Richard Armstrong

  • FORUM

    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

  • John Torreano

    During the 12 years that John Torreano used glass jewels in his paintings their role evolved from a collaborative to a dominant one. First employed as specific sources of light within painted fields, they gradually became the entire encrusted, sparkling surfaces of his works. Over time Torreano developed a kind of ersatz pointillism, one that incorporated the obligatory fragmentary marks of painted color but relied for the most part on the faceted planes of the jewels and their pigmentation for an optical mix in the pictures. In choosing jewels as a material he created for his work an a priori

  • Vija Celmins

    Despite its dour, reserved appearance I have come to understand Vija Celmins’ work as celebratory, as an intense, specific recreation of the joys of seeing. The graphite-on-paper drawings, painted cast-bronze rocks, and prints of this show confirm my feeling. The drawings, views in various scopes of phenomena in outer space, extend Celmins’ concerns of the last decade or so. Products of protracted, pointillist labor, they radiate the energies they ostensibly depict. The painted bronzes, each shown paired with a found rock which it exactingly duplicates, bring sight back to earth in an abrupt

  • Cheryl Laemmle

    The sympathetic specter of René Magritte floats around Cheryl Laemmle’s paintings. Illusionistic, handsomely painted, and “realistic” in ways reminiscent of the demure work of the Belgian fantasist, her work similarly is based on a set of images laden with associations. But unlike Magritte, Laemmle seems not to engage these symbols as parts of a larger rebus. There seems to be no narrative, no cumulative meaning to her paintings. They are enigmatic, but they are not puzzles.

    That each is in itself a small drama Laemmle makes pointedly clear. Elaborately rendered frames are painted on the faces

  • “New Abstraction”

    The inference of novelty in the title of this show was misplaced. The 16 paintings, two by each of eight artists, are recent and they are abstract, but there was nothing new here, nor could there be. There were two anomalies—Jerry Zeniuk, with his multicolored, camouflagelike pictures, and Howard Smith, with thinly washed, atmospheric canvases. These aside, the painters were represented by monochrome works of varying scale (mostly large), which seem to address the question of how elementary the painted surface can be made before it forfeits significance.

    Within the subgenre of allover painters

  • Patricia Patterson

    By force of their execution in a style wholly dependent on almost academic realist drawing, and of their content—recollections of the Irish countryside and the hearthside life there—Patricia Patterson’s paintings should collapse into a muddle of sentimentality, but they don’t. To the contrary, when her scenes of a small village and its residents combine with the larger, more patently evocative quotations from an Irish kitchen she created within the gallery, significant questions about realism, depiction, and the subjects of art come into focus more clearly than in more consciously stylized,

  • Loren Madson

    With this gallery-sized sculpture Loren Madsen took what I thought I knew of his work and turned it inside out. Whereas his earlier pieces seem to be about levitation, this one addresses compression. If other work celebrates various elegant denials of its aggregate weight, this one makes its own mass and the support of that mass its central feature. Compression here has its physical correlate—a weighty oak beam running the length of the whole piece—as well as more iconographic, even autobiographical ones: glimpses of a number of Madsen’s earlier sculptures are to be had. But the composite effect

  • Tom Otterness

    Tom Otterness fashioned a race of standardized cylindrical figures, genus homo Babariens, and put them around the middle space of this gallery in friezes at the tops of the walls and as an entry gate around the door leading into this space from the outer room. White as the walls themselves and suavely tucked against the soffit, these bas-reliefs of cast, squatty, distinctly Babar-like people told a number of stories simultaneously. The characters divided into female, male, a King, and some androgynous small fry. The mass of them were hard at work, mostly carrying a large spherical load or a

  • Charles Garabedian

    Charles Garabedian’s urge to classicize forms, which seems to me the steady impulse through all his paintings and drawings, finally distinguishes his work from the pseudo-naive figuration that might otherwise be considered kindred. Garabedian is a naive of sorts, a late-starting autodidact who lives in Los Angeles; his twenty-year career can be seen as one long aspiration to authenticity. In itself, that motive guarantees little more than a body of earnest work—more often than not, deadly earnest work. Garabedian’s pictures evade that fate, however, in large part because of his quirky and catholic

  • Sol Lewitt

    Precisely why, from the very beginning of his production, Sol LeWitt balked at being considered a minimalist, preferring instead the denominator “conceptualist,” becomes more clear each year. Certainly in these two gallery-sized environments fundamental differences with minimalism, and, for that matter, with conceptualism as we think of it—plastic didacticism—abound. With its increased, enveloping scale LeWitt’s wall drawing has evolved into decoration, albeit a severe, ostensibly rational kind of decoration.

    The continuity of LeWitt’s enterprise, which by now qualifies as a magnificent obsession,

  • Howard Hodgkin

    Seen on the heels of shows of recent work by his British compatriots Ken Kiff and Hugh O’Donnell, Howard Hodgkin’s new paintings reinforce the general impression that French color has migrated across the Channel. Kiff seems the lateral heir to Odilon Redon’s florid symbology and his palette, while Hodgkin is an even more direct descendant of Edouard Vuillard’s dusky brilliances and tranquil, domesticated universes. Though somewhat larger than I remember his last works to have been, Hodgkin’s paintings, then as now, are resolutely those of an intimist.

    Hodgkin’s technique, which owes much to his

  • Judy Pfaff

    The vortices, palpable and impalpable, that swirl through Judy Pfaff’s three-dimensional installation extravaganzas can be taken as a leitmotiv of her work as a whole. Alternately centripetal and centrifugal, and sometimes both simultaneously, her compositional method has rarely found so hospitable an arena as the stairwell connecting the new and the old sections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

    Here, for the first time, the spectator was obliged to climb up into one of Pfaff’s pandemoniac microcosmos—to great effect. Rock/Paper/Scissors began at ground level with relative calm: irregularly