Ross Skoggard

  • Flavin ‘According to His Lights’

    WHEN A CARTOON CHARACTER gets an idea, a glowing lightbulb appears over his head. As such, the lightbulb is an image of intelligence. It illuminates its surroundings (“sheds light on the matter”) and, like intelligence, is meaningless—invisible—unless it has something to “reflect” on. Dan Flavin has referred to his fluorescent light installations as “icons”: some early pieces were titled Icon I, Icon II, Icon III, etc. To wonder, icons of what? or how? does suggest the analogy between light and intelligence. Yet since Flavin’s lights are constantly on, and therefore do not behave like “flashes

  • “Earth, Mars, Moon and Jupiter”

    From the NASA Archive in Arlington, Virginia, members of the Kitchen gathered a few hours of tapes of lunar “extra-vehicular activity” during Apollo 17, the Viking and Pioneer missions to Mars and Jupiter and related experiments on earth. On one monitor, Philip Morrison of Scientific American remarks that our space program cannot properly be considered purely a research program since its annual budget is three times that of all other types of scientific research combined. Our motivations for space travel are more likely to be found in literature, he suggests; “In Verne, not to go back into the

  • Poppy Johnson

    For the week of her performance the paintings by Stella, Warhol, Noland, Lichtenstein and Rosenquist and the sculptures by Oldenburg and Chamberlain in the front gallery seemed like props which defined Poppy Johnson’s taped and video-monitored typings in the back gallery in dialectical counterpoise. In the name, it seemed, of her gallery secretary sisters whose typing is usually regarded by the gallery-goer as an intrusion on esthetic meditations, Johnson presented a piece that delivered the flow of a female sensibility to the art audience, “still hot and steaming.” The active typewriter’s

  • Bill Conlon

    Early abstract movements, fond of issuing manifestoes, sometimes talked as if a world hung in the balance. Malevich wrote: “Now that art, thanks to Suprematism, has come into its own—that is its pure, unapplied form—and has recognized the infallibility of the non-objective feeling, it is attempting to set up a genuine world order, a new philosophy of life.”

    To make a painting of a square on a square canvas in 1915 may have required the conviction of a thinker who would “set up a new world order.” The same painting made today, however, tends to be read more as an affirmation of the status quo.


  • Geoffrey Hendricks

    Zen gives the compulsive achiever something better to be—enlightened. And Geoffrey Hendricks, for whatever reason, works the vein of Sartori art.

    His friend John Cage’s compositions of silence are the kind of work one might casually expect of a Zenroshi—a sort of illustration of the doctrine (Cage said resisted sound was noise, accepted sound music). Hendricks might be flattered but probably not too surprised if one characterized his work as coming on like correct answers to ninth-Century Zen koans. He meditated on a mound of earth on top of his wedding ring in the architectural omphalos of the

  • John Walker

    John Walker won first prize in the 10th Biennial John Moores Exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England, this year. He is of that generation of British artists bewitched 25 years ago by the power and lucidity of Pollock and his American colleagues. He said to Caroline Tisdall in the Manchester Guardian he thought that Still’s remark to the effect that you can’t make good paintings until you’ve forgotten about Europe was just so much petty nationalism. But in a funny way Walker’s paintings are held back by a too-conscious reverence for a Synthetic Cubist organization of the picture

  • Marcel Broodthaers

    Is there anyone of the postwar generation (of people, not Abstract Expressionists) who does not have a friend or relative who at one time put together a large and ambitious vision of American life with paste, scissors and old copies of Life magazine? Collage-making is as easy (and as difficult) as making a sentence (success in both depends on one’s ability to distinguish shades of meaning). The collage is the quintessential Surrealist format, a means to illustrate the essential meaninglessness or antirationality of the world once man rejects the existence of God. “But how meagre this poetry that

  • Al Held

    Drawing’s two ways of defining space—overlapping and perspective—are played off one against the other in Al Held’s new and ever more refined black and white paintings. By contradicting a spatial situation defined by a perspective cube, for instance, by overlapping part of it with a fragment of a circle or a grid that is understood elsewhere in the painting to be behind that cube, he charges the painting surface with a Hofmannesque push-pull dynamic and turns the most elementary feat of perspective (every child’s first drawing trick: two squares with corners connected by diagonals) into an

  • Christopher Pratt

    The subject of Christopher Pratt’s lithographs and oils on board is the brief Newfoundland summer, rendered, like the work of some of his fellow Canadians, with an almost painful obsessiveness (brushstrokes are contaminations that must be eliminated). Like some hard-edge Minimalist work, most of Pratt’s paintings, and all of his best ones, could be described in terms of the linear dimensions of a few simple geometric shapes and those shades of blue, gray and buff that drawing paper comes in. He chooses to paint those things around him that obey the discipline of the straight edge: architecture

  • Ernest Trova

    Ernest Trova shows that Constructivism, too, is entitled to a Gothic phase. His sculptures manage to convey with a Constructivist vocabulary of straight lines and planes something of the melancholy, brooding quality of Northern European art styles in decline. The machined surfaces of his pieces evoke the Constructivist ideal of the work of art as model of abstract thought. But his large and bristling floor pieces, more complicated and redundant than the work of an artist like Caro, offer a proliferation of sharp planes that recalls the spikey complexity of Gothic architecture in form as well as

  • Kenneth Noland

    Gradually abandoning the neat congruence of subject and form that characterized his rectangular work, Kenneth Noland now offers an exhibition of multi-sided, irregularly shaped paintings in which there’s not a single right angle. The move has a feel of exultant liberation from a well-explored type of pictorial space.

    The color, typical of Noland, burns at a low flame; areas of color appear flat and opaque like different colored objects. The eye moves, in these paintings, from one color area to the next, each area reacting with its neighbor in sequence, but rarely with an area at the other end of

  • Stephen Shore

    Too many photographers conduct their careers like big game safaris—peering down the barrel of a Nikon F, waiting for a photograph to wander into their sights and then bagging it. But when the trophy room is already full of wrinkled old men, barn doors, old shoes and lower-class individuals with manifestly less taste than the photographer and his audience, some restless souls may want to go after the big one: “Art.” The trick is knowing when you’ve got a bead on it. It oughtn’t look like the small game (photograph), and it should not look like painting. Anything that deliberately avoids these