Kenneth Baker

  • Larry Rivers

    Marlborough’s recent show made it appear that Larry Rivers has been progressively accommodating his art to the facile popular misreading of early ’60s Pop. Most of his new works are so hokey and meretricious as not even to be good clowning.

    Rivers’ best paintings of the 1950s succeeded in establishing painting as special access to corporeity. When they dealt with sex, senescence, and physical vulnerability, paintings like The Accident and The Pool always linked these subjects with the universal condition of visibility. The seemingly obsessive character of some of Rivers’ interests didn’t rankle

  • Larry Calcagno

    Royal Marks gave Larry Calcagno his first New York show in six years and even then not in response to any urgency in the work itself. Calcagno has lately been painting horizontal abstractions, sometimes consisting of several individually stretched sections. Much seems to be made of the fact that the horizontal bands of color that compose the paintings find their source in natural landscape elements. (They are most like some of the effects one sees on the horizon when flying.) But it is when the reference to landscape is most suppressed that the paintings begin to work as paintings, especially

  • Mark Rothko

    Marlborough’s recent show of paintings by Mark Rothko was apparently intended to culminate in the small separate room which contained four of the artist’s last works. Perhaps the isolation of the last paintings, the most austere and ungenerous of Rothko’s career, was meant as an honorific gesture, but the effect of it was cheaply dramatic. The sepulchral atmosphere of the small room did depend upon the paintings, but it was made by the installation to seem to be the point of the paintings, a bit of stagecraft that Rothko would undoubtedly have thought revolting. Worse, of course, was the fact

  • James Rosenquist

    At Castelli James Rosenquist showed two new large multi-paneled paintings in the same space, occupied by his Horizon; Home Sweet Home late last spring. The new paintings, like Horizon, incorporate panels of stretched mylar, here flanking the assembled panels of images which cover opposite walls. The new paintings seem to be about taking the notion of artistic feedback with Pop liberal-mindedness. The real space of the room is visually turned into the funhouse space of Rosenquist’s paintings largely by there being nothing much to look at other than the paintings and their and one’s own distorted

  • Walter Darby Bannard

    Walter Darby Bannard showed a series of recent paintings at Lawrence Rubin that had none of the flaccidity or excess that characterizes so much color painting showing these days. Bannard’s paintings seemed to be about color and framing. Each painting used only three or four colors of a range permuted through the series. They were mostly cake-icing colors, but were kept from being cloying by being used carefully, with particular attention to the extent of dominance. The paint, alkyd resin, appeared to be sponged on over large areas, though probably applied with brush to form the fragmented stripes

  • Frank Stella, John McCracken, Arman and Jim Dine

    The reasons for Sonnabend’s showing “Major Works in Black and White” are not clear, but it is doubtful anyway that they have much to do with artistic issues. There isn’t much in a small show like this to connect Stella, McCracken, Arman, and Dine, say, but the fact that they happened at different times to make pieces in black and white. It seemed to be more of a nostalgia show than anything else, a chance to see how tame the once daring stuff can come to look, and to reflect that that is how art historical change registers these days. It seems that if any of the pieces here were really taken

  • “Software”

    The strategy animating most “technological art” seems to be to find a model for the terms of experience, especially esthetic experience, which can be represented or enacted by the available gadgetry, and then to design an encounter for the spectator in which he will recognize that this has been the character of his experience all along. This, despite disclaimers, was manifestly the strategy of the organizers of the Jewish Museum’s “Software” show. The difference between “Software” and other technological art is that the former is premised upon an informational or cybernetic model of experience

  • Herbert Perr

    At the newly relocated Myers Gallery, Herbert Perr showed a series of large rectangular paintings assembled from small, individually stretched and painted squares of canvas. Considering the issues invoked by allowing real space to incise the paintings’ surface, Perr seems unnecessarily preoccupied with the sort of lyrical color and abstraction found in paintings made more straightforwardly. Each of the small squares in Perr’s paintings has its own pictorial space; all the swatches of space are hazy and dense due to thin washes of paint and within each painting the same ground color is used on

  • James Rosati

    Having seen most of those recent works by James Rosati that have been executed full-scale, I can attest that the series of studies for large works shown at Marlborough gave a poor impression of what he is likely to have achieved. This exhibition included two full-scale pieces, but the low ceiling alone would have damped their effect. As the small studies barely suggest, Rosati’s new sculptures are able to translate the dimensions of pictorial landscape space into sculptural terms without being figurative themselves. Perhaps the closest pictorial equivalents might be found among Feininger’s works,