Lisa Liebmann

  • “Andy Warhol’s Children’s Show”

    The world is full of small, perfect strokes, and this exhibition must count as one of them. The playgrounds of rich children have long been Andy Warhol’s preferred haunts, and rich children his favorite companions: so out of the clubs and into the nursery comes Andy, with his perfect-little-camper backpack, and Cornelia, his willing debutante pal.

    “Andy Warhol’s Children’s Show” opened on a rainy Sunday in fashionable Newport, and, with the concurrent events taking place outside under a tent, it made an ideal rainy-day activity Damp moms and slickered tots trafficked the bright, high-ceilinged

  • MISTY CHANNELS

    Stephen McKenna is English, of Irish ancestry, the son of a military officer. He attended the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, leaving it in 1959 to study at the Slade School of Fine Art. There, for five years, he existed within a small island of “process”-minded students in the British wake of Abstract Expressionism. Out of Slade he taught painting, and otherwise spent most of the next ten years sorting through what he had himself been taught, seeking to reanimate what he had come to think of as a practice dying if not already dead: to make paintings of demonstrable skill that speak of art

  • Dana Reitz, Severe Clear

    Counteracting the ongoing cacophony of borrowed styles, there are lately on the rise the hush-hush tones of soft-core asceticism. The resurgence of interest in Helen Frankenthaler’s work, the use of oriental and calligraphic motifs by younger artists like James Nares and Scott Richter, and the development of a lyrical/minimal vernacular by sculptor John Duff are all part of this most current state of affairs. So is the choreography of Dana Reitz.

    Though her reputation is staked partly upon her maverick image, Reitz’s standard late-Modern training—through the examples of George Balanchine, Merce

  • Almost Home

    IN DONADIO, A 1984 painting by Ed Paschke included in the 1985 Whitney Biennial, there is a hard-to-read scripted phrase painted primarily in yellow on acid yellow, with little flecks of the spectrum catching letters on the curve. Like a fly in ointment it sat there buzzing until extricated. “I told him to wear bright colors” is what’s written—this, a classic reproach to television amateurs (game show contestants, talk show guests) who fail to come across over the air. In this all-American, media-crazed Easter Parade, almost everyone wore bright colors, and even the pissy and jaundiced appeared

  • Diane Arbus: A Biography, Diane Arbus: Magazine Work, Botero, Comme des Garçons Ca-ta-logue, Cindy Sherman and Georgia O'Keeffe

    PATRICIA BOSWORTH’S FAILURE TO gain the cooperation of several who knew Diane Arbus especially well, including her two daughters, her ex-but-only husband, and close colleagues such as Richard Avedon and Marvin Israel, has resulted in a very strange and quite memorable biography. Arbus’ brother, the poet Howard Nemerov, and her often-slighted younger sister, did agree to talk. More surprisingly, so did their mother, perhaps because she had so little to say—a poignance, of course, in itself. In absorbing detail we hear about Diane-the-boss’-daughter, Diane-the-student, Diane-my-first-flame,

  • STUBBORN IDEAS AND LeWITTY WALLS

    IT IS WELL KNOWN THAT “ideas” generate Sol LeWitt’s art. He has said so himself, and few if any have found cause to say or write otherwise. But “idea” is often too vague a word. Ideas are entirely useless unless they prompt further thought. Impractical inventions—art, music, theoretical physics, etc.—are propelled not so much by ideas as by hope that ideas will suggest themselves. It is this hope or leap of faith—the rising of the soufflé—that Sophistication applauds, then blithely calls “dumb.” Fundamental ideas cluster in empty places and moments, sometimes within reach, never new, and laughably

  • Tangled Nets

    MARCEL BROODTHAERS, FOR THE SECOND time since his death, receives an invitation to the Venice Biennale, and is informed that a hotel room awaits him. This cannot be confirmed. Nobody in town for previews appears to be happy with their reservations. We talk about it all the time. Late at night, everybody goes to Haig’s Bar, which is supposed to be the only bar open that late. At 2 A.M. reports circulate that several “young artists” have been observed at a certain, unspecified hotel, trying to register as M. Broodthaers. This is of disproportionate interest to me, so I begin to think, per usual,

  • Patrick Ireland

    With this three-dimensional rope drawing, Patrick Ireland further enunciated certain of the conditions of his previous projects in this genre while contradicting others. Though the self-consciousness and physical self-awareness he invites were stressed perhaps more than before, the earlier ambiguity set up between viewer and object(s) was on this occasion all but eliminated.

    The strings themselves were still stretched and suspended by only semi-visible supports, giving them a feeling of being airborne. The viewer’s experience, however, used to be analogous to this metaphor for freedom; earlier

  • Yves Saint Laurent

    Like so many who have come to be identified with arch-sophistication, Yves Saint Laurent is not only French but a true provincial, born and raised in what was still the colony of Algeria. It may not seem surprising that one who left a sunny tropic full of shopkeepers for the city of lights and shopkeepers should wish to shield himself from the pecuniary side of things. The decades of publicity preceding this exhibition, however, and the literature accompanying it, including “A Collage of Inspiration,” written and graphically orchestrated for the catalogue by Saint Laurent’s business partner

  • Steven Campbell

    “Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,/Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race!” goes Robert Burns’ “Address to a Haggis,” and the burr in the rhythm and roll of these words has, without map or lexicon, found its way into the big, stumpy, juicy, and very funny paintings of Steven Campbell. Maps, however, have played a large part in Campbell’s farcical vision of his fellow Scots and, more generally, their fellow British islanders of the lumpen classes, ever planning out expeditions into Nature with befuddlement and far too much equipment. In The Man Who Climbs Maps, 1983, a youngish camper stands near

  • Deborah Kass

    Deborah Kass’ first solo exhibition in New York was a strong one. Landscape has been her subject for as long as she has been painting, or over 10 years, and her very methodical progress, like the salmon’s, has followed an upstream trajectory, against the current and ever closer to her source. To simplify things, let us say that it is Marsden Hartley who turns out to be standing there.

