Margaret Sheffield

  • Perfecting the Imperfect: Noguchi’s Personal Style

    NOGUCHI’S VISION OF STONE as symbolic and ceremonial is a consistent theme throughout his work. Noguchi’s capacity to imbue material itself with the drama of the act of creation, combined with his subtle articulation of edge, surface, and curved planar movements, makes his bold images of emerging form carry a sense of primal energy. Qualities of irreducible form and structural coherence place Noguchi’s work in a modern and Western esthetic, but even his most “modern” works contain echoes of past cultures. While he has worked in metal, steel—modern industrial materials—he has come back to stone

  • Irving Petlin

    Irving Petlin sets up rich structures with metaphorical properties that link him to such European symbolists as Klimt and Redon. Although a figurative artist, Petlin achieves the mystery Redon described as the “effect of the abstract line acting directly on the human spirit.” The dominant image is of an arid yet germinatng landscape. These disturbing settings seem to function as a metaphor for man’s journey; figures and figure groups are archetypal—family, child, survivor. Petlin’s work is allegorical, but the emotional drama is conveyed less by the symbolic narrative than by the paintings’

  • Don Gummer

    Don Gummer combines a Cubist vocabulary of interpenetrating planes and geometric shapes with a Constructivist use of painted wood and replacement of opaque volume by space. At his best, as in the site sculpture Surrounded by Divisions exhibited last summer at Castle Clinton, Gummer creates out of rigid lines and spatial geometry what Yeats called “intellectual music.” Rectangles, circles and hexagons function in a musical counterpoint with planes and shadows. The work had a subtly charged pace, a rhythm of rectilinear intervals that also relates the artist to Mondrian.

    Constructed of bluestone

  • Cy Twombly: Major Changes in Space, Idea, Line

    CY TWOMBLY’S PAINTINGS REVEAL a cultivated, allusive mind and a personality at once lyrical and ironic, anxious and lazy, passionate and laconic. The works range from moods of wit or ennui to the profundity of those in which the content is the death of culture and history. Starting, like Rauschenberg, by “using” cultural material, Twombly comes in his later painting to identify himself with culture.

    Twombly was born in Lexington, Virginia, in 1929. A contemporary of Rauschenberg, he studied at Black Mountain College with Motherwell and Kline. Since 1957 he has lived in Rome and traveled extensively

  • Natural Structures: Michael Singer’s Sculpture and Drawings

    MICHAEL SINGER’S WORK IS MOST remarkable in its vision of nature. His sculptures express a relation to a universe of incessant change and motion. Constructed of bamboo, phragmites (marsh reeds), rocks, light strips of wood, Singer’s outdoor sculptures do not attempt to impose their structure upon the natural order. Rather, elements of the environment, such as water, light, and wind, are allowed to participate actively; sometimes they even alter the formal order of the work, just as Singer integrates the rhythms of a sculpture into the preexisting structure of the environment.

    Singer’s use of

  • Alice Aycock: Mystery Under Construction

    ALICE AYCOCK’S SCULPTURE IS remarkable for its power to make architectural and sculptural volumes and masses express inner states. Her moral and esthetic presuppositions are closely tied to her own sense of our age as one of imbalance, anxiety and uncertainty. Here I will emphasize the cultural and personal sources of Aycock’s vision, particularly as evidenced by two substantial recent works.

    Aycock makes sculpture in a natural setting, as if participating in nature. Yet in drawing on her own unconscious fears or aggressions, her personal psychology, she makes such works modes of propitiating,

  • James Collins’ Double Portraits

    JAMES COLLINS’ NEW WORKS return us via the individual image, and especially the romantic double portrait of male-female encounter, to history and culture. After nearly a decade of Conceptual homage to the “head,” with an art of zero sensuality that insisted on intellect as the justification for art, Collins poses, in striking opposition, a romantic respect for the heart. Like an 18th-century philosophe of feeling and intuition, he marries such older ideas to the latest technological developments in large-format color photography, allying certain values of traditional painting with sign-systems