James Collins

  • Lenore Jaffee

    “Outside Quebec we picked up a couple of fella hitchhikers, and all the girls got excited and said, “Wow, this is really going to be fun!’ ” a young black guy wearing an engineer’s cap tells you casually from a video monitor in an otherwise empty gallery. Hitchhiking stories like this, and stories generally, are what Lenore Jaffee’s delightful ten-minute video loop Mistrips is all about. Four different people tell stories for her—and you. That’s it!

    The black guy tells of two disappointing hitchhiking experiences as “hitch-hikee,” meaning he drives. The first with the two men he picked up “for

  • Vincezo Agnetti

    Language is perhaps Vincezo Agnetti’s trouble. I really get the feeling he wants to be Vincenzo, but his European culture wants him to be Agnetti. I’m always nervous when flyers advertise artists with just their surnames—especially artists I’ve never heard of. It’s a bit like imposing your will on history prematurely, but it’s also arrogant, and invites a few catcalls from the stands.

    Although there are interesting things trying to get out—the Vincenzo side—the problem with Agnetti’s show is that it has the look and values of puritanical late ’60s European Conceptual art. This probably shows more

  • Gordon Hart

    Absolutely different from language concerns are the reductive but colorfully expressive paintings of Gordon Hart. They’re handsome objects, more to be looked at than talked about, but — although I’m sure he would deny it — Hart’s paintings operate loosely within the imperatives of serial and abstract imagery stemming from Brice Marden and Robert Ryman, with roots in Malevich and Mondrian. If you buy these very different philosophies, you get at least some criteria for discussing Hart’s paintings. The seven essentially vertical paintings, although they vary in scale from torso to man-size, and

  • “Narrative 2”

    The artists David Askevold, Didier Bay, Bill Beckley, Robert Cumming, Peter Hutchinson, Jean Le Gac, Italo Scanga, and Roger Welch, working with a variety of photographic and text mixes, show a definite post-Conceptual disregard for the primacy, or the separation of the visual and the verbal. They provide a good model to discuss what has been variously called autobiographical, diary, narrative, journalistic, or as I prefer, the more casual title of the first group show held last year: “Story.” With a lightness of touch similar to that established last year by virtually the same group of artists—with

  • Tom Wesselmann

    Myths like Tom Wesselmann are hard to talk about, but I find it easier with my post-Conceptual perspective. Confidence in the world of appearances is returning. Visual is no longer the dirty word it was, and this fact is liberating artists, critics, galleries, and collectors alike. Seeing Wesselmann’s show with its stunning wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-ceiling paintings, I was convinced of the absolute necessity of visual models in our cultural life—whether the images be on canvas, photographic paper, or film. Wesselmann is in the enviable position of not having passed through the debilitating

  • John Baldessari

    I went to England this summer to make film loops of girls lifting their skirts, and possibly to write a bit, but the only interesting art I saw that wasn’t stuck in the didactic Conceptualism of the ’60s was a modest show by John Baldessari. After seeing English Conceptual work seemingly done by prematurely aged academics, which the English art world puts up with with the same stoicism as the English public did the three-day working week—and also not seeing many girls whose skirts I wanted to record myself lifting—Baldessari provided a breath of fresh air.

    His work involved altered photographic

  • Hannah Wilke

    “Since sexual issues still frighten, and male superiority still flourishes leaving cunt queens quite lonely . . . could we possibly find a better name for my kittens?” Hannah Wilke charmingly asks this in reply to Art-Rite’s recent question to several women artists: “Do you think there is a shared female artistic sensibility in the work of female artists?” Nancy Graves, Sylvia Stone, and Joan Jonas said “No!”; Laurie Anderson and Judy Chicago hedged; and Agnes Martin rejected the question. But Hannah Wilke’s answer is the one I remember. It’s the one I tell friends. And that’s the point. I

  • Niele Toroni

    American artists of both sexes will have problems with the single brushstroke paintings of Niele Toroni because it’s difficult to fit him into any category. Toroni has been doing the same thing for the past seven years—exactly the same thing! In Bernar Venet style of a five-year strategy and then out, Toroni’s only difference is he’s serving life with the system he adopted in 1967. But times have changed. If he’d shown these paintings in 1967, the reception might have been different. Throughout those seven years separated from dramatic developments in the States Toroni has used a static system

  • Keith Sonnier

    Even though I’m aware of his sizable reputation for other things, I consider James Collins’s early flocking pieces his best. Sympathetic to Sonnier’s use of videos as a “historyless” medium par excellence, I’ve never understood what he’s about. Respected but not understood. Perhaps it’s my bias against the general tedium of video in a gallery situation, which few videos except, say, Wegman’s stories, Serra’s game theories, or Acconci’s confessions avoid. I thought Sonnier used video more to generate static images—as a present-day Rosenquist of video. Sonnier’s video with its fragmentary

  • Chris Burden

    If you take seriously Morse Peckham’s antiformalist stance that the artist is “raging for chaos” rather than order, Chris Burden might bethought a good example. But is he? Is Burden really stepping out of line? Isn’t Burden playing with danger—for example, shooting and attempting to electrocute himself? Isn’t he involved in game-playing that is not only tokenly dangerous and significant within art? Shooting himself through the arm, as gory color photographs of Burden’s best-known work Shoot bear record, would in another context group him with Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch, alongside the comparatively

