Lawrence Alloway

  • Pop Since 1949

    BY THE TIME POP ART EARNED ITS CAPITAL P, the British artists, architects, and intellectuals known as the Independent Group had produced a decade’s worth of future-focused art and polemic. It was critic and IG spokesman Lawrence Alloway who first used the term to capture the group’s enthusiasm for all things mass-produced and American. In “Back to Tomorrow,” the opening section of Artforum’ s October issue, Alloway’s 1962 essay “Pop Since 1949” appears alongside Clement Greenberg’s previously unpublished reckoning with the movement that turned the tide against “pure painting.” Also in this

  • Blythe Bohnen

    BLYTHE BOHNEN’S WORK IS A treasury of human gesture. She sees the artist as “a particular kind of force that shapes matter.”1 The integrity of the link between the gesture of the artist as force and the work of art as shaped material is essential: continuity of gesture and image must be absolute in her work. To see what is involved in this consider the nature of her reservations about Franz Kline: “Kline elevates the scale of a few strokes to a new importance, but his work seems unable to resolve contradictory concepts of the stroke. Its scale thrusts it out of the size of the ‘hand-drawn,’ yet

  • Site Inspection

    THIS IS AN ARTICLE based on visits to the sites of Earthworks in Arizona, Nevada, Texas and Utah. I am not an enemy of the culture of reproductions, but the documentation of large outdoor sculpture, intimately bound to the landscape, presents exceptional difficulty to photographs. They have their own conventions, for one thing, and for another, some of the works I suspected were being embalmed in single images. This turned out to be the case: the photographs of Robert Smithson’s Amarillo Ramp that are usually reproduced were taken when the creek it stands in was dammed up. In fact it belongs

  • Rosemary Mayer

    ROSEMARY MAYER’S EXHIBITION at the A.I.R. Gallery in 1973 established her singular authority as a sculptor. There were three major pieces, each named after a historical woman: Hroswitha, Galla Placidia, and The Catharines. The first was a 10th-century German nun who wrote Latin poetry; the second a 5th-century Roman Empress; the third an amalgam of namesakes, from Catharine of Siena to Catharine the Great of Russia. Each of these works is over life size, meaning that it rises higher than eye-level and exceeds the span of one’s outstretched arms. In a one-page text that accompanied her show,

  • Nancy Spero

    IN THE EARLY 1960s NANCY Spero painted a series of Stygian lovers: they are paintings of great intensity, but the present phase of her art begins after this. When she switched from painting on canvas to working on paper, her particular sensibility meshed with an appropriate method of work. She replaced whole forms masked in chiaroscuro with ideographic signs that released her power of linear definition. She made a series of war drawings, which is to say antiwar drawings: the first cycle concentrated on the A-bomb, the second on helicopters that “looked like very primitive bugs,” to quote the

  • Alex Katz’s Development

    IT HAS BEEN SUGGESTED THAT realism was discredited in the 1940s and ’50s more because its “crises were internal in origin” than because of oppression by abstract art.1 Still, some realists felt oppressed by abstract art, among them Philip Pearlstein and Audrey Flack, and there can be no doubt at all that the esthetics of the leading critics were geared to abstraction.

    However, Alex Katz’s development reveals no opposition to abstract art. He said in 1964: “The whole process of working to me somehow is conscious—I mean in that if you want a drip, you overload a brush and if you want washes you

  • Caro’s Art—Tucker’s Choice

    “THE CONDITION OF SCULPTURE,” at the Hayward Gallery in London, echoed the Anthony Caro retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, since half of the 22 British artists, including William Tucker (who organized the London show) have been Caro students. Caro is often treated by his admirers in grand isolation, in a timeless and spaceless realm. Clement Greenberg wrote of a couple of pieces of 1964: “They are perhaps more purely, more limpidly, masterpieces than anything he has done before.”1 And Michael Fried considers that “Prairie is a masterpiece, one of the great works of modern art, a touchstone

  • Cecile Abish

    THE WORK OF CECILE ABISH has been harder to see than it should have been. This distribution problem has arisen not only because she has no gallery, but because her works are usually erected on the spot. Like all artists who work on site, the duration of her work is subject to the time span of an exhibition schedule. To this restriction of access can be added the fact that her works have been scattered in both time and space. There was a big sculpture at the Bykert Gallery in 1971, a room-filling conglomerate “made expressly for the 20-by-20-foot space in which it was situated,” to quote the

  • Philip Pearlstein

    Philip Pearlstein’s drawings have the same iconography as his paintings, Roman landscapes in the second half of the ’50s and nudes after 1960. There is a difference between them, however, which may have to do with the fact that the surfaces of drawings include areas untouched by hand whereas in paintings, as a rule, everything has been entered as a decision by the artist, the “empty” background no less than the foreground. There is a full surface in Pearlstein’s paintings that is not present in the drawings. Without the rich two-dimensionality of the painting, the drawings reveal Pearlstein as

  • Fred Sandback

    Fred Sandback’s Sixteen 2-Part Pieces took place in the small room at the Weber Gallery. Sixteen times the artist changed the location of two taut, dark pieces of yarn that crossed the room from wall to wall. He had planned in advance where the lines should run on a diagram in the Gallery office. I saw the first couple of pieces, and my feelings went something like this. After I saw the diagrammatic drawing, I think I grasped the principle. Then I saw the first variation and that confirmed the feeling that I had the news already. The next variation was evidence of the punctiliousness of the

