Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

  • John McLaughlin

    John McLaughlin started painting in his forties. The son of a Massachusetts Superior Court judge, he served in both world wars and when not in uniform was in business. A Japan specialist for American military intelligence during wartime, a part-time dealer in Japanese prints afterward, he was sufficiently drawn to Japan to move there in 1935. Perhaps it was inevitable that he would come to be seen as an artist who brought Japanese thought to bear on Euro-American painting, and this is the view that curator Susan C. Larsen promotes in her catalogue essay for this retrospective in part by way of

  • Peter Halley: Collected Essays 1981–87

    Peter Halley: Collected Essays 1981–87, Zurich: Bruno Bischofberger Gallery, 1988, 205 pp., 19 black and white photographs.

    THE ABILITY TO INFURIATE two factions that believe themselves to be mutually exclusive is always of value, indicating as it does the presence of limits of which we were hitherto unaware, of complementariness where we had dreamed of opposition. Apparently sickened by endless talk about how nonrepresentational paintings have to be involved with the idea of the transcendental, Peter Halley has made a career out of paintings that are not concerned with transcending anything.

  • Fashion and Surrealism

    Fashion and Surrealism, by Richard Martin. New York: Rizzoli, 1987, 240 pp., 15 color and 285 black-and-white illustrations.

    RICHARD MARTIN HAS PUT together a very useful book documenting Surrealism’s contribution to 20th-century fashion—not fashion in general, but fashion with a capital F, the industry centered around the design of women’s clothes. The book, which is exhaustively illustrated, traces the relationship between the two at the level both of direct effect—fashion designs etc. by Surrealist artists—and of the indirect, the distant, or possibly even the merely coincidental, as in

  • Clinton Hill

    WRITING ABOUT CLINTON HILL'S WORK in 1956, Leo Steinberg said of one of his drawings that “his every line aims at its destination; each patch of tone vibrates with its neighbor; the open spaces work with energy. The drawing is done with such dash and decision that it is hard to believe the resulting pattern to be pure invention.”

    It is of course—as I think Steinberg would be the first to admit—hard to know just how pure invention would be recognizable as such. But one knows what is meant, and the description offered in those two sentences continues to apply to Hill’s more recent work.


  • Matisse the Representational Artist

    “I shall be guided by a sentence on the first page of your letter. You write: ‘Panorama and traces, flâneur

    and arcades, modernism and the unchanging, without a theoretical interpretation—is that a material which

    can patiently await decipherment?’ The understandable impatience with which you searched the manuscript

    for a definite signalement [characterization] has, in my opinion, led you astray from it in some important respects . . . ”

    Letter from Walter Benjamin to Theodor Adorno1

    WATTEAU, DELACROIX, CÉZANNE, MATISSE: four names which stand for—along with much that does not unite them—the

  • Capital Follies

    PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE ISN’T VERY beautiful, which is why the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation has been created. The P.A.D.C. is a federal agency with a total budget of $130,000,000 (with congressional approval to raise this figure to $225,000,000 through borrowing), of which it proposes to spend $14,000,000 on the first part of the overall task, the improvement of an area at the avenue’s western end.

    The P.A.D.C.’s original plan called for the collaboration of two teams of architects, an artist, and a group of engineers. These, following a selection process described below, turned out

  • Joshua Neustein: Static, Fragile, Massive, Gray, Torn, Impermanent

    JOSHUA NEUSTEIN WORKS IN terms which, having been with us for approximately a decade, now seem deceptively familiar. Theirs is a deceptive familiarity because, as I shall come to say, these terms no longer address quite the same issues as before.

    They lead us toward this encounter: the work engages and retains our attention through manipulating the—mutually exclusive—perceptual categories of “real” and “pictorial” space. In the course of alternating between mutually exclusive experiences, one is made increasingly aware of the internal structure’s saturation by this general idea, so that one

  • Progress in Art

    Suzi Gablik, Progress in Art, (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1977), 192 pages, 162 illustrations.

    Progress in Art is subtitled “Is There Progress in Art?” Gablik wants to suggest that there might be, and her book’s dust-jacket goes on to describe the volume it enfolds as “a radical and challenging view of art based on the ideas of Jean Piaget, Claude Lévi-Strauss and Thomas Kuhn.” One feels as though this sentence might be there to allay the anxiety brought on by the capricious interaction of title and subtitle. Accordingly, it’s printed in red, a brightly marked reassurance whose

  • Gary Kuehn

    Gary Kuehn’s show was a ten-year retrospective; he’s had perhaps less than his fair share of attention so the opportunity to readily obtain some kind of an overview of his career was timely and welcome. Over the last decade Kuehn has developed consistently toward a reliance on the modified readymade. He’s tended to use things like cardboard boxes—covered with tar that will soften and melt in the sun—in order to depict and exploit physical force within terms that reduce the evocation of gesture attendant on such a depiction. Kuehn’s progress has inclined toward elimination of the personally

  • Brice Marden, David Novros and Kes Zapkus

    Brice Marden’s recent drawings are delicate, brilliant, and central to one of the most pressing problems with which serious painting is currently concerned: the problem of working with a pictorial space that doesn’t deny its function as a subdivision of real space. Marden uses drawing (line) exclusively as a subdivider of the rectangle that continually refers to the dimensions and proportions of the original format. Line, in these drawings of Marden’s, is the means for an intuitive procedure that amounts to a constant revision of the pictorial space. Linear accumulation transforms the space,

  • Ed Moses

    Ed Moses is now painting diagonal stripes on laminated tissue paper in a way that equates the surface—pigment and rhoplex—with its support; the paper is about as thick as the painted skin it bears. Fragility, one of the most immediately apparent properties of such a work as Coyote, 1973–74, is as much a physical condition of the piece as it’s a feature attributed to it by color or line.

