Kate Linker


    AS A CHILD OF THE media, I had thought myself trained to its anesthetizing effects. But the Central American events of last July, as broadcast over TV and radio and published in the newspapers, could not numb me, or others, to acquiescence. On one hand, it was the events that pained, as the Reagan administration placed gunboats along the coasts, loaded with weapons and ready for invasion. But on the other, it was the shrill and belligerent rhetoric, which hinted at the most rigid of political reductions, speaking of the “Evil Empire,” of the “enemies of democracy,” of the protection of “our own

  • Bill Woodrow

    An important feature of recent British art has been the emergence of a group of young object sculptors. Although widely disparate in temperament and production, these artists are aligned, in general, by an attempt to reincorporate the object (and with it, representation), and by an urge to evoke the character of urban culture through cast-off industrial forms. In this, they are distanced both from such nature-oriented practices as that of Richard Long and from the “constructive” tradition epitomized by Anthony Caro. To date, only Tony Cragg has exhibited much in New York; September witnessed a

  • Jean-Luc Vilmouth

    If Woodrow brashly frames his objects against a postindustrial context, the French sculptor Vilmouth, who has lived in London since 1975, displays a humanist’s nostalgia. A somewhat silly sentimentality characterizes these works, all constructed (like Woodrow’s) from forms found in the New York streets. The freestanding sculptures are largely ensembles of large, curvilinear objects made of papier mâché dyed grass green and cerulean blue. In one, a fabricated broom is supported by cinderblocks, while another sculpture sports a domelike shape. In a third, pots, pans, and wrenches are entombed in

  • “Magritte et les publicitaires”

    Discussions of artistic influence generally remain within esthetic terrain, dealing with the effect of formal strategies and ideas on other artists; rarely do such endeavors range beyond insular purlieus to address art’s impact on culture at large. Hence the importance of this exhibition treating the dissemination of René Magritte’s ideas and images in the fields of publicity and advertising. Organized by Georges Roque, who wrote the accompanying book (Ceci n’est pas un Magritte. Essai sur Magritte et la publicité, Flammarion, 1983), the show was divided into two complementary sections. One

  • Tom Butter

    Cryptically titled W.H./M.M.D., this three-part sculpture is Tom Butter’s second large-scale, public, outdoor work, and his first in a wholly urban setting (the other was installed last summer in the sylvan pool in Central Park at 100th Street). Made of polyester resin, fiberglass cloth, and steel, it is a narrow, organic structure in which irregular translucent forms play contrapuntally with the rectilinear environment of steel and glass. Two opposing vertical elements—one melon-colored, the other gray green—appear to be rising from a dark gray base of curving, inflated forms. The first element

  • “Photography and Architecture: 1839–1939”

    Photography’s entry into the museum has not gone unquestioned, and the case of architectural photography is no exception. Its increasing estheticization and development into a marketable commodity have often deflected attention from the need to preserve inevitably “mortal” prints, just as complaints over the decontextualization of photographshas diverted focus from the useful classification systems proposed. An interesting example of such questions is offered by “Photography and Architecture: 1839–1939,” a traveling exhibition drawn from the study collection of the Canadian Centre for Architecture.


    Through an interesting convention, art critics’ associations tend to include among their ranks curators as well as writers. Although preparing catalogues locates the former in the realm of the word, the practice has other ramifications; the relationship appears to define curating as a critical activity, involved with discernment, judgment, and commentary. Within this framework, artwork and idea are easily interchanged as material and conceptual parallels unfold. Sifting through and editing ideas and physically arranging works assume analogous intellectual functions. The curator, not a follower,

  • Hans Haacke

    Hans Haacke’s recent exhibition included three disparate but internally related works. One was the two-part Hommage à Marcel Broodthaers shown last summer at Documenta 7 but here altered to play the original gilt-framed, roped-off oil painting of Ronald Reagan against a different enlarged photograph, one taken at an antinuclear rally in New York. Another was a mock monument, a replica of the Mark 12A Nuclear Warhead which apposed the slogan of the missile’s maker, General Electric, to a “capital” pediment bust of the United States President. And in the third work Haacke appended to a large

  • Lea Lublin

    A curious feature of current French culture is the absence, in a terrain marked by its feminist discourse, of a parallel artistic practice. The psychoanalytic writings of Jacques Lacan and the research centered around the Ecole Freudienne, the theoretical work of Julia Kristeva, Michele Montrelay, Luce Irigary, and a host of women writers have provided a framework for sexual studies in other nations, influencing literature, visual arts, and film. But despite this presence and the insistence of a strongly patriarchal culture, French artists have responded with silence, repeating the established

  • Barbara Kruger

    Her pen was poised when her eye spied the April issue of Artforum. There, in the review section (page 69, to be exact), critic Donald Kuspit denounces Barbara Kruger’s “manipulations of the self-evident” which (sadly) fail to “provide information . . . not available elsewhere.” A comment that is, itself, “entertaining” in that it seems to confirm the artist’s work on what Roland Barthes called the “implicit proverbs” stating “the law of society,” which are less reflections of universal opinion than of a particular vision of the world. That the vision is male, exacting powerful repressions through

