Roberta Pancoast Smith

  • Joel Shapiro

    An exhibition of sculpture by Joel Shapiro initiated the use of a new space donated by the City of New York to the Institute for Art and Urban Resources. This organization, directed by Alanna Heiss, was responsible for three exhibitions last spring in the warehouse at 10 Bleecker Street and the large group show under the Brooklyn Bridge two years ago. The space this time is the clocktower atop a 13-story municipal building at 108 Leonard Street in downtown Manhattan; it will serve for the exhibition of work by contemporary artists for at least a year. The Clocktower is reached via elevator,

  • Carl Andre

    In his recent “Projects” exhibition in The Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture garden, Carl Andre was also confronted with a very charged, assertive space, in this case one filled with other people’s sculpture. The results involve small size, large scale, and assertion through focus and implication rather than actual ground covered. Andre’s work is more explicitly horizontal than Shapiro’s and consequently involves some of the concerns discussed above, a similarity increased by the opportunity to view the work from the third floor galleries of the museum.

    Each of Andre’s nine sculptures, called

  • Will Insley

    A more general, relatively unrealized concern with the horizontal was apparent in Will Insley’s exhibition of drawings, photomontages, notes, and models for Onecity at Fischbach uptown. Onecity, Insley’s city of the future, will exist somewhere in the central United States, will be 400 miles square and will house the nation’s entire population (400 million). The show is interesting in several ways, not the least of which involves confronting the idea of how things can or will continue to exist, given current political, environmental, and technological trends. Insley’s city is complicated and

  • David Novros

    Another artist involved with the intuitive, arbitrary alteration of a relatively rigid format is the painter David Novros, whose fresco studies (oil on paper) were recently shown at Rosa Esman Gallery, shortly before an exhibition of his paintings at the Bykert Gallery. In both media, Novros works with rectangular shapes perpendicular to each other and the edge of the support. Several of the small fresco studies revealed a new scale and simplicity further verified in the Bykert show. At Bykert, one of the best paintings was a large work (7’ x 17’) of four vertical panels, the two outside being

  • Steven Gwon

    The first one-man exhibition of work by Steven Gwon followed Novros’ at Rosa Esman Gallery. Gwon fills square sheets of graph paper with various patterns, usually arbitrarily predetermined and involving linear counting. In some cases the grids are filled with actual numbers, which pro-cede consecutively and are not repeated, even from drawing to drawing. A couple of drawings in this show are made of five-digit numbers. In one they form a square spiral into the center of the paper, changing direction with each new line so that the numbers are consecutive as a line and also always pointing “up”

  • Robert Reed

    Robert Reed exhibited paintings from his Plum Nellie Series in his concurrent exhibitions at the Whitney Museum and Washburn Gallery. The series is so named because its main color emphasis is a deep purple, variously combined with bright green or turquoise. These colors are applied in neat visible splatters and swipes of a wide brush and intersected by sharp-edged white rectangles. The combination is a crisp, seamless version of Hans Hofmann, a variation facilitated by an awareness as well of hard-edge and lyrical abstraction. For the most part, Reed works on large rectangles. Occasionally two

  • Bill McGee

    Bill McGee’s paintings, on the other hand, do not involve an amalgam of sources, as do Reed’s. They result singularly from the achievements of Barnett Newman. McGee’s paintings are mostly one color with two narrow vertical stripes right at the canvas edges, a few inches in, or which trisect the canvas into equal thirds. McGee stains his painting in strong dark colors, deep reds, purples, blues, and greens which are slightly mottled. The surface is somewhat Baroque and counters the exactness established by the lines. In the largest work, four equal areas of different blues are separated by thin,

  • David Budd and William Jensen

    David Budd and William Jensen seem explicitly involved with the formation of physical surface in their respective one-man painting exhibitions at Tibor de Nagy and Fischbach uptown. Their common failing is that they still use this physical approach to achieve a very usual kind of imagery. Budd applies heavy Mars and Ivory black oil paint in small regular strokes. Groups of little round hills and horizon lines are delineated by shifts from one black to the other and by changes in the direction and patterning of the strokes. For the most part, the show consisted of two series of four canvases

  • Nancy Spero

    Nancy Spero’s work involves, like that of Reed and McGee, the achievements of another artist, although in this case they are literary. Spero works in collage on long strips of paper, combining small strange figures with quotes from the writing of the French poet Artaud. Artaud’s writing is perverse and painful, revealing the tortured, creative intelligence of a man who blasphemed bourgeoise society and suffered its injustices (he was incarcerated in France for several years). Spero’s figures are equally contorted combinations of human and animal parts which suggest—as in her serpents with human

  • David Tremlett

    David Tremlett showed a number of pieces in his Projects exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art. Tremlett is British; his work relates in various ways to the landscape, and his travels through England and the rest of the world.

