Jean-Louis Bourgeois

  • Dan Flavin

    A major new realm, vast and stunningly beautiful, is opening in art. It is the art of light, of radiance, literally of glory. Till very recently, it was practiced largely by prisms, Roman candles, and saints. Now artists have begun to practice it too. Dan Flavin has been a pioneer. His first pieces using lights date from 1963. Earlier this month the New York art world saluted Flavin on a scale which surpasses its celebration of any other American artist since World War II, including Pollock and de Kooning. Five exhibitions of Flavin’s work ran simultaneously, including an important retrospective

  • Lynda Benglis

    Lynda Benglis used to do poured pieces in “two” dimensions, lush with swirls of color, large latex mats. Painterly and rich, they seemed the resurrection of extraordinary craft by a slower, gentler sensibility, an event to enjoy and herald.

    But Benglis has now abandoned the meander for the glop and blob. Her current work, poured too, consists of three-dimensional corner and wall pieces like servings of semi-liquid ice cream for a giant. At the sight of them the Statue of Liberty would smack her lips, but fantastic Pop gratitude aside, in these pieces Benglis downplays her fine sense of color (

  • Mary Frank

    Mary Frank is a fantasist in stoneware. Some of her pieces are small, stages where figures “fresh” enough to seem made of wax or bread glide, gallop or pivot. Physically, Frank’s odd, diminutive dramas seem brusque and naïve, particularly compared with Joseph Cornell, whom they suggest in their sense of miniature, intimate theatre. But where Cornell’s fantasies tend toward the immaculate and the fixed, Frank’s tend more toward the rush and swirl of fantasy in motion, fantasy changing even as we watch.

    —Jean-Louis Bourgeois

  • Milet Andrejevic

    In Goldowsky’s group show, Milet Andrejevic works with the lovely, sometimes erotic intrusion of myth into the gentle lawns, jogging paths, and pond-banks of Central Park. Andrejevic’s two Falls of Icarus, recalling Bosch’s, are placid landscapes showing the young boy plummeting toward distant water. In the foreground of both, the banal predominates: a boy washes his dog, a couple pitches a pup tent. But it is precisely through this banal note that Andrejevic becomes a high-noon, gentler Charles Addams, slipping Apollo and Daphne as well as the doubtful and the exotic through the bars of reality.

  • Will Insley

    Will Insley designs vast projects which he intends to realize in concrete. At John Gibson he showed several large elevations, a five-foot-square model, and, perhaps most dramatic, a huge photo of that model—all depicting a giant 360-foot square series of concentric ridges low in relation to the whole piece, but high (12 feet) when a person will walk up and down its gradual inclines toward its center. There, 180 feet of unadorned, horizon-hiding concrete away from the world, he will find . . . more concrete, for the piece will be homogenous.

    Insley, to my mind, is an example of the Bauhaus bent

  • Bruce Tippett

    Bruce Tippett arbitrarily loops and buckles yards of wide, rubber floor-matting all around the gallery. Seen purely formally, as a colossal uncoiled strip, the work suggests that the giant artist “responsible” for Lichtenstein’s playful giant Brushstrokes has been at it again, his material this time not paint but a slightly more sinister black ribbon.

    Tippett’s work also has less gargantuan connotations. It draws mildly on the urge we have to follow those brightly colored sidewalk footprints into the store. Since commonly used as an indoor path, matting implies the experience of walking, is read

  • “NER1212”

    “Museum” is a new downtown gallery run by artists. Its second show, NER1212 (a way of dialing the time) included work by ten showing their work for the first time. Two artists’ work caught my eye. Allen Bermowitz built a small pile of light with old, clear-glass bulbs, elegant found-objects spilled nicely into a radiant hill. Painter Arlene Schloss celebrates simply but hauntingly the mystery of pregnancy. Her women are flat, vague, weightless figures, but each huge belly pushes a section of the painting’s lower edge down below the expected rim, a formal belligerence in fine contrast to the

  • Irving Petlin

    Irving Petlin’s large paintings at Odyssia are extremely disturbing. Their imagery investigates an awesome area, the invented animal. Petlin paints creatures impossible to read as lamb or fowl or man but suggestive of each. Going further in aberration than the conventional sphinx, centaur, or griffin, Petlin’s figures do not analyze neatly into, say, one kind of head on another kind of body. Feathers and limbs are familiar enough to make Petlin’s animals quite plausible, but their chilling if often whimsical mystery is that as animals they are totally new. They don’t just cross the line between

  • Helen Frankenthaler

    At Emmerich, Helen Frankenthaler continues her sure, airy, gentle ways. Stride contains the suggestion of a partial human figure which, like all such figures, implies its own history, the means by which it came to be incomplete. The means in Stride is mild—not dismemberment or harsh spotlighting but casually restricted attention; the hip-line and canvas’s left edge, which in their different ways crop the figure, are not read as violent.

