Jeanne Silverthorne

  • Jasper Johns

    The Jasper Johns curriculum of life and art is a series of double binds, but the ultimate nonchoice here is between death and madness. As the words in Racing Thoughts, 1983, warn (in French and German, “Beware, Falling Ice”), the glacier of Johns’ reserve is breaking up and uncovering an intense paranoia. Whereas formerly fragmentation was limited to the extremities of the body, now it is the center that will not hold. Breakup is most elaborated on in this canvas, which echoes a precedent, Mathias Grünewald’s Isenheim altarpiece, ca. 1510–15—itself dispersed during the French Revolution and

  • 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