight the light images. Also, Mapplethorpe poses the flowers as if they were women, some rare, others common; that is, he seeks to express character, whether it be dramatic or domestic, flamboyant or reserved,

  • Ibram Lassaw

    To say that Ibram Lassaw’s new work remains within Abstract Expressionist parameters is not to devalue it. Free of the pressures of avant-gardism, Lassaw, in his first show in 10 years, is able to renew and refine what to many is a dead sculptural language, hardly a lesser task for one of its prophets.

    Most of the 17 pieces in the present show are cagelike in form, welded grids of thin brass rods. “Cage,” the connotation, is wrong; though labyrinthine, the sculpture liberates. Bright, aerated, it is a magical design of reflection and shadow. It seems to form itself through the interplay of linear

  • Jennifer Bartlett

    In her last show Jennifer Bartlett covered the gallery walls with 1000 or so 1-foot squares. The squares, which she has been working with for some years, were 16-gauge steel with a white enamel base and a light silk-screened grid; upon the squares she painted (with the 25 colors of a standard model airplane lacquer) in a variety of styles. The squares formed a contextual grid on the wall. No one narrative was prescribed but the whole made best sense when read top to bottom, row by row, left to right. Given that reading and given the title of the show (“Rhapsody”), it was apparent that Bartlett

  • Ger Van Elk

    Ger Van Elk is a Dutch painter well known in Europe but not in America, and it is easy to see why: the work is adamantly European, informed by both Dadaism and Surrealism. It is tactical in a Dadaist way: there is the paradox of the readymade and there is spurious logic (one work of ’72 is called The Rose More Beautiful than Art but Difficult, Therefore Art Is Splendid); there is perverse appropriation (in C’est moi qui fait la musique of ’73, a photo of a piano and pianist is deformed to fit the frame); and there is the exhibitionism of Dada (the titles insist, “c’est moi”; most of the portraits

  • Robert Mangold

    Robert Mangold’s latest show consists of four paintings, three painted studies, and four drawings (shown on projecting wedges). Two of the major works use a similar format: an isoceles triangle inscribed in two adjacent, equal rectangles. In one, the panels are parallel; in the other, perpendicular. Both are roughly 4 by 5 feet. The other two works (dated 1976) are larger. In one, two right-triangular panels form a scalene triangle, in which are inscribed two squares, the inner complete, the outer truncated by the right hypotenuse. In the other, two right-triangular panels and one rectangular

  • Power Boothe

    In shows in 1975 and ’76 Power Boothe experimented with grid patterns set upon stained canvas; this created a tension in the image between contiguity and superimposition. In the present show the stain is replaced by textural paint, the veiled hues by a harsh palette. Still, the canvas web is important as it affects and is echoed in the design. The paintings consist of thin (1/2“) bands of five colors (which vary from painting to painting), broken by an occasional vertical band. A weave is created: a tapestry rather than a grid; a sensuous design rather than an abstract construct. The flavor is