  • Elaine Sturtevant

    I write reviews as a meta-art of chosen subjects, so while sympathetic to Burden’s use of media, I’m also aware of limitations with Elaine Sturtevant’s remaking the work of Joseph Beuys. The art world has had for some years a pitting of meta as against speculative concerns: the clash whether in object or Conceptual art between questioners of and speculators with the norms of art, but the debate is growing a little tired. The world is too big and interesting a place to think only of varieties of art incest. Sturtevant’s fat and felt replicas of Beuys—in an object rather than language meta-art

  • Joel Shapiro

    I’d guess the size of the gallery showing Joel Shapiro’s lilliputian sculptures is about 3500 square feet with 17-foot ceilings. Showing only five tiny things—two on the floor and three on the wall—that’s about 1200 cubic feet per sculpture—the size of an apartment. Unless you’re a dedicated Minimalist looking for less, or you’ve great eyesight, you could be in and out of the gallery without knowing the show was on—as a friend of mine did. Shapiro sculpture—no less interesting for being small—is also meta-art because by its quirky scale and figuration it’s a snub to the continuing tradition of

  • Horst

    By contrast Horst’s portraits of the ’30s and ’40s are about glamour. And since glamour in art exists more often in galleries or artists’ lofts than in their objects or persons, I welcome it. If I have to choose between Renato Poggioli’s division in The Theory of the Avant Garde between the dandy or the bohemian, I’d choose the dandy. That’s why I find Horst’s photographs of people who’ve made glamour into an art form such fun. Although in the 50 photographs on exhibition, Horst ranges over the literary, artistic, and entertainment fields of the haute monde of ’30s and ’40s Paris and New York

  • Robert Barry

    Dear Robert Barry,

    I really liked your show. You seem to be loosening up a lot. Your work’s never bored me in the way so much “its significance-will-become-clear” Conceptual art does, but your important and early moves were on the fringes of “respectable” Conceptualism, like writing single-sentence catalysts to the imagination, say the Psychic Series of 1969, or doing meta-art things like dosing galleries as an artwork. Now, after a lot of unadorned statements, you’re using evocative visual images again. It’s the first time I’ve seen color slides, for example, and I find it very refreshing. If

  • Roger Welch

    Dear Roger Welch, 

    Your film Welch turned me from a hard-bitten, young, New Yorker into a cry baby. The freeze shot at the end of your mother’s and father’s heads smiling into the camera—your father forty-five years older than when the film started—was so powerful and poignant I felt very moved. Your Welch is not only educating, entertaining, stimulating, but above all moving. Which is saying a lot. Within a Puritan art ethic there is the mistaken notion films and videos have to be full of “art” (jumpy spots and split screens ad nauseum), devoid of emotion, and dull to be meaningful. To my cry

  • Lois Lane

    Dear Lois Lane,

    Never having seen your paintings before I can still understand why Jackie Winsor chose you to show in Artists Space. Your drawings and paintings have a quality of rawness similar to her sculpture: a rawness allowing you to get some of the same freshness in your big paintings as in your small drawings. I like the casual, open look of your work: the painting with the layer of badly wrinkled canvas casually stapled on top, the freehand one-shot pencil lines meandering across paper and canvas, or the mismatching of drawing and washy color. Your marks have a “take-it-or-leave-it ”

  • David Askevold

    It’s revealing David Askevold should use two philosophers like Descartes and Kepler as inspiration; for both Descartes with his mix of method and religion, and Kepler with his of observation and fantasy were in different ways genial fusers of apparently contradictory preexisting concepts into new wholes. And this is something Askevold aims to do. A scramble of diverse visual and verbal references, his work forbids the linear reading of ABC Conceptualists.

    Seeing Askevold’s The Dream of Descartes and hearing his Kepler’s Music of The Spheres As If Played By Six Snakes, I was reminded of Susan

  • Stephen Shore

    Stephen Shore with his jewellike color photographs of everyday subjects of city streets and motels, taken on journeys across the States, raises the issue. Shores’ photographs are not just simply beautiful, they also are a spinoff from painting. Labeled, I understand to Shore’s chagrin, “Sharp Focus Realism,” they might on one level be looked at as photography once again moving into an area mapped out first by fine art, namely the photo-Realists. And although Stieglitzians, Westonians, and Bressonians would no doubt yell and scream against such characterization, photographers in the past have

  • Mark Cohen

    If the photograph’s ability to promote myth is photography’s power, Mark Cohen, approaching image-making through the use of fragments, reminds you on the one hand of Degas’ pioneering daring with his objects cut off by the edge of paintings, and on the other of just how much snapshots, with their arbitrary cropping of images, have eroded the significance of Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment that decreed no cropping after clicking.

    Cropping things and people, but mainly people, Cohen approaches the realm of fragmentation presently associated with the violent cropping of fashion or advertising

  • Bill Dane

    I’d been painting for ten years and then a year or so ago Burback showed me some Ed Ruscha photos. Oh Boy! I said.

    4th January 1971

    This is the start of Bill Dane, photographer, whose show of slides from his own postcards has recently been caned—I understand—by one photographic critic (the old photography/art dichotomy again) on the damaging grounds that Dane is a Johnny-come lately and has jumped a line of photographic worthies to show prematurely at MoMA. I don’t know the line, but I enjoyed Dane’s show. Apart from his funky but deadpan views of America—quite unlike Shore’s—looking more in the