Kate Linker

  • “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

  • Ida Applebroog

    The irony of Ida Applebroog’s two-part exhibition is that the actions motivating her withdrawal of the Past Events installation from its context, the Great Hall of the New York Chamber of Commerce, perfectly illustrated her themes. Applebroog’s obsession with vulnerability, with awkward or impeded communication, and with alienation, as they color the spectrum of social relationships, was in this instance brought into play in the terrain of artist’s rights. And the specific gist of her gallery showing—the massive conservative revival now invading and altering our culture—was reinforced by the

  • Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown

    Given the frequency with which architects have been exhibiting in art galleries, this show of projects by Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown is long over due. The theoretical primacy of Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966) and Learning from Las Vegas (coauthored with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, 1972); the firm's seminal effect on the development of Postmodernism in architecture, now descended (by its partners' own admission) into furbelows of historical quotation and chromatic slush; and the scope of the architects' influence as a whole, argue persuasively

  • Cindy Sherman

    Only a few words are due on Cindy Sherman's recent show—words elicited as much by the general response and typecasting of her work as by anything. It is barely a year since Sherman first exhibited her large, emphatic color prints depicting extreme psychological or emotional states. These were the images that produced storms of opinions, deluges of writing, and that somehow managed to overshadow her earlier, more modest and (perhaps) more mysterious black and white works. They established a “norm,” a characteristic Sherman “look ” against which other work might be judged—an odd event

  • Joel Shapiro

    The career of Joel Shapiro can be seen to encapsulate two histories, his own and that of post-1970 art, for it coincides with and summarizes many of the issues central to the period. As Roberta Smith writes in the catalogue of this show, it is a highly “representative” career, one which registers with barometric efficacy the demise of Minimalism, the schismatic questions posed by mid-'70s art, and the channelling of the latter, largely under the aegis of psychology and representation, into the art of the current period. This retrospective of 40 sculptures and 16 drawings, organized by the Whitney

  • VENICE BIENNALE 1982: NO FORM, LITTLE CONTENTMENT

    THE VENICE BIENNALE, AS CURRENTLY known, is the product of reorganization by the Italian Fascist state; though it was founded in 1895 by the City of Venice, its status was not fixed by law until December 1928, when King Vittorio Emmanuele III and Benito Mussolini declared it an autonomous agency. The law empowered a five-man commission to administer the agency; transferred the exhibition buildings in the Giardini out of city hands; and determined the Biennale’s financial structure—a fusion of funds from national and city governments, admissions, sales commissions, and catalogue receipts. With

  • “New Work on Paper 2”

    “New Work on Paper 2” is the second in the Museum of Modern Art’s series of exhibitions designed to investigate emerging trends in recent drawings. As a whole the series is an exemplary endeavor, permitting, through its small number of artists, a precision of focus impossible in large surveys and allowing, in the same manner, an experimental or exploratory thrust alien to the blockbuster show, which has tended to dominate the Modern’s programs. In general it fails, through the desire (evident in the expansion of the “drawing” denomination to include all works on paper) to show that drawing can

  • “Culture Stations”

    Paris’ Metro has always been prominent among subway systems, and when the City of Paris began its renovation program, the role of “supreme station” was rapidly conferred on the Louvre stop. I’ve always found its look over Frenchified, what with the slick beiges, dramatic lighting and the photos and vitrines tastefully advertising the museum’s wares, but American public officials are confirmed in their admiration. In Spring 1981 the Urban Mass Transportation Agency awarded a $128,000 federal planning grant to New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the purpose of developing

  • “Public Vision”

    Another group show spanning the sultry summer weeks, this selection of work by 12 women artists was organized by three of its members—Gretchen Bender, Nancy Dwyer, and Cindy Sherman. Their aim was to present a range of work that, though using the different media of painting, photography, and sculpture, shared a general approach and a public concern. They also wished (as expressed in a written statement) to group artists who, though having exhibited in a range of contexts, had never been placed together before. I take that to mean, placed together as women.

    I find the title somewhat stronger than

  • “Natural History”

    This is not your typical summer show of landscapes, flower studies, and breezy seaside views. It takes for its topic the representation of nature, dealing with the fact that those simple, supposedly naive scenes can never be neutrally portrayed. “Natural History” is framed against the awareness, growing in contemporary society, that our visions of nature are already appropriated by culture—that nature pertains, through a paradox, to the urban or industrial landscape, since we can only approach it through cultural representations, can only “see” or discuss it by imposing manmade conventions. By

  • Jennifer Bartlett

    I entered Jennifer Bartlett’s show expecting marvels. The newspaper critics had gone wild, writing of Bartlett’s ambition, energy, and verve; the exhibition had been described in the Village Voice as a “show-stopping, drop-dead extravaganza.” Those words had set me salivating, avid for esthetic innovation. What I found in its stead was a variation on a tired Modernist theme: change the medium—fiddle with paint, surface, or support—and the style is inevitably altered.

