Rosalind Krauss

  • Cubism in Los Angeles

    NOT LONG AGO I WAS involved in a discussion of Marx’s essay on “The Civil War in France” in which one of the participants expressed his dissatisfaction with Marx’s account—given Marxist theory. Because in the light of a Marxist economic analysis there is no reason on the face of it why those events (the war of 1870) should have given rise to that outcome (the Paris Commune). This sense, that between a theory which is supposed to account for the structure of a given occurrence, and the actual constellation of detail which makes up that occurrence, there lies a disturbing opacity, nags at any

  • Jackson Pollock’s Drawings

    DURING THE EIGHTEEN MONTHS of his analysis in 1939–40 Jackson Pollock produced for discussion between himself and his analyst, Dr. Joseph Henderson, 69 pages of drawings, 13 of which bore images on both front and back. The imagery on almost half of these sheets relates directly to Picasso’s Guernica. In conversation, Dr. Henderson has said that these drawings were dream representations which Pollock produced specifically for his analytic sessions—rather than drawings made independently of the therapy and brought into the sessions to facilitate the process of association. Are we to think, then,

  • Ronald Davis

    Ron Davis’s latest paintings are predominantly multipartite. They are conceived as an assembly of panels grouped on a wall with empty space—sometimes as much as 18 inches of it—separating each panel from the next. This physical disjunction between panels seems to coincide with the image embodied by each member, for in all three series of these pictorial ensembles, the theme is one of a set of containers. In the series of which Four Fold is an example, each panel is illusionistically scored to represent a box which is open at the top; in another series of panels stacked vertically, the upper and

  • Robert Irwin

    If Davis’s powers are concerted on a re-conceptualization of the pictorial as an experience of color which is both supported and wall-related, and a re-definition of the conditions under which the viewer comes to understand this relationship, Robert Irwin’s are not. Irwin, in his latest work at Pace Gallery, continues to take the picture’s relationship to the wall as one which automatically guarantees illusion. Therefore, although his work is no longer physically framed nor portable in the old sense, it settles itself comfortably within the traditional notion of the easel painting. Nowhere in

  • John Griefen

    In John Griefen’s first New York exhibition, at Kornblee Gallery, one is faced with a pastiche of New York color-field painting which wavers between imitations of Jules Olitskl’s narrow, vertical sprayed pictures and the kind of work Larry Poons was doing last year, in which the painting was divided into an expanse of dark, matte stain juxtaposed to more painterly areas of higher gloss. Griefen’s work is strongest and most personal when he treats the areas of stained color as though they had been wiped onto the surface, making the washes of color seem suspended above rather than absorbed into

  • Robert Motherwell’s New Paintings

    IN 1959, AT THE TIME of a large retrospective of Miró’s paintings, Robert Motherwell singled out a picture’ from 1925, characterizing it as “simply a blue-brushed color plane, punctured in the upper left corner by a hole the roundness of a pencil and in the lower right corner his tiny signature and the year.” And then he added “The picture stands.” (Art News, LVIII , May 1959.) The picture Motherwell described is part of a series of paintings Miró executed in the mid-twenties which, explored the capacity of line to function as a sign of space, rather than remaining the boundary of an object

  • The Essential David Smith, Part II

    IF DAVID SMITH’S CAREER VIBRATES with the emotional tone of a battle campaign, this was at least partly justified. Smith was looking for formal alternatives to the whole of 20th-century sculpture, and his ambition would allow him to stop at nothing less than a complete restructuring of the relationship between the solitary sculpture and its viewers. The character this career takes on is one of a quest—a quest which committed itself, moreover, to a kind of total originality. Paradoxically, the very recognition of Smith’s self-imposed demands raises certain obstacles for an historical understanding

  • The Essential David Smith, Part I

    IN 1951 DAVID SMITH MADE Hudson River Landscape and The Banquet. Shallow, rectilinear, weblike, their flat facades knifing across the viewer’s line of sight—these sculptures were radically unlike the human body with its density and its upright verticality. In that sense they seemed to his critics to represent Smith’s breakthrough; it was as though his originality, his claim to modernism, could be identified with this rejection of the human figure. Cleaving to the idea of landscape, Smith was seen as entering into modernism by means of a format that was horizontal rather than vertical and referred

  • Anthony Caro, Dan Flavin, and Larry Poons

    Sculpture LXIV from Anthony Caro’s recent New York exhibition is parented by almost three years of work with small base-related sculptures. Caro’s decision to work with a base may seem surprising in the light of his very early commitment to placing sculpture directly on the ground, thereby refusing to it the guarantee of a status in space separate or apart from the viewer’s own. In re-opening the issue of the base, Caro seems to intend a re-examination of the essence of the uniquely sculptural object. For, one of the important preludes to the Minimalist conception of sculpture was the kind of

  • Willem de Kooning

    OVER 15 YEARS AGO De Kooning published a text called The Renaissance and Order. It appeared at a critical moment in his career: just after Excavation, the summa of his tautly controlled abstractions of the later 1940s, had established in Venice and Chicago his apparent hegemony over ambitious, advanced painting in New York, and just before the appearance of Woman I would transform authority into notoriety. The text was about measurement. It stoutly denied to the objective laws of perspective their central place in the content of Renaissance painting. In de Kooning’s eyes the content issued

