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

  • Barry Le Va

    Barry Le Va’s work of the past few years has dealt with location. He postulates certain configurations relating to the gallery on the floor and identifies or leaves cues as to their positions. In his most recent show, he extends his geometry into three dimensions, with exponentially complicated results.

    Entering the gallery, one steps into two scatterings of wooden dowel slices, reminders of earlier installations. In addition, thin sticks of various lengths were stuck to the gallery walls in deliberate but indecipherable arrangements. A notice explained that the sticks represent sightings, taken

  • Hamish Fulton and Jean Le Gac

    Travel has a universal appeal. It holds out the tantalizing hope of being able to step outside of oneself, shedding that shell of circumstance and habit that structures one’s day-to-day existence. It also has the effect of vastly sharpening perceptions. The senses are put on 24-hour alert, and the most peripheral baggage, details of which pass unnoticed at home, suddenly commands attention. Road-signs, labels, wrappers, newspapers, restaurant china, all become the focus of this heightened awareness. It’s hard to dwell on yourself when traveling; too much gets in the way.

    Whether mythical or real,

  • Michael Singer

    Earthworks generally radicalize our perception of landscape by altering it in some unnatural way; Michael Singer’s modest works of the past few years, photographs of which were shown recently, investigate and comment upon natural processes without imposing on them. The pieces he has produced in Florida swamps and New York State forests are so at one with their surroundings that his discreet interventions pass virtually unnoticed.

    The swamp works consist of reeds and grasses bundled or propped casually to preserve their natural appearance. They bend with the breezes, are reflected in the water,

  • Marilynn Gelfman-Pereira

    Michael Singer’s work casually annotates nature’s random aspects; Marilynn Gelfman-Pereira transforms evidence of its structural regularity into a series of elegant, intentionally artificial constructions. Forked twigs, chosen for their similarity of size and angle, are judiciously pruned to uniform lengths and positioned in various configurations with the tips of the branches touching each other, thus producing rough imitations of geometric figures. These are then interlaced with miniature wire sculptures of a highly constructivist character.

    Pereira has always worked on a small scale. Her

  • Don Celender

    Don Celender is a spoofing quasi-Conceptualist who uses art-world figures and foibles as his subject—and target. Much of his “oeuvre” belongs to the Mail Art genre—the “documentary” branch, not the larger funk/junk division of the esthetic postal service. A recent prank involved correspondence with various categories of notables—corporation presidents, congressmen, etc.—proposing preposterous projects and publishing their replies along with his letters.

    Other works include baseball cards with art-world faces superimposed on them, published results of an art-world “Olympics”—best-looking critic,

  • Three Sculptors: Mark di Suvero, Richard Nonas, Charles Ginnever

    AN AMBITIOUS RETROSPECTIVE, ORGANIZED BY the Whitney Museum, offers us the opportunity to extend our understanding of Mark di Suvero’s sculpture beyond formal matters to its dialogue with particular sites, with the environment, with people. It also provides an occasion to reconsider his work in the light of subsequent artistic developments.

    Such hindsight, far from isolating di Suvero’s position, affirms the fecundity of his sculptural syntax,which has been assimilated and reformulated by many other artists. Richard Nonas and Charles Ginnever, who happen to have been showing concurrently (though

  • Mary Miss

    Much of Mary Miss’s recent work is based on spatial progressions, which provide her with a method of staking out and defining sculptural territory. A new piece shown here recently, as well as a film of a second entitled Cut-Off, executed in Flint, Michigan, in the fall of 1974, enlarge upon her previous investigations with considerable success.

    Entering a rather small gallery the viewer is confronted with a crude, fence-like structure made of painted plank, propped up with 2 x 4s. Since it’s a bit higher than eye level, it can’t be seen over, and the first impression is of a rather formidable

  • Jackie Ferrara

    Progressions also provide the basis for Jackie Ferrara’s work, but they are executed with a mathematical precision which places them at the opposite pole from the open-ended spatial investigations of Mary Miss. In Ferrara’s stepped plywood and masonite constructions, Conceptual and post-Minimal esthetics intersect, exploring the processes of stacking and building. Her work of the past couple of years is related to Smithson’s stacked glass and mirror pieces of 1969, though many of the new pieces exhibit a far higher degree of complexity than is present either in her earlier work or that of