    The physical fragility of these works seems important because of, not despite, their involvement with the terminology of ’60s modernism. Specifically, they refer to Morris Louis and to the recent work of Frank

  • Giulio Paolini

    Giulio Paolini’s work is of various kinds: literalist drawings with the middles torn out and other permutations of the same idea; a drawing made of graph paper with a hand holding a pen superimposed on it and made out of the same kind of paper; a self-portrait the title of which named objects—a bust of Heraclitus among them—the painting was said to contain but didn’t. The common theme can only be Paolini, whose privileged subjectivity seems meant to unite the disparate elements of physical perception and associated meaning he presents. The most elaborate work in the show confirms this. It consists

  • Roberta Allen and Roman Opalka

    Roberta Allen showed work of two sorts. Strips of canvas arranged on rollers, in groups, partially rolled and partially unrolled and labeled according to the length exposed. And groups of vertical lines on gridded paper—one line to a square—labeled as arrows without heads denoted as pointing up in some pictures and down in others. The theme of partial concealment also enters into some of these drawings. Allen is impressive because of the variety she gets out of this simple idea, and this variety—the large number of different kinds of work she’s able to make with it—indicates the depth of its

  • Lucio Fontana

    At a time when a reinterpretation of Abstract Expressionism seems both necessary and feasible, it’s especially good to have access to previously unexhibited work by Lucio Fontana, whose career in some ways paralleled that of postwar American painting. Rosalind Krauss has indicated that what needs to be considered is Abstract Expressionism’s internalization of the Surrealist idea of “content.” I’d extrapolate that what’s in question is the extent to which the Americans retained Surrealism’s preoccupation with the erotic as a subversion of the erotic. A well-known reading—William Rubin’s—seems to

  • Patrick Hogan

    Patrick Hogan’s work engages one’s attention in a way that, in some respects, seems to have affinities with a use of materials like Eva Hesse’s. The hairiness of Hogan’s paintings at their edges, combined with the irregularity of the perimeter’s line, hints at a kind of choice I associate with Hesse: the selection of materials which are in themselves implicitly indefinite, or incompletely controllable.

    Hesse seemed to use fiberglass because that material guarantees unpredictable nuance and vicissitude. Its ragged edge and uneven surface matched her intuitive—but not unprogrammatic—way of working.

  • Sanford Wurmfeld

    Sanford Wurmfeld’s paintings, made over the last couple of years, present one with a very different attitude to the pictorial object from Hogan’s. If you want to talk about conventionalized impersonality, this is definitely it. And there is one sense, too, in which Wurmfeld’s attitude and Hogan’s can be seen as simply, but diametrically, opposed. In actuality, the relationship between the two kinds of work can only be thought of as indirect and convoluted—and not unaffected, perhaps, by the distance between the East Coast and West Coast. But it might be worth observing that, while in Hogan’s

  • Frank Lobdell

    Frank Lobdell, born in 1921 in Kansas City, Missouri, has spent most of his artistic life on the West Coast. This shows only in the slight influence of California light in his sense of color. I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the development of his painting, but the works I’m reviewing here seemed academic in the fullest sense, which is to say that the references they make to Matisse are at least accompanied by a high degree of technical control. Otherwise, these pieces of work reveal a tendency to articulate a cliché and then persistently lapse into it—the same curved line seems to control a

  • Patrick Caulfield

    I refer to the following quote from Christopher Finch’s book about English Pop art Image as Language (London, 1969), to get at the critical ambiance which has typically surrounded Patrick Caulfrield’s art:

    Of the painters discussed in this book, Patrick Caulfield is the most specifically European. He has learned from the Americans but remains firmly within the European tradition. It is true—though not the whole truth—to say that the subject of his paintings is the European tradition. For him the greatest benefit of contact with the new American painting has been that it has given him a more

  • Gary Hill

    Gary Hill’s wire constructions come in two sorts. The floor pieces look like they’re based on the work of Anthony Caro. One of these was accompanied by a small split screen, showing two—simultaneously projected—details of wire surfaces. This piece was also accompanied by a sound recording, of wire being vibrated or shaken or possibly raked with a tuning fork. The wall pieces, which are more open and also more regular in their construction, more resemble Don Judd’s work. All the work is made out of strands of thick wire, welded together at the ends—where the plane changes—and must have been

  • Peter Bardazzi

    Talk about commodity objects leads right (not to make a pun) to Peter Bardazzi’s paintings, compositions in which piles of curvilinear and conical abstract shapes topple into and away from one another, never fail to depress. The paintings are completely involved with nostalgia for the period immediately around the First World War, in particular—as far as the paintings are concerned—for Futurism. They are abstractions in Bloomingdale colors that literally, which is to say pictorially, take place in a void.

    The collages are just as bad. Untitled Collage, 1974, features a variety of referents to