Jeff Perrone

  • Jasper John’s New Paintings

    The aim of every authentic artist is not to conform to the history of art but to release himself from it, in order to replace it with his own history.

    ––Harold Rosenberg, in Art on the Edge

    LEO STEINBERG WAS HIS MOST ELOQUENT spokesman, but he wrote nothing else after that watershed monograph of 1962. Articles about his new art tend to be generous sighs about the iconic images of the ’50s, which have been reworked in the graphic—mostly lithographic—works of the past few years. The only continuous work we see is of uncertain interest: it can be boringly repetitious (Ale Cans, 1975), messy, complex

  • Robert Motherwell

    Although A la Pintura does not signal any new directions in painting or open any doors, it nevertheless is one of Robert Motherwell’s most important paintings. It is basically a version of his continuing “Open” series, which consists of a one-color field and some kind of hanging rectangle drawn upon it, usually from the top. Compared with the rest of the show, in its refined black/white/brown and muted powder blues and rusts, A la Pintura appears to be a monumental release of energy—it is a field of the most sensuous blood red. This red is very powerful, and is something I would describe as

  • Will Insley

    Not paintings, not drawings, Will Insley's objects lay claim to some uncharted area in the vicinity of excavated architectural blueprints and inert flattened sculpture. He is showing work which is nearly identical to that seen in 1968 at the Whitney Annual. He presents series of objects which, sure enough, hang on the wall but do so in a rather noblesse oblige fashion. Their staid, purposeful, dark and light grays signal something above painting or sculpture, above mere art.

    Each wall-mounted, masonite object is gridded, and each of his series plays out a transformation by fooling around with a

  • Guy Dill

    The odd mixture of refined elegance and rigorous Constructivism is what gives Guy Dill’s sculpture its edge. The mixture has usually produced Art Deco-like results (Stella, Lichtenstein), but Dill adds precariousness to elegance and formality. His work executed in huge glass plates and concrete, with the glass standing on edge, kept the viewer apprehensive contemplating the physical feat, but without any melodramatic effect. They were fascinatingly insecure.

    The work he showed at Pace is smaller than things of his I’ve seen in Los Angeles. In LA you can do anything giant size, in New York I

  • Robert Barry

    After forays into image and color, association and evocative presentation, in such works as The Seasons Robert Barry has gone hermit again. He showed a number of exceedingly immaculate drawings, rather large, all white, with inscribed rectangles in pencil. On, in, or around these rectangles were word series in pencil, stencil, and Letraset. As an experience, it was definitely of the sensory deprivation type. Hinting at various personal responses by word nudging is an exercise I equate with early-’60s pseudo-Haiku and concrete poetry. Barry gives us the large blank interior of the drawings to

  • William Copley

    No mistake be made, William Copley is quite clear about the matter of our country’s birth. Not confident that the sacred cows have been brought to the slaughter enough times already, he takes each of our national heros and myths and subjects them to a raunchy replay. Copley knows that to be subtle would be coy, and also overlooked. He had an all-blue painting with dark blue block lettering reading DON’T FIRE UNTIL YOU SEE THE WHITES OF THEIR EYES. It was a good pun and a good painting which not-so-incidentally poked fun at the one-color canvas school of painting. Other paintings with obvious

  • ‘Women of Photography’: History and Taste

    “NO SUCH THING AS A ‘Female Eye’ Behind Camera,” concludes a review of the “Women of Photography” show;1 and indeed, if that were what the organizers wanted to prove—a literal “female eye” or “sensibility” lurking behind all women’s work—then their method certainly would have failed. More likely Margery Mann and Anne Noggle, who put the show together at the San Francisco Museum of Art, simply wanted to present the work of fine artists and decided, because of current interest in the subject, to choose women.

    And why not? You have to place limits on any show, and an all-women show picked by two

  • Sylvia Mangold

    Is there some kind of dialectic in artistic production, something having to do with expended labor? I don’t mean that in any rigorous, Marxian sense; some work doesn’t call attention to the fact that labor is involved because the object it produces looks effortless and it looks as if someone had such a great time doing it. The opposite of that must be art which looks like labor, like time spent on real technical labor—like Sylvia Mangold’s work (could there be a more appropriate word in her case than “work”?)

