Susan Heinemann

  • Anne Ryan

    Anne Ryan discovered collage after seeing the Kurt Schwitters memorial exhibition in 1948. Within the remaining six years of her life, Ryan transformed Schwitters’ influence into a quiet poetic vision of her own. Her early works explore the various possibilities of collage. One piece uses hard-edged rectangular shapes arranged individually without any overlapping; others employ stamps, letters, and similar connotative materials in direct reference to Schwitters. Soon, though, Ryan structured her format with a Cubist grid and selected her personal palette from bits of cloth, ranging from finely

  • Marguerite Zorach

    In contrast to Ryan, whose work reached its peak late in the artist’s life, Marguerite Zorach painted her most successful pictures at the beginning of her career. From 1908 to 1911, while living in France, Zorach assimilated the flat, decorative patterning of the Nabis and Pont Aven Schools as well as the bright colors and elements of the vigorous brushwork and spontaneous drawing of the Fauves. Although one can point to the influence of Gauguin, perhaps Bonnard, certainly Derain and Vlaminck, Zorach’s work offers images of her own: a lively market scene where numbered signs pop out amid the

  • Alice Neel

    “I have always considered the human being the first premise—I feel his condition is a barometer of his era.” With this assertion, printed in the brochure accompanying a retrospective of her portraits at the Whitney Museum, Alice Neel affirms her focus on the human individual as subject matter. Yet the term “portrait” is somewhat deceiving, for it implies an emphasis on the personality of the sitter. In another statement, Neel explains, “I decided to paint a human comedy—such as Balzac had done in literature.” The comparison is apt because, like Balzac, Neel tends to stress characteristics

  • Jillian Denby

    Because Neel focuses so sharply on human nature as content, I find it difficult to criticize her use of figuration. That photography is probably a more effective means of social documentation seems a moot point. The problems involved in the use of the human figure in contemporary painting are more obvious in Jillian Denby’s work. Denby stages her naked models in calculated abstract compositions which hint at a modern-day revival of Neoclassicism. This reference to Neoclassicism is not made in jest, for the stoical clarity of design is reminiscent of David, while the decidedly linear contours of

  • Sylvia Mangold

    The fitting of representational subject matter into an abstract mode of thinking is more successfully resolved in Sylvia Mangold’s new paintings. As in her previous works, Mangold objectively renders the recession of hardwood floors inclined upward onto the vertical picture plane. What is different is her positioning of an oak-framed mirror where the floor meets the wall; a mirror which reflects the space in front of the painting and ostensibly behind the viewer. The result is a disorienting transgression of painting’s illusionistic space into real space. There is a sensation of actual presence

  • Agnes Martin

    If Mangold’s paintings can be described as arriving at abstraction through representation, in an inverse way Agnes Martin’s drawings from 1960 to 1967 can be seen as achieving representation through pure abstraction. Not that I mean to imply that there is any one-to-one relation between Martin’s work and nature. What she suggests is more an idea of nature than a transcription of perceptual reality. In reflections published in Artforum, April, 1973, Martin stated, “In our minds there is an awareness of perfection; when we look with our eyes we see it, and how it functions is mysterious to us and

  • Racelle Strick

    In discussing Martin’s drawings, I indicated that her grids were woven rather than built. This distinction is perhaps clarified by an examination of Racelle Strick’s work, which emphasizes the additive construction of painting. Looking at Strick’s paintings shown at 55 Mercer, one is always aware of the process of making; the whole image constantly refers back to the systematic structuring of its parts. In 5 Inch Square from Bottom Center Out, the square module, consisting of narrow horizontal bands of pale blue acrylic, is repeated unit after unit from the bottom center, in opposite directions,

  • Angela DeLaura

    Angela DeLaura’s drawn paintings at the Touchstone Gallery also imply an order through the repetition of analogous forms. With a rapidograph pen she delineates circles and ellipses over a smooth linen surface brushed with acrylic color. By massing her units in different densities and by varying their size, she sets up vibrant rhythms which intimate nature’s growth processes. The tonal gradations produced by her technique establish a spatial pulsation parallel to the surface increasing and diminishing of form. Within this linear fabric, there are hints of cumulus clouds, cellular leaves, vaginal

  • Justin Schorr

    Justin Schorr’s images, shown at Westbroadway, also derive from the aggregation of unitary shapes. However, it would be more accurate to say that his large painted shapes, which read as clearly defined figures against the white canvas ground, are divided into parts. The separateness of the parts is accentuated by their individual illusionistic modeling without reference to the total mass. In fact, the whole figure reads as a flat shape which is contrarily composed of three-dimensional units. The question raised by Schorr’s work is whether his seemingly systematic ordering doesn’t need a consistent

  • Alan Saret

    It is this translation of personal whimsy into a publicly accessible art that informs Alan Saret’s work. His recent show at The Clocktower included proposals for the construction of fabric houses which would realize his romantic dreams of “planetary and universal Eden.” The playfulness of Saret’s illustrations allows one to participate in his fancies, although too often his overly simplistic idealism degenerates into a cute mysticism. Less exclusively eccentric, and thus to my mind more interesting, are Saret’s scribbled color pencil drawings. These works seem to underline the nature of drawing

