Jeff Perrone

  • James Brooks

    I don’t really know why, but the last few years have seen a resurgent presence of many lesser-known Abstract Expressionist painters. Our memory of them resides in art over 20 years old, and they return with reviews of the last two decades of their work so we may catch up with them. This has made a possibly anemic art world somewhat more active, with revisionist critics busily revising standards, accountants anxious to rectify errors on the balance sheet of historical importance. It all seems rather suspicious, as if we should be exceptionally nice and sensitive to these painters because years

  • Alan Green

    Since the phrase “bad painting” has already gained a certain notoriety lately as a pseudo-critical category, I hesitate to use it to describe the artists’ paintings I review here. The new “bad” has signified nonmainstream, crude, raw, personal, naive, different. Different from what? From what we have come to expect of professional New York City art —a certain look, finish, touch, casual but studied, honed, honest, just on the sincerely refined side of slick. Difference from this norm or model called for the word “bad,” as if being different were somehow “bad” But this new “bad” has quotation

  • Helen Soreff

    The laws of Stella’s Black paintings have been working within uninspired abstract painting since 1960. Working from a dead end. Stella knew this, or he wouldn’t so desparately try anything, even confusion, to escape its consequences. Stella had just one idea, but what his countless progeny forget is that he didn’t have one format. Ideas are fine in art, but in visual art, it is the way the idea is shown to us that carries the day. The visualness of Stella’s repeated stripes exhibited a certain kind of force and power; we shouldn’t forget, however, how banal the idea really was. Stella’s idea—his

  • David Novros

    David Novros’ paintings have changed very little since he gave up working with strict modular units. Some things, like his use of dull color, have not changed at all. He shares his latest style with a host of other painters engaged with mammoth size, dark, unrelieved color and absence of imagery. The move occurred when they all gave up Newman for Still, dropping control for indecisiveness.

    In one of the new paintings, Novros introduced a very definite architectural element into the old, meandering ensemble of rectangular shapes, trying something “new” at the risk of looking “bad’” The alien

  • Robert Petersen

    Is there anything left to do within the traditional conventions of reductive abstraction? I wonder why Robert Petersen paints a painting white onthe ends and black in the center (that’s it) like a blow-up of a magazine reproduction of a Newman. Some of the paintings are paralyzed by their division into four squares—one horizontal and one vertical through the midpoint makes four—all determined by the facts of the support (or course). The visual “interest” appears in certain areas which go from more to less black. Other than implying that paintings can supply feeble illusionisms, I don’t know what

  • Al Held

    I remember some of Al Held’s earlier, large, solid, simple-shape, colored paintings. His work has changed a lot since then, even though some things remain, such as his preference for difficult figure/ground relationships. The changes he’s gone through haven’t, in my opinion, made him a better painter. The move away from color was probably his most drastic mistake. Before this show, I had never really seen any of the black-and-white paintings except as illustrations. I was taken aback by the new ones because others of similar type looked so much better in scaled-down, generalized reproduction.

  • Patricia Johanson

    The wit was flying high in Patricia Johanson’s show. Only a real nitpicking spoilsport wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Johanson does a subspecies of earthworks, what might be termed “natureworks.” The difference for Johanson is that (1) she must realize that when you make very big sculptures they end up being a form of architecture, and (2) function must surrender to form, which surrenders to use. In Johanson’s work, any naturally occurring form can be turned into a manmade structure with very little transformation from nature to culture. Her drawings simulate architectural plans which in most cases

  • Gary Stephan

    Gary Stephan’s paintings are a mystery only until your patience runs out. At first, you attempt an impressionistic reading of the forms. Is this irregular shape that floats close to the bottom of the canvas an entrance, a door, from which a kind of mysterious, suffused light is drawn out? No, for there is an arched section on the bottom near the left side. And there is a “table leg” off on the extreme right, which is attached by a small horizontal member from the top.

    Are these two forms? Or is the background a third form? Stephan uses a darker version of the defined shape for the background (in

  • Ed Mcgowin

    The iconographical motifs in Ed Mcgowin’s “Country Western Narrative” are the hat, the car, the bottle, the bed, the lamp, the table and the boot. These homely items come together under one roof, so to speak: the main attraction of the show was a 10-foot-high house of galvanized steel. This is in keeping with the latest sculptural mode: an almost ridiculous number of artists have been building little houses recently, enough to last the decade. An acquaintance of mine refers to the homes as “fuck houses”: artists reaching back into their childhoods, re-creating those hideaways where they had “

  • Sylvia Plimack Mangold

    There are images in Sylvia Plimack Mangold’s new paintings, and I mean pictorial images. No more strictly realist in her inventory of objects, Mangold chooses the landscape as a predominating image. But landscape seen a priori as a painted image.