    This was not always evident. In 1973, for instance, Kass made a painting, The Death of Ophelia, After Delacroix, whose literary theme, art-historical reference, and lyrical, almost neoclassical feeling suggest work

  • ERIC FISCHL’S YEAR OF THE DROWNED DOG: EIGHT CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTUMN

    CONTEMPORARY COMMITMENT TO PRINTMAKING, although not widely reported or acknowledged, has continued to develop many of the issues surrounding viewer-and-object relationships emphasized in the ’60s and ’70s. Prints and drawings by Sol LeWitt, for instance, might be bound or loose, and if loose they might be displayed jointly or singly—an entire print series can be mounted as a large, complete grid of geometries, but any one print or combination of prints is complete as well. And John Baldessari’s recent portfolio of aquatints, Black Dice, 1982, is an image decomposed, a set of compositions based

  • Nancy Spero

    A year ago I spent an afternoon that ran into evening with Nancy Spero looking at nowhere near all of her work. We unrolled several scrolls that ran almost the length of the room, including Codex Artaud, 1971–72, Torture of Women, 1976, Torture in Chile, 1974, and The First Language, 1981—all previously exhibited in and around New York, notably at A.I.R., a feminist cooperative with which Spero has been involved since its inception over a decade ago. The poetry of these scrolls has something to do with the rarefaction of the paper, but much more to do with the innate grace that moved Spero in

  • Shigeko Kubota

    Rivers, mountains, time, death, and Marcel Duchamp have been the primary elements of Shigeko Kubota’s work for most of the last twenty years—first in Tokyo, where in 1963 she met John Cage, then a year later in New York, where she almost immediately became “vice-chairman” of Fluxus. Since 1975 she has been making video sculptures of a very blunt lyricism, which poses some great gaga-metaphysical questions: “Are we dancing still on the gigantic palm of Duchamp, thinking it is a big continent and ocean?” “Can we communicate with the dead through video?” “Is video vacant apartment?” “Is video

  • Cindy Sherman

    Many of Cindy Sherman’s new color prints, most of them larger than lifesize, bring back memories of the photographic layouts that fashion magazines used to run of actresses wearing clothes keyed by the movies that had put them in the big time; Faye Dunaway wearing “Bonnie” outfits was one such memorable instance. A few others suggested old Life and Look features on actresses in their Bel Air lairs. Sherman’s images, though, are anything but nostalgic, and they are not campy. Jauntily enough, accurately enough, they consecrate a renewed marriage, telling us that fashion has for some time been

  • Thomas Lawson

    On one wall, a heavy scent of Thomas Mann—four mountain landscapes, two with The Magic Mountain in their titles. In each of them an overall pattern of oil-paint flecks screens the imagery. Without these quasi-pointillist veils, the pictures would coincide with a number of Romantic, even sentimental precedents with which the 19th century abounded. In View from the Burghof, a girdle of dark pines is supported and crowned with the cyclamen–and–indigo aurora of a northern winter’s dusk. A lighter, western vista spreads horizontally from a balcony’s view in Purple Mountains Majesty, whose title is

  • MICHAEL TRACY: A FULL-BLOWN GEOPHYSICAL PRESENCE

    The heart is the toughest part of the body.

    Tenderness is in the hands.


    —Carolyn Forché1

    WITH THE FIRST WORLD CAME matter, then light, then limits. Human enlightenment could be described as the evolving ability to understand the nature and intricacies of limits.

    The population of San Ygnacio, Texas, thirty miles south of Laredo, on the north bank of the Rio Grande, is small, less than a thousand, and at any rate small enough that its numbers have not been registered separately in the Chamber of Commerce files at Laredo, a city of 100,000, but are lumped together with those of Zapata, Texas, a town

  • Troels Wörsel

    The paintings of Troels Wörsel, a Danish artist living in Cologne, run a very mild-mannered rhetorical range yet convey a peculiar quality of remote pain, a pain both remotely inflicted and remotely sustained. On single canvases, on diptychs and triptychs, Wörsel places abstract fields or patterns. He does so coolly, almost distractedly, sometimes adding some offhand scrap of representation, or perhaps a discreet object such as a doorknob. His palette, until recently black, white, and gray, now includes archetypally acrylic hues of orange and green—the first colors to recede in color blindness.

  • Cham Hendon

    Cham Hendon, the “Bad Painter” of lapidary surfaces, has moved from the land of American banalities to a more lyrically fictive realm. For several years he has synthesized portraits of the modern French masters and renditions of their work, but these earlier depictions were treated as cultural pinups, images likely to turn up, shrunken and color processed, in the empty hotel rooms and municipal offices for which his paintings were best known. Monet, for one, remains a stock presence in a couple of Hendon’s new works, but he is no longer simply a paragon for provincials as he walks guests through

  • Louise Dahl-Wolfe

    Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s first published photograph was bought by Vanity Fair in 1933 and is titled Mrs. Ramsey. Dominated by a vegetable, the photogenic if inedible turban gourd, yet evidently concerned with the actuality of Mrs. Ramsey, an Appalachian woman wizened beyond gender, its effect is that of “still life with hardship.” Dahl-Wolfe, who chose the pictures in this exhibition and provided blueprints for their display, may like it for this very reason. Her encomium to young photographers runs along the lines of “study painting, learn to design,” as she once did, and this picture must strike