Max Kozloff

  • David Smith at the Tate

    AT A TIME WHEN HIS LEGACY has be­come immensely relevant, and at a moment when the recentness of his death would naturally have encour­aged some acknowledgement of what he had done, we are given the long planned and well-installed retrospec­tive of David Smith’s sculpture at the Tate Gallery. Directed by Frank O’Hara, of the Museum of Modern Art (whose life, like Smith’s, was re­cently cut short at high tide by an automobile accident), it is congested with the memorable pieces, familiar and unfamiliar, of a long career. One had assimilated these works, or sculp­tures like them, oftentimes in

  • Three-Dimensional Prints and the Retreat from Originality

    NOW THAT THE FULL HORRORS of big time leisure are seeping through to the untrained art public, the possibility of a flabbergasting new entente between artists and laymen is beginning to suggest itself. The desire of the man in the street would be to structure his leisure, with, among so many other things, the visual condiments that are achieving such publicity these days, but are beyond the reach of his pocketbook. The problem for the artist is to reach a vast, lower-echelon market, and to attain a distribution of his products that will only begin to satisfy an unprecedented demand. Undoubtedly,

  • An Interview with Robert Motherwell

    Q. In what areas do you consider that there may have been misunderstandings or falsifications of the period of Abstract Expressionism?

    A. Many. The least distorted account I’ve seen is Arnason’s, in the catalog to the Guggenheim’s “Abstract Expressionist and Imagist” show . . . But even his account has the limitation that for an awful lot of what happened, there’s no documentation existing.

    Q. But what were the specific misapprehensions of the period—thematic, historical, conceptual?

    A. One historical misunderstanding is to assume that all the Abstract Expressionists appeared at once, like so many

  • The Problem of Color-Light in Mark Rothko

    ONE OF THE DECISIVE CONTRADICTIONS in Mark Rothko’s art is his uncompromising non-objectivity of format and framework, mated with his thoroughly metaphoric handling of paint—a paint that suggests a variety of sensations. Were his pictorial substances more obtrusive or palpable, there would have been an equilibrium between the way they would have confined attention to themselves, and the way the formal configuration of soft-edged rectangles rules out alternative readings. There would have been, that is, a balance of self-assertions. As it is, Rothko has so etherealized the paint that it is

  • An Interview with Friedel Dzubas

    Q. Where would you place yourself chronologically in the development of New York painting since the Second World War?

    A. You know, I am just by age what they call second generation, a second wave. But in a strange way, I never belonged to that second wave. After the early fifties, it settled into one large camp (aside from which, there were only a few separate figures), but that one large camp represented the people who were for de Kooning, or anything that de Kooning represented. Everybody on the outside of that camp never really managed to group around another center. (Late forties up to around

  • Larry Poons

    OF LATE, THE CAREER OF ABSTRACT ART, once uneasy and open-ended, is gelling in the work of a handful of American painters who have pressed a series of interlocking, but unique visions into existence. Three such painters are Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, and Frank Stella. Another, still in his twenties, is Larry Poons. The powers that have been funneled to give his art its distinctive range and tension have over-arched the esthetic landscape of perhaps the last twenty years and Poons, as a result, is one of those classic, central figures who sums up a tradition, while freshly extending its

  • The Honest Elusiveness of Jim Dine

    ONE HAS NO DIFFICULTY IN LOCATING the area in which the vision of Jim Dine tumbles and spins and disports itself, like some playful dolphin. His haunt is the fluid sea of visual paradoxes and ironies discovered by Johns and Rauschenberg. This means, initially, that Dine has concerned himself with the inclusion of objects into painting, the continued opulence, but devaluation, of material paint, and the effect of words which label representations which he is at pains to undermine. Considering Dine’s origins, one is not surprised to see displacements and disassociations in his art, nor a whole

  • The Dilemma of Expressionism

    EXPRESSIONISM, AS A VISUAL MODE in art, has passed into the history of the 20th century. So complicated and ambiguous has the present artistic situation become, that the bellicose progeny of Van Gogh look optimistic and simple-minded by comparison. And so alien to the direct transmission of feeling is current thought, that Expressionist art begins to look inflated and bombastic. One is willing to admit the existence of a number of masterpieces of the genre, but inwardly one does not submit oneself too eagerly to be moved by them. If this is because Expressionism no longer constitutes fashion,

