Jeanne Silverthorne

  • 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

  • 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