John Yau

  • Kerry James Marshall

    Though not a self-taught artist, Kerry James Marshall has chosen to incorporate aspects of outsider art into his practice, placing the flat forms of his simplified figures within a shallow pictorial depth. Marshall’s use of naive art is deceptive, however, because he transforms the cheerfulness and charm we associate with such art into something subversive. As rooted in the tradition of the Blues, as he is grounded in his knowledge of Hollywood’s attitudes toward African-Americans, Marshall uses his knowledge of high art, folk art, and Pop culture to celebrate African-American culture and to

  • Catherine Murphy

    With the exception of Jasper Johns’ Fool’s House, 1962, we have seen little in the past few decades that has anticipated the intersection of art and life in Catherine Murphy’s tightly framed realist paintings. Like Johns’ juxtaposition of broom and smeared surface, Murphy’s Moiré Chair, 1991, proposes a witty relationship between doing and seeing, particularly with respect to domestic routines. Indeed, to say that she is a realist painter is to miss all the ways in which she uses abstraction, the picture plane, and the odd angle in order to defamiliarize what is familiar—to make the scenes she

  • Sal Scarpitta

    Sal Scarpitta’s art, which is simultaneously idiosyncratic and in touch with major European and American art movements, such as Futurism, arte povera, and Minimalism, has yet to be fully recognized in America. His deepest roots are in Futurism and in the quintessentially Modern impulse to represent speed that motivated that movement. And yet, like two other major postwar Italian artists—Piero Manzoni (it is not clear who influenced whom, or if they arrived at their “wrapped” or bandaged work independently) and Alberto Burri, who was a decided influence—Scarpitta is also a product of an art

  • Kathy Muehlemann

    Many of Kathy Muehlemann’s abstract paintings from the past half decade are animated by a tension between diminutive scale and an allover deployment of images. This tension is further echoed by the images that are geometric and referential at the same time; one image simultaneously suggests a glowing planetary orb and an ellipse, for example. The paintings—many are approximately the size of a typical hardcover book—convey an intimacy (they are meant to be seen up close), while the allover fields evoke an expansiveness that exceeds the scope of our field of vision. In maintaining this tension,

  • Suzanne McClelland

    Instead of contenting herself with the revelation of the stale perception that the mass media have emptied language of meaning, Suzanne McClelland combines words and paint to evoke the degree to which we are determined by words and the fictions they embody.

    On a formal level, McClelland utilizes charcoal, acrylic, gels, clay, and rabbit-skin glue to investigate the conditional relationship between drawing and words, between painting and writing. Within these formal parameters, however, she pursues a more speculative and ultimately more engaging investigation of the zones between conventional and

  • Mark Schlesinger

    Like many abstract artists who survived the ’80s, Mark Schlesinger’s subsequent paintings have been seen infrequently and mostly in scattered group shows. His approach to abstraction challenges the prevailing taste for formal reprisals of earlier styles and for knowing but critical nods to the past. In this respect, his paintings counter the general feeling that abstraction is no longer viable.

    Schlesinger’s paintings not only vary in size and format and employ very different color combinations, but the surfaces range from rough, relatively thick (though clearly defined) areas to thin, smooth

  • James O. Clark

    James O. Clark works in a manner that evokes the mad scientist, the visionary tinkerer, and the jazz soloist. At a moment when much sculpture consists of either accumulations of found or “store bought” objects or three-dimensional reprisals of other artists’ work, Clark’s often kinetic sculptures dispel the conformist notion that there is nothing left to do in the artistic arena but to criticize consumerism. Clark appears not to have been affected by much of what happened during the ’80s, either in art or critical discourse. His work neither partakes of this dominant esthetic nor reacts against

  • Willie Cole

    Willie Cole forages through detritus in the form of abandoned household appliances and recombines their parts into totems with unexpected anthropomorphic power. His is an art of recognition, rehabilitation, and revelation; implied in his recastings is a commentary on the ineluctible presence of the human image in virtually everything made by man, including, ironically, the remnants of throw-away culture. Cole looks at a telephone and sees an intriguing sign for the human face, looks at junked blowdryers and imagines an evocative mask; he stacks and reassembles irons and their cords into animated

  • Nicholas Maffei

    Nicholas Maffei’s abiding interest in the relationship between light and dark (both as pictorial fact and as metaphorical presence), coupled with his imaginative articulation of organic forms, suggest the early influence of Bill Jensen more than that of either Minimalism or Pop art. In his recent paintings, however, in which he lays down thick layers of black paint and then scratches through the tarlike surfaces until the white under-painting reveales itself in slightly wavering lines, Maffei has entered a territory all his own.

    Like Maffei’s earlier works, the recent compositions are symmetrical

  • Norman Bluhm

    This exhibition, entitled “Norman Bluhm Paintings 1960–65,” not only examines a distinct period in the artist’s career, it affords a fresh view of a moment in post-war American art history, which has been so codified as to render many artists working then almost invisible. As these large canvases attest, Bluhm remains (along with Joan Mitchell) one of the few artists of his generation to have continually grappled with the Abstract Expressionist legacy. Influenced by both Henri Matisse and Jackson Pollock (he saw a show of Pollock’s in 1951 ), Bluhm made his first mature abstractions—allover

  • Jaime Franco

    Abstractionists working in a painterly, post-Minimalist manner—an approach that combines a pared-down, abstract vocabulary with either expressive brushwork or Pop art’s theatricality—can be divided into two groups: those who are demonstrating abstraction’s continuing vitality and those who are simply nostalgic for its high-toned rhetoric.