  • Neil Williams

    Neil Williams’s paintings at the Emmerich Gallery exhibit a clear family resemblance to Frank Stella’s work. The shaped, flat canvases, the divisions of the surface into planes and bands of color that respond to the directive of that shape, the plasticity suggested by the direction of the colored surfaces—all would indicate that Stella and Williams share not only a common vocabulary, but also a common vision. But where Stella labors to expel from his paintings any trace of “composition,” of balancing one element off against another, or any intrusion of manifest illusionism, Williams’s pictures

  • Erotic Art

    As advanced art has increasingly centered on the meaning of the observer’s act of looking, probing the nature of perception itself, retrograde art has tended to imitate it by parody. Erotic Art, at the Janis Gallery, represents such a parody. The awareness of one’s act of looking, which is heightened in confrontation with paintings by, say, Noland or Olitski is the subject of almost all the work in this show, but in a highly specialized sense. In Erotic Art one is confronted not with works of art but with occasions for voyeurism. As one is made to strain to piece together the images of nudes

  • Bridget Riley

    As early as the 1920s, in the workshops of the Bauhaus, students and masters experimented with the dual potential of black-white design elements. These, they found, would affirm and hold the flatness of the ground that supported them, since that very ground would be incorporated into the surface pattern of the work; in addition a richly shifting spatiality developed in which, as an example, Bauhaus white letters would jump off the page in strong relief against their black-cast shadows, but could alternately be read as concave forms etched into the fictive depth of the paper. All this was

  • Morris Louis

    In the ongoing at tempts to chronicle the work of the late Morris Louis, a whole range of critics and historians seem to have fixed on a characterization of his sensibility as fin de siecle. In one of the first articles to categorize Louis’s art in this way, Robert Rosenblum speaks of the “languid, expansive beauty that newly evokes the exquisite hothouse atmosphere of the most precious Art Nouveau gardens,” (Art International VII, December 1963) and moves from this association to a reading of the paintings themselves (works from the period 1958–60) totally by means of romantic, vitalist metaphors.

  • Chryssa

    Whether in the mammoth 10-by-10 feet “The Gates to Times Square,” or in the small scale 13-by-11 inches “Ampersand” series, Chryssa’s neon vocabulary clings to what she seems to feel are its rightful origins in the script of commercial signs. Thus the organization of the “Gates” rests on the capital letter ‘A’ which is split vertically down the center and in both neon and stainless steel performs the service of a kind of archway through which the viewer walks into a jungle of stacked compartments filled with quasi-lettering. The “Ampersand” series is based on the ‘&’ sign—the neon in some pictures

  • Allusion and Illusion in Donald Judd

    FOR SOME TIME DONALD JUDD has been a major spokesman for works of art which seek, as their highest attainment, total identity as objects. Last year in praise of a fellow-sculptor’s work, Judd wrote: “Rather than inducing idealization and generalization and being allusive, it excludes. The work asserts its own existence, form and power. It becomes an object in its own right.” Thus object-art would seem to proscribe both allusion and illusion: any reference to experiences or ideas beyond the work’s brute physical presence is excluded, as is my manipulation (through the prescribed observation of

  • Frank Stella

    Frank Stella’s move away from a surface of continuous parallel stripes echoing the shape of the Support to the paintings, as shown in his current show at Castelli Gallery can be seen both as a development of the implications of his recent work and as a negation of one aspect of that very production. That is to say, Stella’s new paintings address themselves in part to the problem raised by the increasingly complex and convincing illusion of the picture’s surface as literally folded and sectioned—an illusion which finally in the last of the striped paintings came perilously near to suggesting that

  • Adolph Gottlieb

    The best paintings in Adolph Gottlieb’s recent show at Marlborough-Gerson seemed to be those that recapitulated his way of working in the 1950s, by placing one or two neatly bounded circular forms over a profusion of painterly, ragged shapes at the lower edge of the canvas. Two Discs of 1963 is one of these, and Roman Three #2 (1963) is another, but a work which demonstrates a reduction in Gottlieb’s means, for in this canvas color differentiations are largely eliminated and black oils make the distinctions in facture necessary to determine divisions within the painting’s field. But Gottlieb

  • Sven Lukin

    The paintings in Sven Lukin’s latest show at Pace Gallery fall into line behind a type of solution set up by Ellsworth Kelly three years ago, adding nothing to it besides a great deal of modish styling. In Kelly’s art of the late 1950s and early 1960s, one sees an impressive series of paintings which intend to drain off the connotations of the spatiality of the figure-on-ground relationship found in late Cubism, thereby creating images in which every segment of the canvas would be given equal forward thrust. When his palette changed from strong contrasts between very light and very dark areas

  • Jack Bush

    In what is to date the most extensive discussion of Jack Bush’s work, Andrew Hudson pointed to the relevance of Matisse’s art for any analysis of Bush’s style (Art International, February 1965). This seems entirely correct, for Bush comes nearer than almost anyone else painting in a post-Cubist mode, to the kind of openness within defined limits that one finds in Matisse of 1911–17. In the paintings of Bush’s latest show at the Andre Emmerich Gallery, the horizontally banded shapes which extend from the upper and lower edges of the canvas are framed by vertical bands on either side, but this “