Richard Armstrong

  • Ira Richer

    But for Richard Artschwager’s cozy Formica monuments to enigma, veneers and simulated veneers have had little play in recent art. This is curious, not only because they are among the most ubiquitous and forthright of contemporary materials, but also since photographically imprinted laminates so succinctly embody questions of illusionism central to Modern art. What device evokes such questions better than that of a plastic-coated reproduction of wood layered over real wood? As all but one of this show’s eight large constructions from 1983 in this genre showed, Ira Richer understands the inherent

  • George Schneeman

    The small East Village storefront George Schneeman filled with his fresco paintings, ceramics, and homemade furniture perfectly suited the intimate domesticity that marks all his work. A small room crowded with his pieces seemed like an informal homecoming of civilized cousins. The storefront’s location in the parish of St. Marks-in-the-Bowery reinforced Schneeman’s close connection to a part of literary New York, namely its poets. Aside from the quotations, ranging in their sources from Dante to T.S. Eliot, that are painted around the rims of some of his large ceramic platters (with appropriate,

  • Andrew Spence

    For their sense of wholeness and resolution, Andrew Spence’s paintings are indebted to the work of the late John McLaughlin; Spence’s receptiveness to naturalist influences, both architectural and organic, recalls Ellsworth Kelly. All three artists, Spence most literally of all, understand abstraction to be abstracted from something else, to constitute some kind of parallel, plastic essence to reality.

    Only one of the eight canvases here, most from 1983, builds from the eccentric biomorphism of last year’s paintings. Though as a group I found the latter overly quirky, hence almost illegible,

  • “Other Views”

    The intellectual distance between the questions “what to paint” and “how to paint it” is not great, and neither is the intervening terrain of much interest, but it was precisely here—a part-conceptual, part-stylistic netherworld—that most of the younger artists in this group of heterogeneous landscape painters chose to locate their work. Predictably, the results were something other than fully engaging, although more of interest than yet another “psychotic-figure” show might have been. The lingering influence of conceptual art is a little-acknowledged, widely evidenced reality in today’s painting,

  • Jon Kessler

    In the six months or so since I last saw several of Jon Kessler’s automated wall reliefs in a show at Artists Space, he appears to have gained even more confidence in the wacky sci-fi possibilities of his work. The pieces that initially caught my eye are Rube Goldberg, Swiss–cuckoo clock affairs: small motors move a variety of figures and odd detritus about behind pieces of translucent Plexiglas, the ensembles lighted from their backs to make a kind of shadowbox narrative. But with those contraptions the animated drama cast on the Plexiglas is matched, sometimes overcome, by the furiously

  • Barry LeVa

    Barry LeVa’s chosen labels for the room-sized installation here, “large sculpture,” and the two different kinds of work on paper, “drawings” and “diagrammatic silhouettes,” make clear his intentions for how the aggregate is to be read. The drawings, all recent but in two stylistic variations, differ from the very new “silhouettes”: whereas the former embody the transparent layerings and sketchy tentativeness that have characterized LeVa’s work on paper for some time, these two last pieces have an unexpected, opaque certainty to them. Called, in part, “plan views,” their yellow and black paper

  • Donald Judd

    His and others’ rhetoric aside, Donald Judd’s work has begun to look to me like one long, restrained, touchingly quaint paean. With singular success, it combines an old-fashioned concern for craftsmanship and for chaste materials with a formal range of very strict limits. It is an art that celebrates inherent qualities—the simplicity of geometric forms, and the beauty of such unadorned means as aluminum and plywood. If, in fact, there is an old-fashioned air to the work, it is attributable to the strong recollections of the earlier, more optimistic times in Modern art that the sculptures evoke.

  • Peter Voulkos

    Thirty years ago Peter Voulkos, a young ceramicist from Bozeman, Montana, was invited to a summer session at Black Mountain College. After a three-week teaching stint there, Voulkos went on to New York for a short visit. There he got wind of Abstract Expressionism and met Franz Kline. The rest is better known: Voulkos imparted life into ceramics, working first in Los Angeles, then in San Francisco. His long residency in California, and his chosen medium, partly explain New York’s continued condescension to Voulkos’ extraordinary art. But another part of the lingering prejudice may be a resistance

  • Donna Dennis

    The two large sculptures in this show, Subway with Silver Girders and Skowhegan Stairway, gain by Donna Dennis’ willingness to increase the overall scale and internal complexities of her work. Skowhegan Stairway is a reprise of the country-architecture theme that runs through her oeuvre in counterpoint with the bits of cityscape. In it she seems to have subtracted a skewed section of a two-story frame house from its surrounds so that the stairwell, a conduit rather than a room, forms the central interior space. An outside doorway, partially canopied, makes an entryway from the white wooden

  • Joel Shapiro

    The poignant ambivalence between a very stark kind of representationalism and a more formal, if no less awkward, abstraction evident in all of Joel Shapiro’s mature work has never been better or more accurately articulated than in these five recent sculptures. He forces the stick figure through a rich variety of allusive combinations, comparable in its imagination to the transformations he devised for a compressed house form in the ’70s. If the house could be thought to embody and exploit the architectural analogues inherent in much Minimalist sculpture, the stick figure seems an equally adept


    THE PERIOD OF THE LATE ’60s and early ’70s was the wordiest moment in contemporary art. Articulation and explanation became intermingled and broadcast with the art, as the art, as never before—though in a fashion prescient of the current situation. For those coming of age then, it was all so much program music—we read the notes at the expense of hearing the melodies. All of the aphorisms of the day, beginning with “what you see is what you get,”became familiar, but very few of its artifacts. The verbal thrusting and parrying was the analyzed action, and people like myself (and I think

  • Valerie Jaudon

    Valerie Jaudon’s paintings have long been rationalist anomalies amid the sensualist extravaganzas of the so-called “pattern and decoration” group. Like her peers Robert Kushner and Kim MacConnel, Jaudon was a protégé of the late Amy Goldin, the American critic who almost single-handedly posited a theoretical alternative to the ideological stranglehold reductivism had over advanced art in the late ’60s. Radically unlike the other two painters, however, Jaudon has been an abstractionist in all her work. Her affinities seem to have been more for certain aspects of Frank Stella’s early-to-middle-period