John Yau

  • George McNeil

    George McNeil belongs to the brilliant generation of American artists born in the first decade of this century—a generation that includes Willem de Kooning, Alfred Jensen, Alice Neel, Fairfield Porter, and Myron Stout. This group had to survive devastating hardships such as two world wars and a depression before coming into its own in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. Perhaps because of such obstacles, it is a generation that took its time developing. McNeil is no exception. He attended lectures at the Art Students League in the ‘20s, studied with Hans Hoffman in the early ‘30s, participated in the

  • Irving Petlin

    This small retrospective survey focused on Irving Petlin’s work in the relatively neglected medium of pastel. Besides Lucas Samaras and, more recently, Jane Dickson, Petlin is one of the few contemporary artists to have made pastels an essential part of his ongoing project. Clearly, he believes drawing is still a viable practice, and he makes no concessions to the host of unspoken proscriptions regarding drawing, painting, the use of metaphor, and relevant subject matter. In nearly all of his pastels, Petlin depicts one or more figures in a landscape. But the figure is more a motif than a subject.

  • Judy Pfaff

    From the early ’70s to the early ’80s, Judy Pfaff made installations that were disassembled after the exhibition was over. Consisting of all sorts of pieces of machine-cut plastic, paint, tubing, wires, and cheap mass-produced items, these installations, in their impermanence, implicitly critiqued consumer culture. In the mid ’80s Pfaff shifted her attention from site-specific installations to wall reliefs; in music terminology, she went from improvisation to composition. While this change delimits to some extent the parameters within which Pfaff works, it also provides her with a better

  • Robert Cumming

    Since he began exhibiting in the late ’60s, Robert Cumming has worked in a wide range of mediums, including photography, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, painting, and writing. He has used these mediums to probe the gap between the perceiving mind (the original site of language systems) and the phenomenological world (the source of and inspiration behind those systems). Until recently, much of his work could be characterized as a statement that conflated system and object. Now, however, Cumming has developed a chain of analogues that explore a different gap: the space between what we know and

  • Kenneth Polinskie

    Kenneth Polinskie’s work here, which consisted of watercolors and paper pulp pieces, makes new use of the still-life tradition. Rather than embrace acceptable realist styles such as photographic exactitude or gestural response, Polinskie transports the still-life convention of observing and recording into a witty and imaginative erotic realm. He accomplishes this by his integration of objects (rough-textured vases and faceted ashtrays), vegetation (blooming calla lilies and bananas), a lurid palette (magentas and blues), and an allover patterning (rows of kidney-bean-shaped coffee tables on a

  • Jim Nutt

    Ever since gaining recognition in 1966 for work included in the first of the “Hairy Who” exhibitions, Jim Nutt has shown a decided preference for painting and drawing on the smoothest available surfaces—glass, toothless brown paper, Masonite, and wood. Nutt seems to like the challenge presented by these mediums. His highly determined approach is the result of integrating a rigorous process with a highly focused attention to details of color, tone, and light. The world he depicts is one of extreme scrutiny, a place where chance and accident are virtually banished. Consequently, the taut, glowing

  • Anton van Dalen

    Anton van Dalen is a 50-year-old Dutch-born artist who emigrated to America in 1966. For the past two decades he has lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and made art that addresses the changes in both his own life and the neighborhood’s. Not surprisingly, as someone who moved there and addressed the place in his work long before it became either a fashionable place to live or acceptable subject matter, van Dalen has gained a certain stature among a generation of younger artists.

    This exhibition, titled “The Memory Cabinet: Paintings, Drawings, Objects 1950–1988,” was a retrospective survey

  • Sandy Skoglund

    Sandy Skoglund has consistently explored the relationship between reality and appearance. In the photograph Radioactive Cats, 1980, she conflated sculpture (green cats), painting (a fake tenement interior was painted gray), stage design (everything in the environment was picked, colored, and placed), and photography (documentary evidence of a staged environment). The work creates a tension between the actual (the photographer’s ability to record and document) and the invented (dozens of lime-green cats prowling through a kitchen in which an old woman opens a refrigerator while an old man sits

  • Jorge Tacla

    Jorge Tacla, a young Chilean artist who began exhibiting in New York shortly after he moved here in 1981, is an allegorical painter. In eight of the ten large paintings included in his recent exhibition, Tacla depicted an isolated figure or torso in a spatially abstract ground. The recurring features and highly distinctive poses of the figures suggest the striking spiritual power of pre-Columbian art. By adapting these sources to his purposes, Tacla proposes a countertradtion to figurative painting, one that has certain affinities with Francis Bacon.

    On the simplest levee, Tacla’s figures are

  • William Wegman

    In the early ’70s, William Wegman was one of the first artists to gain attention for work that deliberately ignored well-established critical paradigms such as unity, mastery, and ambition. Instead of upholding the standards associated with the notion of integrity, Wegman has drawn “throwaway” sketches, produced “homemade” videos, and posed and photographed a weimaraner in an assortment of goofy costumes and oddball situations. While he is best known for his photographs, it should come as no surprise that he has, in recent years, started painting with the same uninhibited jauntiness, penchant

  • John Duff

    John Duff continues to extend his command of fiberglass into new areas of undomesticated experience. This exhibition consisted of 12 wall pieces, each of which seamlessly combines imaginative shapes, specific textures, density of matter, and precise, evocative color. Although the structures of the shapes derive partly from conceptualized units such as the double helix, the pieces are never mimetic, iconic, or expressionistic. By rejecting these heavily inscribed perceptual categories as a place in which to locate the work, Duff is able to invent sculptural objects that achieve and preserve a

  • June Leaf

    In 1978, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago mounted a retrospective of June Leaf’s art, which included works in various mediums (painting, gouache on paper, assemblages, and sculpture) that she had made since her teens. Now almost 60, Leaf seems to have been either overlooked or marginalized by the forces who author “official history.” In many ways, and for many of the same reasons, her position in the art world parallels that of Nancy Spero and, until recently, of Louise Bourgeois. Not only have all three made their womanhood an integral part of their art, but they have also chosen to