    Jaime Franco—a young abstract artist who lives and works in Colombia—is neither reverent nor cynical with respect to achievements of postwar painting. He contributes to abstraction’s renewal without proclaiming himself as either its savior or its liquidator.

  • David Chow

    David Chow’s large, gestural paintings of flowers are neither spin-offs of New Image painting nor are they merely belated nods to the romantic landscape tradition. This is not to suggest that Chow’s work is wholly without precedent, but, rather, that he doesn’t seem to be stymied by looking over his shoulder at the immediate past. In fact, Chow extends both the tradition of painterly expressionism ( particularly the abstract landscapes of Joan Mitchell) and that of classical Chinese painting and calligraphy (he has been studying with a contemporary master for a number of years).

    The range of

  • Bill Jensen

    Bill Jensen is one of the most significant painters of his generation, and his work—particularly during the late ’70s—exerted a profound influence on younger artists. Whereas the then-fashionable neo-Expressionists combined images pastiched from eclectic cultural sources with a loose painterly style, Jensen renewed the symbolist impulse that fueled the work of late American Romantics and early American Modernists such as Albert Pinkham Ryder and Marsden Hartley without resorting to parody or kitsch. He gambled that his painting would be able to absorb, transform, and revitalize what many had

  • Sean Scully

    Sean Scully attended art school in England in the early ’60s, shortly after Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland began painting stripes. While his more celebrated precursors have long since moved on, he has remained loyal to the colored band, with modest variations, ever since.

    In the late ’60s, Scully started using tightly painted vertical or horizontal stripes, and he subsequently employed painted bands both to weave spatial effects by placing one block of strips on top of another and to reassert the flatness of the picture plane. In the early ’80s, he abandoned the taped edges, and began varying

  • “Synthesis”

    Between abstract painting’s mid-’70s Minimalist crescendo and the mid ’80s, when proclamations that it had reached a dead end were rampant, abstraction, and painting in general, relinquished its status as the dominant mode of postwar American art. Instead, it became simply one option amidst a range of available artistic possibilities, none of which asserted itself with definitive urgency.

    This exhibition of 15 paintings by as many artists, provided a sampling of work by lesser-known abstractionists working today. Almost all of the artists included seemed to be looking over their shoulders,

  • Stephen Mueller

    Until recently, Stephen Mueller was an insouciant painter who combined various pictorial syntaxes—staining, geometry, and gesture—to evoke those elusive states between reflection and action, chaos and definition, which Willem de Kooning called the “slippery glimpse.” Using saccharine colors such as pink, mauve, and purple, Mueller filled the bounded stillness of his compositions with a painterly hurly-burly, making abstract works that were simultaneously seductive and off-putting, brash and funny. Mueller never felt that painting had to confront the end of history or the medium’s own

  • Eugene von Bruenchenhein

    Incised on a plaque above the kitchen door of his modest Milwaukee home, the artist’s description of himself reads: “Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Free-lance Artist, Poet and Sculptor, Inovator [sic], Arrow maker and Plant man, Bone artifacts constructor, Photographer and Architect, Philosopher.” A full-time baker by profession, Von Bruenchenhein (1910–1983) was a secretive, self-taught artist whose entire oeuvre (paintings, sculptures, photographs, music, ceramics, and poetry) was dedicated to one person, his wife Marie. Shortly after he married Marie in 1943, he began taking erotic photographs of

  • Ferran García Sevilla

    Though Ferran García Sevilla is one of Spain’s brightest artistic lights, and his paintings are well known throughout Europe, his work remains relatively obscure in America. This circumstance has less to do with Sevilla’s project than with New York’s well-documented hostility to painting during the latter half of the ’80s. We are not as curious or catholic as we pretend to be, and work which doesn’t fit prescribed agendas tends to be swiftly marginalized.

    Sevilla began his career in the ’70s as a Conceptual artist who employed photography to examine the conventions of artistic authorship, and

  • Ralph Humphrey

    Throughout his three-decade career, Ralph Humphrey (1932–1990) neither submitted to nor reacted against the agendas of successive art-world movements. Though he began exhibiting in 1958 at a moment that can be seen to mark the beginning of the art world’s turn toward Minimalism and Pop art, Humphrey never became an orthodox practitioner of either style. By the mid ’60s, however, he had abandoned the allover gestural paintings with which he inaugurated his career, and had come to be considered, along with Brice Marden, a “romantic Minimalist.” This is the closest he ever got to the mainstream;

  • Hans Hofmann

    Hans Hofmann is widely considered a central figure in the rise of American Modernism. Born in Germany, Hofmann came to America and for many years taught art and art theory to students who later gained reputations in their own rights. That Hofmann, like Josef Albers, was an important proselytizer who carried the torch from Europe and passed it on to younger artists eager to make advanced painting is undeniable; whether this is as central to the history of American art as historians and critics have argued is questionable.

    This retrospective, the first since Hofmann’s death, attempts to prove he