Thomas McEvilley

  • Bill Woodrow

    At the Saatchi Collection Bill Woodrow exhibited 12 works that were made by excising sculptural images from found matrices of scrap steel. Connected by umbilical cords of metal, the sculptural forms generally contradict the nature of the found car hoods and doors from which they are derived. The original form appears to have been captured at the moment of its transformation into another counterform. Often the new forms seem natural and implicitly criticize the encroachment of culture (especially automobiles) into the domain of nature. In the earliest work, Red Squirrel, 1981, the animal appears

  • Dove Bradshaw

    Dove Bradshaw’s installation Plain Air, 1989, was shown in the living quarters of Sandra Gering’s home, which is also her gallery. The installation featured a pair of male and female ring-necked doves. A bicycle wheel without a tire was hung perpendicular to the ceiling by a single steel cable and the birds often perched on the wheel, seeming comfortable despite the tilt brought about by their weight. As days passed they redefined the room by establishing habits in it; they usually slept on the wheel, chose a perch as their favorite for eating, and so on. A stencil of the words plein air (after

  • The Global Issue

    When asked why he wished to be buried upside down, Diogenes replied, “Down will soon be up.”

    “WRITING BEFORE THE EXHIBITION,” I remarked in the catalogue of the Centre Pompidou’s ”Magiciens de la terre“ show in Paris lost summer, ”I do not know (nor moy I after) how well or badly it will fulfill its post-Modern agenda.“ My essay was written three years ago. Now the exhibition has happened, occasioning a hail of mostly negative criticism rather similar in premise to the attacks (including my own) on the Museum of Modern Art’s ”‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art“ show in New York in 1984. One has

  • Gino De Domenicis

    This exhibition represented the first real chance for an American audience to see much work by Gino De Dominicis. The early pieces seen here are more or less classical Conceptual art, appealing to cognition and manipulating the viewer into interior visualizations. A square of white tape lines on the floor, for example, is titled Invisible Cube, 1968; a black arm chair is titled Invisible Person: The Fourth Solution to Immortality, 1972; a rubber ball lying on the floor is called Rubber ball (from a fall of two meters) at the point preceding the rebound, 1969; and a granite rock is titled Waiting


    Faithfully in spite of the winds that blow. I, too, am an apostle of silence.

    —Marcel Broodthaers

    UNTIL HIS 40TH YEAR, 1964, Marcel Broodthaers was a poet with an interest in the visual arts, of which from time to time he wrote criticism. His conversion from poet to artist was marked by an exhibition in which the 50 remaining copies of his recent book of poems Pense-Bête (Think like an animal1) were ensconced in a plaster base and exhibited as sculpture. After 12 years of artistic work, Broodthaers died in 1976. He had contradicted and recontradicted in the most deliberate way many of the public

  • “Glossolalia"

    Hans Schuldt organized and introduced this series of six late-afternoon poetry readings, in which he participated along with Richard Foreman, Robert Kelly, Stephen-Paul Martin, Howard Stern, Paul Schmidt, and Harry Mathews. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “glossolalia” as “the faculty or practice of speaking with tongues,” meaning ecstatic religious babble. When applied to poetry, the term suggests, on the one hand, Plato’s idea, in the Phaedrus, of the “divine madness” of the poet, and, on the other, Karl Shapiro’s idea that poetry is an “antilanguage” rather than a language. In this

  • Donald Judd

    Donald Judd’s work used to be seen as a polemic on esthetics—its relentless repetition and recombination of spare Minimalist motifs suggesting a debater’s tenacious insistence on a position. The principal criticism of it was the prophecy that its uncompromising rigor would inevitably become a compromised rigidity. The exhibition at the Whitney Museum, far more varied and lively than most visitors would have expected, suggests a different outcome. Though this was a retrospective exhibition, most of the works were from the ’60s, a fact that dated the artist with remarkable precision. But in a

  • François Morellet

    François Morellet—a French artist born in 1926 who was in the forefront of both Minimalism and Conceptualism in his native country—is little known in the United States. Between 1953 and 1956, he produced pieces that foreshadowed with amazing precision later works by Joseph Albers, Frank Stella, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, and others. Aspects of systems art and Op art were also intuitively articulated in his work before the movements that would finally bear those names emerged. Three of the works shown here continue Morellet’s long investigation into the random placement of geometrical elements,

  • Cy Twombly

    Since the Abstract Expressionist era, Cy Twombly has kept the question of draftsmanship alive in his work—but with an appropriately changed, or reversed, focus. His drawings and drawinglike paintings represent not external sense objects but the state of mind that is sensing. He draws the inside of the mind as it grapples with data that seems to be coming in from outside. And he finds this mind to be like a child’s, trying to give rudimentary shape to a chaotic flow of impressions which are almost, but not quite, coagulating into concepts.

