Jeff Perrone

  • ‘Words’: When Art Takes a Rest

    SOMEWHERE ALONG THE LINE we got used to the idea that an art object could be a lousy object and a great work of art, as long as it was interesting to think about. Since Duchamp, the idea has commanded a great deal of our attention, but rarely has the idea come to fruition in a truly crummy-looking object. With those few works, however, the “artistically” or visually uninteresting object has passed from idea into fact. The consequence was that art became “immersed in words,” as Rosenberg has said.

    In the last few years, however, we have begun to accept works which are not only non-objects but

  • Beryl Korot

    There were four different components in Beryl Korot’s show—and a myriad of equivalences. Materially heterogeneous, the piece consisted df drawings, plans, wall hangings and videotapes. Yet together, they formed a seamless, interwoven whole.

    Five drawings charted the detailed underpinnings of five wall hangings. Five plans mapped out the patterned editing of a five-screen video piece. The videotapes revealed the processes involved in making the hangings: the strings being woven, the feet moving on pedals, the gathering of strings to be tied, the smack of wooden bars. And the tape also showed the

  • Llyn Foulkes

    In abstraction, the frame has been echoed incessantly as composition. It has caused the much discussed “edge” problem. The frame has presented itself as an ornate gold division and as Bruce Boice’s plain pine wrapping which signals “frame.” The frame demarcates the boundary between “art” and “life.” Inside it, in the safe convention of the painting space, the artist enjoys “freedom.” Outside that frame, the world impinges on that freedom, being preoccupied with finances.

    Llyn Foulkes makes his own frames. No baroque ornament which says “pricelessness,” and no silver section frame which automatically

  • Darryl Hughto

    There are, I think, two very different kinds of modernist painting. Critical exuberance (or blindness) has kept them together for years, so that we feel a kinship between them where none exists. One kind is rationally structured, with brilliant and arbitrary color—the taut, severe works of Newman, and early Stella and Noland. The second group is recognizably slick and ingratiating. Hilton Kramer has succinctly called it the marriage of anarchy and decoration (in the pejorative sense of the word) in the works of Pollock. And Pollock and Olitski are the celebrated masters here. Their work, giving

  • Ellsworth Kelly

    Ellsworth Kelly has never been a hard-core hard-edge painter. He has never accepted the square and the 90-degree angle as god-given. His color, never reduced to a set of primaries, has always been luscious and natural, prismatic without being systematic. Taken as a whole, his work sacrifices logic and rationality for a chance to bend a line, curve space, and charge color with worldly reference. His handsome canvases have never succumbed to intellectual pretense or justification for communication, and formal explanations have always seemed way off mark. Kelly doesn’t map out an itinerary beforehand;

  • Pinchas Cohen Gan

    I wonder if I am wrong thinking that Pinchas Cohen Gan is basically a whimsical, dryly humorous, childlike spirit. Is the informality and offhandedness disguising something more serious? Is the seeming naiveté willed or natural, and an end in itself?

    Art History A is a pile of small canvases in the middle of the room. Why am I attracted most to the Crayola-like colors and the self-depreciating mockery, and not the analytic dissection? Proposition Painting with a Real Copy of an Orange is made of two panels: one, that classic bad-taste color, thalo green with white; the other, a tacky fuschia.

  • Rafael Ferrer

    Rafael Ferrer’s show proved how hopeless it is to experience certain kinds of art within the modern gallery space. That space, even though it is blank and empty, can be a distraction if it is in direct opposition to the spirit of its contents. Ferrer usually disturbs the “white cube” by turning the whole room into an environment where every element derives its meaning from its place within the total ensemble. Any material can be made to work: neon, twigs, paintings, canoes—as long as the basic antagonism between work and space is obliterated. And Ferrer has often been quite successful at overcoming

  • Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

    Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe’s new paintings have dropped their previous affinities with Bochner and Rockburne and place all their chips on Mardenesque reductive abstraction. The symptoms are easily detected: square panels arranged in grids. One panel, one color. Grid empty of everything save color. No marking. No image. No painterliness. All deadpan, flat handling. Tasteful, arbitrary color. Here, color includes the latest Marden-inspired “shocking” juxtaposition of complementaries along with the de rigueur dark, dark greens and grays mingling with not-quite whites. We’ve seen it a thousand times.


  • Wayne Thiebaud from Phoenix to Des Moines

    GRACING THE FRONT COVER of Sunshine Muse, Peter Plagens’ apologetic history of West Coast art, is Wayne Thiebaud’s Girl with an Ice Cream Cone. Although Plagens spends little time on Thiebaud in the text, the point must be that there is something typically West Coast—or at least Californian—about the painting. If you can get past the fact that Thiebaud has rendered the flesh so that it approximates Manet’s Christ, there is a good case for this girl representing the Sunshine Muse. Her tan looks all-year-around. She wears her bathing suit as if she’d been born in it, ready for eternal sunshine.

  • Robert Rauschenberg

    ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG IS BOTH a protean artist and cultural symbol. He is enormously prolific and talented. But the successes and failures of his career are bound up with his character, which scripted, certain accomplishments and blocked many others. The diversity of materials, styles, and images in his career is surely one of the most prodigious in Western art since the Second World War. But dealing with that career, one sees how Rauschenberg was the captive of the appetite for artistic transformation he himself did so much to stimulate. Writers have turned his artistic success into the material

  • Duane Michals: The Self as Apparition

    He was not surprised to find his closet empty. Everything familiar was becoming unfamiliar. He could not be sure of anything.

    —from Something Strange Is Happening

    BY EXPLORING THE SPECIFIC meanings in his photographic discourse, Duane Michals has arrived at a belief in the Platonic view of the universe. Things are not real; ideas are. For him, there exist fleeting surface appearances which we mistake for reality. To have faith in photographic information and then confront Michals’ purpose is to open a closet and find it empty. A photograph can neither imitate nor document a real situation or

  • Bruce Nauman

    Bruce Nauman’s career as a famous artist in New York went by as fast as you could say “phenomenology.” It began in late 1968 and ended early in 1972 with the pronouncement that Nauman, by giving up Duchamp, had ceased to “interesting.” This was also the year of Nauman’s “retrospective,” which had been “several years in planning.” Although Nauman has continued to show every year, little attention has been paid to his work. Successive pieces have displayed increasing difficulty and waning collectability.

    After the abstract “split” sculptures came the punning word games; these gave way to the