Stuart Morgan

  • Theatre of Mistakes, Homage to Morandi

    On a bare stage three men dressed in brown, white and green are matched with props of their respective colors. In time, these props decrease in number. As they disappear, they are replaced by the actors themselves, who can also be summoned by fellow performers to represent missing items. As is usual in the work of the Theatre of Mistakes, time, space, action and language are governed by systems of rules. The result resembles a choreography for words or a game too difficult to fathom. Repetition is used to heighten awareness of decision-making processes while offering a vision of some Pavlovian

  • Vito Acconci

    Three works by Vito Acconci at the Kitchen are accompanied by a puzzling press release. “Until recently,” it reads, “Acconci’s installations have been built into a space, developing from the particular characteristics of that space. Currently, the installations are more like vehicles passing through a space and stopped by that space, or like devices that can be hooked onto a space.” In these terms, then, it seems that the “cultural space”—one of a sequence of inflections of a neutral concept—is being directed towards transition. Movable Floor is a room covered with immovable roller skates. Four

  • Robert Morris

    The poster for Robert Morris’ Labyrinths—Voice—Blind Time in 1974 showed the artist stripped to the waist, in helmet and dark glasses, shackled at wrists and neck. Pushed to the breaking point, machismo, individualism in excelsis, seemed compromised by the forces it encapsulated, sadism defined by an equal and opposite masochism, with the result that the artist and his artwork, equated temporarily, were oiled and masked (recurrent Morris motifs) and sealed off absolutely as sheer narcissism demanded a willing loss of identity. He seemed to be saying that/these days, when Prometheus buys his own

  • Dennis Oppenheim

    In 1978 Dennis Oppenheim made a videotape called Whipping into Shape in which he strode around what looked like a Barry Le Va distributional piece swearing at the wooden elements and lashing them with a bullwhip, until he realized finally that he, not the wood, was being punished. As imaginary slave-driver he was prepared to flog even dead wood in his passion for identity, structure, “truth,” “connections”—the metaphors changed as the tape continued. Oppenheim, as usual, was intent on cathartic activity so melodramatic that it can resemble explosion or exorcism. Only a return to the Sublime of

  • Ken Kiff

    Walking into a room of Ken Kiff paintings is like finding a grown man in tears at a bus stop. Distaste is followed by an excess of fellow feeling, well meant but sentimental, compensation for an initial coldness. Such beginnings make it doubly hard to sympathize with the stranger or to truly understand his problems. Spectators like being permitted to condescend to artists, and Kiff, like the man at the bus stop, gives them every opportunity. They leave in a spirit of emotional largesse, confident that they have discovered a new Chagall or an L.S. Lowry. Reviewers concede that Kiff is no naïf.

  • “The British Art Show”

    Neither expected nor intended to prove anything,“ William Packer’s The British Art Show, currently at the Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield, then travelling to Newcastle and Bristol, is a selection of ”the best or most interesting of current painting and sculpture." Preeminently British in his refusal to theorize about his 112 artists, Packer aims to please. His choice is catholic, more polemical in its omissions than in its inclusions. Yet there are underlying assumptions—a certain cultural chauvinism, a respect for craftsmanship in traditional materials and modes. most of all a token acceptance

  • Andy Warhol, Charles Luce, Meredith Monk

    There are two possible reviews of WARHOL’s portraits. This is the first: Warhol is a satirist attempting to purge the United States by means of a critique of the forces which both sustain it and bring it low. The ’70s portraits allow him to examine interconnections between money, power and fame. Sitters are shown in their worst possible light. Much of the interest lies in the extent to which the artist supports or opposes their own ideas of themselves.

    This is the second, represented by Robert Rosenblum in his catalogue essay: In making an equivalent to 19th century society painting Warhol has

  • Alice Aycock

    Within a waist-high wooden fence three paths lead to a tilted circular enclosure, lashed to a central axis by a lever. As the willing participant crawls toward it through heavy, guillolinelike metal gates the drum rotates until a narrow opening is exposed. Inside he stands on a narrow wooden platform while the walls on either side trundle noisily past. After one revolution another gap is revealed. Trapped and frustrated, the victim finally arrives at the center. As he awaits his captor’s behest he may wonder who is operating this torture-device-cum-party-game. In literal terms, it is one of the

  • Marco Bagnoli

    Marco Bagnoli’s Anti-Hertz consisted of a large canvas screen suspended diagonally between two pillars of a darkened room. An old-fashioned theatrical lamp threw a long, white light across the gallery floor. It touched the base of the canvas and illuminated a circular cake of red paint beyond it. The chimney of the machine caused a circular light on the ceiling and, on the gallery window in another part of the room a slide projector cast the image of a wooded landscape with a church. Imagine the whirring of the machines in the darkness; the changes in quality of the long light and the tinge it

  • Farrell Brickhouse

    One threat to current painting is that as a result of consciousness-raisers such as Barbara Rose a sheer smallness of conception may triumph. Farrell Brickhouse has chosen an unfortunate time to make his appearance; his problem is not that his idea of what painting can do is flawed, but simply that he would prefer to be Dufy than Picasso. Forced to reach for unfashionable terms such as “panache,” “brio,” "insouciance”—all foreign, you notice—critics run the risk of forgetting to discuss what he is trying to do, and of mistaking his range and approach. Brickhouse himself doesn’t help; his homage

  • Aldo Rossi

    “Only two things belong to architecture, the tomb and the monument,” wrote Adolf Loos, “All the rest is building.” The architectural discourse of Aldo Rossi, leader of the Italian neorealist Tendenza group, could be an elaborate meditation on Loos’ statement. Detractors emphasize Rossi’s indifference to function and argue that his housing projects resemble barracks, his elementary school in Fagnano Olona looks like a prison and that his celebrated Modena Cemetery design, with its dominating cone shaped like a chimney stack, is a reminder of concentration camps. Rossi has parried these attacks

  • “Three Perspectives On Photography”

    “Sensitivity of approach is all very well,” one argument runs, “but what matters is WHAT you’re saying.” “Three Perspectives on Photography: Recent British Photography” was the untidy title of an untidily conceived exhibition. Three selectors were invited to express their views on photography in general, then find work to prove their points. Paul Hill’s essay was called “Photographic Truth, Metaphor and Individual Expression”; Angela Kelly’s “Feminism and Photography”; and John Tagg’s “A Socialist Perspective on Photographic Practice.” Critics, photographers, artists, women and socialists were