    The first piece, Green, consists of slides of the English countryside projected on a wall, in continual rotation. The shots are random and unslick (and, therefore, represent more nearly the way the countryside is really seen), generally alternating shots of trees, wooded paths, fences, with longer ones of farmlands and horizons. Green is peaceful, lulling, perhaps a bit

  • Gene Davis, Sally Drummond, James Bishop, Doug Ohlson, Bill Jensen, Ray Parker, Robert Mangold, and Ron Gorchov

    Fischbach mounted a group show of abstract painting, companion piece to the Realist painting show held earlier in the season. Gene Davis and Sally Drummond continue their abstract styles, which are neither credible or discreditable, filling the entire canvas respectively with vertical stripes and dots. James Bishop’s monochrome rust-colored painting, through which glows the faint outline of a window, is perhaps too close to Rothko’s work, as is a painting by Doug Ohlson. Still working with round sprayed shapes, Ohlson has increased their number until they overlap. The shapes in this painting,

  • John Button, Alice Neel, Lowell Nesbit, Philip Pearlstein, George Schneeman, Sylvia Sleigh, and Rosemary Strider

    “The Male Nude,” an exhibition organized by John Perreault at the School of Visual Arts Gallery, corroborates the claim of the most conservative art historians, that contemporary artists cannot draw the figure. Of course, the second half of that claim, that they therefore make abstract art does not, in this case, follow—although one might wish it had. The artists in this show are John Button, Alice Neel, Lowell Nesbitt, Philip Pearlstein, George Schneeman, Sylvia Sleigh, and Rosemary Strider. Their work all includes at least one (or in the case of Nesbitt, part of one) male nude. The work

  • Rosemarie Castoro

    In her third one-woman show at Tibor de Nagy, Rosemarie Castoro continues her use of gessoed Masonite rubbed with graphite which, when fixed to the wall, has the appearance of enlarged brushstrokes. This year’s work differs from previous work in that the squiggles and brushstrokes have now also become figures. As figures, the marks are usually undifferentiated outlines—“exoskeletal auras” Castoro calls them—but they are definitely figures, conveying the essential characteristics of human posture, silhouette, and movement. As before, the white wall serves as a ground for the marks which are now

  • David Shapiro

    David Shapiro’s work, seen at Poindexter, is more abstract than Castoro’s, but it too seems to have a problem with depiction. Shapiro paints soft, misty abstractions through which float little geometric bits and pieces, often accumulating in the corners of the painting. The paintings are vertical and horizontal rectangles, usually elegant and narrow. The colors are subdued: gray white tinged with rose or blue, or golden browns fading to black. The effect is a foggy light which either recedes into or hangs in front of the surface, depending upon color, layer, and tonal transition. The canvas

  • Loretta Dunkelman, Rachel bas-Cohain

    Loretta Dunkelman, showing at A.I.R., works with oil and wax base chalks on paper. Three of the four very large works on exhibit are white and divided by grids. Underneath the layers of white are ones of colors, usually pink or lavender, which give the white a faint color and which are particularly visible at the grids. The surfaces are very reflective, and there is a tendency for them to seem overly spread out and vague, particularly in the pieces with large grids and little color. The most successful large piece is Ice Wall which has the smallest grid and greater density of surface. It is

  • Joe Perlman

    Joel Perlman exhibited sculpture of welded steel in his first New York one-man show. The work is fairly small and low; his general compositional formula is to arrange a number of beams of varying length and thickness on, under, or tangent to one or two relatively flat square or circular shapes. The beams on or tangent to these flat shapes can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal; those underneath are usually horizontal. Except for a couple of the smallest pieces which incorporate upright flat pieces, the work adheres to this formula. One source of variety is increasing the thickness of the beams,

  • Roger Fenton, Francis Frith, Clarence Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, William Bell, Timothy O'Sullivan, William Henry Jackson, Frederick Sommer, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Paul Caponigro, William Dane, Henry Wessel, Jr., and Gary L. Hallman

    Landscape and Discovery, at the Emily Lowe Gallery, Hofstra University, presented a clear, informative view of landscape photography, at least for those somewhat unfamiliar with its extensive history and development, of which I am one. The 100-odd photographs by 14 19th- and 20th-century photographers trace the development of photography from a purely documentary use to one which is increasingly personal, though not necessarily more esthetic. What remains clear is that, despite technical developments, also clearly delineated in this exhibition, and despite an increasingly personal use of the

  • Dennis Oppenheim

    Dennis Oppenheim exhibited four pieces in his recent one-man show at Sonnabend. I’m not overly familiar with Oppenheim’s previous work, but it seems to have varied quite a bit, including Earthworks, performance pieces, body art, their combinations, and documentation through film and photography. The work in this show involves aspects of the earlier work. The four pieces differ, but each is concerned with creating, within the gallery, the psychological essence of a larger system or situation. The work is autobiographical in that Oppenheim, either by choice or circumstance, is intimately involved

  • Liliana Porter

    The work of three artists exhibited recently seems involved with the relationship between reality and illusion in an explicitly physical sense. Liliana Porter’s paintings and prints, seen at Hundred Acres, center on the combination and confusion of real elements with their images. Actual screw eyes, nails, string, holes, and shadows are used beside their photo-silkscreen images. For example, a large white canvas is slit across the top front edge so the canvas corners curl forward, revealing the wooden stretcher. Toward the center, the canvas is reattached to the stretcher by two nails, complete

  • Wayne Stephens

    Wayne Stephens’ approach to illusion and reality, unlike Porter’s, is definitely within the context of painting. While Porter employs images which are deceptively real, Stephens employs real elements which are deceptively two-dimensional. His paintings are large (7’ x 14’) and monochrome. The entire surface of each painting is a fine matte texture, except for the curved stretcher edges where the paint is applied in a smooth, shiny gloss. A red and a cream painting each consist of nothing more than the differentiated applications of paint and the curved edges, which create a continuous surface