Jeanne Silverthorne

  • Alison Wilding

    Whenever sculpture has an effect of completion without any intimation of death, it puts us in a false position: our role is to admire an object that is so well mannered (after all, it has done all the work for us) that we cannot take issue with it. Disagreements are outside the work’s code of behavior and only make us look bad. This is not exactly dictatorial; such a piece is very often only reticent in style. But it so refuses passion and ideas that dialogue is irrelevant, as it is with certain people, ever so nice, who simply know what's healthy and sane and what's not, and who prefer not to

  • Jackie Winsor

    As before, in Jackie Winsor’s 1982 exhibit at this gallery, this show inventoried five cubes and one sphere. Although the details of these shapes are quite different from those shown earlier, the preciseness of this repetition argues an intentional redundancy on Winsor’s part, an idea supported by her choice to incorporate mirrored glass. In association with the cubes, the mirrors inevitably recall Robert Morris and Donald Judd. They are more directly related to the latter’s work, yet Judd has never seemed anxious to break out of the Minimalist bind (perhaps because he never viewed it as

  • Martin Silverman

    In Woody Allen’s film Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), the misanthropic painter Frederick (Max von Sydow) exclaims, “Imagine the mentality that watches wrestling [on television],” implying that it is the height of degeneracy. Allen may or may not know that Pablo Picasso had such a “degenerate” mentality; he would turn off the sound and sketch the writhing bodies. So there’s something of a modem tradition for Martin Silverman to step into here with his collection of painted-bronze sumo wrestlers, not to mention the continuation of the physical-fitness theme—the divers and dancers—of his own previous

  • Jörg Immendorff

    In Jörg lmmendorff’s paintings everything is either reified or fetishized. The inanimate comes alive, and the animate turn s to stone, a false idol. So many of his paintings appear to be cartoon so sculpture, because it literally objectifies and is so intimately connected with institutionalized homage; and cartoons, because they involve both caricature and animation. Immendorff’s figures , which include self-caricatures, are manic automatons controlled by forces outside themselves, usually either the church or the state.

    In his Versuchung des Heiligen Antonius (Temptation of St. Anthony, 1985),

  • Jennifer Bartlett

    The “problem” to come to terms with in an overview of Jennifer Bartlett’s career is the shift in sensibility that followed the “In the Garden” series (l980–ca. 1983). Up to that point, what had been most impressive about Bartlett was her imperious intellectual will. Recently less in evidence, it seems that the artist’s struggle for control has become subliminal and/or sporadic. Her more recent, multimedia series—“The Creek,” 1984, and “Luxembourg Garden,” 1985—present a deeper immersion in unmanipulated natural scene.

    This is combined with a return to rudimentary sociocultural shapes that , unlike

  • Philip Taaffe

    Start with the fact that not all of Philip Taaffe’s paintings reach for special effects. Many are decidedly not optical illusions, although most are illusionistic. Aside from a desire to contradict Barnett Newman, why does Taaffe choose ropes to replace his zips? The spiraling construction of the ropes guarantees depth, unseating Newman’s insistence on the flatness of space and the linearity of time. But then, there are canvases here that don’t give a hang about depth.

    In 1908 a researcher named J. Fraser presented the “twisted cord illusions,” so called because one “can construct these [trompe

  • René Daniels

    Rene Daniels’ paintings refer to art, music, literature, performance, and architecture; they demonstrate the dilemma of delineating perspectival space in two dimensions. The antithetical spaces depicted in these paintings—diagrams of an archetypal “gallery”—solicit suggestions for breaking the perspectival dead lock; impasses are experienced, but solutions—here being a referral to cross-discipline—remain speculative.

    Daniels abridges the essential means of painting with a linguistic/iconic discourse to tell a story about formalism—an oxymoron that would damn formalism were it not that the visual

  • Sylvia Plimack Mangold

    In the late ’70s, Sylvia Plimack Mangold decided to get away from the precision that characterized her earlier, somewhat mathematical paintings. So she switched to landscape painting, and her canvases have since been smeared and glassy, like specimens on lab slides, smudged over their trompe-l’oeil tape edges as if by a big thumb. Imagine that land scape images could be vaseline with out losing their legibility, that they could be glazed like marmalade over the white bread of the canvas. The effects are as mixed as these metaphors. On the one hand, Mangold detaches natural scene from nature and

  • Catherine Murphy

    Catherine Murphy’s paintings look like many other Realist paintings in their constipated handling of superhuman detail, the need to “get it all in” usually producing failed passages. (All-inclusiveness, or perfection, is against the law of averages.) The major difference between Murphy and many other painters of her school—aside from her iconographic wit—is that her awkwardness and leadenness have a reason for being in her subject matter and, more importantly, in her view of that subject matter.

