Joan Seeman Robinson

  • Stewart Goldman

    Some artists seem to grow younger as they grow older. There is lilt, buoyancy, a sense of being freely unmoored in a calm sea. De Kooning had it: While time worked its debilitating damage, he soared, painting ribbons of pure color borne aloft on white fields. Mondrian, a septuagenarian émigré in Manhattan in the early '40s, fairly shivered with syncopation. Hanging out in jazz clubs bore fruit in tilted, lozenge-shaped canvases whose grids shook loose in contrapuntal patterns like the boogie-woogie discourse in piano bars of the period. And then there's Matisse, who cut and pasted his way through

  • Scott Burton

    THE FOUR SECTIONS OF THE SPRAWLING multimedia exhibition “Suite Fantastique”—labeled “overture,” “variations and scherzo,” “intermezzo and trio,” and “rave”—included large-screen projections of opening film credits by the Hollywood-based design team Imaginary Forces; two galleries of early drawings by architects Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Thom Mayne, and Bernard Tschumi (''Perfect Acts of Architecture“): and a hulking walk-in hybrid of painting and architecture by Fabian Marcaccio and Greg Lynn (The Predator, 2000–01). What tied these disparate exhibitions together

  • Stephan Balkenhol

    There’s no divorcing the figure from the base in Stephan Balkenhol’s sculptures. If these ordinary guys, his most frequent subjects, were plunked directly on the floor, they would disappear in the crowd. As it is, they acquire a quirky prestige by virtue of their elevation, hefted up on stacks of thick spools or sidled onto flatbeds perched on wooden sawhorses, slouched in single file as if walk the plank.

    Balkenhol is entangling us in the skeins of sculpture’s history, and maybe in politics as well. As Brancusi moved from Romania to France, he refined and reduced his portraits of birds and humans

  • Allan Wexler

    There is a deceptive modesty about Allan Wexler’s work, seen here in a survey covering twenty-five years of the artist’s career. He has long laid claim to the diminutive with his Lilliputian-like objects, and he has confined himself to some of the most fundamental elements of our material culturethe two-by-four, the chair, the hut—coaxing from them a formal vocabulary of seemingly infinite variety. Compulsively breaking down and recombining their planar surfaces, he appears bent on releasing undiscovered dimensions of mass and volume. Wexler, one critic wrote, has sexual intercourse with the

  • Julie Taymor

    This twenty-five-year retrospective of designer-director Julie Taymor’s career begins with an installation dedicated to her theatrical reinterpretation of Disney’s 1998 film The Lion King, for which she won two Tony Awards. Behind a multiscreen video showing footage of the production phases of the musical is an array of giant masks, mannequins in full regalia, large articulated puppets of jungle animals, and working drawings, all interspersed with small wall videos of the rehearsals and the live performance. In this buoyant environment—The Lion King is by far the sunniest of Taymor’s theatrical

  • Tina Barney

    In this selection of her work from the past twenty years, Tina Barney invites us into the pastel preserves of America’s WASPs. The twenty-seven chromogenic color prints on view in “Photographic Tableaux: Tina Barney’s Family Album” display bedrooms and bathrooms, living rooms and kitchens, in which infants, teenagers, mothers, and fathers appear to be casually expending a surfeit of leisure time. In nearly every “episode”—all the images seem infused with a vague sense of narrative—the figures are preoccupied with some mundane activity: carrying a book or a puppy, scanning the Sunday Times, fixing

  • Francesco Clemente

    In this exhibition of Francesco Clemente’s Early Morning Raga, 1996-97, the artist elevates quotidian detail to the realm of cosmic symbolism. His procedure in the collection of eighteen watercolors assembled as an unbound book is disarmingly simple. With the strict schematic format of a grid, he apportions images of approximately the same size, nine per page, whose subject matter is a compendium of his migratory and cross-cultural calendar. Clemente and his family live in New York; Rome; and Madras, India, and the watercolors are emblazoned with representations of bicycles and soccer games,

  • “The Collections of Barbara Bloom”

    At the entrance of “The Collections of Barbara Bloom,” a combined retrospective exhibition and mock “estate sale,” was a color chart. One of several works in a series titled “Naming: (Dedications),” its gridlike arrangement of mostly pastel hues was delicately didactic. Some of the associations were a take on the familiar: “blush” was a soft rose; “envy,” a pale green. But others inclined us to adjust our assumptions: “anon” was a neutral gray; “Lolita,” a cool violet. Associations uncoiled from these unexpected appellations; they bore echoes of experience and permeations of memory. “Naming”

  • Joel Otterson

    Joel Otterson’s recent show opened with a real garage door whose redwood panels and metal hardware had been entirely covered with a pressure-sealed, digitized color photograph (made in collaboration with Tom Allison) depicting his lush garden in Kentucky. With this oddly paradoxical door, which was at once solid and penetrable, utilitarian and visionary, the artist informed us that he’s getting out of the house and back to nature—moving from funky furniture extravaganzas to works that achieve a kind of horticultural expressionism. The Garden Door, 1996, set the stage for this transition, door

  • Nam June Paik

    Nam June Paik’s multipart show “Electronic Super Highway,” which originated at the Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art and travels to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts late this month, addresses how our everyday has been transformed by technologies of communication. In Paik’s cyberville, craggy hedges composed of discarded monitors, cameras, antennae, and cassette tapes border houses, public buildings, towers, billboards, and trees. It’s a daffy Land of Oz, only the Wizard isn’t lurking behind the scenery, he’s chattering and blinking from every possible screen. While the installation at times

