Jeanne Silverthorne

  • Isamu Noguchi

    Isamu Noguchi’s customary concern with the slow burn of revelation turns, for now, into the strobe of edge flashing into plane. The new sculpture, all done in 1982–83, is best described as origami in steel, and one imagines the brooding gravity of Noguchi’s stones having eventually collapsed under their own heft and somehow come out the other side into a weightless, bright fourth dimension (which can only be defined as some confabulation between the second and third). Density has compacted into a cartoon; in fact, some of these pieces, particularly ones like Giacometti’s Shadow and Root and Stem

  • Kenny Scharf

    Although it’s customary to describe Kenny Scharf’s recent paintings as “post”—postapocalyptic, postmutant, etc.—certainly they show as much retroactivity as prophecy, in fact maybe more past than future. The space of the paintings is oceanic or stratospheric, in any case without boundaries; each teeming element is bonded to the next in a limitless expanse (a perhaps unintentional but no less funny riposte to “alloverness”). Inside and outside migrate; in Sexadansa, 1983, there’s a universe inside each stick figure’s mouth, and the twinkles in their eyes are stars or suns of a remote galaxy. The

  • Jules Olitski

    Until now, the times have always been slightly out of joint for Jules Olitski. To have been exploring “the painterly (or ‘das Malerische’) during the sixties,” as Kenworth Moffett put it in 1972, to have reintroduced the traditional “dramatic imbalance and marked variation and hierarchies of accent” of the easel picture, was to be a shady character during that decade.

    These recent paintings, however, without presenting any radical departures, fit into such topical, even tired, issues as, say, the poststructuralist concept of absence, the hollow core of culture. Olitski’s work has always consisted

  • Grace Hartigan

    The fact that flatness and edgeness married New Image and produced renegade punk-cartoonist offspring who are largely unaware of their parentage seems poetic justice for an obsession that took itself so seriously and so certainly. The survivors are truly the murderers. If flatness is “survived by” these practitioners, it is as a literary flatness along the lines of E.M. Forster’s distinction between flat and round characters. To put a figure into a color field painting is to destroy color field painting.

    That’s what Grace Hartigan has done in her paintings of “Great Queens and Empresses,” but

  • Barry Flanagan

    It’s as if there were two shows of Barry Flanagan’s sculptures here: one a bestiary, the other abstract. In the first we are obviously in the realm of myth: the gilding tips us off, as does the emblem of the unicorn. In the second we are in the realm, one might say, of (natural) science, since the overwhelming number of these abstractions are travertine-marble carvings which resemble artifacts such as bleaching bones or worn carapaces, and which are numbered like so many inventoried fossils or geological samples.

    If in the first arena there are elements faerie, in the sense of having once existed

  • Daisy Youngblood

    A bald head lies like an egg in a nest of dried grass, evoking shades of Constantin Brancusi but remaining far from his aerodynamism, more like the post-Surrealism of Jonathan Borofsky’s and Enzo Cucchi’s bulging craniums; bodies wither to mere trunks or twig limbs, stumps. Both heads and bodies are meshed in nature, the arms and legs of half-metamorphosed Daphnes, the heads approaching the status of skulls, shrunken, but caught on their way to the natural state, i.e., on their way to death. In Daisy Youngblood’s figures the pull to earth is almost gravitational, the lower parts reaching there

  • Barbara Schwartz

    It’s inevitable that Barbara Schwartz’s new reliefs will be viewed as part of the revival of botanic abstraction which includes Nancy Graves and Gregory Amenoff and which derives from Georgia O’Keeffe and Charles Burchfield, who comes in turn out of Van Gogh’s animistic landscapes. That canalization is fairly clear. But although the individual parts of Schwartz’s works refer to nature, the way those parts are put together is cultural, artificed, which is to say decorative. As with Amenoff, each of Schwartz’s leaves has distinct vascular grooves, each variety its characteristic markings. Schwartz’s

  • Michael David

    Michael David’s wax and oil paintings air a Victorian heroine’s modest yet expectant certainty of homage to her beauty. Nevertheless, one comes away impressed by the intelligence which manufactures their beauty: they are so modulated, so balanced, so fair, trained to accommodate many different tastes without appearing compromised. They delight in surface but believe in form—cut-out or raised planes intersect the visceral wax buildup; they are thematically steadfast and reasonable, reassuringly reverting to an earlier concern—the cruciform—but attenuating it, discretely alluding to it rather than

  • Rosemarie Castro

    Rosemarie Castoro’s “Shrines” seem to be involved in an ongoing crystallization, angling now to the left, now the right, pulling upward, then downward in serpentine cascade—which accounts for their sometimes cockeyed balance. Facets reproduce themselves in obedience to some shifting force field, some attraction capable of raising cubed hackles on the back of a sheer cliff face, dimpling the unexposed side. These grottoes seem to have arrived, if incompletely, rather than been made.

