Richard Armstrong

  • Mark Tansey

    The allegories that generate initial interest in Mark Tansey’s paintings, for other reasons than that of admiring his technical competence, prove ultimately to be topical. There is no single “sense” to any of them, unless the artist’s sardonically descriptive titles are to be taken at face value (which I doubt). How many reversals of the Judgment of Paris are meant in the large picture of that name which shows three men scrambling over and down a log obstacle, under the scrutiny of the high-heeled 1940s-style blonde in the foreground? Likewise, whose or which kind of purity is in question in

  • Ken Kiff

    The bulk-oriented art diet that we have lately grown reaccustomed to makes Ken Kiff’s pictures—physically small, pictorially private—practically indigestible. Not that they are unappealing, once noticed, but rather they seem almost invisible to current tastes. Kiff does wonders with acrylic paints on paper, conjuring up a metaphysical universe as copiously endowed with color as it is with evocative personae. The interrelatedness of the paintings—each is a kind of visionary landscape populated variously with anthropomorphic grotesques and architectural/natural landmarks—is both obvious and

  • Judy Fiskin

    Few contemporary artists so confound the difference between content and subject matter as does photographer Judy Fiskin. Her vantage as a photographer and the imagery of her photographs, which have ranged in subject matter from desert landscapes, to frontal shots of Los Angeles’ indigenous residential architecture, to an about-to-be-demolished amusement park, and back to these stucco houses, have remained fairly constant. Consistently unpopulated and taken from a distance, these pictures embody detachment. Their size, always quite small (about 23/4-inch-square black and white images on 6-by-8

  • Ellen Phelan

    That Ellen Phelan’s colored paintings can be reproduced so effortlessly in good black-and-white photographs only reinforces my recollection of them as light-emanating pictures. Complicated interminglings of light and dark, often compressed into small areas, retain legibility, perhaps even gain a kind of clarity in the change from oil paint on metal or canvas to sensitized paper. That sounds relatively easy and common, until I say that these are rigorously abstract works. But Phelan successfully resists any renovation of biomorphic abstraction or of the many cubisms in favor of what, for want of

  • “Heute” Westkunst

    The “Heute” (“Today”) section of this summer’s “Westkunst” exhibition in Cologne was about as small and evolved as the human appendix. “Heute” was in fact a kind of appendix, or better, a coda, to the enormous, almost overwhelming panorama of the main exhibition. The “Westkunst” catalogue lists 238 artists, many of them represented by more than half-a-dozen works. By contrast, the entire burden of showing the work of today fell on a mere 37 contemporary artists. Worse, the selection seems to have been influenced mightily by the ability and willingness of each artist’s commercial agent to foot

  • Janis Provisor

    Janis Provisor’s new paintings are both the largest and the most iconographically complicated she has made. One of two formats, either a 5 1/2- by 6-foot horizontal or 7- by 2 1/2-foot vertical canvas, and a monochromatic ground are common to all eight. Her palette is stridently up-to-date. It’s lush, acrid, neon- and fluorescent-derived, assuredly chemical, completely “artificial”: pink, turquoise, bright yellow, purple, red. She also uses lots of white and black. The surfaces of the paintings are equally as distinguished. Uniformly built up from edge to edge with modelling paste and gesso,

  • “Invented Images”

    The exhibition “Invented Images” included photographs by some twenty artists, most notably Jared Bark, Robert Cumming, Lucas Samaras, and William Wegman. The premise was to present work done since the late ’60s that uses “props and artificial set-ups as subject matter.” In this way, it resembled the “Fabricated to be Photographed” show of a few months ago at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, now traveling, and a less-clearly defined exhibition currently at the University of California at Irvine Gallery, “Situational Imagery.” Evidently, the collective curatorial mind and eye have latched

  • Richard Tuttle

    The fifty or so watercolor and collage drawings Richard Tuttle has chosen for this show are individually superfluous to their own cumulative effect; the whole in this case adds up to something other than the sum of it parts. His very particular abilities to define by contour and color what is fleeting and seemingly inexpressible are matchless. One rummages about for kindred spirits and a few poets come to mind, principally Frank O’Hara and his “grace.” Tuttle, for better or for worse, is a singular figure among contemporary artists and in this show, unfortunately, his uniqueness proves to be

  • John Miller

    The marking system—codified mélange of grave and acute accents—that John Miller consistently employs for his paintings mitigates their being looked at with consideration. They appear impenetrable; they are dismissed as Op art. Miller’s stridently linear patterns, a march of parallel dashes moving against a countergrain of single lines, do inadvertently resemble some manner of optical illusion. But Miller’s work transcends its own retinal effects. It represents a sustained effort at devising a truly modern painting, and one that, before it is anything else, can be seen to be marks on a flat

  • Ed Moses

    Ed Moses’ natural affinity to Minimalist orthodoxy has rarely been more evident than in the ten new paintings shown here. Nor have the results of his devotion to reductive painting ever been better. Moses’ pursuit of an irreducibly abstract image has been awkwardly out of sync with the wider development of abstract painting during the last ten years. Until now I thought he was beating a dead horse. But it seems that the single-mindedness behind his work allowed for a degree of ahistorical insouciance. His work is distinguished as much by its ascetic rigor (by California standards), as by its

  • Alan Saret and “Fabricated to be Photographed”

    If nothing else, ALAN SARET continues to reinvigorate the sculptural notion of drawing in space. Here, for example, all but one of the seven wire clusters being shown suspended from the ceiling seem immutably whole, correct and passionately beautiful. However, Saret aspires to much more than formal accomplishment. He is seeking to infuse his work with spirituality and he nearly succeeds. The one weak piece, A B White Among Black Permutation Clusters, resembles a shrunken head and introduces the problem of anthropomorphism and, by extension, of ego. Otherwise, where he substitutes intuition for

  • Jon Peterson

    In his new work, a series of small shelters deposited at sites around downtown Los Angeles’ skid row, JON PETERSON has neatly grafted function and relevance onto the sadly barren tree of public sculpture, thereby infecting both the milk-fed G.S.A. branch and the adjustably megalomaniacal site-specific one.

    Peterson’s work is small, portable, and playfully painted in bright primary colors. It is made to cover one supine body in relative comfort or more if desired. So much for scale, site-specificty, and color.

    Intended as refuges for urban vagrants, Peterson made and put out four of the shelters