Sidney Tillim

  • Evaluations and Re-Evaluations

    The precursor can have no imitators: he is always sui generis, while the rebel appears in crowds because the way of the rebel is easily imitated. The precursor shapes a new civilization; the rebel defines the edges of a disintegrating one.

    George Kubler, The Shape of Time

    DURING THE PAST SEASON or so a number of exhibitions that I thought had merit or interest have gone unreviewed in Artforum. Others provoked critical comment which overlooked aspects that seemed to me fascinating if not profound, though the implication of any incidental illumination grows in profundity upon reflection. I propose

  • Rosenquist at the Metropolitan

    DOUBTLESSLY MY REACTION—ACUTE DISMAY—at the news of a loan exhibition of James Rosenquist’s 10 by 86-foot Pop art mural, F-111, at one of the great museums of the world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was somewhat paranoid. But even within the prominently and professionally “advanced“ crowd there were gasps of horror, though for entirely different reasons. Whereas I simply felt threatened, they felt shame, the shame of an avant-garde chicken coming home to roost in a way they had neither imagined nor desired. No one imagined the apotheosis of modernism in this form. Whether it was illusion or

  • Lichtenstein’s Sculpture

    BY NOW THE ENTIRE art world must know that Roy Lichtenstein’s recent exhibition at the Leo Castelli Gallery was painting and sculpture’s answer to Bonnie and Clyde. Lichtenstein has discovered, or, rather, re-discovered the thirties and cleverly adumbrated its “period” taste in commercial and applied art. Lichtenstein’s new paintings suggest a kind of Flo Ziegfeld Cubism, with their spectacular array of primary colors and circles, curves, triangles, rectangles, and lines, lines, lines—a modish recapitulation of the jazzy, sans serif geometry of the Depression (Depression?) era, while his sculpture

  • Pat Johanson

    In a recent article in this journal (Scale and the Future of Modernism, October, 1967) suggested that one of the major problems confronting abstractionist painting was the problem of shape, or rather, the lack of shape. Abstract Expressionism’s assault on the contour matured finally in the openness of color painting, the sheer visual breadth of which swept the pictorial surface clear of those “abstract” shapes that had become a staple of all post-Cubist abstractionism. Color painting so generalized mass that the function of drawing was assigned to the edge of the canvas itself, thereby paving

  • Peter Gourfain

    Still another artist concerned with an alternative to Abstract Expressionism and post-painterly abstraction, Peter Gourfain, has evolved an interesting solution to the problem of structuring an essentially shapeless field. It is neither as radical, minimal nor as original as Miss Johanson’s but it is singular enough.

    Gourfain, whose exhibition at the Bykert Gallery was his first (he is 32 and was seen in the Systemic Art Show at the Guggenheim), has found a way of combining line and light. Ordinarily, line, which moves always in the single dimension of a plane, would contradict the non-planar

  • Eduardo Paolozzi, Jack Youngerman, and Charles Hinman

    Eduardo Paolozzi, Jack Youngerman and Charles Hinman have in common the fact that they all have profited from uncertainties of taste occasioned by specific disturbances of modern style. Paolozzi and Youngerman both established their reputations around 1960, less, it seems clear now, from the actual persuasiveness of their new art than the loss of conviction by the old—though Youngerman had, and has, a certain strength. Hinman, a more recent example, was a beneficiary of both the ignorance which surrounded the evolution of the shaped canvas and the general hysteria which has prevailed in the art

  • 17th Century Dutch Paintings

    There was an exhibition of 17th Century Dutch Paintings at the Shickman Gallery which was as delightful as it was unexpected. Yet a conventional review is pointless in the present critical context. I cite the exhibition partly because it was a delight, but mainly because that delight is all the more precious in a culture most of the art of which provides little or no delight at all. Yet it is the delight of a minor art—domestic scenes, landscapes, still lifes, flower paintings. Minor art is that which limits its emotional and conceptual horizons. But it is precisely these limited horizons which

  • Scale and the Future of Modernism

    EVEN BEFORE MANY MODERNIST PAINTINGS were as large as some of them have become in the last few years, we tended to think, and to accept, the modern picture as large, even mammoth. Long before the outsized pictures that are, if not yet common, more common now, Jackson Pollock shocked and amazed his contemporaries with paintings that ran as much as eighteen feet or longer. Eventually the “big picture” became a standard feature of the New American Painting. Were we to check back now, we would probably find that the first sign of a crisis in the style was in the area of scale, in the way big pictures

  • Gauguin and the Decorative Style

    “GAUGUIN AND THE DECORATIVE STYLE,” the summer exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, concluded with Matisse in the forties rather than Frank Stella in the sixties and thereby advertised itself as a minor exhibition on a major theme. For what it called “the decorative style” represents a particular type of formal consciousness that constitutes one of the most misunderstood aspects of modernist art. Far from making the connection, the Guggenheim mandarins organized a show in terms of the influence of Gauguin rather than an autonomous impulse with sources antedating Gauguin and of which Gauguin was

  • Morandi: A Critical Note and a Memoir

    THE LANDSCAPES OF GIORGIO MORANDI, the Bolognese painter who died in 1964, are not nearly as well-known as his still lifes—huddled groupings of softly tinted bottles, boxes, pitchers, bowls and the like. These latter have a pronounced mood, an aura of suspense that is simply more gripping than the far more formal landscapes. They have besides a greater variety of color, even approaching sweetness at times. Inevitably, the Morandi exhibition which was put on at the end of last season at the Loeb-Krugier Gallery in New York, contained only two landscapes in oil. Happily one of these was one of

  • Richard A. Miller, “Primary” Realist

    RICHARD A. MILLER’S SCULPTURE, you can be sure, was not represented in the Whitney Museum’s recent survey of American sculpture, though it was acceptable to the Whitney in 1964. Since that time of course, the Whitney has built itself a new museum and the art world has gone ape over “primary structures.” Apparently the Whitney now feels that Don Judd and Bob Morris are the heirs of William Zorach and Jose de Creeft.

    Miller is 45. His show in May at the Peridot Gallery was only his second in New York. In the early sixties he destroyed virtually all of his previous work, which must have been

  • Walker Evans: Photography as Representation

    LET ME BEGIN BY ADMITTING to the presumption of writing about an “art” with which I am not professionally engaged. But to my mind photography is not that dissimilar from painting and writing about photography does not seem that different from writing about painting. The ways in which they are similar and the ways in which they are not matter less to me than that they share a similar problem, so much so that I have been increasingly drawn to photography in the past few years. So when it came, I leaped at the chance to write about the photography of Walker Evans because photography to me represents