Susan Heinemann

  • Robert Barry

    Ironically this review of Robert Barry's slide piece relies on description. The attempt to represent, to categorize a work which itself reflects on that process of structuring information. For Magnificent—Trees revolves around the use of language, whether through words or pictures. Language serving to define a reality, to clarify and encode it; language extending one's perception, expanding it through thinking, evoking a conception of nature; and yet language remaining imprecise, tangent to experience. But to begin with the setting for these speculations. A darkened room. Seated enclosed within

  • Vito Acconci

    Leveling is the title of Vito Acconci's piece. Leveling with the viewer, being honest, telling it straight. Equalizing viewer and artist, putting them on common ground. But also aiming, directing. Different levels of meaning, intention, interpretation, as all of these definitions apply. The theme an exposition in public of private space. A dramatization of self to which one might refer Erving Goffman's concept of presentation through roles. For although Acconci is not physically present in his piece, he is still the performer. A tape of his voice resonates from the various speakers in the gallery,

  • Carolee Thea

    It is the viewer who is the performer in Carolee Thea's work. A maze bounded in hardware cloth and barbed wire extends from floor to ceiling in the center of the gallery. Black curtains block the street world outside. And an amplified metronome steadily beats the measure of time. In the back Thea sits, knitting. An allusion to Ariadne guiding Theseus out of the labyrinth with her ball of thread. Less symbolically, the observer, watching the viewer proceed on the stage. Perhaps a reference to the impassive spectator detachedly noting the fall of a guillotine. But to return to the maze. A

  • Judy Rifka

    What is striking about Judy Rifka's paintings is their appearance as collages. Collages of paint. The surfaces are plywood, assertively there. Attached (to, on)—layers of paint building into a tangible thickness. The pigment doubling, crisscrossing on top of itself into an envelope of color. A material shape appended, as if glued, on the surface. In the series of matte black paintings, for example, two separate pieces seem to overlap, one superimposed on the other, their edges intersecting to outline a single form. Yet throughout the black is the same color. It is the drawing of the paint, the

  • Alighiero Boetti

    Alighiero Boetti's work leaves me puzzled. Is he deliberately mocking the notion of art as a solution to a problem? Is his use of a series taken through various permutations an indictment of the repetition of art production, varying the terms without changing the theme? Or, is he questioning judgments of quality, of one answer being more valid than another? His drawings are all on graph paper—as if to emphasize their grounding in mathematical truth. One group involves the filling in of a set number of consecutive squares, the set number of times, each pattern being different. Seven sevens, nine

  • Laurace James

    Similar questions arise with Laurace James's sculpture. Her constructions are made of wood, some surfaces painted, others left raw. Each is accompanied by a set of instructions explaining how the viewer can manipulate the piece. Moving the hinged joints, reattaching hooks to eyes, arriving at an alternative conclusion. The implication: that one result is no better than the other. But also that making a sculpture is simply arranging the material according to certain rules of structuring. For James has not really eliminated the choice of the artist. She sets the framework, limiting the scope of

  • Richard van Buren

    AT THE CITY UNIVERSITY Graduate Center recently a mini-retrospective of Richard van Buren’s work. At the Paula Cooper Gallery, new pieces. Questions about development. How does one evaluate an artist’s work? In terms of newness relative to the overall art scene? Or in terms of a personal evolution? Or both?

    Van Buren’s freestanding fiberglass pieces made in 1974 seemed the strongest to me. A work like Rack. Literally a skeletal structure. Two green resin backbones rising parallel from the rear to the middle where they bend downward apart to the front. Each standing on eight pairs of spindly

  • Joseph Kosuth and Keith Sonnier

    Certainly the presentation of Joseph Kosuth’s Tenth Investigation, Proposition 4 is no surprise. The format itself provides a link to Kosuth’s previous investigations. A neat row of eight table-desks and chairs, each desk with a notebook of four Xeroxed texts rigidly fastened to it and facing two blueprinted maps which diagram the structural relationship of one text to another. The gallery as classroom, the viewer assigned to homework to reinforce the lesson. A summary of the course is contained in a printed notice on the wall. Each of the desks with accompanying texts and maps represents a “

  • Joe Moss

    Ostensibly the way sound creates an environment is the premise of Joe Moss’s work. A floor covered with sawdust. Four large (12-foot diameter) sound reflectors hanging one opposite another along the four sides of the defined space. Another set of smaller (6 1/2-foot diameter) reflectors placed in a line across the gallery like two sets of parentheses. Various ramps allow one to change one’s height in relation to the reflectors. And clickers are provided as a suitable noise source. Before entering this environment, one can read about what to expect. Sounds that shift in location or change their

  • Doktori

    Doktori. I remember his show last year of latex paintings. A glut of rubberized pigment, the work simply a dramatization of its medium. His new pieces are less ostentatious in their physicality. More subtle in their transition from painting to sculpture. And more involved with a search for personal expression. A number of the works are elongated verticals, slit in the middle, the opening asserting their three-dimensional presence. The surfaces are mottled, drips and strokes of latex, traces of coppery metallic powders, vestiges of wood grain from the original base. One thinks of a canvas pried

  • Louise Kramer

    Another indication of the predilection for stylized idiosyncrasy. Louise Kramer. A show of work spanning the years 1972–74. In the middle of the gallery, four huge boulderlike bubbles of latex. A play between the weightlessness of the air-filled interior and the lumbering heaviness implied by the surface mass. The incongruity of a ball too big to throw counterpointed by the actual elasticity of the latex which bounces back to one’s touch. But where does this go beyond the funniness of these clumsy objects? They seem somehow empty of content, just there, nothing more.