  • “Multiple Choice”

    One of the most thoughtful and inherently polemical series of photography exhibitions recently has been conducted at P.S.1 by Carol Squiers, who has avoided current squabbling over fine art, media, and artist-employed photography to direct attention toward its use. This is a curatorial practice, then, that conceives of photography discursively—as a medium operating throughout disparate, often intersecting circles within society—so as to focus on the textual, contextual, and rhetorical strategies uniting these separate spheres. “Multiple Choice” extended this stance to reveal certain critical

  • Mel Kendrick

    Mel Kendrick’s new sculptures introduce a number of elements alien to contemporary sensibilities: on one hand, the pedestal; on another, direct hand-carving; and in a third instance, surface. drawing and marking, with all their connotations of pictorialism. These elements, however, are not employed for their nostalgic intimations, but as artistic means among other means, as devices that have been devalued, at this point in late-20th-century culture, to the level of the functional services they perform. Instead, these works tread significant and relatively unexplored terrain in the role they

  • Bernd and Hilla Becher

    Winding towers are conveying machines—industrial structures used to transport workers and materials into, and out of, iron ore, coal, and salt mines. Alternately called “tipples,” “A-frames,” or “pitheads,” they date from mid-19th-century England, locus of the Industrial Revolution, and have spread over today’s global terrain. Their basic form consists of two elevated wheels circumscribed by cables securing load-bearing cages that ascend or descend in opposite directions. Form is generally determined by function; however, these towers exist in various regional styles, ranging from rustic, often

  • John Hejduk

    These sixty-odd works might be among the most beautiful architectural drawings ever made, subtle arrangements of hues—limpid yellows, ochres, greens, and blues—accenting masterly pencil lines. But they are also products of an idiosyncratic vision of architecture, one that is both speculative, reflecting on its underlying nature, and critical, primed by absences within contemporary terrain. They specifically address the notion of the “program,” the relation between building and user, or space and action, long repressed under formal concerns.

    Reflection on the relation between architecture and the

  • Nancy Dwyer

    These recent paintings extend Nancy Dwyer’s interest in anonymous urban scenarios. In each, single or grouped figures culled from photographs and other media sources are rendered with an illustrator’s rapid contour line and placed on chromatic fields. However, their specific interest—the one distinguishing them from Dwyer’s previous works—lies in the introduction of a new convention, a quotation of ’60s-Minimalist shaped canvases and color-field formal divisions. Thus each painting involves a triple play of conventions: one, the use of common, though never explicitly codified, images; another,

  • “Borrowed Time”

    Seduced by the title’s intimations of impending gloom, one enters the gallery to find a group show gathering ten highly disparate individuals around a common intellectual hypothesis. A letdown, in fact, for “Borrowed Time” is meant to refer to the current situation of postindustrial society, characterized by the waning of belief in the ideology of progress and by the proliferation of electronic technology. The show is founded (according to the wall label) on a kind of Daniel Bel lian thesis of the shift from an industrial society to an informational one, from production to reproduction, and from

  • Michael Heizer

    On December 16 the International Business Machines Corporation unveiled a new and important sculpture by Michael Heizer. IBM’s decision to commission this work is itself a significant gesture; not only is the award to a relatively young American artist different from typical offerings to, say, Henry Moore or Alexander Calder, but Heizer’s public sculpture has always sparked controversy (witness the 1976 Seattle commission, Adjacent, Against, Upon). Levitated Mass is sited in a small outdoor plaza at Madison Avenue and 56th Street, near one entrance to the corporation’s new office building (this

  • Gerhard Richter

    Gerhard Richter’s contribution to Documenta 7 was a series of bold abstract paintings in which brilliant, often acidic tones, frenetic brushstrokes, and illusions of receding space limned the dictionary of Expressionistic gestures. As arranged through the exhibition according to the installation principle of “conversations,” they seemed to be used to reinforce the pressure to paint so prominently featured in the show. But this was a distortion of Richter’s premises, which consist in a thorough demystification of the activity of painting and of its pretensions to creativity—a separation of

  • Remo Salvadori

    The domino effect, by which artists fall sway to the hypostasized power of a medium, scored a Pyrrhic victory in Remo Salvadori’s new work. In switching to painting, the former sculptor Salvadori seems to belong within a direction that adopts a north–south European axis: while German painters repeatedly turn to sculpture, searching for vehicles for monumental expression, Italian sculptors increasingly move toward painting, seeking means for gestural punch. The problem in this case is that there isn’t much reason for Salvadori to be making these works, which merely rehearse stale pictorial

  • “Precursors of Postmodernism: Milan 1920–30s”

    Hidden histories have unmistakable allures, as does finding unnoticed antecedents to “ruptures” in architectural or esthetic time. But what this exhibition of buildings constructed in Milan in the ’20s and ’30s suggests is not only that a body of remarkably similar work was produced half a century before architectural postmodernism, but also that the Modernist movement was not the seamless fabric it is conceived, retrospectively, to have been. For it was only in the early ’60s that people began to speak of architectural Modernism, and to extend the cool reductions of the International Style so