Kate Linker

  • John Gutmann

    When John Gutmann fled Nazi Germany to settle in San Francisco in 1933, he began working at photo journalism, disseminating images first to a German public (through the Presse-Photo agency in Berlin), and later in American and European magazines (through contract with New York’s Pix). At the time Gutmann was a neophyte—a jobless painter with an unused camera, a hungry mouth, and an unerring eye. He recorded America in all its diversity, focusing on ethnic groups and automobiles, on Depression breadlines and parades, on graffiti, gambling dens, and the native surrealism of the streets. But one

  • “Metaphor: New Projects By Contemporary Sculptors”

    Wait a minute. . . . Isn’t there a confusion, evident in attempts to theorize Postmodernism, between the aims of Modernism and those of late-Modernist Formalism? Aren’t the two being viewed as synonymous, thus telescoping a century’s achievements into those of decades, and reducing “form” to its most restricted definition? And isn’t there a difference between Formalist “self-reference” and Modernist “abstraction,” as the latter was primed by poetry, influenced by linguistics and apprised by examples from other self-defining fields? In Modernism, research into the components of a medium was to

  • “Krasner/Pollock: A Working Relationship”

    The notion that esthetic life went into the ark two by two underlies and finally undermines this exhibition. “Krasner/Pollock: A Working Relationship” was organized by East Hampton’s Guild Hall for its 50th-anniversary celebration; Barbara Rose curated it and wrote the catalogue, which acts as prelude to a forthcoming book chronicling the personal and artistic events in the marriage of Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock. Covering the period from the early ’30s to Pollock’s death in 1956, the show provides entry to the New York School’s early history and to a complex, often turbulent, relationship.

  • Giorgio Morandi

    The Giorgio Morandi retrospective comes billed as a first—as the initial survey in the United States of one who himself never traveled far, leaving his native Italy only once to cross the border into Switzerland. Going to three museums, it was organized with enormous efforts in coordination and financing, including special aid by five Italian banks. But in an era of blockbusters, this is an anomaly—a show of 123 works by a provincial “minor master” residing far outside the mainstream and beyond the movements of vanguard art; by a devotee of boxes, bottles, and beakers painted in the kind of

  • Ger Van Elk

    Among artists who use photographs, the Dutchman Ger van Elk has a particular role. He was one of the early focussed practitioners: at the end of the ’60s, when his compatriot Jan Dibbets began his perspective corrections and Conceptualists flocked to a new-found tool, van Elk was already at his work. But he was never the medium’s convert. For him photography was not an “accurate” means but one of sharp transmission—a medium whose realist pretensions and cultural force made it both usable and suspect. He juxtaposed it in his work with other modes of image-making, playing different representations

  • Carl Andre

    A view of siting in the urban environment is provided at Seagram Plaza, where Carl Andre has arranged 100 blocks, each 18 inches by 6 inches by 6 inches, into a small rectangular solid. The blocks are soft grey granite hewn from the quarries of Andre’s native Quincy, Massachusetts; the sculpture is entitled Fermion, in reference to the first nuclear-fission experiments conducted by Enrico Fermi in 1942. In a prepared statement Andre has stated his aim of counteracting, in all his work, this new and frightening historical relation by assembling “at a certain point in space and time, a critical

  • Alice Adams

    Site-specific sculpture may be the most overworked, underdeveloped genre spawned by ’70s art. Overworked, because there was so much of it; “projects in nature” and environmental works flourished in abundance. But underdeveloped, because the issue of siting was rarely addressed. Most artists who took to the woods and fields, leaving galleries and museums behind, packed along their old studio notions to adjust, alter, and generally impose on the specifics of their sites. And then the critics moved in, talking of landscape and architecture, of open and bounded space, of “exceeding” sculpture and

  • Public Sculpture II: Provisions for the Paradise

    This is the second of two articles on public sculpture. For the first, see Artforum, March 1981.

