Ronny Cohen

  • “Women in Mexico”

    Though this ground-breaking survey of women artists active in Mexico during this century was organized by art-historian Edward Sullivan around theoretical issues of gender, identity, and nationalism, the work assembled offers, first and foremost, a riveting esthetic experience.

    The 22 women featured spanned several generations, ranging from photographer Tina Modotti who was born in 1896 to Laura Anderson, a 32-year-old artist from Mexico City. Though many of the women were born in Mexico—painters Frida Kahlo and Maria Izquierdo and photographer Lola Alvarez Bravo among them—others, such as Remedios

  • Mark Schwartz

    The canvases Mark Schwartz exhibited here hover captivatingly between abstraction and landscape; for him issues of pure painting and the varied phenomena of nature are equally worthy of investigation. Working in a broad, gestural manner, Schwartz imbues the thick and tactile surfaces of his canvases with a primal energy in keeping with the elemental imagery he favors.

    One painting (all works untitled, 1990) clearly reflects these dual concerns. At first glance the work appears to be about the interrelationship of surface, form, and space, yet the more closely the white edges of the semicircle

  • Lynda Benglis

    Since the early ’70s, Lynda Benglis has worked in the area between fine art and industry, and, in the process, she has done much to erase the boundaries that once separated painting and sculpture.

    While relief work enjoyed a modest heyday in the early part of the century, first with Picasso and then with selective members of the Russian avant-garde including Ivan Puni, Vladimir Tatlin, and El Lissitsky, this way of working was not widely investigated in the contemporary context until Benglis reintroduced it with her breakthrough series, “Totems,” 1971–72.

    Throughout the ’70s Benglis continued to

  • Lenore Tawney

    Lenore Tawney is one of those rare innovators who, through the powerful example of her own work, helped to open up an entire field. As this long overdue retrospective demonstrates, contemporary fiber art received a giant boost when Tawney introduced her revolutionary woven forms in the early ’60s and set the craft on the ambitious esthetic track that still characterizes the field’s most enlightened corners today.

    Tawney’s woven forms can be as sublime as a Mark Rothko, as meditative as an Agnes Martin, and as life enhancing as a Henry Moore. Tawney transcended the limitations of the craft by

  • Michael Kessler

    For Michael Kessler, painting is both a symbolic expression and an affirmation of self. Since the early ’80s nature has served as a source for his organic abstract vocabulary.The paintings in this recent show reveal a striking new clarity of vision. Working in a large vertical format on wooden supports, Kessler has succeeded in breathing a refreshing vitality into his images. The associations with landscape elements so prominent in the early work have become part of a broader visual vocabulary touching on complex visceral and psychological concerns. This was as much the case for Helix Patriarch

  • Susan Crile

    In her recent show veteran abstractionist Susan Crile has revealed a side of her vision that was never adequately accommodated by the formal and objective currents that dominated her work during the ’70s and most of the ’80s. She has left the sphere of abstraction bound by the Hard-Edge mind-set and created a universe of plastic invention teeming with feelings and strong physical sensations, where the only boundaries are those imposed by lack of passion.

    Paintings like Shifting Shifter, 1989, Soft, Wild & Naked, 1989, Pulse Beat, 1990, Erotic Containment, 1990, and Radiant Object, 1990, reveal

  • Harrison Burns

    Harrison Burns has succeeded in breathing fresh life into the tradition-bound genre of flower painting. While it was indeed possible to consider the examples shown here as simple still-life genre paintings, they are more than merely decorative. For all their electrifying colors and sensual good looks, these are intellectually rigorous pictures that bring together visuals and ideas in endlessly fascinating combinations.

    The likenesses of the individual flowers and the vases and bowls in which they are contained lit up the surface with an intense spectral glow. For example, in Tulips 3, 1990, by

  • Brian Yoshimi Isobe

    Minimalism provides the precedent for Brian Groombridge’s most recent sculpture entitled Within One Action There Are Many Gestures, 1990. Here Groombridge has arrived at a synthesis of form that reduces the superfluous to the necessary and immediate. Using a stainless steel I beam which projects 20 feet into the air, the artist has fixed a rod halfway up that holds two carpenter’s set squares welded together to form a rectangle. The work echoes its downtown Toronto setting that is dominated by a construction frenzy and the verticality of skyscrapers.

    Groombridge’s piece is a simple configuration

  • Betsy Berne

    Betsy Berne’s paintings display an unerring sense of the medium’s divine power to trans-port the viewer into imaginative realms. Her recent paintings seem centered in the most primary of dimensions where the mysteries of existence reveal themselves. In a number of examples including The Deep, 1989, Red Sea, 1989, and Third Party, 1990, the enigmatic style of organic abstraction that has become Berne’s trademark proves well suited to suggesting universal themes of creation.

    The Deep, with its glowing black ground and rich atmospheric qualities, conjures up a kind of primordial darkness. Built up

  • Betsy Kaufman

    Betsy Kaufman’s spare abstractions offer stimulating appraisals of that perhaps most crucial dynamic determining not only the visual but the intellectual parameters of abstract painting: the relationship of surface and image. Kaufman handles this dynamic with keen sensitivity to the expressive potentials of both its formal and its thematic components.