  • Dan Flavin

    Dan Flavin’s new show is entitled/described: “Some uneven cool white circular fluorescent light for the new, even walls of the Leo Castelli Gallery . . . (with necessary sketches and diagrams) and seven pairs of diagrams with color, for lamp barred corridors.” Translation: there is one environmental piece, a letter-cum-diagram with instruction on how to install it, and cheerful colored drawings in the back room (the “lamp barred corridors”). Thus there is the big work, accompanied by small saleable items, an understandable though not a salutary mix. The innovation, as I suppose it can be called,

  • Jennifer Bartlett

    Jennifer Bartlett is a writer as well as a painter and the interrelations are worth mentioning. In Cleopatra I–IV, 1971 (Adventures In Poetry, 437 East 12 Street, New York City, 10009) she combines chronology, historical genre, sexual metaphors, aphoristic sentences, and, in section II, an array of diagrammatic signs in systematic rows. It is this area of course that is amplified in her paintings, which are based on square enameled metal plates on which a grid has been printed. In the grid she puts blob-like dots, hand-done in their irregularity, which make sequential runs, repeating patterns,

  • Maude Boltz and Daria Dorosh

    The A.I.R. gallery has moved from two-artist to one-artist shows this season, but returned to the earlier format for Maude Boltz and Daria Dorosh. To take Boltz first: there are none of the large free-falling pieces, like trapezes or rope ladders, making long, kinky connections between ceiling and room-space that characterized her last show. The new pieces are smaller and wall-based, showing her acute sense of the relation of free and fixed materials, of loose and supportive forms. Rain Dance, 1973, with its two-story forms and color-dipped dangling strings, is a good example of her sensibility.

  • The Great Curatorial Dim-Out

    Hypothesis: That the profession of curator is in crisis. It will be discussed by means of a typology (the curator, the museum, the dealer) and by details of typical cases.

    THE ROLE OF THE CURATOR is different in different museums. A curator is never “the person in charge of a museum,” as the unabridged Random House Dictionary has it, but is usually close below the director, who is in charge. Curators’ duties include (1) acquiring work for the museum, (2) supervising its preservation in store, and (3)r displaying it, putting it on exhibition. These traditional duties are based on the running of

  • Sol LeWitt: Modules, Walls, Books

    SOL LEWITT’S WALL DRAWINGS are a brilliant reconciliation of the two senses of drawing that have coexisted, fluctuating in dominance, since the 16th century. There is the notion of drawing as graphological disclosure, the most direct marks that an artist can make and hence, because of their intimacy, authentic evidence of the artist’s presence. Personal touch is highly valued on the basis. There is another notion, which is that drawing represents not genetic freedom but the artist at his most rigorously intellectual. In this sense drawing is the projection of the artist’s intelligence in its

  • Museums and Unionization

    WE NO LONGER THINK art museums as temples above the battle, but the internal conflicts and social failures of museums have yet to be comprehensively defined. A collection of essays in Art In America in 1971 considered the problems of museums, but events have shown how soft and unengaged the museum-based contributors were. There is, for example, no discussion of the position of the staffs of museums, an issue that surfaced, so far as the public was concerned, with the strike at The Museum of Modern Art in the summer of 1971.

    To understand this event, it is necessary to consider the factors that

  • De Kooning: Criticism and Art History

    ONE OF THOSE EXHIBITIONSthat originate out of town and never come to New York City is “De Kooning: Drawings/Sculptures.” Originated by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the show has traveled to Ottawa, Washington D.C., and Buffalo and will close in Houston. Over and above the interest of the work in the show, the occasion has another significance: the catalogue essays by Philip Larson and Peter Schjeldahl mark a change in de Kooning criticism which may be of some consequence in the interpretation of his work with possible repercussions on his reputation as well. It represents the entry of

  • 13 Paintings, 13 Books

    John Gage, Turner: Rain, Steam and Speed, Art in Context Series, ed. John Fleming and Hugh Honour (New York, The Viking Press, 1972), 99 pages, 51 black-and-white illustrations.

    Joel Isaacson, Monet: Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1972), 124 pages, 45 illustrations.

    Marilyn Aron-berg Lavin, Piero della Francesca: The Flagellation (1972), 109 pages, 57 illustrations.

    Roy Strong, Van Dyck: Charles I on Horseback (1972), 112 pages, 49 illustrations.

    Elisabeth Dhanens, Van Eyck: The Ghent Altarpiece (1973), 154 pages, 77 illustrations.

    John Golding, Marcel Duchamp: The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors,

  • Leon Golub: Art and Politics

    As the Vietnam War wound down, the campuses and ghettos cooled; the riots after the Cambodian invasion and the killings of Kent State were the last major eruption. Quiet set in partly from sheer exhaustion and also because violence promised to bring ever diminishing returns under the Nixon Administration.1

    THIS VIEW, IN TIME magazine, of the causes of dissent being swept under the rug, confirms the status quo and draws the boundaries of protest in the wrong place. By restricting the argument to media-recognized violence, the writer(s) conceals the real base of American dissent. The radicalization

  • Artists as Writers, Part Two: The Realm of Language

    ROBERT SMITHSON EXAMINED THE CHRONOLOGY that Ad Reinhardt prepared for his retrospective in 1967 and noted that

    behind the “facts” of his life run the ludicrous events of hazard and destruction. A series of fixed incidents in the dumps of time. “1936 Civil War in Spain.” “1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco.” “1964 China explodes atom bomb.” Everything in this chronology is transparent and intangible, and moves from semblance to semblance, in order to disclose the final nullity."1966 One Hundred twenty paintings at Jewish Museum.”1

    Here Reinhardt provides, ironically, the spectacle of the artist seen against