Stuart Morgan

  • Terry Atkinson

    Since leaving the Art & Language group in 1975, Terry Atkinson has devoted himself to becoming a contemporary version of a 19th-century history painter—in his case, a painter of the history of the working classes. By the early ’80s he was relying on increasingly complex methods. His “Postcards from Trotsky,” 1982, involved impossible scenarios, combining material from a variety of periods and employing titles so long they seemed to subvert the images themselves. The "postcards,” which had maps to explain them, were executed in what Atkinson called a “botched” style—his own visual equivalent of

  • John Virtue

    Each of John Virtue’s “Landscapes,” 1981–85, consists of a set of black-ink drawings, mounted in grid formation with no gaps between them. If the grid is a dissipating force, promoting loss of focus and dispelling any prospect of narrative, it also serves to unify; constituent parts are equal in size, and enough landmarks recur in the drawings to convey the impression that this is a single region, crossed and recrossed continually. Houses—sometimes terraced, but more frequently in isolation—are pictured as entire pictorial units, complete with gates, fences, and paths. The viewpoint is never

  • Photographs of the last resort, by Martin Parr.

    “Do you have any brochures about New Brighton?”

    “No.”

    “Have you run out?”

    “We never had any.”

    IT WASN’T THE FACT that I was in an office marked “Tourist Information” that annoyed me. It was that the office was on England’s New Brighton seafront.

    A hundred years ago tourists had all the information they needed. New Brighton, on the shores of the Mersey, was famous for its miles of sands, with bathing machines, donkey rides, oyster stalls, and minstrel shows on the pier. Its 621-foot steel tower rivaled the one in Blackpool, further up the coast. Then gradually it all went wrong. First the tower

  • The Saatchi Collection

    For years the chance of seeing advanced an in London has been small. The Tate Gallery long ago abdicated responsibility for mounting large solo exhibits of relevant contemporary artists, Only the White chapel and at times the lCA have been operating on an international level. The decision to open the Saatchi Collection to the public, in stages, in a specially designed gallery at 98A Boundary Road, in St. John’s Wood, means that Britain has a first rate contemporary an museum at last.

    Since one focus of the collection is American art from 1960 to the present, the first choice of works came as no

  • Thérèse Oulton

    Tact: from the Latin tactere, to touch. Wet paint worked into wet paint, with a brush or by hand, has been submitted to gestures ranging from a caress to a cut. Involved in the substance of the paint itself, imagery is so barely distinguishable that it might pass for a trick of the light. Space is subject to constant interruption; heights, depths, and distances have been made only to be unmade. It is a question of control: treated as a temptation, control has been toyed with, then publicly refused. Indeed, so flagrantly has the enterprise of creation been abandoned that the paint seems still

  • RICHARD WENTWORTH’S AD HOC ESTHETICS

    THE ENGLISH HAVE HOBBIES. They grow giant marrows or make models of Westminster Abbey out of matchsticks. Richard Wentworth takes snapshots of ad hoc maneuvers we see every day but never give a second glance. Following Bernard Rudofsky, who wrote of “architecture without architects,” it might be possible to call Wentworth’s events “sculpture without sculptors” but for two reasons. First, they bear the same relation to Michelangelo’s David as a MacDonald’s burger does to a gourmet dinner: Second, they are the result of no intention beyond that of answering a sudden need as quickly as possible.

  • ROBERT SMITHSON'S EARLY WORK—A RESURRECTION

    IN 1961 GEORGE LESTER, who owned a gallery in Rome, put Robert Smithson on a stipend to make work for a one-man exhibit there. Early this year Lester helped to mount an augmented version of that Italian show at the Diane Brown Gallery in New York,1 with the result that 40 “new” paintings have come to light and a brief, crucial phase of Smithson’s development can be discussed for the first time.

    Not unexpectedly, genres range from conventional second-generation Abstract Expressionist Sturm und Orang through proto-Pop collage. Somewhere between the two are cross-sectioned landscapes, showing

  • BREAD AND CIRCUSES

    THROUGHOUT THE 1980S one large-scale international art survey has followed another, manipulated with all the now-familiar devices of authoritarian populism. An international junta of curators has been using art to present spectacles devoid of any meaning more specific than the assertion of power. Their tactics are to let selections overlap those of fellow junta-members in order to strengthen the cause; to use the same language as the others; to pretend to be men of the people as a disguise for snobbish, old-fashioned connoisseurship; above all, to say as little as possible. Assertion has replaced

  • Joe Zucker

    An artist with an eccentric trajectory plots a more stable course? A painter intent on finding conceptual connections between artifact and content constructs a manifesto? Whatever Joe Zucker’s motivation, his two most recent series represent an attempt to synthesize previous concerns and, under a pretense of dumbness, to make serious statements about his predicament, and about the flaws and strengths of his medium. Zucker is a ventriloquist whose habit of inventing artist surrogates—scientists or magicians—has reached a paradoxical stage: a choice is offered between ritual combat and religious

  • Rammellzee

    Ralph Waldo Emerson considered hieroglyphs, Ezra Pound went back to pictograms, William Burroughs rethought collage. Periodically, theorists have proclaimed their dissatisfaction with tainted language, dreaming instead of an ideal storm of communication that would heal the breach between visual and verbal. Perhaps the myth is indivisible from the entire project of American Modernism: to locate a concept of the avant-garde within the myth of the Fall, promoting a fiction of the embattled artist as Adamic exile. Restoring the communication system of a supposed prelapsarian age underlies Rammellzee’s

  • Anne And Patrick Poirier

    Ruins are debris through which original plans become visible. Their uncertain status—partaking of idea and actuality, before and after—continues to inspire the phenomenological research of Anne and Patrick Poirier, a poetic speculation of gathering complexity, its stages marked by periodic shifts of attention from one architectural site to another. The recent work involves a turn to the fictitious and the bizarre: visions of Greek myths, featuring fragmented human bodies, monsters, arrows, swords, eyes, snakes, and ruined cities. Unsystematic yet regular cross-referencing of images occurs. A

  • STEVEN CAMPBELL: THE CASE OF THE WAGGLING LEG

    IT IS NOT ALWAYS easy to identify things. This picture is full of tangible, everyday objects, each painted in its own way, not named but nicknamed. Areas are dealt with by the painter as if they existed independently of the surrounding composition. The white has been drawn so quickly through the heavy impasto below it that it looks like a sliced pizza. It ends up a little like tweed, a little like a check suit, but not a lot like either. Instead it is one more item in a collection of random details that have decided to go it alone.

    Nor is it easy to tell what is going on. Admittedly a lot is