Jeff Perrone

  • I'D RATHER BE LAUGHING: WILLIAM WEGMAN

    I’d rather laugh in bed than do it. Get under the covers and crack jokes, I guess, is the best way. “How am I doing?” “Fine, that was very funny.” “Wow, you were really funny tonight.” If I went to a lady of the night, I’d probably pay her to tell me jokes.

    —Andy Warhol

    According to Plato, art had no place in his ideal society. In mine, it would be right near the top.

    —William Wegman

    PICTURE A LOG HOUSE in the country, with a lawn and an evergreen tree, and a girl with red hair, all floating in space. Sweetly reassuring, this cabin in the sky. William Wegman takes us into his confidence: a

  • MADNESS, SEX, EXHAUSTION: GEORGE OHR

    In 1968 James W. Carpenter, an antiques dealer from New Jersey, was traveling through Biloxi, Mississippi, in search of veteran automobiles. He had heard about the Ohr Boys’ Auto Repair Shop, and, hoping to find an early Cadillac or perhaps a Model T Ford, he contacted the surviving Ohr children to arrange a visit. When he met them at the family warehouse he was greeted not by classic cars but by a collection of over seven thousand of the strangest and most wonderful pots he had ever seen, all crafted by George Ohr, a potter then obscure in the ranks of American ceramists. Reluctant to sell his

  • Robert Kushner

    Robert Kushner may be called a “decorative artist” but that doesn’t mean he makes one kind of art or that decoration is his sole concern. Several paintings in the show are, oddly enough, saved from “abstractness” by their identification as decorations. Peach Gate has curtain tassels attached to it and the “painting” is a parted curtain hung from the ceiling at the show’s entrance. If the addition of things like tassels was perfectly OK for Rauschenberg it was because, after all, his combines were still emphatically paintings. Kushner turns this inside out, going from decoration to painting to

  • Willem de Kooning

    Critics have shown their prodigious capacity for invention when it has come to rationalizing their dislike of Willem de Kooning’s art. There is the “self-indulgent” argument, forwarded by Hilton Kramer (who hasn’t liked the work since the ’40s). This view considers de Kooning’s expressive obviousness an orgy of “pictorial self-dramatization and unbridled pictorial display,” which sounds good to me, but is meant to sound very bad. Then there is the “too late, too blind” school of formalist criticism which sloughed de Kooning off for just never really understanding the real problems of modern

  • Stefan Hirsch

    In the first painting, Self Portrait, a prim, dour man in a brown jacket stares out warily through round glasses. Behind him hangs an overcoat. This painting, like all of Stefan Hirsch’s, concerns the elimination and correction of detail. The jacket’s diagonal lapel is “missing”; it has disappeared to give the lapel shape and body underneath it a subtle ambiguity. The hanging coat’s similar lapel edge looks as if it had been painted “correctly,” in the proper perspective, and then adjusted little by little until it formed a deliberate horizontal line. As the eye moves back and forth between

  • Ron Gorchov

    I have run into Ron Gorchov’s work frequently in group shows, in ones or twos, and I’ve never liked it very much. This show surprised me. I was not made impatient by the large quantity of “shields,” and they actually seemed better in multiple variation. Extensive gallery-going experience leads almost everyone to believe that repetition, series and sets are conducive to deadly boredom. But this show made me feel better about the future of Gorchov’s brand of art—basically an abstract, expressionist signature painting. All you need is one person who does it well.

    The paintings are instantly recognizable

  • John McLaughlin

    Very difficult, the small John McLaughlin retrospective. So gentle are the earlier paintings, small and vulnerable, so muted, refined and retiring the later ones—they threaten to self-efface at any moment. The bodiless paint, the textureless surfaces, the neutral formats, the old-time thin stretchers—the object is very shy. If you find yourself in the right mood, they disappear. McLaughlin wanted this to happen; his attempt was to induce states of transcendental contemplation, of turning back into yourself, going beyond “mere” appearance, getting in touch with “interior sensibilities” “emanating

  • Larry Poons

    Larry Poons’ status as the last certified modernist painter interests me, independently of any particular painting. In 1972 Michael Fried considered it a matter of “conviction” that Poons’ thick, dense, poured paintings were the authentic successors to the school of Olitski. Poons’ work is crude, not lyrical; gloppy rather than slick; clotted and clogged rather than sensual and efficient. Looking back over the ’70s, Poons acts as a barometer of change in the look of a lot of abstract painting—a look which Ralph Humphrey, Ron Gorchov, and even artists like Rodney Ripps share, even though they

  • Ann McCoy

    I enjoy Ann McCoy’s art particularly on the level of performance. She’s a wonderful technician, spends loads of hours drawing up a storm, and isn’t afraid to equate time spent with artistic value. She celebrates patience, dedication, perseverance, regular old obsession-with-the-processes-of-work, and hourly rather than salaried work. Elevating doing over thinking and execution over conception isn’t going to win any art medals, but you could do a lot worse.

