Susan Heinemann

  • Pat Steir and Joan Snyder

    Meaning. How does one assign meaning? More basically, what is meaning? Looking at Pat Steir’s and Joan Snyder’s paintings, one is continually drawn back to these questions. Not knowing, reflecting and doubting, searching for answers but never finding solutions. The paintings themselves as objects are not signifiers, for there is no signified—or, at least, no meaning one can grasp onto and say yes, this is it. One does not read these works following a linear syntax. Instead one jerks from one point to another, starting and stopping, leaping off and going back, never arriving at definition. It is

  • Joan Thorne

    In a different way, Joan Thorne is also concerned with locating the inner self in or on the world. Like Snyder she feels her way through varying strokes and densities of paint. However, Thorne’s activity is more frenzied, building to a definitive climax. Liquid paint drags and scrapes across the surface, colors jangle or muddle, areas fill to suffocation, fingerlike squiggles pulsate in and out from and to the edges. The whole is more a map than exploratory journal. The personal language has already been evolved. It is not the marks themselves that are in question, but their location. What one

  • Bill McGee

    Although Thorne’s pictorial language is given to the extent one does not speculate on why she chose her marks, it is not a priori. Her words, as well as grammar, are formulated in the course of painting in response to her activity. In contrast, Bill McGee’s vocabulary and rules of structure seem to be learned instead of found. His narrow vertical stripes on color fields inevitably invoke Barnett Newman, and it is to Newman that one refers again and again. One has seen all these paintings before. There are no discoveries, no changes in the language to make one pause and reconsider one’s grounds

  • Julian Casado

    The line between invention and imitation is not always so clearly drawn as in McGee’s work. In Julian Casado’s gouaches the vocabulary of subtly gradated color and geometric forms is familiar. It is the structuring which encompasses a personal sensibility, while at the same time adhering to known rules of picture-making. Casado first covers his surface with a network of parallel lines, changing in direction to establish an underlying geometric pattern. The narrow bands between the lines are then filled in with carefully modulated hues which articulate the interior space. Most of the paintings

  • Lenore Tawney

    In general, one thinks of weaving in terms of craft and decoration. Lenore Tawney’s major contribution has been in making weaving viable as an art form. Her current works reflect back on her explorations of the early ’60s and her development of techniques to enable her to control the slitting and shaping of her pieces. For the most part, her hangings are holistic images, akin in many ways to the paintings of her friend Agnes Martin. Frequently Tawney’s forms result directly from the weaving process so that the open spaces as well as the threaded units become inseparable from the whole. In Red

  • Will Insley

    That the formalist approach has tended to obscure the visionary role of the artist is a point of contention with Will Insley. Explicitly rejecting the surface values of pure color, form, line—“art for the sake of art,” Insley seeks to penetrate behind this “facade” to uncover a personal mythology, the inner “dream space” which is for him the content of art. Insley transmits the information gathered from his “journey” into interior space through a collection of poems, fragmented musings, diagrams, and architectural drawings compiled over the past 11 years and presented in book format. Ostensibly

  • Richard Long

    In a way, one might classify Insley as an armchair philosopher, for he seeks his being in the inner recesses of the mind, traveling into the realm of imagination. Richard Long, on the other hand, finds his content in active dialogue with nature, mapping out his personal space in terms of the landscape. If one senses a romantic primitivism in Long’s involvement with the earth, it is not the idealist mysticism of Insley’s vision. No, Long’s searching is a marking out on this world and is, thus, contingent on the physicality of his existence. His art is a personal record of his contact with the

  • Blythe Bohnen

    Body gesture as one’s means of acting in the world and defining one’s sensibilities becomes explicit in Blythe Bohnen’s drawings. Moving three-inch, six-inch or nine-inch graphite bars on their edges, Bohnen creates a series of twisting and turning forms across the paper. Each drawing explores the range of possibilities within a restricted framework of related movements. For example, one series investigates the sequential rhythms of a down, across and up motion, another the different speeds of a sharp sweep up and then down. The resultant page reads as an alphabet of gestures, a catalogue of

  • Brenda Miller

    Like Morris, Brenda Miller connects her cognitive idea with its physical realization. Her four grids, drawn on the wall in light blue pencil, are filled in with stenciled letters in ordered sequence. Each grid is a 52 x 52 unit square, allowing, for example, the stamping of two complete sets of the alphabet from A to Z and Z to A in the horizontal rows and the consequent repetition of single letters in each vertical column. However, this patterning is only clearly visible at the terminal A and Z points, for Miller shifts her stencil and reprints on top of the original structure in successive

  • Michael Vessa

    In describing the process of perception, reading is frequently used as a metaphor for seeing. Expanding this analogy, Michael Vessa makes books the subject of his drawings and sculpture. Several pieces are actual notebooks opened up and attached to the wall. That the pages are lined, numbered and often captioned “Read and Understood” at the bottom stresses how in reading one proceeds with the knowledge gained from the first page to the next. Vessa relates this memory process to seeing by suggesting that visually one connects the marks on separate pages in a sequential absorption of information.

