Roberta Smith

  • Roy Lichtenstein

    Roy Lichtenstein’s recent exhibition contained one of his best paintings in recent years, and three others which in combination could not equal the first. Lichtenstein has developed toward greater thematic and formal complexity. His earlier work usually focused on a single object, event or kind of representation: a golf ball or a brushstroke; a Picasso still life or a Greek temple; a blown-up advertisement or frame or two from a comic strip; a mirror or a Mondrian. All were subjected to Lichtenstein’s own sardonic method of representation involving Benday dots, flat primaries, thick black outlines

  • Hanne Darboven

    Hanne Darboven, to paraphrase the title of Lucy Lippard’s article on her work, is still “deep in numbers.” In the combined spaces of Castelli (downtown) and Sonnabend Galleries she exhibited 24 songs on each floor, each group with its own index. The indexes took up about one wall each, the 24 songs most of the remaining space. The index only lays the process out, the songs fill it in. 24 Songs: Form B, the piece at Sonnabend, is based on 19, the curve of 100. Each index deals with three pairs of number which are 19 units apart; the seventh song for example deals with 8/26, 17/35, and 26/44, the

  • Sol LeWitt

    As usual, Sol LeWitt has provided a deluge of conceptual and visual information to digest. His exhibition takes up all of Weber’s available space and is a process of education where two large pieces in particular, and LeWitt’s current preoccupations in general, are elucidated by additional drawings and sculpture.

    The development of LeWitt’s wall drawings is complex and is obscured by the fact that, although they are usually recorded, they are removed from gallery and museum walls and are most permanent only in private residences here and abroad. In the February 1972 issue of Arts, all the wall

  • Elliott Lloyd, Gary Smith, Jack Whitten, Carol Engelson, Stuart Hitch, Gary Tenenbaum

    The many interesting abstract painters who worked during the sixties, a period when painting came under heavy criticism, are being joined by others. There is a lot of recent art done on various flat or semi-flat materials (plywood and metal, as well as canvas) which qualifies as painting, reflects a re-evaluation of painting, and is or is becoming strong. But this regeneration, which has been gathering for three or four years, promises to bring out into the open more of the same repetitious work which made painting so tiresome in the first place. There is nothing to do but complain and my

  • Brice Marden

    An artist’s drawings often bring us closer to him and his work. This is especially true if he lavishes the same care on them as on his larger works, or if his drawings, like pages from a diary, simply record more personal preoccupations with the landscape, with other art, with himself. Both extremes apply to the drawings of Brice Marden, sometimes both apply to the same drawing. An exhibition of 50 of Marden’s drawings from the past decade originated at Houston’s Contemporary Art Museum last January and has traveled to various museums throughout the country. As might be expected, it is a personal

  • Fernand Léger

    On the other hand, “An Intimate View of F. Léger” is an exhibition of works on paper which adds little to our understanding or appreciation of an important artist, although it reveals a certain diversity of activity. Posters, studies for costumes, book-cover designs contribute to the suspicion that the intimate view of someone like Léger is not necessarily the best. In any event, this exhibition would have improved had it been smaller and more carefully installed. As it is, over 50 prints are interspersed with roughly half as many pencil and ink drawings, and gouaches, as well as a couple of

  • “Directions In Afro-American Art”

    The exhibition “Directions in Afro-American Art” occurred this fall at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. The artists were chosen by a committee of four black artists: Romare Bearden, Jeff Donaldson, Phyllis Thompson and Rosalind Jeffries who also wrote the catalogue essay. The format was sensible; 28 artists were selected and represented by an average of four works each. Each of the four committee members was represented by one work. So were Elizabeth Catlett, Lois Mailou Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Norman Lewis, Charles White and Hale A. Woodruff, who along

  • Ilya Bolotowsky at the Guggenheim

    IT IS APPROPRIATE THAT THE Ilya Bolotowsky retrospective at the Guggenheim, contrary to that museum’s usual practice and, I think, to the architect’s intentions, seems to have been installed backwards on Frank Lloyd Wright’s spiral. We move up the ramp, back to the more recent work, robbed of the compelling, conclusive movement toward earth. Implied is a loose-endedness—a drift in time and space. A similar drift permeates Bolotowsky’s work. It seems to pertain to no particular time or reality, past or present, and there is the suspicion that it never looked contemporary. Bolotowsky has not

  • Ruth Vollmer

    In the exhibition “Ruth Vollmer, Painting and Sculpture, 1962–74,” there is nothing that I would characterize as painting, and very little that sustains itself as sculpture. As Sol LeWitt has written about Vollmer’s work: “These pieces are not sculpture; they are ideas made into solid forms.” This suggests the predicament of Vollmer’s work, which is that regardless of how tangible the work becomes, it is always the ideas which remain the most substantial present part of the work. The exhibition, which is spaciously, almost casually installed (many drawings are simply pushpinned directly onto

  • Robert Cronin and Robert Lobe

    The light, tentative quality of Robert Cronin’s work, on the other hand, is a specific, deliberate physical quality. His small sculptures are made of thin, natural reed which turns, twists, circles and is tied into linear wall pieces. Cronin’s material allows him total freedom from weight and materiality, yet the pieces have a real, physical energy and sufficiency, as if they generated themselves. The continuous line and the ways in which the pieces change when viewed from different angles create the impression of movement, as if the generating process were ongoing. The configurations are suited

