Judith Russi Kirshner

  • Susan Michod

    For Susan Michod, a child’s sense of fantasy provides an escape from the limitations of pattern and decoration. Her earlier paintings were tightly organized abstract compositions with small angular forms stamped in pale colors on unstretched canvases. They conjured up associations of Southwestern Indian rugs and elaborate interlocking puzzles, with the artist’s pleasure in calm steady repetition an important part of the work’s content. In Michod’s more recent paintings the pattern is still there, but in a honeycomb network relegated to the background; the association is now with embroidery or

  • Eva Hesse

    The earliest drawing in this retrospective dates from 1958 and the latest from 1969, the year before Eva Hesse died. The rich and comprehensive selection provides a unique opportunity to study works that are now dispersed and rarely seen apart from the sculpture. But despite the quality of the curatorial selection and the beauty of individual drawings, especially the gouaches, the exhibition resonates because of the constant foreshadowing of and relationship to the ideas and forms of the sculpture.

    Ellen Johnson, who curated the show for the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio, makes a

  • Gary Allen Justis

    By now it is clear that the machine remains seductive and even productive as both metaphor and means for artists of the generation defined not by mechanics but by electronics. Dennis Oppenheim’s constructions overtly capitalize on the terror that even archaeological machines still hold for some audiences; even if the specter of the machine that is no longer productive retains little pathos, this multivalent metaphor has kept its esthetic and kinetic potential. Gary Allen Justis’ complex electrokinetic sculpture avoids bombast and easy, spectacular effects, and only occasionally lapses into

  • 74th American Exhibition

    In its 74th American Exhibition the Art Institute of Chicago, which began this series in 1888, continued its original goal of presenting (not discovering) significant trends in painting, sculpture, and related media, emphasizing recent works and suggesting “the cross currents operating in American art today, in order to convey a modicum of the excitement, volubility and energetic multiplicity of the moment” (all quotations are from the catalogue). So we had an exhibition that was American, pluralistic, and democratic (37 artists were included, in contrast to the 16 in the preceding American


    New York Times, April 10, 1982

    New York Times, April 11, 1982

    Chicago Sun-Times, April 10, 1982

    Chicago Sun-Times, April 11, 1982

    Chicago Sun-Times, April 12, 1982

    BY FRIDAY THE NEWS was out on the streets of Chicago. A truck carrying 89 items of painting and sculpture bound for Chicago had been stolen while it was parked on the night of Thursday, April 8, at Broadway near Spring Street in New York.

  • John Obuck

    In the last two years John Obuck has begun to build the forms he previously painted in the center of his canvases. Maneuvering between painting and sculpture, between real and depicted space, between historical and up-to-the-minute styles, Obuck remains attached to geometric forms and to a crisp, black and white palette. He establishes a complex relationship between the filigreed patterns he paints and the volumetric geometries he builds so that the simple geometric elements are rendered ambiguous, faceted as they are by painted decorations that comment on and undo their structural integrity.

  • Michael Brakke

    Combinations of photography with painting seem to multiply daily. Michael Brakke’s photo-paintings differentiate between the two media; their formal raison d-être seems to reside in that difference and in the possibility for reversals. In an earlier series, the 6-foot, 6-inch-tall artist pitted photographs of himself against drawings of a tall black water tower—both a personal emblem and what Jack Burnham has called an icon of the prairie. In this group the drawn tower remains in adversarial juxtaposition with richly orchestrated black and white photographic panels.

    The group of large panels can

  • Charles Simonds

    The 12-part sequence Circles and Towers Growing, 1978, previously shown only in Germany, dominated this exhibition, which also included the model Floating Cities, 1978, and the very recent three-part sequence House Plants, 1981, as well as photographs of public projects and films of private Mythologies. It was thus the most comprehensive representation of the artist’s work to date in the United States. In addition, the self-contained permanent pieces in the exhibition were seen as emblematic of some three hundred miniature dwellings that Simonds has built all over the world, and especially in

  • Thomas Kovachevich

    Thomas Kovachevich’s performances are rehearsals for his paintings. The defining process of both is the response of paper to hydrologic principles—how circles, squares, or triangles cut out of tracing paper react to humidity, temperature, and other atmospheric conditions. In the performances Kovachevich places his geometric characters onto a bright-colored fabric “stage” draped across the surface of the water that fills a shallow tray. Once the pieces of paper touch the stage they dance, curl, sway, bend, and swoon in choreographed pieces given such titles as Is it a solo or a duet? and Two

  • Daniel Buren

    Since the 19th century, Chicago has been a transportation hub and has had to adjust itself to the network of railway lines running parallel to the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Daniel Buren’s Watch the Doors Please, “a work in situ and motion,” takes as its departure point the literal coincidence of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, a major commuter line. He uses the giant two-story window overlooking the tracks at the entrance to the Art Institute’s Morton Wing as the initial frame for his work (a situation that ironically makes literal the convention of painting

  • Margaret Wharton

    Margaret Wharton’s medium is chairs; her subject matter—animals, architecture, ideas, and chairs. Her technique is deconstruction; her art, transformation. In the 54 sculptures and 30 photographs installed in this handsome exhibition, which covered only six years of work, Wharton’s objects established themselves as unique subjective inventions, distinct from much recent furniture art. Somewhat influenced by Lucas Samaras, Wharton slices and saws away to the heart of weathered kitchen chairs, sifting and shuffling the resulting fragments and reassembling them into sensitive hybrids of significance.

  • Louise Bourgeois

    With the 1980 exhibitions and the anticipation of the upcoming Museum of Modern Art retrospective, the significance of the work of Louise Bourgeois is again being recognized and documented. Over the years, the artist has furnished a narrative of her childhood near Aubusson, of mathematical and philosophical studies in Paris, of training with Fernand Leger, and finally of adulthood spent on the outer edge of the Surrealist circle and New York school in the ’40s and ’50s; for some, this biography supplied by the artist’s recall (even if somewhat embellished and fictionalized) has become a key to