    Stride, in its orange glory, hovers. Commune’s dark green is more sober, but it hovers as well. True, read as pure area, the figure simply “occurs” within the

  • Arakawa

    Arakawa, at Dwan, has a fine flair for the diagram and for literal designation. His show announcement envelope, a pleasantly unlikely place,, provided a first hint of his interests. Under the word “mistake,” written in fairly large letters, was the statement, in smaller ones: “The letters in the above word have an average height of 5'6'' (5'2''–6'2'') and an average weight of 145 lbs. (110–190 lbs.).” The statement exploded another dimension into “mistake,” making it jump its visual role from text alone to text plus diagram.

    The show’s largest piece, 35' x 7'6'' and 126 lbs., plays with designation

  • Stephen Kaltenbach

    A work of art that literally jams you against the wall can safely be called aggressive. Stephen Kaltenbach’s Room Cube, at the Whitney Museum, deliberately does so and the effect, if a bit overwhelming, is also interesting. Kaltenbach’s Cube is like a white Don Judd gone quietly mad, distended to a size so monstrous that it leaves only a narrow corridor around the walls connected by a thin space below the ceiling. A room so wrenched is so shocking that it takes a while for a first strong reaction—delight, bewilderment, or outrage—to subside. Then, from gimmick, the room grows into art.

    Cube

  • Hans Haacke

    Hans Haacke’s show at Howard Wise insists very earnestly that it is real. First we have Haacke’s word for it. “In all cases,” he writes about his work (which he thinks of as “physical, biological, and social systems”) “verifiable processes are referred to.” More important, the work itself is insistent about the issue, notably in its noises. Pumps hum, vacuum tubes click, and a UPI teletype chugs out stock information. The effect, when coupled with various prominent motors belligerently unsheathed, is of a kind of brutal chorus extolling the virtue, in art, of contemporary technological literalism.

  • Dennis Oppenheim

    MODERN AMERICA’S ATTITUDES TOWARD NATURE leave the artist odd man out. On the one hand nature is revered as an untouchable goddess; her major shrines—Yellowstone, Yosemite, etc.—dot the country. On the other hand she is raped hourly by that fine old virility symbol, the buck, with the mining, oil, highway, and tourist industries the major violators. A typical moderate, the earth-artist is caught in the middle. He advocates over nature neither a complete lack of control, nor abusive control. Since he is neither romantic nor practical, society calls him a kook.

    One of the finest of such “kooks” is

  • Claes Oldenburg

    Many of the Museum of Modern Art’s neighbors these days belong to the family. To the east stands Park Avenue’s famous “glass canyon,” to the west Sixth Avenue’s. Built a generation and more before, the Museum was an early champion of the International Style’s celebrated purities. In such an area, in such a setting, the work of Claes Oldenburg, however officially welcomed, simply cannot feel at home.

    Oldenburg’s soft sculptures show an empathy and gentleness profoundly at odds with the International Style’s immaculate visual rationalism. His empathy consists of granting his sculptures the full

  • Group Show

    The group show which opened Castelli’s season had rather more to it than most such. Several of the artists broke out new works of much more than routine interest.

    Early this fall, Donald Judd had at Castelli a piece that was an elegant comment on the column. A series of stacked boxes attached to the wall, its elements reached from floor to ceiling but touched neither, nor each other; they hovered. Structurally this was no column at all. It could bear no more weight than the middle of a well. But visually the piece was a column indeed, firmly organizing space vertically, its elements like formalized,

  • Harlem ’69

    Fifty-three artists were represented in the Harlem Artists ’69 show at The Studio Museum in Harlem, all by at least two works. Painting predominated heavily over sculpture. Naturally, as the show was so large, styles ranged considerably. Abstract work was rare, and African influence not large, though present in Dawson, Earley, Overstreet, and Carl Smith.

    George C. Carter’s constructions mix whimsy and savage caricature. His fine use of the charged, treasured place (American Dream) recalls Cornell, or the vulgar dolls of Marisol. Weekend Triptych includes a white cop, expressionless behind his

  • Dennis Byng

    Dennis Byng’s chosen medium is faultlessly transparent plexiglass, a material striking in having opposite qualities for different senses. To the eye, plexiglass is so diaphanous as to be invisible; it is literally nothing, in formal terms pure volume. But to the touch it is opaque, impenetrable; in formal terms, it is mass. As “solid void,” then, plexiglass teaches the senses to distrust each other, and in the mild bafflement and wonder which result lies some of the charm of Byng’s work.

    Within Byng’s plexiglass occur small perfect slabs of color. These present an interesting comment on much of

  • Amilcar De Castro

    Amilcar De Castro, at Kornblee, works with large, primary forms, sometimes of aluminum, sometimes of stainless steel. Slender rings support circles and squares up to five feet across. As the elements are rearrangeable, a single piece can have many different faces. De Castro seems interested in a blend of improvisation and the perfect, fixed image for which I find I have little sympathy.

    —Jean-Louis Bourgeois