    It certainly doesn’t look like a good time; it’s all very serious and purposeful. I

  • “(photo) (photo)2 (photo)n: Sequenced Photographs”

    What are the things on the wall and the floor? They are called photographs, but forget the official exhibition title and really look at the things. There are works I would have sworn were paintings (they are, after all, referred to as so many “panels”) and look quite painterly; some look like regular ol’ Conceptual pieces. I mean, do you think Wegman really cares about photography as a medium? Some look like poor man’s cinema (we get to look at the frames one by one, unprojected) or perhaps good magazine illustrations of video pieces. This is something called “(photo) (photo)2 (photo)n: Sequenced

  • “MFA Candidates”

    Not much attention is given to the “class” of art I am thinking of. Generally, if I am interested in a show, it is a group show. Most artists work on their own small’ problems in more or less tiring permutations which I find difficult to digest in one-person shows (unless the artist is particularly good). Group shows seem inherently more interesting simply because they offer more variety. Finding common bonds (or, as the case may be, common errors) among disparate works that are produced in the same milieu is more challenging than mere labeling—boxing artists in the latest chic categories. I am

  • “Summer '75 Group Show”

    It’s probably presumptuous to assume that a few years ago all the people in the “Summer Group ’75 Show” were in an MFA exhibit, but I bet they were. In the meantime it looks as if they’ve either been to New York (for a little roughening up) or to L A (for a trip through the car wash to get all shined up). It looks as though Susan Whyne went to L A; her fake photo-Realism is certainly bizarre enough, like a Woolworth’s version of a Bechtle. Stucco, evergreen bushes, empty sidewalks—it looks very tracthousey, very Venice. What makes it memorable is what it lacks: there are no shiny surfaces, chrome

  • Elmer Bischoff

    I don’t think West Coast art has ever really worried about ideas of the impersonal as New York artists have. Reviewing three decades of art (roughly 1945–75) can substantiate all my hidden prejudices about the subject of painting, culture, and traditionalism. The new work looks old (especially the good stuff), harking back to the days when painting reigned. That paint, craftily laid on in appropriately pleasing arrangements, was necessary to create honest-to-goodness art, Art.

    Elmer Bischoff had two shows: new paintings at the Art Institute and ink drawings in Berkeley. I should write the whole

  • Richard Diebenkorn

    Diebenjorn was a colleague of Bischoff’s in the heyday of West Coast ’40s–’50s art (if you think there was a heyday) and while Bischoff has retained the human figure in his work to this day, Diebenkorn was the landscape painter, even when he became an abstractionist. There’s only a short distance from the Berkeley series (on display at Berggruen) to the Ocean Park series. Now Diebenkom was probably the best painter painter (ya know, tough) around then, and this mini-retrospective is a handsome show. Large areas of vigorously painted blue (sky), green, and brown arabesques (trees, ground), the

  • Sam Francis

    Sam Francis? He’s different. A very good painter but not a painter’s painter. No cross to bear. How he gets away with it year after year is something (he never gets slick). How can he move with modernist painting all the way from the West Coast (he left the center for the edges and now is back inside the arena again)?

    The new paintings (untitled) are on canvas and paper; the small ones (Mandalas) on paper have rectangular solids smack in the center, emphasizing the shape of the paper. They are simple—the best in the show. Francis continues the wide water swatches with those impossible colors

  • “Both Kinds: Contemporary Art From Los Angeles”

    “Both Kinds: Contemporary Art from Los Angeles.” I am will ing to say that anyonedoing art appears old-fashioned and I guess the answer to that would be, who cares? Culture is conservative. Nothing really new can be done and it’s art history’s job to prove it. This show, arranged by Peter Plagens, is old-fashioned, in the handmade down-home way, with no industrial design present. The watchwords: heterogeneous, pluralistic and catholic. No preconceived ideas, except those of individual quality. It’s a long way from the uniformity that dictated the type of art, art history and criticism we were

  • “Poets of the Cities”

    There must be a reason why the Dallas Museum of Fine Art with the help of Southern Methodist University has decided to meddle in the already muddled affairs of New York and San Francisco painting in the ’50s. Geographically, this seems like some kind of mistaken identity crisis with wish-fulfillment overtones; but more likely, it is simply a chance to present something impressive and important. You feel that the motivations will be good, wholesome and clean but the execution overbearing yet incomplete, expansive yet (or thus) banal, and, well, wrong-headed. That yearning for culture, the

  • “California Realists”

    Los Angeles doesn't keep its junk, it throws it into trash compactors and makes land fills or ocean sewage. The man-made things are new, shiny plastic and clean, not at all unlike the “new” Texas. San Franciscans look down upon all this, but get a kick out of the automobiles, tackiness, and technology. It's this perverse love/hate which turns “California Realists” (John Berggruen Gallery) into such a popular show. It's another example of the misguided idea of an idea for an exhibition. Please read “Los Angeles” for “California,” so we laugh at the excesses and still relate to the pleasure. Unlike

  • Barry Le Va

    It’s not a conscious aversion to the arts, or contemporary art, but a natural shying away from things that smack of elitism as opposed to populism (this is a strong labor town). San Franciscans love culture veering toward the camp, jaded pleasures of fashion and immediate pleasures of rock music. Other than that, the theatricality of opera keeps it popular, hanging on as the vestige of glittery anachronistic absurdity that it is. No coincidence that rock superentrepreneur Bill Graham is sponsoring a huge benefit concert for those basketball coaches. No coincidences or surprises then that people