    In fact, they are objects of emergence in another sense: these cocoons are empty. The shrugged-off carapace of the

  • Mary Beth Edelson

    I may be imagining it, but it seems to me there’s something newly humorous about Mary Beth Edelson’s latest notes on myth and ritual. Things seem serious enough as one checks off the budget of stock m & r icons: woman as lamia (bronzes of woman-headed snakes and spirals), woman as goddess (ruins of Greco-Roman busts), fire and water as purifying elements, journeys through caves as rites of passage, and so forth. At the same time, though, Edelson presents these as both melodramatic and petrified (or perhaps melodramatic because petrified). The legendary instruments of triumphant climax—the

  • Kazuko

    Kazuko designates pattern-making as the impulse that unites humankind. Her point of view has shifted, however, from the first person, that of the individual pushing the impulse to its most refined expression (her complicated geometric string constructions from the period 1972 to 1979), to the third, an almost socio-anthropological tracing of the persistence of the urge to pattern among different cultures and in seemingly adverse circumstances. These improvised arrangements correlate rural and urban primitivism: Austrian folk ritual and Lower East Side nightlife. Their obvious disparateness

  • Carolee Schneemann

    The air of frustration about Carolee Schneemann’s recent mixed media objects has to do with their subject matter—the war in Lebanon—but it expresses itself, in a kind of reflexive subtext, as a loss of esthetic faith. Instead of Robert Rauschenberg’s famous “gap” figure of speech, Schneemann would probably see art and life as weaving onward in mutual self-realization, woof and warp; yet this work seems to balk, to be as much about intermittent, relentless, disruptive return, as about flowing on. There’s a hitch.

    Take War Mop, 1983, an image/machine of vaudevillian inevitability. Slowly one end

  • William Wiley

    Like Schneemann’s, William Wiley’s pieces, for all their humor, are muffled in a disappointment with or disbelief in art. This is true of every artist who distrusts form (and all good ones, especially good formalists, do to some extent), but in Wiley one senses that the tastelessness that so outrages his critics (the thing that makes him at once vital and tiresome) is the manifestation of a feeling that nothing matters, rather than of simple iconoclasm. Thus we have the divided intellect fighting it out between ingenuous brilliance and brilliant stupidity, while the weary, shackled body ignores

  • Patrick Ireland

    One could read Patrick Ireland’s window installation in at least four ways: formally (the strongest reading), sociologically (the weakest), metaphorically (the funniest), and allegorically (the most farfetched). On the first level, optical laws reversed physical realities with two oxymoronic results, a far nearness and a visible transparency. From a distance, a black rectangle centered on a blue rectangle and white (rope) lines seemed to share one plane. The only contradiction of flatness was the way the black square could seem to smolder below the surface of the blue, and the way the lines

  • Barbara Zucker

    Finessing exchanges between the second and third dimensions is also Barbara Zucker’s strength, in the small sculptures that comprise half of her new work. Like Jay Coogan, she attempts a meld of sculpture and drawing. She gets these usually black-and-white triangles of primed steel to speak bilingually, the same shape expressing itself in both lines and planes; the drawing, which can be positive or negative, recapitulates and condenses the form of the object, which is a little like the object having a self-consciousness, being able to see itself as a disinterested third party.

    Why the configuration

  • Rafael Ferrer

    At first only the consequences of the unspecified crime to which Rafael Ferrer’s work of the last ten years obliquely refers are apparent. In this mini-retrospective there is evidence of flight and attacks of conscience. On the lam amid get-away kayaks, maps, nomadic tents, and fugacious ad-libbed constructions are a melodrama’s cast of vaguely piratical “traitors.” Escape must be thwarted when there is nowhere to run to; each new charted territory resolves itself over and over again into the same place, site of the original trauma. Luna y Palma II (Moon and palm II, 1979) is typical of Ferrer’s

  • April Gornik

    The two questions that April Gornik’s paintings raise turn out to be intimately related to each other. Why schematize nature to the extent she does, and why depict scenes that are half stereotypical nearly to the point of parody, half surreal in their uniqueness? Her style flings its flat commonplace over both ordinary and extraordinary landscapes to render the transitions from one to the other seamless, in fact nonexistent, with the effect that the eerie becomes at once familiar and even more eerie. But whose eeriness is it? The routineness makes the images seem sourceless; nature is made an

  • Joanna Pousette-Dart

    Both Gornik and Joanna Pousette-Dart choose styles that are a given, like picking from the Sears catalogue of modes—they take one perfunctorily so as to get on with painting. This use of anonymous, ready-made, or conformist style connects with the work of artists like Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer, whose pictures and sayings seem to have no author, only the voice of authority. In their character as axioms the phrases these artists use seem to have always existed, to have had no beginning, like proverbs (particularly in Holzer’s case). Surely this is a tactic that implicitly undermines belief

  • “Directions, 1983”

    The overwhelming impression left by “Directions, 1983” was of good intentions. Not only was it a relief to come across a nonpolemical group show that attempted to be “honorable” (a stance that has perversely come to sound almost reactionary), but there were unexpected illuminations as a result of its good intentions—good intentions that included representation of more women than men (by one), a good number of relatively unknown artists, and as many unfashionable as fashionable trends.

    Of the four directions in the show, the two most clearly isolated were limpest. Curatorially, “Melodrama” and “

  • Mark di Suvero

    So many things dangle in these sculptures, lures for the touch needed to set the pieces in motion, that they leave an impression of baited hooks. Cum Glass, a magnifying glass suspended from a wire in an eye-shaped opening which ultimately fans into a fish tail, only confirms an iconography of enticement. As these elements suggest, what Mark di Suvero angles for, what he wants to hook, is our retina as well as our hand, thus lending a punning depth to his repeated use of hook-and-eye hardware. In the spinning pendulum of the glass is the mesmerist’s gluttony for viewers’ souls as well as for