Patricia C. Phillips

  • Michael Sorkin

    Widely known for his wry, sharp-shooting criticism, Michael Sorkin put writing aside in order to develop an architectural practice. Thankfully he did not stop writing altogether, though it is more often as a theorist than as a critic that he chooses to commit his thoughts to paper.

    Neither wildly implausible nor easily realizable, Sorkin’s models for living occupy the inadequately mapped region between theory and practice. Even to those who pretend to embrace a variegated architectural practice, Sorkin’s unruly, unfamiliar work is frequently mystifying. Though his ungainly amalgamations might

  • Amy Hauft

    Installed in a former bank, Amy Hauft’s Counting to Infinity, 1994, addressed the abstraction of an economy divorced from hard currency. One entered the building through a minuscule foyer that opened onto a steep flight of stairs. Despite the unkempt air and undistinguished architecture of this building, the high-ceilinged space suggested a place where people could trust their money would be managed judiciously. A tall teller’s counter with frosted-glass screens stood toward the south end of the floor, while toward the north end, formerly the site of the executive offices, an open space was

  • Sydney Blum & Mark Schwartz

    Though Sydney Blum’s large floor sculptures and Mark Schwartz’s paintings unmistakably reflect the conventions of their separate art forms, exhibited together these works generate an exchange of ideas and formal conventions. Eschewing pictorial representation, each artist attempts to portray the volatile energy of the natural world. Their energetic esthetic productions negotiate the zone between abstraction and figuration, denotation and connotation, charting ambiguous territory.

    Three very large paintings on unstretched canvases filled the south wall of the gallery. In all the paintings, an

  • David Hammons

    David Hammons is a dedicated poacher. Whether taking snow from the streets of Harlem to make and sell snowballs, hair from the floors of barber shops, chicken wings from take-out restaurants, or Night Train bottles tossed into vacant lots to create sculpture, drawings, quilts, and other objects, he bestows a sense of esthetic order on these ordinary, often gritty souvenirs of urban life and black culture. The artist’s provocative use of stereotypes unifies the generous range of props and settings.

    For Rock Fan, 1993, Hammons placed an enormous boulder in front of Chapin Hall, a prominent campus

  • Linda Matalon

    Like living organisms, Linda Matalon’s sculptures are both idiosyncratic and occasionally infirm. Painstakingly imperfect, they show evidence of long, and possibly tedious, hours of production. Though created from a modest range of materials, these works have a disquieting presence.

    The most complex and ambitious piece in the exhibition, What Remains, 1993, examines the points at which the animate and the abstract intersect—a question addressed by all of the works in this show but without the particular urgency of this piece. Constructed of wire and gauze, held together with viscous materials

  • Steve Currie

    The independent sculptural object often seems like a threatened species. With these recent works, Steve Currie acknowledges the vulnerablity of objects while assuring us of their enduring viability. Deftly manipulating materials with an exacting, unusual conception of craft, Currie succeeds in animating abstraction. With the eight sculptures in this exhibition, the artist points to the uncertain status of contemporary sculpture, through abstractions that look like industrial components and enlarged organisms.

    Estranged families of materials are painstakingly joined, techniques rigorously exploited

  • Vito Acconci and Steven Holl

    In the past few years, the maverick organization Storefront for Art and Architecture has invited artists to subvert not only the conventional function but the very architectural structure of the gallery space. Utilizing strategies of surveillance, confounding the viewer’s expectations of a protected interiority, artists and architects have exploited this Lilliputian, homely, wedge-shaped space to undermine traditional art environments. On two earlier occasions, artists have flexed their muscles to cut through the grimy exterior wall of Storefront to produce a certain permeability between interior

  • Ann Hamilton

    In a virtually empty space, Ann Hamilton deployed a limited selection of materials with restrained obsessiveness, creating a serene though also profoundly disturbing atmosphere. In tropos, 1993, as with so much of Hamilton’s work, the tension between intellect and intuition, specific perceptions and memories, establishes the conceptual and sensory borders within which the work remains fluid and ambiguous.

    The third floor of Dia’s industrial building was turned over to the artist. First, she changed the architectonics of the space, replacing existing windows with panes of textured, translucent,

  • Eva Andrée Laramée

    In her recent work, Eve Andrée Laramée continues to follow her interest in the estrangement between cultural practice and scientific process. From our distorted perceptions of the differences between them, she draws shared properties and principles. Using salt, copper, electro-magnetic fields, and plants, she has created work which, in its final form, is more than the sum of her active interventions.

    Laramée’s laboratory of controls and variables reflects an imaginative empiricism that allows us to envision and embrace indeterminate results. In this show, entitled “Instruments & Apparatus,”

  • Siah Armajani

    Both this exhibition and a concurrent one at Max Protetch gallery in New York were filled with continuities, as well as departures, from Siah Armajani’s earlier work. While his interest in the political structure of American public spaces remains, two recent series (entitled “Streets,” 1992–93 and “Notations on Streets,” 1992) condense the artist’s familiar examinations of architecture and artifacts in small tableaux of corrugated cardboard, props for model-train sets and doll houses, and found materials. These diminutive studies manipulated conventions of presentation (combining and confusing

  • Daisy Youngblood

    The only disruption in this austere, brightly illuminated space was the diminutive work of Daisy Youngblood—a community of small votive objects scattered around these ample rooms. Mounted directly on the walls or placed on tall pedestals, Youngblood’s clay sculptures seemed to undermine the carefully constructed serenity of their environment.

