Nancy Foote

  • The Shock of the New

    “WHEN WATCHING A MOVIE,” writes Robert Hughes, “one only has two choices—go or stay. With television, there is a third: change the channel.” Channel-switching, he claims, has accustomed us to receiving information as a montage of images. While the subject of The Shock of the New is modern art, its armature is undeniably television; it is a fast-paced collage of themes, ideas and names, pasted together with Hughesian wit.

    After seeing most of the TV series from which the book evolved, it is impossible really to “read” it; one “hears” the sentences rumble forth in Hughes’ resonant Australian voice

  • Long Walks

    WHY GO FOR A WALK? Not to get anywhere; the lack of destination makes it a walk rather than a journey. But a walk is never aimless; you set limits even before you start out: “as far as the woods,” “around the lake,” “along the river to the bridge and back.” Expediency determines the structure of a journey; on a walk you impose your own.

    A walk offers a chance to check up on nature, to give in to your senses. You can take your self along for company, or leave it behind, depending on your mood. You can take the dog—an ideal arrangement, since your separate amusements don’t intrude on one another.

  • “Buildings for Best Products” and "Siteten

    It is much easier to get away with being outrageous in art than in architecture—when the imagination not the body is responsible for coping with the results. Outrageous buildings are, for the most part, hard to take in the flesh. They intrude upon—in fact control—our physical space, so their power to offend, their ability to disappoint, is greatly heightened.

    Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s brilliant analysis of Las Vegas, and Venturi’s earlier, even more brilliant explication of “complexity and contradiction” in architecture have, I suspect, damaged the practice of architecture as much

  • Monument—Sculpture—Earthwork

    DURING THE FINAL SUMMER of the 1970s the issue of public art arose on two distinct but related occasions. The first, in Italy in July, was an international conferenza of art historians and critics who convened in the Umbrian hill town of Todi to consider “Monumental Sculpture Past and Present,” hosted jointly by the Region of Umbria, the Province of Perugia and the Commune of Todi. The participants included Germano Celant, Rainer Crone, Diane Kelder, Fred Licht, Wolfgang Lotz, Sheldon Nodelman, Marisa Volpi Orlandini, Marcelin Pleynet, Paolo Portoghesi, Barbara Rose, Jan van der Marck, and

  • Oldenburg’s Monuments to the Sixties

    THE ’70s ARE TURNING OUT to be hostile territory for ’60s art. Sixties art travelled at supersonic speeds; it spewed forth frenetically, exponentially hyping energies and expectations alike. Art was in the headlines, and the artists who soared to fame and fortune were barely out of art school. Retrospectives, traditionally the museum’s seal of approval on a long career, suddenly became the summation of a mere decade, and the artist’s first decade, at that. The Museum of Modern Art signed off the ’60s with Oldenburg and Stella; the Whitney retaliated with Dine, Warhol and Rosenquist. Oldenburg

  • The Apotheosis of the Crummy Space

    JUST ACROSS THE 59TH STREET bridge from Manhattan, in a rundown neighborhood now given over mostly to factories and warehouses, stands an 1890s red brick building known as Public School 1. Abandoned since 1963 and far down the list of preservationists’ worries, P.S.1 was slated to go the way of so many of its Victorian architectural contemporaries. But the Institute for Art and Urban Resources, whose weighty title masks a very uninstitutional function, got wind of its impending demise and swung into action.

    The institute, brainchild of Alanna Heiss, cuts through municipal red tape to cadge unused

  • The Anti-Photographers

    THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN ART and photography, historically fraught with anxieties, has ceased to be one of definition; nevertheless, it continues to bug us. Though the post-modernist revolution has (as in many other disciplines) eradicated traditional boundaries and brought about a tremendous increase in “esthetic mobility,” photography’s status in the art world remains problematic. For every photographer who clamors to make it as an artist, there is an artist running a grave risk of turning into a photographer. The level of absurdity to which such maneuvering can descend is exemplified, perhaps,

  • Michael Asher

    One of art’s most irritating characteristics is its capacity to irritate. Bad art generates little irritation beyond a casual “Why bother to make it?” The irritation of good art is something else. Perhaps it stems from an uncertainty one never likes to admit to: whether or not the art really is good, how one ought to be reacting, and finally, if one is really “getting it.” Viewers don’t like to feel they’re being reviewed by art; it’s a presumptuous switch in roles that gets under the skin. But that’s what art based on perceptual manipulations often sets out to do, and as such it usually succeeds

  • Donald Judd

    For the past few years Donald Judd’s work has also dealt with altering and adjusting the relationship between outside and inside, but since he confines his investigations to sculptural forms, the viewer has something concrete on which to test his perceptions. These forms are, in themselves, less complex than his earlier constructions that explored seriality and progression. Many of these newer works are variations and manipulations of a simple cube.

    One of the two in the current show was a reiteration in steel plate of a 1974 plywood work, a 3 x 5 x 5’ cube with its “lid” slanting down into the

  • Jackie Winsor

    Five new sculptures indicate that Jackie Winsor is shifting from the deliberately antiformal structures of her previous work. Her preoccupation with natural materials—logs, hemp, etc.—has been tempered by the addition of more “manufactured” ingredients—sheet rock, wire, staples and lumberyard wood. But her emphasis on the rigors of the construction process remains.

    All the new pieces are variations on the cube shape which range from about 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet in size. This is in itself a departure for Winsor—much of her previous work was considerably larger and involved many different kinds of

  • Drawing the Line

    THE RECENT EXHIBITION “LINE,” organized by Janet Kardon, brought together a group of artists previously dispersed among the ranks of Conceptualists, Earth-workers, painters, sculptors and draftsmen. In doing so, the show identified another skirmish between those age-old artistic antagonists—line and color.

    Line points up all the things painting has managed to submerge, overcome or ignore. It puts nasty cracks in painting’s smooth surface, wedges itself rudely between gently blended areas of color, and leaves offensive trails on pristine fields. Lines, to classic color field painting, are an

  • Dennis Oppenheim

    Dennis Oppenheim’s art has frequently been projected through the actions of his own children. He has explored questions of heredity through studies of facial expressions, transferral of fingerprints, and other actions shared with or executed through his family. Search for Clues, a recent multimedia installation, extends this idea, reconstructing his vision of death as a dream of his seven-year-old daughter.

    A large oriental rug floats about two feet off the floor of the darkened gallery, immediately staking out the work’s magical territory. A puppet (an image of the artist himself which has