  • Whitney Annual: Sculpture

    Museum openings, for some reason, whether it is the fur and the clatter, or the Crest toothpaste smiles of everyone including the works of art, always put me to thinking of the end of Western civilization. They are the art world’s affirmation of old Veblen’s theory of conspicuous consumption, decked up with a whorishness impossible to resist. That of the Whitney Museum’s 1968 Sculpture Annual was no exception. Hundreds of people coquettishly trying to look younger than they are, younger than the young, dabbed their ashes and spilled their drinks on the floor while successfully, and in most cases

  • Robert Irwin

    What is deterministic in the artistic processes of Robert Irwin and what is optional in the viewing of his work, mesh chimerically in the consciousness. For there is something minatory in one’s helplessness in sorting out the boundaries of color tones that are known to be quite discrete, as they are applied in dotted screens. Overlappings, therefore, occur only in an imagination betrayed by the knowledge that Irwin’s materials are laid down exclusively side by side. This was the Neo-Impressionist ethic, too, to be sure, but the Seurat group emphasized tangibility, and firmly modulated transitions:

  • Les Levine

    A rather chilly exhibition, authored by a man named Les Levine, comprised in part of what looked like frigidaires swaddled in glistening vinyl, opened at the Fischbach Gallery. A Canadian artist hitherto unshown in these parts, Levine apparently feels so at home here that he is immediately kindled by the sensuous aspect of something called Eastman’s Uvex Plastic sheet. According to the flyer accompanying the show, “The sculptures are vacuum-formed from clear plastic sheet, then back sprayed with a silver metallic paint to create the glossy, silvery appearance.” Additionally, constructed armatures

  • Michael Steiner

    Debuts by young artists these days seem to fall into one of two categories. Either their exhibitions are somewhat insecure technically, and uncertain conceptually, or they are almost alarmingly with it, apparently leaving no fields left to conquer. Michael Steiner’s opening at Dwan lines up neatly with the latter extremity. Flawless even in their installation, his cast aluminum pieces project a structural confidence, and a differentiated geometrical vocabulary of mostly cantilevered or buttressed beams that go elegantly about their business. In addition, nothing could be more up to date than

  • Jim Dine

    Some hitherto disagreeable, but relatively submerged aspects of Jim Dine’s art have come fully to the surface in his latest show at Janis. I refer to his incapacity to edit (if not control) the vagrant products of his output, and also to a rather persnickety cynicism that demeans only itself. The first means that undeveloped or throw-away ideas sully a production that once had a lyrically serious drive; the second indicates a kind of thumbing the nose even at his own irony––which makes one wonder why any work was worth the effort. At their wittiest, his new images rise to the level of cast

  • Fantin-Latour

    In the catalog of the really delicious exhibition of flower paintings by Fantin-Latour at Acquavella, I came across an illuminating remark by Pierre Courthion: “In his own incomparable way, he (Fantin) has understood better than anyone the visual language of a bouquet of flowers, where each flower plays its own melody; the soft rustle of the white carnations and the red or multicolored ones which froth like the petticoats of a pretty girl . . .” To probe into these works, then, is perhaps to become a connoisseur of a genteel, Victorian eroticism. The latter would go far to explain the subdued

  • Robert Murray

    With gentle provocation and great self-assurance, Robert Murray mounted sculptures at Betty Parsons which, while they had taken their cue from David Smith, have extended his planes into thin (less than an inch), laminated metal walls that have more the function of room dividers than of pedestal pieces surrounded by measurable space.

    Upon entering, one was blocked and shunted to the side by a kind of aluminum screen painted with red oxide, there to survey judiciously placed, sharp-edged planks of metal, some vertical and connected by a balustrade at the base, others having one incisive diagonal,

  • Jules Olitski

    Those who tend to look unfavorably on the art of Jules Olitski are offended by the sweetness of his color; those who would uphold his work are wont to overlook that color, despite acknowledgement of its importance. The new paintings by Olitski at Emmerich are not likely to alter these circumstances. They are, as usual, overwhelmingly chromatic, the few changes to be noted in them being literally, if not altogether esthetically, marginal.

    When the show falls below the general level of handsome, it does so because of some misjudgment of the scale necessary to embody a color in memorable proportions.