  • Paul Brach

    In contrast to Vessa, Paul Brach stresses the optical rather than the conceptual aspects of seeing in his paintings. His information is on the surface, to be assimilated by the eye instead of interpreted by the mind. Using the pointillist technique of optical mixture, Brach creates flickering bands of color-light from tiny dabs of color. For instance, in Horizon No. 3 the canvas is covered with horizontal rows of blue gray diagonal brushstrokes. Near the bottom of the painting there is a band of loosely spaced dots of light red purple and unsaturated orange lying on top of the gray. The effect

  • Alvin Loving

    Although the formal precedent for Al Loving’s new pieces seems to be Stella, there is a sense of energy and playfulness to his large painted cardboard and paper constructions which recalls Matisse’s late cutout collages. Loving piles up ragged shapes and festive colors into a chaotic conglomeration which visually recreates the additive process of its making. One’s eye, flicking from one area to another, joins in the fun of putting the pieces of a puzzle together. Loving’s constructive method, his selection of scattered bits of information which combine into a whole, repeats and thereby highlights

  • Barbara Coleman and Galeyn Remington

    It is Loving’s sense of joie de vivre which determines the impact of his pieces. What I mean is perhaps clarified by examining the works of Barbara Coleman and Galeyn Remington, who also stress painting’s materiality. Coleman concentrates on the thereness of the paint itself. Her thick tubular oozes of plastic paint become relief shapes which highlight the textural three-dimensionality of paint. Color serves a decorative function subordinate to the physical presence of its substance. Remington, on the other hand, asserts the objecthood of the support with her rolling and overlapping surfaces of

  • Dennis Oppenheim

    A totally different perspective on the same space is given by Dennis Oppenheim’s work. As one opens the door and mounts the stairs to the room, one’s ears fill with the incessant reverberation of a single chord. At the top of the stairs one stops. Directly in front is a dead German shepherd sprawled on top of an electric organ keyboard. The floor is covered with asphalt swirled in a spiral pathway which suggests the prior dragging of the dog and organ across the surface in a ritualistic ceremony. As in Oppenheim’s earlier Two Right Feet for Sebastian and dancing marionette piece, one has the

  • Consuelo Kanaga

    “When you make a photograph, it is very much a picture of your own self. . . . Most people try to be striking to catch the eye. I think the thing is not to catch the eye but the spirit.” With this observation, Consuelo Kanaga succinctly characterizes the retrospective of her photographs from the 1920s. Beginning as a newspaper reporter, Kanaga soon came under the influence of Alfred Steiglitz and the photographers featured in Camera Work. The simple directness of her vision, as well as the controlled developing of her prints to bring out their tonal richness, evidence her affiliation with

  • Nancy Holt

    Usually one considers a room’s space in terms of its interior dimensions. With her video piece at the Clocktower, Nancy Holt locates one in the enclosed space, 14 floors above Broadway, through its outside view. High above one in the room, a porthole cut out of white paper filters the light through the window on each of the four sides. Underneath, the wall is labeled with its direction—N, S, E or W. In the center of the room, a solid white box with a monitor imbedded in each side provides an inside equivalent for the exterior shell. Four videotapes, one for each direction, play sequentially on

  • Richard Tuttle

    Eight narrow, vertical strips of 1/4-inch plywood, each unobtrusively nailed more or less in the middle of a wall. Elongated rectangles truncated at varying angles with different side edges painted white. Such a physical description of Richard Tuttle’s new work seems totally inadequate to the occasion. One does not see Tuttle’s pieces as self-contained objects, as hermetic repositories of meaning. In fact, one doesn’t merely “see” Tuttle’s works; one experiences them through one’s body. Visual awareness becomes inextricable from body perception. This is not to imply that one actively projects

  • Grace Bakst Wapner

    A more theatrical involvement with the body in space is evident in Grace Bakst Wapner’s “barriers and passageways.” In the more dramatic work, four separate rows of elegantly colored satin cords loop from ceiling to floor in an even, rhythmical pattern. Each row consists of two layers of overlapping U-shapes in alternating wavelike formation. Because there is ample space for passage between the loops and the gallery wall, as well as between the rows themselves, one is not tempted to actually enter the piece. Yet as one walks around the work, various possible pathways through the forest of

  • Marilynn Gelfman-Pereira

    While Wapner’s sculpture tends toward environment, Marilynn Gelfman-Pereira’s modular wire constructions are definitely object oriented. Remaining firmly within the Constructivist tradition, Gelfman-Pereira builds delicate miniatures through the ordered addition of complex geometric units outlined with sections of lacquered wire. The completed forms intimate crystalline growths or atomic structures. In these pieces there is no domination of mass over void, no differentiation between interior and exterior space. The wire lines merely articulate the configuration in three dimensions; they do not

  • Agnes Denes

    In a different way the problem of congruence between medium and message occurs in Agnes Denes’ work. Her drawings serve as diagrammatic explorations of her philosophical ideas. Yet the complex verbal thinking underlying the visual information is left out; the illustrations have no text. It is not so much that Denes’ visual explanations are inappropriate, it is rather that they are insufficient. For example, Pyramid Series #1 depicts several pyramids built up of wobbly lined units which suggest instability—as if the pyramids might crumble and have to be reformed. Several mathematical formulae