Klaus Kertess

  • BARRY LE VA’S SCULPTURE: ELLIPSIS AND ELLIPSE

    The murder novel has also a depressing way of minding its own business, solving its own problems and answering its own questions.

    —Raymond Chandler, The Simple Art of Murder

    Like most mystery novels, Barry Le Va’s sculpture presents a superimposition of two interdependent sequences of time—an action performed in the past, and an investigation of that action gradually unfolding in the present to explain the past; a real event (a “crime,” a configuration in space) for which the motivation is not initially self-evident, and an analysis of that event, deducing and discovering its missing links. Le

  • PAINTING METAPHORICALLY: THE RECENT WORK OF GARY STEPHAN, STEPHEN MUELLER, AND BILL JENSEN

    CERTAIN WORDS EXEMPLIFY THEIR OWN meanings—“undernourished” is not a slender word, but “thin” and “slim” are; “polysyllabic” is just that. Gary Stephan, Stephen Mueller, and Bill Jensen make images that contain what they refer to. They seek a unity of paint and image: the irregular surfaces and organic forms employed by all three painters encourage external associations, but first of all, they form icons of painted-ness. “Viscous,” “diaphanous,” “efflorescent,” “biomorphic,” and “vaporous” are applicable to the works of all three—these adjectives refer as readily to material states of paint and

  • Developing an Image: Gerald Incandela’s Recent Photographs

    IN THEIR QUEST FOR a separate identity, photographers quite quickly questioned the word “painterly”—“straight” was increasingly strived for. Recently the word “altered” has been enlisted to describe the works of an increasing number of photographers who have visibly employed the hand to transform the vision through the camera. “Painterly” is more suited to the work of Gerald Incandela—although he cannot be accused of painting envy. Incandela has subverted photography with its own tools and brought new focus to the dialogue between the eye of the artist, the eye of the camera and the eye of the

  • Facing Paint: Michael Tetherow’s Recent Work

    NO MOUTH IS VISIBLE on the monolithic visage that streams down the plane of each of Michael Tetherow’s most recent paintings. A mouth would interrupt the flow of paint and vision. All is eye. Muteness encourages vision and the visionary. These paintings intend to be visionary; each presents a portrait of the artist’s unconscious as a painting. All is eye as I.

    Tetherow has now moved emphatically from painting as object to painting as image—from paint that refers only to itself to paint thick with memory and meaning. The change was fraught with reluctance. Like many of his peers, Tetherow felt

  • Gandhi in Choral Perspective

    OPERA IS A THEATRICAL UNION of two systems of organizing sound, music and language—one primarily abstract, one primarily referential. Language makes music more referential (music ritualizes language, language verbalizes music). Philip Glass has composed an opera titled Satyagraha; it is about language—language moving from the edge of abstraction to the edge of action. In collaboration with Constance De Jong as librettist and Robert Israel as costume and set designer, Glass has sailed his music through sense and sight into a theatrical unity of clear and buoyant beauty.

    This is Glass’ first fully

  • Figuring It Out

    In the Beginning

    IT STARTS WITH MANET. Everything always starts with Manet—or so it seems. His Dead Christ with Angels, 1864, portrays Christ about to be entombed . . . for the last time. Two angels, as remarkable for the blandness of their grief as for the birdlike naturalism of their wings, just barely prevent Christ’s body from sliding into the viewer’s space. His face is veiled by shadow; the light is focused on his drape-encircled crotch. Christ is sliding out of the picture into the plane—deadpan and demythified. Christ with a small c; art with a capital A.

    The figure of man, traditionally

  • Malcolm Morley: Talking About Seeing

    VIEW

    IF THERE IS A METAPHYSIC behind Malcolm Morley’s painting technique, it is eroticism—the eroticism of seeing. Although still best known for the cool precision of his travel-poster- and photograph-derived paintings done between 1965 and 1969, his most recent work displays an unabashed painterliness and directness that express a wish, like Monet’s, to have been born blind and then suddenly to receive sight. Hiking through art history and autobiography, stopping wherever he is surprised—Van Gogh, Delacroix, a dream about his analyst, the Tampa, Florida, Zoo—Morley is relentless in his quest