  • Jim Roche

    The title of Jim Roche’s installation, which fills and virtually oozes out of the small first floor gallery, reads as follows:

    This is the Sand, Rock, Shell and Seed, Power Pole and Money treed, Dual Catenary X Ascension, Eagle Lite and spirit recension, Graven Image to the land; all in my background: Piece

    This is scrawled on the wall outside the piece in Roche’s crude, fat cursive, and more or less says it all. Like Late Gothic Flemish painters, Roche’s work is an obsessive accumulation of meticulous detail (there is no aerial perspective here either—even the details have details) which serves

  • Robert Gordon

    Robert Gordon also appropriates some of the extraneous objects which this nation produces. These objects share a single factor: light. Light as a pure, immaterial phenomenon, light as it is reflected by or passes through various materials, light at its most mundane, as it is produced by assorted lamps, bulbs, and fixtures. The exhibition consists of six pieces, arrangements of various kinds of objects and forms, sometimes quite casually stacked together. Initially, it all comes across as masses of raw plastic color and gaudy light, chaotic and tasteless. It takes little time for the structuring,

  • Alice Aycock

    The work in Alice Aycock’s first solo exhibition spanned the past three years and included relatively Conceptual photographic pieces, various pieces executed outdoors and documented with photographs, and one work executed in the gallery itself. Aycock’s work varies physically, but it is generally concerned with natural processes or systems and with the human consciousness of and response to them. The more Conceptual photographic pieces date from 1971, and often deal with the location of “abstract” things in nature, like directions or boundaries. Photographs also document Sun/Glass, a piece which

  • Paul Sharits

    Paul Sharits is a filmmaker dealing only with those elements which he considers inherent to the medium. In the piece he exhibited this spring, Synchronousoundtracks (“3-screen super 8 continuous loop projection”), those elements are the movement (and speed of movement) of the strip of film itself, its celluloid transparency, and the sprocketed edges which move it through the projector. Sharits combined these simple elements in a very complex manner, one which both stresses and in some cases subverts their original state.

    The piece consists of three film loops projected sideways on the wall; the

  • Roger Cutforth

    By comparison, Roger Cutforth’s work makes it clear that there is such a thing as too much accessibility. Cutforth also works with film, and often still photography, in a way which juxtaposes various states of mobility and immobility. In the largest piece in his recent exhibition, three near life-size images of women walking outdoors cover two walls of the gallery. The initial impact is startling since the gallery walls are almost dissolved, opened up into landscape space. The women are all walking forward, but they never get any closer. Through the use of a zoom lens, the cameras pull back at

  • Colin Greenly

    Like Cutforth, Colin Greenly’s work is based on a simplistic, romantic conceptuality, and one which is made more disagreeable by pretentiousness. Greenly’s work is of unspecified medium, dimensions, and time duration. He calls it “intangible sculpture” which “neither inserts an object into a site, be it landscape or other physical source, nor is it represented by physical action taken on a site. Instead, the site becomes part of the total sculpture and the sculpture’s energy manifestation.” The work is much simpler than this, consisting of large photographs, usually landscapes, with black or

  • Michael Todd

    Michael Todd’s work is not only as tangible as ever, it is also improved, although ultimately the improvement has strange implications. Todd was and still is involved with a linear mode, known as “drawing in space” which originated in the work of David Smith. In Todd’s previous work (exhibited at Reese Palley several years ago), repeated circular elements implied cylindrical volumes and were connected or adorned by additional straight and curved pieces. The regular geometry of the elements always made the basic decorativeness of this work rigid and brittle, like the sound of fingernails on a

  • Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

    The work in Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe’s first exhibition was both ambitious and derivative. Gilbert-Rolfe is a young painter who also writes for this magazine, and his work attempts to specify both its pictorial and objective nature, an undertaking which he has discussed in writing on other artists. He also attempts to combine a structure that is self-explanatory with a painterliness that is not. The issue in all this seems to be the resolution of a number of dialectically opposed positions. Such an ambition is as interesting as it is prevalent right now. My objection is that in Gilbert-Rolfe’s work

  • James Dearing, Joanna Pousette-Dart, and Tony Vanderperk

    The dialectic in much painting, which concerns Gilbert-Rolfe in both his art and writing, was apparent in a show of three young painters at Susan Caldwell, where, in two cases out of three, it was misinterpreted, with rather complacent, if coherent, results. In the third case, James Dearing’s work, the involvement is more explicitly with the strictly pictorial space of the painting, with a clear lateral measurement and structuring of it which ultimately implicated its physical support and real space. Dearing’s paintings are middle size and squarish; they are divided by a combination of vertical

  • Joseph Beuys

    I missed or was spared the various events which Beuys’ visit to this country precipitated last winter, so possibly my conclusions have already been reached by everyone else. Either way, it seems that the performance piece Beuys swiftly and discreetly executed here last spring finally gives some indication of what all the noise has been about. The enormous reputation which his various exhibitions in this country failed to elucidate has in some measure been corroborated. Beuys is, at least, a very good performer.

    Beuys’ last stay in this country was entirely performance. Once through Customs at