  • Natalie Bieser

    The most striking aspect of Natalie Bieser’s wall pieces is the decidedly musical rhythms they set up. Bieser attaches thin strips of wood to the wall which act as sustained, emphatic notes against the falling and rising thread strung between them. Because of variations both in the length and the hanging position of the thread, different speeds suggest themselves. One feels compelled to articulate the implicit score through gesture, as if one can only really “know” the perceptual information through one’s own body movement. The fragility of Bieser’s medium, its lack of any substantial mass,

  • Stephen Antonakos

    Prettiness is also a problem with Stephen Antonakos’ neon pieces at the John Weber Gallery. In choosing warm reds and softly cool greens, Antonakos accentuates the visual attractiveness of his medium. The designlike reflections cast on the wall by Red Neon Box Off the Wall, Sides Not Touching, in particular, reinforce a decorative reading of the work. Because Antonakos outlines such clear shapes with the neon tubes, the light defines objects which have a fragile, almost precious, existence because of the actual insubstantiality of the medium. For example, in the open red box the red lines of

  • Mel Kendrick

    Thinking in itself is an essential aspect of Mel Kendrick’s sculpture. Seven implicit rectangles, each about 16 inches high, lean at even intervals along two of the gallery walls. Except for one which is a complete rectangle, each of the pieces consists of two four-sided masonite halves which have different edges sliced off at an angle. The boards are painted white, and each contains a blue gray paper quadrangle which touches all four sides. Because of the smallness and lowness relative to the gallery space and one’s body height, the work at first seems self-effacing. Yet as one continues to

  • Rudolf Baranik

    It is difficult to pinpoint how an art object evokes a particular mood, how it touches certain feelings. While the expressive impact of art is an essentially private experience, it is at the same time generally accessible, deriving from some common ground, some universal symbol, rather than a Proustian flow of personal recollection. However, the impossibility of completely prescribing the necessary cues becomes apparent when one tries to specify the effectiveness of an artwork’s emotive content. Looking at Rudolf Baranik’s recent paintings, for instance, one is intellectually aware of his attempt

  • Thomas Evans

    If Baranik’s decided emphasis on ethical content forces consideration of expressive power, Thomas Evans’ lyrical painterliness provokes reflection on an involvement with decorative surface much in evidence in current painting. Evans paints large canvases bespeckled with splatters of metallic paint, in the midst of which, patterns reminiscent of prehistoric organic remains (fern leaves, for example) seem to be imprinted. Seem to be because, while from a distance the overall regularity of the fragile shapes makes them appear stenciled on, on closer inspection the bleeding trickles of paint at

  • David Ligare

    This problem of thinking arso arises with David Ligare’s large drawings of sand images. What I mean here by thinking is the continual reevaluation of established ideas, the rigorous questioning, which informs art’s dialectic. Too many artists merely play with variations on an accepted language without ever challenging the validity of its grammar. Painting is particularly vulnerable in this respect as its syntax has been so strictly explored. 

    To return to Ligare’s work—he first makes simple marks in wet sand and then records these images in detailed drawings in pencil and metallic powder on paper.

  • Eunice Golden

    While for the most part distinctions between men’s and women’s art on the basis of sex are arbitrary, if not downright discriminatory, occasionally an artist through his or her choice of subject matter forces consideration of his or her sexual bias. To discuss Eunice Golden’s work, for example, without acknowledging her feminist stance would deny her deliberately erotic art much of its impact. There is after all a biological differentiation of the sexes, and it is perhaps largely because of this, combined with the historical predominance of men in the arts, that we have such a tradition of the

  • Harmony Hammond, Sarah Draney, Patsy Norvell, Jenny Snider and Louise Fishman

    If feminism is a consideration in assessing Golden’s work, it is because she deals explicitly with sex. In contrast, to discuss the group show at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery—labeled “a women’s group”—in terms of feminism would be to create artificially separate standards for women’s art. The artists represented are primarily involved with issues raised by other art. None of them, not even Harmony Hammond with her braided rugs, a traditional woman’s craft, seriously questions, “What does it mean to be a woman? Is my perspective different as a woman?” Not that I am advocating this approach for all

  • Barbara Kruger, Don Gummer and Laurie Anderson

    The tendency toward a highly decorative art is further evinced by Barbara Kruger’s ornate fabric circles shown at Artists Space. Her five large circles are haloed by borders of garishly colored synthetic fluff. Inside, patches of striped, checked, quilted, and shimmering fabric vie with impasto acrylic polka dots, stripes of brightly colored yarn, thick oozes of paint and nodules covered in sparkling silver netting—altogether an incredibly busy surface dazzle. The choice of cheap, gaudy materials arranged in psychedelic patterns, glittering kitsch, relates these works to the pop culture. Once

  • Ann Healy

    Although involved with the effects of light and gravity, Ann Healy’s art focuses on the object in the creation of clearly present images. Her recent work consists of transparent silk gathered on metal rods and then allowed to fall in accordance with gravity’s pull. In general, the rods are arranged in simple geometric configurations—combining the design shapes characteristic of her outdoor sailcloth hangings with the free-falling folds of her large dramatic drapes. These new works are less overtly theatrical, more lyrical, than the previous draped forms, due to the soft folds and the transparent