Lawrence Alloway

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Artists as Writers, Part One: Inside Information

    JACKSON POLLOCK WROTE OF HIS painting She-Wolf, 1943, that it “came into existence because I had to paint it. Any attempt on my part to say something about it, to attempt an explanation of the inexplicable could only destroy it.”1 The idea that the two systems of signs, one visual and one literary, are antithetical is not generally shared, however, to judge from the copious writings by artists that actually exist.2 To consider the genre, it is useful to assume a principle of coexpressibility, in which verbal and visual forms can be translated into one another with at least a partial fit. Unless

  • Paul Jenkins

    Albert Elsen, Paul Jenkins (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1973), 284 pages, 56 colorplates, 115 black-and-white illustrations.

    This monograph opens, after a few grainy Avalanche-type photographs of the artist at work, with a sententious note by the author, Albert Elsen. “In writing about a living artist, the historian must remind himself that he should ask questions such as those we would like to have had answered by artists of the past, before the recording of art history.” This laudable intention of satisfying the curiosity of future generations is taken by Elsen as art occasion for boldly

  • The View from the 20th Century

    THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF Art in Washington, D.C., has a capacious collection, and one that the director has recently decided should accommodate modern American art. Thus he has moved into competition with the museums of modern art that already exist across the country, though not, as it happens, in Washington. I am not sure that it matters too much if the National Gallery does or does not possess a Jackson Pollock or a Barnett Newman in the permanent collection. I don’t consider the acquisition of current or recent art as the only index of an institution’s vitality, though living artists and

  • Michelle Stuart: a Fabric of Significations

    DURING 1973, IN AN EXTRAORDINARILY intensive period of work, Michelle Stuart produced the series of drawings that is the subject of this note. In terms of technique they are drawings, done with graphite on paper, but they are on the scale of paintings, 12’ by 5’, 9’ by 5’. (Drawings, of course, have been recognized since the 16th century, both by artist and patron, as original objects, bound neither to fragmentary notation nor to functional rehearsal for large works. The only drawings on a scale commensurate to Stuart’s were cartoons for murals, but these have a purely preparatory function.) To