    IN THE CHAMBERS OF ARTS Council X is the registry, filled to overflowing with artists’ information and slides. The registry is a repository: it collects and catalogues the Babel-like, confused languages that comprise a locality’s art. The work may be arranged alphabetically, by category or by site; the registry may be in-house or open. Curators consult it. Dealers use it. But more often it serves as a territorial tool, the major resource for local commissions. The registry, index to art, is also a

  • Public Sculpture: The Pursuit of the Pleasurable and Profitable Paradise

    A SERIES OF IMAGES HOVERS over the recent emergence of public sculpture in America. In one, we witness an epiphany: above a plaza swept by sunny skies, the heavens open and a helicopter descends. The sculpture is deposited amidst the massed crowds who respond with adoring cheers. In a second, the scene changes. The machines are gone. Quiet reigns. Children clamor over their new-found toy and rest on its ledges. And to such paradisiacal visions of the public “interacting with the art” is aligned one more, a ceremonial view, in which the Mayor dedicates the artwork, signifying official acceptance.

  • Meditations on a Goldfish Bowl: Autonomy and Analogy in Matisse

    A MATISSE PAINTING FROM the ’20s shows a woman observing a goldfish bowl.1 An image of seeming simplicity: much as Emma Bovary scans her world, so the figure regards the fish and, like Flaubert’s readers, we observe her in her observations. A chair frames her body and, beyond that, a screen; to the rear, a summary window, its panes bounded by the picture frame, indicates the border between inner and exterior space. But here certain complexities intervene, for the window (a glass) is actually made of sketches, one of which figures a woman looking in; and the mirror above the mantel (again,

  • A Fable of Modern Art

    FOR INNUMERABLE ARTISTS, FRENHOFER WAS a powerful and abiding reference. Legend has it that at the end of his life the aged Cézanne, on hearing the Balzac fable, pointed his finger to his chest, designating himself as Frenhofer. Picasso illustrated the text, often quoted from its credos, and boasted to his friends of inhabiting Frenhofer’s world. Matisse revered him, Rilke paraphrased him, and Schoenberg emulated his precepts. To this day, de Kooning and scores of others still make allusions to Frenhofer’s quizzical tale. But who, then, is Frenhofer?

    On one level, surely, he is the hero of The

  • Jackie Ferrara’s Il-lusions

    TWO APPROACHES TO JACKIE FERRARA’S sculpture seem to prevail. One stresses its “architectural” nature, finding analogues or fantasies of buildings, and unfailingly refers to the pyramids; this reading views her work allusively, linking it to “architectural imagism” in recent art. The other—less trendy—approaches it through procedures or traditions, seeing Minimalism, reductivism and general abstraction in (again) “pyramids,” “stacking” and wood. The one looks out, the other, in; one accents content, the other, form. Sometimes a writer notes that Ferrara’s work “refers to antithetical esthetic

  • The Writings of Robert Smithson

    The Writings of Robert Smithson, ed. Nancy Holt (New York, New York University Press, 1979), 221 pages, 220 black and white illustrations.

    Artists-as-artists, Ad Reinhardt wrote, say the same thing—repetitive nothing is the subject of their work—but Robert Smithson, the guardian of impurity, had a very great deal to express. Those party to his late-night ramblings at Max’s could have these dictates readily. There the vituperative tongue and wide-ranging intellect held court until all hours. But for the rest, it seemed, there were other sources to contact. In the late 1960s one could expect regular

  • Charles Simonds' Emblematic Architecture

    “LET US SUPPOSE,” WROTE George Kubler, “that the idea of art can be expanded to embrace the whole range of man-made things, including all tools and writing in addition to the useless, beautiful, poetic things of the world. By this view the universe of man-made things simply coincides with the history of art.”1 Kubler’s remark, made in 1961, begins a well-known book in which objects and ideas, artifacts and “mental culture,” tools and expression are united under the common rubric of form. The Shape of Time proposed to align these divided and divisive terms as the elements of a temporal morphology.

  • Oyvind Fahlstrom’s Political Gamesmanship

    OYVIND FAHLSTROM DIED OF cancer on November 9, 1976. He left behind a question, scribbled in the diaristic notations of his late work. It is phrased as a question of “political art,” and reads: “Can we become the sons/daughters of Marx and Mondrian?”

    The query is not original. The social role of the artist has been hotly debated since the late 18th century, with accelerated energy in the last decades. The literature on “engagement,” “commitment,” and the ethical obligation of the artist is indication enough. What is original is Fahlstrom’s answer, its esthetic cast, and its relation to the dense