    The titles of the paintings name seasons. The color range focuses on spring greens, light ochres, wintery grays, lemon yellows, sky blues. Even when there is no landscape image represented, the feel of an expansive, light-filled space is still very much present. We do see fields of grain, foothills, meadows. Within the givens of Man-gold’s previous work,

  • Keith Sonnier

    As trite as it might sound, art is not a seed, but a flowering; not a promise, but a realization over time. One-shot greatness, as in the spectacular first one-person show, is only a promise. An artist’s work gains meaning only as it matures along with the artist. There is no “ideal greatness” in art which can be used to measure an isolated achievement. And the use of art history to place unknown art on a graded curve seems to me a way of avoiding the work by comparing it to a model. Art generates meaning over time for both viewer and artist, as successive works focus attention on primary concerns

  • Patrick Ireland

    Patrick Ireland’s installation piece Camera radiated a genius loci of exceptionally charming gentility. By using his characteristic materials (rope, nylon thread, and now, pale paint on walls) and a minimum of visual manipulation (just “lines” of rope), Ireland does little to upset the calm of the bare white room. He doesn’t push; his perfectly achieved effects are a function of humility and controlled passiveness. There is art which, by being resolutely and aggressively blank and empty, forces the viewer to confront its obstinacy; Ireland walks the thin line between blankness and its tendency

  • Rodney Ripps

    Rodney Ripps bunches cloth elm leaves into tight bundles, adds layers of thick paint to the approximately rectangular “face” of the bundle, and displays them with the “leaves” standing “on end” off the wall. Slight variations occur from piece to piece (I don’t know whether to call the things paintings or sculptures or painted sculptures or sculptural paintings) according to density and sequential layering of color (sometimes you can see through the paint to the cavernous spaces between the leaves, and sometimes you can’t see the leaves at all from the front).

    Among the pieces, there is no real

  • Pat Steir

    There is something very dark, very pessimistic about Pat Steir’s new paintings and drawings. Her previous work incorporated disturbing elements in an ensemble of marks and feelings; this variety has given way to a focus on despair. Dense, black squares, which were small sections of older paintings, have taken over. And although the “X” motif is not present visually in the paintings, it becomes instead implicit throughout. This “X,” or crossing out, used to appear alone, or it cancelled irises or roses, or marked out entire sections of a painting. It represented, in context, the artist’s (unique)

  • Alexander Liberman

    For a number of years, Alexander Liberman seems to have been working toward something ambiguous, searching, step by step, exploring through controlled experiment, as if working out some unknown problem, working through a block. His background is Abstract Expressionist—large, simple geometric paintings of rectangles and triangles in dynamic arrangements—a kind of loose Newman. I think back to those paintings, and remember their authoritative confidence. Liberman’s next step was a confused synthesis of the gestural and the geometric—a triangle standing on its point that was really an accumulation

  • Alex Katz

    Within the tradition of realist painting, Alex Katz stands as one of the most refined of artists. I would liken his position to that of Brice Marden in the tradition of abstract painting. Only the absolutely necessary feature of the tradition is preserved, and the elements that once were separable are collapsed into style. I often felt, while looking at Katz’s depicted interiors, that the walls were hung with Mardens (or Nolands), rather than being “blank.”

    The injection of people into Katz’s paintings can often appear irrelevant to the main purpose, which is the smooth sailing of style as form

  • Paul Waldman

    The limbless, headless, naked bodies in Paul Waldman’s new paintings a restuffed into tight corners, as if into plastic bags. The paintings are sectional, repeating long, narrow shapes that, when read together, remind one of progressively longer spikes or knife blades. Each panel is dominated by extended expanses of pink, baby blue or pearly gray, and the bodies complement this fruity arrangement by appearing more apricot than flesh-toned, in order to make them more “luscious.”

    The spiked-shaped panels are right-angled on the left, and severely diagonal on the right; one painting may consist of

  • John Walker

    John Walker’s paintings are Studio School, Tenth Street, ’50s. The scale is heroic. The geometric rectangles must be read as antigeometric. The color is predominantly earthy, muddy, primal. For the added touch of personal synthesis there are the pieces of canvas collage out of Cubism, the tentative black lines from Matisse. Slapdash and thrown together with machismo, these paintings rage tough. The philosophical discourse that envelops them must be dragged out of the existential closet. The references, the ambitions, the influences are all ripe for devastating parody. It’s as if the artist has

  • Harvey Quaytman

    Harvey Quaytman’s paintings are very curious. He showed a whole suite of them, every one of which seemed to me exactly the same in shape and structure. Normally this would not be unusual, except that the shape and structure repeated was so unusual. The paintings were a conglomeration of small, irregular shapes near the floor with one very long and narrow section which jutted upward almost out of view. Of the smaller shapes, only one had a generally nameable look: it was placed on the far right of the long narrow member, and had an arched upper right-hand side. The question one asks about this

  • The Battle of Chile

    Although I think that The Battle of Chile is a stunningly conceived and brilliantly executed work of art, I know I am doing it an injustice by reviewing it under the condition of art, in this magazine. Its proper place is probably not here. I feel that I can “use” it because I can consider it both as high art and historical document. But what its true use might be in a Third World nation, as a meaning in a Third World culture, I am unable to judge. It is a film which can exist solely on the periphery in our culture, simply because it is Marxist, pro-working class, anti-imperialist and clearly