    The underwater imagery is familiar. This time it’s darkened into a night aquarium (shades of Lady From Shanghai), with subjects spaced out at

  • Joyce Kozloff

    Joyce Kozloff’s exhibition/installation “An Interior Decorated” employs every surface save the ceiling, so the whole overwhelms at first in a dazzling array of color and pattern. A case could be made for the importance of its overall effect, but for me, her art really comes to life close up. You have to get near to see the tiles, to see what they’re made of, how they’re painted, how they’re different from one another, where their pattern-units come from. You have to get down in a prone or prayerlike position on the floor to savor the complex collage of cultural material. The pattern structure

  • Billy Al Bengston

    Billy Al Bengston lives in California. His art is every nightmare a New York Serious Art Person ever had about California art. There is the old story about an artist who races cars, surfs, and lives year-round at the beach. And his better known shiny, candy-colored, car spray paintings—well, cars, Los Angeles, and eternal adolescence all go together.

    Bengston was temporarily accepted and authorized by the Eastern establishment as a Pop Art devotee. He disappeared from New York after that—misunderstood and forever tagged and shelved. He surfaced, quite to my surprise, in the Whitney Biennial this

  • “The Decorative Impulse”

    Most of the artists Janet Kardon has chosen for “The Decorative Impulse” are established New York personalities: Cynthia Carlson, Joyce Kozloff, Robert Kushner, Kim MacConnell, Lucas Samaras, Miriam Schapiro, Frank Stella, George Sugarman, Robert Zakanitch, and Barbara Zucker. The only exception is Billy Al Bengston, whose art has not previously come under consideration as part of the new decorative movement. Kardon’s interest lies not in giving exposure to unknown quantities, but in a consideration of a phenomenon larger than any one individual artist—she wants to do something more ambitious

  • “Grids”

    Might as well say it right off, so there’s no question about it: a lot of the objects in “Grids” are very beautiful and totally satisfying as art. What I have to say in no way reflects upon the individual me is of any single piece. The problem for me is that the show seems to want to be taken as more than a collection of nice things. One really nice thing was Frank Stella’s metallic doughnut hexagon; I’m certainly glad I had the opportunity to see it, but what has it got to do with grids? And, ultimately, what hasn’t it got to do with them?

    The catalogue for the show includes an essay by Rosalind

  • Robert Ryman

    After seeing Robert Ryman’s new painting I wanted to find one word that would explain how I felt about them.

    I found a quotation in a catalogue of his paintings: “Basically, my work has to do with just making visual art, something that excites me, that excites me personally, then I feel, if that happens, if I feel good about it, that maybe someone else will. If it doesn’t work out that way for me, then I feel it’s a failure.”

    The new paintings did not excite me, personally. Am I to conclude that Ryman must consider them failures (assuming that he ever discovers that I feel this way)?

    I wonder how

  • William Bailey

    It’s not what William Bailey paints that identifies him with an artist like Ryman, but how he thinks. The “how” is pretty much the same, so that both have this attraction to large blank spaces that should clue a viewer in as to exactly how this thinking materializes into a visual principle. Bailey paints—and has been painting for a long time—quietly subdued, somewhat stuffy, formal arrangements of pottery on a shelf, with occasional eggs. The color range strikes me as too limited and safe—as safe as all white—earth tones with a pinch of blue and yellow. Nothing upsetting here, nothing to suggest

  • Denise Green

    Denise Green works with two interlocking but easily separable aspects of Jasper Johns’ early work: flat or flattened, silhouetted, sign-like subjects combined with graphic and painterly looseness. Green cordons off a little territory of her own, employing a verbal humor tied to punning, making her work more available to discussion than most “New Image” painting, and a little closer to Johns than one might wish. My little bit of pseudo-art-historical precedent-setting and influence-peddling hardly constitutes a justification or idea about the art; I just don’t find this kind of art so new or

  • Jan Groover: Degrees of Transparency

    JAN GROOVER MADE HER REPUTATION with a group of small, photographic triptychs focusing on the relation between eye and finger control—time on a split-second scale, the time of the photographed (decisive) moment. The images showed trucks or cars passing by single, stationary camera setups. The “frame” of the image sometimes consisted of dark, architectural elements. The point was that what changed in the photograph was color, differently colored vehicles. Successive shots would be set side by side to form series of trucks—for instance, one red, one yellow, one blue. Color was systematized according

  • Working Through, Fold by Fold

    At first I supposed that I should be able to overcome the contradiction quite easily, and that probably there was some trivial error in the reasoning. Gradually, however, it became clear that this was not the case. A contradiction essentially similar to that of Epimenides can be created by giving a person a piece of paper on which is written: “The statement on the other side of this paper is false.” The person turns the paper over, and finds on the other side: “The statement on the other side of this paper is true.” It seemed unworthy of a grown man to spend his time on such trivialities, but

  • Richard Serra

    You wouldn’t expect Richard Serra—an artist consistently conscious in his sculpture of what sculpture is—to want to carry his sculptural thinking over into his drawings, which would emphasize the parameters and possibilities of drawings. Yet he cannot act as if he didn’t make sculpture, and neither can we. Serra is a master of sculptural space and construction, but I don’t think he has been able to unknot the problems of pictorial space, and he often tries deliberately to pervert them. This cannot be done by eliminating the trappings of pictorialism, or by pretending they are not necessary,

  • “Pattern On Paper”

    Historically, the celebration and decline of most major modern art movements coincides with their institutionalization as academies that breed new movements standing for opposite values (though adopting some of the features of their predecessors). Since Impressionism, this reaction has usually taken the form of primitivism, with painting returning to the crude, the naive, the childish, the exotic, for energy. Gauguin and Van Gogh retreated—escaped, physically or mentally—from urban life, and the art which reflected it. Closer to home, after Abstract Expressionism came Pop, which was perhaps an