Jean Fisher

  • A.R. Penck

    To this reader, the meanings of the signs that populate Penck’s cosmography have always been rather arcane, not least because they themselves draw upon the symbolic systems of aboriginal or Paleolithic art. Some of the more abstract of these signs almost certainly can be read as representing male or female principles, and Penck has used them as such in the past; other configurations, like the grid of dots, the double or triple bar, or the counterclockwise spiral, seem to suggest life-organizing principles that are not a part of common currency.

    The anxiety of interpretation here is that, in the

  • Antony Gormley

    It seems that for Antony Gormley the drawing is not a premeditative step toward his sculpture but rather a distinct entity operating within its own set of terms. It is, nevertheless, in the exchange (or difference) between the two mediums that a common field of meaning may be illuminated.

    Gormley’s generalized but life-sized sculptures of the male figure bear little relation to the autobiographical body of Expressionism and may be more fruitfully considered as part of an “alchemical metaphysics” alongside the work of, say Joseph Beuys or Jannis Kounellis, where matter and spirit are engaged in

  • Dan Witz

    Despite their nominal appearance as “portraits,” Dan Witz’s modestly scaled oil-painted or pastel heads evade the convention of portraiture that attempts to project the psychology of the sitter. Spotlit but softly modeled, his “types” possess a simplicity and anonymity encountered in Flemish genre painting, focusing less on notions of individuality than on the significance of the act, or gesture, depicted.

    Two themes are presented. One describes an isolated head in a tinted-gray textured field. Occasionally grimacing, these strange lotus blossoms nonetheless seem to stay afloat by the buoyancy

  • Daisy Youngblood

    The expression of contemporary Western culture’s relation to the dead, and to what lies beyond the world of the visible, takes other forms than those of the ethnographic fetish. Without privileged access to the cultural codes through which the fetish object acquires its meaning, our perception of it remains mediated by anthropological texts and museums, where the object is autopsied. Here, the object is petrified, patronized, estheticized, and circumscribed by another topography which alters its value. If Daisy Youngblood’s earlier clay manikins, with their stick limbs and real hair, caused some

  • A TALE OF THE GERMAN JEW

    THE WORK OF ANSELM KIEFER is generally regarded as being in some way a commentary on German nationality. The body of signs that constitute a nation’s sense of identity and coherence depends on the maintenance of their currency both inside and outside the country’s borders; in recent history, the often less-than-benign meanings and effects of nationalism have given this construct a negative exchange value that must have repercussions on the way that a community in question sees itself. How Kiefer constructs an image of the Germanic, and the possible current meanings of that image, may perhaps be

  • Barbara Ess

    We are so accustomed to the notion of the photograph as a demonstration of “real life” or as the glamorous artifact of advertising, that it is something of a shock to encounter a photographic image whose constitutive codes are bent out of their expected alignments. Barbara Ess’ work ”reinvents" the effect of the photographic, using none of the expository devices of photomontage or textual support; by returning to the first-order image and its Simplest mode of production, some of the contradictions in our relation to the medium are allowed to emerge.

    Paradoxically, the strangeness of these

  • Sigmar Polke

    Sigmar Polke’s work has surfaced here somewhat too belatedly for us to get a clear view of his conceptual strategies unimpeded by the work of his imitators, the recently arrived late Francis Picabias, and the homogenization that the gallery has effected on all these artists. Polke himself seems to have participated in trans-Atlantic Ping-Pong for the past twenty years, and the work remains based in a loose collage of image and materials that we associate with both the sociopolitical strategies of Dada and with the stylistic maneuvers of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. Nevertheless, we are

  • April Gornik

    A spirit of the sublime has long been embedded in American cultural identity. Various concepts of the sublime—outlined by Barbara Novak in her scholarly book Nature and Culture (1980)—may be traced from early-19th-century landscape painting to the idealism of minimal art, from epic Hollywood cinema to space technology. The catastrophic and the tranquil, the pagan and the Christianized, terror and transcendence: it is not surprising that the virgin horizons of the New World should have become the space against which Western man has mapped the possibilities and limits of existence. A 19th-century

  • Jack Goldstein

    In a Jack Goldstein work neither subject nor image can be domesticated or colonized. The solar eclipse, the volcanic flare, an impalpable light caught in a photographic instant—all are beyond the material assurance of direct perception. Paradoxically, despite the specificity of the “event” depicted, the image offers considerable resistance to the viewing subject’s desire to locate him- or herself in the picture. Removed behind glass, these new painted images on paper present us with little surface incident or definite horizon, no subjective content that might identify origin or place. Goldstein’s

  • Hanne Darboven

    Ansichten”: points of view. Not a singular subjectivity, not one I/eye or one viewing position, but several. Yet if Hanne Darboven’s title initially suggests the possibility of a plurality of readers and of readings, our experience of the work itself soon confronts us with singularity: on the one hand, Darboven herself, the art’s point of emission, the “narrator” who obsessively marks the passage of one year across 52 panels or “pages” of the piece; and on the other hand, ourselves, each of us the single point of reception, the “reader” who retraces this passage in another, condensed, time as

  • Bruce McLean

    It is difficult in the case of Bruce McLean to separate “artist” from “work,” since the latter is so much involved with performance and gesture—not the “expressionistic” gesture (although McLean is currently making use of this), but geste in the Brechtian sense. McLean has always cast himself in the role of an iconoclastic brigand-part terrorist, part court jester with a touch of the dandy; at least since his work with “Nice Style: The First Pose Band,” 1971–75, this ebullient, quick-witted persona has never ceased to fire sallies wherever it finds the art world in flagrante delicto. Nor, it

  • “A Decade of New Art”

    The coincidence of this space’s commemoration of its ten years of existence and its move into new premises with the Museum of Modern Art’s reopening show, “An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture,” illustrated why so-called “alternative” spaces came into being in the first place, and how little the decisions and attitudes of the major art institutions have changed since then. MoMA’s decision to restrict its selection to painting and sculpture was a sign that, however revamped the space, institutional thinking remains fixated on a traditional definition of art. It resists validation