    The issue of surface is brought to attention first by the starkly declarative frame-in-frame format of the paintings. This format consists of a rectangular colored image surrounded by a white border. Almost immediately the question arises as to

  • Mary Armstrong

    Mary Armstrong is a painter who in recent years has continued to mine the rich emblematic ground uniting nature and art. In this group of paintings she reaches new levels of profound expression in her chosen area.

    Armstrong seamlessly brings together a complex content and multidimensional form in powerful compositions with startling iconic integrity. She is tuned into the universal psychic or spiritual forces that make themselves known through physical changes in nature. Every aspect of these paintings, from the distinctive frame-in-frame format and the wood-panel surface, to the thick built-up

  • Marianne Stikas

    Marianne Stikas succeeds in making the most elemental, and thus the most significant, kind of abstract paintings—the kind that literally get down to the architecture of ideas and feelings that provides the basis for pictorial elaboration.

    It is not an exaggeration to claim that Stikas is an artist who knows the lay of pictorial space backward and forward. Notable in these paintings is the clear description of the illusionistic underpinnings of pictorialism. At issue throughout these dynamic compositions is the play of receding and advancing colored form—the relationship of surface to depth.

    One

  • Philip Geiger

    By remaining loyal to his own outlook and pictorial inclinations, Philip Geiger, a realist painter in his early 30s, has achieved a heightened level of expression in his recent show. Geiger’s mastery of appearances has become sharper and clearer even as he has honed his ability to seize the moment—to get below the surface and beyond the instant at the more substantial essence of things.

    Like Edward Hopper, Geiger is attuned to the poetic dynamic locked beneath the prosaic scenery of 20th-century America. Taking his Charlottesville, Virginia, surroundings as his subject matter, he has provided a

  • James Winn

    Concentrating on the farms and countryside of the Midwest, James Winn has created a group of landscapes that can only be described as glorious. Winn, who was born in the Midwest and lives outside of Chicago, imbues his paintings with a deep-seated sense of what might be called the divine in nature. As he recently explained: “I would like to in some measure share with the viewer that uplifting spiritual presence I sense residing immanent in the land.” To a quite remarkable degree Winn accomplishes this, and he does so by dint of the power of his images to inspire fresh appreciation of the beauty

  • Bob Thompson

    In these works, covering the years 1959 to 1965, Bob Thompson demonstrated how during that most culturally radical of decades, the ’60s, it was possible for a young artist to reinvest the most hallowed symbolic traditions of art with fresh significance. How? By doing what amounted to his own lyrically expressive thing. Thompson’s life was tragically brief; he died in 1966 at age 29. A visionary of a uniquely American sort, he was part of a talented circle including Red Grooms, Lester Johnson, and Larry Rivers that made up the figurative wing of the New York School. Thompson developed a style of

  • Andrew Stevovich

    More than a bit of a romantic, with a touch of the classicist about him, the painter Andrew Stevovich is one reason the field of contemporary figurative realism has been enjoying a bit of a renaissance of late. Stevovich has a genuine flair for symbolic statement, for bringing out life’s metaphorical significance, not in any heavy or didactic fashion but in the most enchanting of terms. In this show of recent paintings Stevovich revealed quite a keen eye for the quiet drama of daily existence. He showed the timeless element behind the commonplace encounter, the elemental forces of love and desire

  • Barbara Kassel

    In this group of recent work drawing on images from Africa and the Middle East, Barbara Kassel revealed her talent for bringing together reality and fantasy into representations fairly brimming with symbolic meaning. She also demonstrated her knack for using the element of appearance as a vehicle of poetic expression. Kassel is a realist who seems to delight in the challenge of making each of her paintings like a complex mirror held up to life—a mirror capable of displaying the usually hidden relationships between the physical and spiritual worlds. Her tightly rendered forms have an intensity

  • Dina Ghen

    Since the early ’80s, Dina Ghen has been producing abstract sculpture rich in metaphorical possibilities. She has developed methods for carving and casting materials such as urethane, epoxy, and resins that enable her to extract from them an amazingly diverse range of formal properties, as well as vast expressive potential. In this exhibition, Ghen showed herself capable of producing serious, elevated sculpture using nontraditional materials, particularly industrial plastics. Her work demonstrates not only the intrinsic beauty of these synthetic substances, but the capacity they have to transcend

  • Marc Travanti

    Marc Travanti shares with the Cubists and Futurists an interest in extending the scope of the picture to accommodate fragments of reality. Using the technique of collage pioneered by Braque and Picasso, Travanti works with newspaper fragments cut out from various American and foreign periodicals. The fragments are glued to solid rectangular supports, most of which are made of wood. Travanti arranges his material in rhythmical passages, with much attention paid to edge and direction, and to what possible impact the words and letters contained in the pieces of columns and headlines carry. This

  • Liuba

    This retrospective, covering the years from 1963 to 1989, provided a long overdue look at the work of a leading international sculptor. Liuba was born in Bulgaria and studied with Germaine Richier in Switzerland in the mid ’40s. Since the late ’50s, she has lived in Paris and São Paulo. Judging by the sculptures and drawings that were displayed here, she is an artist who exhibits a peerless understanding of the expressive dynamics of form. There is something magical about her ability to imbue form with vital meaning. Much the same can be said of her talent for using abstraction as a means to