    Each piece embodied abandonment or carried in its contours some trace of injury, age, or lifelong struggle. Foreshortened Horse, 1992, was mounted at eye level, projecting from the wall at mid body to animate a space that extended well beyond its Lilliputian

  • Ida Applebroog

    In Ida Applebroog’s installation the intimacy of her images reverberated within the vast expanse of this Art Deco space. Rather than making her point with size and scale, she used a concentrated field of paintings and the back wall of the lobby to evoke the menacing consequences of seemingly isolated actions and incidents.

    She painted this entire wall a sickly green, which recalled the institutional color used in schools and hospitals. In front of it she constructed a slightly elevated rubber mat covered with black roofing paper. Though this platform created a boundary between the work and the

  • Jane Rosen

    Under the title “Better Nature,” Jane Rosen assembled an intriguing set of sculptures. Even when visible characteristics differed, a transcendent “genetic” bond was apparent. Rosen’s work is influenced by the forms perceived in those moments prior to complete recognition—what is seen before pattern, color, and shape indicate some figure or formation—which serves to engage viewers in negotiating the relationship between perception and cognition.

    These strangely crafted pieces examine the relationship between the natural, the found, and the fashioned. Rosen frequently revisits the horse’s head,

  • Anotonio Martorell

    Deftly negotiating Puerto Rican cultural traditions, ambitious political issues, literary references, and personal experiences, Antonio Martorell examined how the textures of regional conditions and individual expectations construct our notion of “home.” His eclectic, often personal installations were scattered through the rooms of the museum in a circuitous path of mystery and revelation.

    Educated in graphic design, printmaking, and performance, Martorell uses an alchemic mix of these traditions in his work. At first some of the pieces seemed overly dependent on particular incidents in the

  • “Fragile Ecologies”

    “Fragile Ecologies: Contemporary Artists’ Interpretations and Solutions,” a traveling exhibition, takes a broad look at activist, environmentally oriented art, placing it within its historical and cultural context. The projects of various artists in diverse environments and situations is a central theme of the show, but “Fragile Ecologies” is also concerned with contemporary artists as agents of change. Frequently the work assembled here to represent artists’ recuperative engagement with sites and communities is slight. The ideas are challenging—even abundant—but the images are eviscerated.

  • Maria Nordman

    Since 1967 Maria Nordman has only rarely presented her work in a gallery setting. Usually installed in outdoor, urban spaces, it frequently examines the relationship between subjective perception and architecture as a cultural production. Using common objects, reflected light, and the play of interior and exterior space, her work seeks to reveal the essential components of urban structures. In her recent show, she manipulated both scale and materials, pushing at the constraints of construction to raise questions about the spaces we live in. By underlining the fundamental elements of architecture,

  • Michelle Stuart

    The recent proliferation of didactic art about the environment provides a fascinating context for a reassessment of Michelle Stuart’s active meditations on landscape. Entitled “The Elements: 1973–79,” Stuart’s recent show enabled us to reconsider this artist’s early work and its agile negotiation between the timeless and the temporal. Stu-art’s work reflects her focused, prolonged visits to particular environments, and upon reconsideration it reveals a depth often lacking in much ecologically oriented contemporary art.

    Her preoccupation with landscape stems not only from a sensitivity to the


    Homely Girl, A Life, by Louise Bourgeois and Arthur Miller. New York: Peter Blum Editions. Two volumes, each 36 pp. 3 editions, regular $100, signed $275, special $2,000. Available by special order only from Peter Blum Editions, 14 W. 10th Street, NY, NY 10011.

    Reading this curious two-volume collaboration between two of America’s most celebrated creators is like retracing your steps along a garden path after night has fallen. The first volume contains Miller’s longish short story about an unpretty woman, Janice, who marries twice: once to a downtown socialist who never really notices her, later

  • Mark West

    The Storefront for Art and Architecture invites artists and architects to consider installations that use the interior as well as the exterior space, encouraging them to exhibit investigative work. This past summer, architect Mark West became an unofficial artist-in-residence in order to construct the first exhibition of the fall season. West’s installation Pressure Buildings and Blackouts, 1992, centered on the relationship between technology and the conceptualization of a work. In this instance, his productions concerned new structural and representational methods: what at first seemed like

  • Beverly Semmes

    Introducing a mutant version of women’s fashion, the “clothes” in Beverly Semmes installation questioned the conventions that have determined the production of women’s clothing and thus the presentation of their bodies. By exaggerating the size and distorting the shapes of female apparel, Semmes surreally reconfigured the normative distinction between the body of the subject and the clothing that both masks and represents it. These sculptures did not merely figure an absent body, they forced us to examine how our perception of it is constructed.

    Tucked away in a closet, Sliced Dress (all works