    Murphy warps the domestic details of the working class, composing them badly to convey the poignant

  • Boyd Webb

    Boyd Webb’s British humor (which characteristically drew few laughs from American viewers) combines Monty Python silliness and staginess with neo-Realist postwar street settings, neo-Ovidian metamorphoses and Olympian perspectives, and the loony serenity of diaper and baby-food commercials. The operative metaphor for all of this seems to be something like “big mother is watching.” In his Cibachromes and in his blackly comedic film, Scenes and Songs from Boyd Webb, 1984, almost everyone is a mother or overtly maternal. Fertility icons obviously abound: mother’s milk in the form of dairy products

  • “The Knot: Arte Povera”

    “The Knot: Arte Povera” was the latest in P.S. l’s admirable series of exhibitions exploring recent historical “isms” and regional European art, this time tying both strands together. Arte povera not only originated in Italy, it is post-Minimal, and so a logical successor to their preceding review of ’60s abstraction. At the time the term “post-Minimal” was introduced, in the late ’60s, it was defined as a continuation of the Minimal esthetic—nonart materials with a reductive bias—but with a new allegiance to complexity and an abandonment of clean high-tech materials for more visceral ones:

  • Ken Price

    I miss the element of class-consciousness that once informed Ken Price’s work. The sociological exposés of “Happy’s Curios,” 1972–77, were sincere in their tribute to an ethnic, proletarian art, while the ceramic “gemstones” of 1983 were insincere in their exaggeration, jewels from the bowels of the earth hound for the upper crust. With the latter, Price applied Freudian theory to his Marxist critique: looking like glittery chunks of excretory matter, “anally retained” in glass display cases, their needlessly repetitive forms suggested the motive that lies behind the accumulation of wealth. In

  • William Crozier

    William Crozier’s sculptures are topical for one reason—their explicit depiction of sexuality. Clothed in nothing but the grand manner of Rodin, these nudes reach for a consequent respectability. There’s nothing cheap or sensational about their academic style; it signals “nobility” However, this conservatism could itself serve as reinforcement for those inclined to view the work as sexist.

    Dealing with sex in such a straightforward way makes some of the pieces quite affecting, especially the less theatrical ones. When understated, Crozier’s figures approach the moving un-self-consciousness of

  • Fairfield Porter

    Fairfield Porter floats in memory as a painter of summer, of dappled fields, of porches—a suburban painter, really. In fact, there’s a kind of mall esthetic about his work; with a different reputation one could see the paintings hanging in breakfast nooks throughout the nation. It’s more than possible to see Porter as a contented painter, eulogizing privacy and peace. Yet maybe paralysis and sterility—as in tract housing, although that was never his subject—run under the tranquil surface.

    These are qualities that may come with the territory. They are part, perhaps, of a whole school

  • “Women Surrealists”

    They say that “God is in the details?’In this revival of women Surrealists’ works from the ’30s to the ’50s the jewellike precision of the smallish paintings does give them what René Passeron calls Surrealism’s ”sacred construction," although the tone is mystical rather than religious. The sense of the miniature added to the exhibition’s mood of treasured discovery, but begged for an explanation because the traditional association of women artists with small work is so strong, and the finely wrought, even spidery quality of these works is so open to dismissal.

    If these canvases suggest illuminated

  • Mimmo Paladino

    The “nice” moment when you walked into the back room of this installation and almost bumped into a figure with outstretched arms and cupped hands was emblematic of Mimmo Paladino’s entire installation. Familiarly welcoming, it beckoned. And like the encounter with the figures, it took but a moment to realize you were in a morgue. The look of this work was so nostalgic—it not only offered the stylistic accessories of every ancient civilization, it seemed to expect the same reverence. An appeal to our love of great-looking old stuff is fine—any kind of visual hook is—but it’s got to be reanimated,

  • Thomas Lawson

    An allegorist’s need to fix a one-to-one correspondence and a synthesizer’s need to elide those correspondences into some ultimate final term strain against each other in Thomas Lawson’s paintings. Looking at them, one is reminded of Alberto Giacometti’s complaints about the inconstancy of vision, about how there is nothing but “granules moving over a deep black void . . . to fix ones gaze upon” in a “Sahara” between “one wing of the nose and the other.” Nevertheless, Giacometti presents us in the sculpture with the very seeable result of the inability to see, whereas Lawson makes that instability

  • Walter Robinson

    In a way it’s as if Walter Robinson and Lawson, who showed together, are anxious to prove that they really can paint, in the old-fashioned sense of “render” They seem to be straining to be normal, competent, and well-behaved against the current of their own deep-dyed rebelliousness (a combination often misread as cynicism), but the rigid perfectionism of their “normalcy” is merely the logical outcome of turning that rebellious fault-finding inward. Take the bowl of sugar cubes that initiated this round of depicted objects. It was out of context in that almost every other painted item here would

  • “The Third Dimension: Sculpture of the New York School”

    This was one of those artist-influencing shows that will probably result in an adaptive, Lamarckian revival of Abstract Expressionist sculpture. At the same time, its delicious aroma of rightness derived in part from a highly developed olfactory capacity to sniff what’s in the air: as organizer Lisa Phillips implied by including in the catalogue photographs of works by Mel Kendrick, Nancy Graves, and Bryan Hunt, some return to an abstract but antiminimal sculpture has already begun. Until this show, however, when one looked around for what hadn’t been curatorially anchored into place this chunk

  • Rachel bas-Cohain

    “Let us inquire, to what end is nature?” Not only might Rachel bas-Cohain (1937–1982) have put Ralph Waldo Emerson’s question to herself, but she must have shared Emerson’s conception of the fluid character of nature, of energy, their binding unity the confluence of forces. Hence her continuance of the kinetic tradition, particularly that part of the tradition less concerned with the machine than with the phenomena it generates. Liliane Lijn’s Liquid Reflections, 1966–67, in which drops of moisture trapped under a clear turntable move in apparently inexplicable ways, is not so different from