    On the wall, a series of

  • Emily Fuller

    Emily Fuller. Less demonstratively arbitrary. Her work, like Doktori’s, painting materialized into objecthood. Strips of clear plastic sewn together as a bag, a chain of pocketed envelopes. Each sleeve containing substances of color—paint and metal powders, cut glass tinsel, sand, flour. Murray Bay Water Back. The bags hanging, draped in a row across a rod suspended from the ceiling. The soft pastels of the separate pigments accumulating into a rainbow of color. Traces of the powder cling to the sides and tinge the transparency of the plastic as it filters the light from a nearby window. The

  • Frank Kowing

    Another instance of the current emphasis on physicality can be seen in Frank Kowing’s paintings. Here the stress is not on the objecthood of painting per se, but on the materiality of its construction. Combining an Abstract Expressionist way of working with collage techniques, Kowing remains close to his sources—Rauschenberg and Johns, Motherwell and maybe de Kooning. Jockey, for example, is literally a window. A green frame stenciled with the black letters jockey. Inside, on top, a wrapping of plastic occasionally painted on, sometimes folded back to expose the surface behind. Underneath this

  • Brower Hatcher

    Just a note on Brower Hatcher’s sculpture. Illusionism transposed into three-dimensionality. Streaking Wheel. Three steel rings hovering one above the other, supported by dancing squiggles of metal which draw the space in between. Wide Limit. More Caro-esque in the additive relatedness and balancing of its parts. Yet again the slender curlicues of metal adding frenzied excitement to their more solid base. It’s as if Hatcher felt the formalist tradition needed a more dynamic element. What he ends up with is decoration.

    Susan Heinemann

  • Lawrence Weiner: Given the Context

    WALKING INTO LAWRENCE WEINER’S recent show at the Castelli Gallery, one was confronted by two groups of statements printed in black capital letters on the wall.

    BEING WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF REACTION:

    UP ON (IN) THE AIR

    DOWN ON [IN] THE GROUND

    And, on the opposite wall:

    UP ON (IN) THE AIR

    DOWN ON [IN] THE GROUND

    BEING WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF [A] REACTION

    How one reads, perceives, interprets these words becomes contingent on their own context. They are shown inside an art gallery. And they are written by Lawrence Weiner. Thus, one begins to mentally construct the piece in terms of what one knows about

  • Mary Miss

    Wondering where to begin. Wanted to start my review of Mary Miss’s new piece with waking up. Sun sparkling my windows. A desire to be outside, out of the city. But what does that have to do with the work? Well, it’s part of the experience I brought to the work, feeding into my experience of the piece. Traveling on the train. Fashionable ladies posed at the stations, set for Fifth Avenue. My journey a pilgrimage, implicit in gallery visits, explicit here. Getting off at Greenwich. Past a parade of silent mansions. Finally the site. Striding across an open playing field. Manicured golf course to

  • John Walker

    Trying to understand my expectations of art. Anticipation before going to see John Walker’s “Projects.” I remember being impressed by his chalk drawings shown about two years ago in London. Yes, there is another in his current exhibit. A blackboard painted on the wall and dusted with white chalk which accumulates in varying densities on the surface. The image a negative, hieroglyphic in design, presumably created by pulling off tape to trace lines in the original surface after the chalk has settled. The lines look definitive, bold in their straight-edged blackness against the powdery haze of

  • Jared Bark

    Questions that keep recurring. Jared Bark’s work is also marked by his technique. His medium: photobooth strips mounted one next to the other to form an image narrated in frames. Order inherent in the simple repetition of equal rectangles which snap after snap imply their sequence in time. Yet paradoxically when used directly as the familiar photo-booth in which one sits and has one’s photo taken, the device seems less obtrusive, or rather more a tool for exploration. To be specific. In a group of nine pieces California North to South, Bark lines up strips of faces, each group having been taken

  • Doris Ulmann

    In contrast, it is the people who become the icons in Doris Ulmann’s platinum prints and gravures. Her main subjects are poor Southerners. She presents the time-worn faces of Appalachian craftsmen and women, the simple dignity of the blacks of the Gullah region of South Carolina. Reading Gene Thornton’s review in the Sunday Times I thought again about the soft-focus pictorialism of these images. Does it matter that these photos were taken in the late ’20s and early ’30s, at a time when the modernist impulse was toward a sharp-focus on straight reality? True, a few of Ulmann’s shots look

  • Meryl Vladimer and Ted Stamm

    Meryl Vladimer. A different kind of portraiture. Traces of presence. The masks and props of actors who have disappeared. On the wall a series of plaster-cast faces progressing from the lobe of an ear to a full profile in the center and back again on the other side. Recollection of a videotape, the head slowly turning to recognition and away. But here the action is frozen, splayed out into a. frieze, the relic of a performance. Another remnant on the floor. Chalk outlines of a figure measuring the room in body lengths. Defining a space in terms of body scale? Yet at the end a frontal face mask,