    Bartlett pursues this inquiry with impressive tenacity. Her strategy consists in taking two landscape motifs, one riverine (“Up

  • MELODRAMATIC TACTICS

    WITH ITS CLOAK-AND-DAGGER plots, Manichaean contrasts, and lurid lights, melodrama was popular from its origin—an art of spectacle and entertainment. It was the offshoot of 19th-century industrialism which transformed the workers into an urban mass and produced, in the process, a public eager for diversion. “I am writing for those who cannot read”:1 Pixérécourt’s statement describes the terms of such “democratic” theater, newly constituted as a commodity and subject to the market’s sway. The demands of low literacy and limited taste were met by the simple scenarios of melodrama, by its excessive

  • Grim Fairy Tales

    METAPHORS OF SHIPS and voyages, of rivers, tapestries, and dreams clog the literature of Documenta 7. But among them is one triumphant image—the Founding Figure of Speech. In a missive to contributing artists, dated September 1981 and rapidly pegged as “The Letter,” Artistic Director Rudi Fuchs described the exhibition as a kind of journey through “the forest of art.” Such terrain, he wrote, could not be surveyed from the “hill” of analysis; no overview or perspective sufficed: “One has to come down and go into the forest. There one encounters the most beautiful trees, wonderful flowers, mysterious

  • “Robert Smithson: Sculpture”

    This exhibition arrived at the Whitney near the end of its tour, which began at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell (Autumn 1980) and will culminate in the United States Pavillion at the Venice Biennale (Summer 1982). It followed the publication of Smithson’s writings (New York University Press, 1979) and the steady extension of his cult, and came with its own excellent, amply illustrated book. And it also came with a lofty ambition: to provide a “comprehensive view,” in just over sixty works, of the man who “gave” us entropy and the dialectical landscape, who battled against the object,

  • Judy Rifka

    An urge to join the real, basically figurative world to the esthetic demands of abstraction is evident in Judy Rifka’s recent works. All have hybrid forms; these are paintings that are also constructions, built of panels layered out, or projecting from supporting walls. And all have multiple forms, with fields of pink, aqua, and bright orange-red inter-cut by raw canvas shapes. Confettilike dots punctuate the surfaces, further animated by Rifka’s characteristic quirky lines. But most important are her characters—a veritable New York cast. Most step out of the rock clubs; there are dancers,

  • “Illegal America”

    Artists have been committing illegal actions for years, in chosen as well as unexpected contexts. Some of these have been basically generic, stemming from the artist’s role as the agent of free expression—the one who stands apart from, and opposed to, society’s institutionalized codes. Yet others have developed from esthetic aims, or have arisen almost inadvertently through the artistic magnification of unforeseen yet deeply inhering transgressions.

    In this show curator Jeanette Ingberman set out to survey the field of criminal esthetics and to raise, in the process, certain questions about

  • “Art Lobby”

    Censorship, though not directly partaking of this “discourse of illegality,” does implicate some of the same terms, since it reflects institutional opinion. It was recently activated in this well arranged and not uninteresting show which placed temporary projects by four politically active artists in the public areas (lobbies and windows) of three downtown Manhattan banks. The show was organized in cooperation with the banks; conceived by artist Jacki Apple nearly a year ago and coordinated by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, it was a model of lucid preparation. I, for one, received copious

  • Eve Sonneman

    In her recent photographs Eve Sonneman has abandoned her trademark format. While the earlier works were arranged in sequential pairs, each image showing a different but near-identical view, these are large (20-by-24-inch) single Cibachrome prints. Their subjects are somewhat equivocal situations mingling mundane and marvelous, beautiful and bizarre. In one, fleshy bathers occupy the foreground beach while a distant roller coaster has been set aflame (the photograph was shot at Coney Island). In another, black-skinned dancers with shimmering costumes in strident hues parade through a city street

  • “Copy Cat Show”

    In 1938 the lawyer Chester Carlson developed xerography as a quick, efficient means to make carbon copies of patent specifications. In 1959 Xerox unveiled the machine which soon became an office fixture. And by the early ’60s artists had turned to the medium as a cheap, easy, and challenging way to manipulate the stuff o’ the world. The rest is history: copy art was born. But the artists also inherited the medium’s paradoxes, as a mass-reproduction technique used for single or small-edition works. And while the machine promised much, it generally delivered little, offering standard formats,

  • Willard Boepple

    During the ’70s Willard Boepple made sculptures from welded steel, cutting, bending, tearing, and, finally, arranging shapes in formally complex configurations. The works were based in a structural rhetoric by which spatial frameworks were built from counterpoints of rhyming and discordant parts. Some articulated inner space, stressing the century’s great sculptural discovery, while others were constructions of massed planes that accented solid rather than void. But all were allied by their internal complexity, favoring part-to-part over simple relations in the manner of the Bennington School.