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