Mason Klein

  • Roxy Paine

    During my visit to Roxy Paine’s recent exhibition, I encountered a pair of visitors who, after looking at simulated dry rot framed on a wall and hyperreal tabletop tracts of grass, fungi, and poppies, were unsure whether the same artist was also responsible for the elaborate contraption in the rear gallery that was slowly secreting a stream of melted thermoplastic onto a conveyor belt, creating bloblike sculptural shapes the artist later numbered and signed. I assured them it was. But, they insisted, the replications of nature were so realistic and crafted; the white, irregularly shaped mounds,

  • Carl Andre

    Edmund Husserl, in the Origin of Geometry, suggested that Euclid developed his Elements from such practical activities as building, and this didactic function of construction as a way of illustrating geometric principles has played a central role in Carl Andre’s work throughout his career. The sculptor’s recent show comprised five pieces (all 1998) configured according to a common compositional operation: The structure of each work was determined exclusively by the combination of identical units.

    Such alignments of uniform objects arranged on the floor in repetitive patterns were classic

  • Joan Snyder

    The catalogue for Joan Snyder’s recent exhibition of paintings takes the form of a facsimile sketchbook, underscoring the artist’s spontaneous working method and intimate, diaristic style. The book’s title, Paintings and Sketches, indicates a certain equality between preliminary thoughts and finished work that reflects the emotional weight the artist places on every stage of her work, as well as the value of catharsis in her process. There’s certainly no separating the life from the art here: “My work,” Snyder writes on one drawing, “has been absolutely faithful to me.” And yet, she adds elsewhere,

  • David Smith

    In commenting on his 1950 sculpture The Letter, composed of four stacked rows of indecipherable welded-steel ideographs, David Smith explained that the work derived from a section in Finnegans Wake in which a hen scratches up a letter. Asked whether he thought of drawing in terms of writing, Smith replied that, after reading Joyce, he no longer differentiated between the two. That Smith forged a pictorial—and verbal—vocabulary for sculpture is one of his well-known achievements. This hybridization underlies much of the artist’s oeuvre: Smith conflated the otherwise distinct categories of sculpture

  • Lasar Segall

    In 1920, the Expressionist poet and critic Theodor Däubler contrasted the Egyptians, children of the sun, to the Israelites, whose migrations and adaptations he likened to the constantly changing appearance of the moon. Däubler cited this Jewish “racial character” as central to the work of Lasar Segall, as curator Stephanie D’Alessandro notes in the catalogue that accompanied the show. “Still More Distant Journeys: The Artistic Emigrations of Lasar Segall,” the painter's first major retrospective in this country, reevaluated his oeuvre within the various cultural contexts that informed it. Segall

  • Eric Fischl

    Few artists in recent years have evolved as productive a repertoire of subjects based on the human figure as Eric Fischl’s. In his first solo exhibition of sculpture, Fischl unapologetically celebrated the historical tradition of the figure. Aggressively eschewing what he regards as the impersonal, cynical voice of much contemporary art, the artist used figuration to raise issues—such as the importance of archetypes and the value of ritual and the ceremonial—that evoke the aesthetic and philosophical concerns and convictions of a distant past. His grouping of life-size bronzes conjured all the

  • Tony Smith/Christopher Willmarth

    Over the past decade, a handful of historians and critics have reexamined Minimalism, investigating the technological, political, and cultural factors that lay behind its hard-edged geometries. They have reevaluated individual careers as well as the nature of a “movement” based solely on visual and stylistic similarities.

    Tony Smith and Christopher Wilmarth were friends and colleagues; Wilmarth worked briefly as Smith’s studio assistant, and he is sometimes referred to as the more well-known artist’s protégé. Yet the works they produced are quite different. Smith has frequently been categorized

  • Yves Klein

    Yves Klein’s legendary Leap into the Void—a 1960 photomontage of the artist jumping off the ledge of a Paris building—has colored our perception of him no less than has his signature International Klein Blue. For Klein the void below that ledge opened onto what he called the “indéfinissable,” an ineffable, mythic state that transcended any fixed notion of time and space. The concept, however, did not exclude the constraints of the world: the artist’s act, defiant and dramatic as it was, resulted in an actual, albeit minor injury—a sprained ankle. Thus Klein’s leap invoked the notion of an


    Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays, by Camille Paglia. New York: Vintage Books, 1992.

    So far we have seen two acts of the razzle-dazzle Camille Paglia show. The first act—the exposition, as it were—was Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, a tumescent tome that ranges swaggeringly over the whole of the Western cultural patrimony, resembling in its ambitions such old-fashioned surveys as Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis and E. R. Curtius’ European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, but hyped-up and amphetamized for the MTV generation. Dirty, too—Paglia’s willful