Jeanne Silverthorne

  • 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

  • Julian Schnabel

    Signs of empire, ancient empire, dominated here. It was as if this Julian Schnabel museum of pseudo-Egyptian and Roman finds—mummies, standards, amphorae, pot shards—were a confession that he finds contemporary life too minor in key. When he deals with modernity it is in flat, restrained paintings, wherein mechanical life-support systems, intravenous, help sustain an affectless existence subdivided into tracts of Piet Mondrian rectangles tied up with Barnett Newman ribbons. Interiority becomes a matter of tubal connections and ligations. Schnabel’s bent is elegiac; what’s curious is how that

  • “The Ritz”

    It was fitting that the dilapidated ruin chosen for the site of this collaborative attack on the current administration is called the Ritz; this derelict hotel not only picks up on the present government’s nostalgic Hollywood/tuxedo fantasies, but in its miserable fall from the pretensions of its name effects the same contrast of reality with false promises that the name Reagan does for the artists here.

    The show’s location was also effective. Near the F.B.I. offices, within walking distance of the Capitol, one felt that government would almost hear the racket it set up. Like the Times Square

  • Martin Silverman

    However much Thek embraces clichés and funk, his shrug of a technique preserves the results from being “cute.” That epithet seems to be reserved for clichés and funk that are carefully, pains takingly rendered. Somehow the lavished attention is diagnosed as the symptom of an infatuation with the subject. I suspect that Martin Silverman is curious to see how far “cute” can be pushed—it may be the only taboo left to contemporary art.

    In his preceding show the laborious, hokey figures were foiled by their own return-of-the-repressed sexuality. There was pathology in that homely ’30s stockiness.

  • Enzo Cucchi

    In Enzo Cucchi’s paintings and drawings the nature/nurture argument reaches its predictable impasse. Mythically overexposed, Italy the cultural construct, as preserved in house and city, strains to overcome its adamantine imperviousness and to merge with the entropic ooze of Italy the physical, almost scatological landscape. It’s a kind of post-Modernist death wish, impossible to fulfill because the social and intellectual forms are rocklike in their obdurate persistence. Only cosmic, not historical time can grind such boulders.

    Heads and skulls are synecdoches for impotent human presences and