  • “Landscape as Metaphor”

    “Landscape as Metaphor: Visions of America in the Late Twentieth Century” was an exhibition filled with sound-the drip of melting ice, the incessant hiss of white noise, the creaking of branches. And there were smells, too, of prairie grasses, cedar, and humid, packed earth. In scale, the installations (an entire gallery-sized space was allotted to each artist) echoed 19th-century American landscape paintings in which the vast territories depicted were meant to fill the viewer with humility. Today’s descendants have moved light years away from the expeditionary optimism of those panoramas. Every

  • TODT

    I’d like to see TODT’s deadly looking, simulated military hardware drawn up before the black, glossy walls of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, which, with no fanfare or apologies, tallies the number of dead. TODT takes this same unflinching approach to the toll of war in two relief constructions, Peace and War (both 1988). In Peace, circular plaques support a fork, a dinner plate, and what appear to be kernels of corn, but which, on closer inspection, are revealed to be three human incisors. In War, the utensil is a soldier’s trench-digging shovel, elegantly suspended near an empty

  • Martha Rosler

    Martha Rosier’s clinical photographs of airline terminals, which she has been documenting since 1983, form a pictorial Baedaker of international transit centers. She confronts us with the bare bones of commercial facilities by putting their anonymity in sharp focus.

    Though airports are packed with people, except for those bleary nighttime hours when only custodians and security shuffle about, Rosier almost always exempts passengers and employees from her static vistas of check-in counters, entrance ramps, departure gates, and baggage claims. In these large Cibachromes (the most recent are billboard

  • Ellen Phelan

    There’s no age of innocence in Ellen Phelan’s paintings of dolls. She has joined those artists who see the miniaturized and the mannequin as stand-ins for imaginary scenarios. From Hans Bellmer’s fetishistic poupées to Jeff Koons’ glazed trophies of the mass media, the passive hand-held plaything has often greased the mechanism of our fantasies.

    What’s so eerie about Phelan’s little figures is the scumbled ambience muffling their definition. They’re like family members in fuzzy photographs whose identities ought to be obvious, yet remain irretrievable. The power of Phelan’s small personnae is

  • Nassos Daphnis

    For the past forty years Nassos Daphnis’ paintings have embodied a seemingly imperturbable equilibrium. Since 1952 his canvases have been subdivided and proportioned with the snap-string precision and compass-wielding flair of a visionary master planner. He has demonstrated his unwavering faith in the power of abstraction to outweigh the minutiae of everyday life. His paintings are, as were Piet Mondrian’s, the pictorial condensations of a search for harmony—for resolutions of real-world irregularities and discontinuities into disciplined configurations whose chromatic power provides their

  • Dale Chihuly

    This exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s work foregrounded the dialogue between classical container and organic exuberance that characterizes his work. Ikebana, 1992, is a series of elegantly somber gray vases with subtle contours, tautened by the formal restraint and reverence for tradition fundamental to oriental ceramics, however teased by Chihuly’s tendrils of glass winding around and down from their mouths. In the “Venetians,” 1989–92, the shoulders and bellies of the vases suggest full-blown fertility figures, which sprout incorrigible fronds of lilies and wildly coiling vines in a chorus of

  • Arnulf Rainer

    When the Austrian artist Arnulf Rainer began his “Übermalungen,” 1954-75, or “Overpaintings,” he was canceling past art—literally obliterating his own and others’ works with swathes and splatters of pigment. Similar in appearance to American Abstract Expressionist works but opposite in intention, Rainer’s “Übermalungen” seek a spiritual, transcendental release beyond the esthetic surface.

    The “Übermalungen” and the “Kreuzen” (Crosses, 1956-91) contrast starkly with the notorious mid-career “Self-Portraits and Face Farces,” ravaged photographs of himself and others with powerful over-drawings that

  • George Krause

    In the 1960s nonverbal communication was a hot topic of conversation, especially the idea that unconsciously assumed bodily postures reveal subconscious scenarios. To the perceptive onlooker this body language supposedly revealed potent psycho-social messages accompanying, but frequently contradicting, spoken language.

    In a joint venture with a young, flexible female, George Krause contorts his body to produce acrobatic equivalents of the letters of the alphabet and then photographs the results. This series entitled “Krause Roman,” 1989, is a continuation of his “I Nudi” studies, but here—tongue

  • Brian Portman

    Viewing Brian Portman’s drawings is like scrolling through a mine shaft. They’re big and black, and etched with luminous shapes that seem embedded in fossilized strata. Figuration is immanent but it never emerges enough to match recognizable terrestrial experience. The outlines of globs and carapaces, feathering webs, and ragged tendrils drift through phosophorescent fields and charred patches. The result is a tangle of subterranean abundance.

    Portman’s new works on paper include an immense drawing, Bower, 1990, covering an entire wall of the big pitched-roof gallery space. Portman has covered

  • “Czech Modernism: 1900–1945”

    To most Western viewers, the history of Czech Modernism has been inaccessible and almost invisible. Czechoslovakia, hemmed in by a language barrier discouraging communication and translation, was further isolated and repressed after the Nazi occupation in 1938. But this exhibition documents a cosmopolitan milieu in which Czech artists not only traveled, trained, lived, and exhibited in Western capitals, but constantly initiated and sponsored exhibitions of vanguard international art in their own country with promptness and perspicacity. These exhibitions were well-attended, publicized, and