Joan Seeman Robinson

  • 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

  • Richard Stout

    Richard Stout’s new landscape paintings look unabashedly nostalgic. Their misty radiance and near resemblance to classical examples of the genre seem to rebut any cognizance of the threatened state of nature today. Yet each vista resembles a familiar place whose precise source eludes us, whether through partial veilings of mass or contour, elisions of detail, blurrings of tactility, or some arresting contradictions of logical placement. These serene and luminous scenes of deep waters, cloud-scudded skies, and fenced fields resist identification. Stout is disarming us with reveries and at the

  • Dick Wray

    Dick Wray draws incessantly. His notebooks are well-known among artists in Houston. They function both as Baedekers and biographies for an overall peripatetic production which ranges from the little pictographic adventures of his avian buddy, Mr. Crow, to vast, abstract baroque tirades. Wray’s large canvases, on the other hand, have always been uningratiating, usually provocative, and frequently irritating, filled with willful oppositions between delicate drawing and mucky impastos, vaporous pastels and declamatory primaries, miniaturist details and vast scumblings of matter, and rectilinear

  • Lee Smith

    There’s just a thin scrim between Lee Smith’s paintings of childhood games and that edge of our adult lives which is haunted by unoccasioned fears and inexplicable awe. His medium-sized works, scaled to fit any tract house, deal almost straightforwardly with the covert activities of adolescents. They have a children’s book clarity, an illustrational purpose: all forms are simplified and rendered in strong colors with clear contours. But a bizarre surreality suffuses the images—the children glow around their edges like irradiated lunar-kinder, and their flesh-tones are red, blue, or green. We

  • Carlos Alfonzo

    Carlos Alfonzo’s new paintings are roisterous and roiling. They project their energy with a hyperkinetic force that can confound equilibrium. Like primal episodes, they appear self-created; they seem more like witnessed events than designed objects, their fecundity and ferocity barely contained at their borders.

    Alfonzo’s primary gesture is a sweeping curved line whose trajectory loops into figure-eights, tightens into whorls, and arcs to intersect with other curves. Shift, 1987, is filled with pinwheeling vortices; in Image and Fact, 1989, sweeping segmented shapes resemble the rungs of black