    The 15 works in this exhibition, ranging in date from 1958


    THE CRITICAL LITERATURE portrays many different Marcel Duchamps: Arturo Schwarz’s alchemic dabbler, Octavio Paz’s tantric initiate, the full-scale occult master described by Jack Burnham, the publicity-seeking self-mythifier of Gianfranco Baruchello, the critical rationalist of the dialogues with Pierre Cabanne, André Breton’s “most intelligent man of the 20th century, “the failed artist and tragic neurotic portrayed by Alice Goldfarb Marquis, John Canaday’s “most destructive artist in history,” mand others.1 Most of these models hinge on interpretations of events between mid 1911 and mid 1913,

  • Hermann Nitsch

    Hermann Nitsch exhibited 30 works on paper here, done in a variety of media, including lithographs—for example, Crucifixion (After Rembrandt), 1956, the earliest work in the show—pencil drawings from the late ’50s, ballpoint pen drawings from 1969 through the ’80s, works combining printmaking and drawing, and 11 mixed-media paintings on paper from 1987. The paintings embody the still-reverberating aftermath of the moment when Abstract Expressionist works were first shown in Europe. In 1959, when he was 21, Nitsch saw an exhibition curated by Alfred Barr, “The New American Painting,” which was

  • Son of Sublime

    CONTEMPORARY ART AND CRITICISM ARE heir to two conflicting parents, a duality that remains unresolved in our recent history. On the one hand we have seen art that emphasizes esthetic experience for its own sake, and on the other, art that deemphasizes or even spurns the esthetic in the name of social or cognitive involvement, or a combination of the two. And now, in an interaction of art and art criticism, there are signs of an inchoate urge to combine these dichotomous realms.

    Much has been written about the art that has come to be called “simulationist,” and from many different points of view.

  • ...Captions

    ON A DOZEN PAGES of this issue of Artforum we have reproduced black and white photographs of artworks from the epochal year 1968. These images, these slices of time and history, inspire a poignancy oddly double-edged. Like the year 1848 so often mentioned in connection with it, 1968 has cast a long shadow of intense expectations and painful disappointments.

    It was a year of endings and beginnings. The generation that was coming of age was born after World War II. These young men and women, whether invigorated by the relative comforts of the ’50s and ’60s, covetous of them, or suspicious of them,

  • Nancy Spero

    “Nancy Spero: Works Since 1950,” a traveling show curated and organized by Dominique Nahas, provides a welcome chance to see a broad selection of this artist’s work together in one place. It includes semilegendary early pieces such as the “Black Paris Paintings,” 1959–64 (of which there are five in the exhibition) and some of her major statements from the last two decades (Codex Artaud, 1971–72, The Torture of Women, 1976, Notes in Time on Women, 1976–79, and Sky Goddess, 1985), along with various smaller works from her activist, anti-Vietnam period (Helicopter Eating Victims and Shitting Remains


    The following conversation is an excerpt from the editorial discussion that explored some of the reasons for doing this issue. It preceded our meetings with our guests in this project.

    Ingrid Sischy, 35: I think the place for us to start, just so we get our ground, is to try to roughly sketch out why we want to take on these three letters a g e in the first place.

    Thomas McEvilley, 48: Well right away we’d better talk about the problem of using the word “age.” I mean for one thing, when you bring this up to someone and you say We’d like to have a conversation with you about age, they immediately

  • Peter Schuyff

    This two-gallery exhibition of recent work by Peter Schuyff featured acrylic paintings and watercolors. At Castelli's, Schuyff showed six very large untitled paintings, all from 1987, and three smaller ones, from 1986 and '87. A grid underlies all nine of these paintings, although it is often distorted in some way, sometimes suggesting the complex visual effects of Op art, especially the works of Victor Vasarely. In one, the grid is painted as if seen through a fish-eye lens; in another, it is implied by a regular pattern of blazelike spots; in a third, it seems to throb subtly on the surface.

  • Camouflage

    IT HAS BEEN AS THOUGH the Vietnam war had been on stage again recently, on television, in the print media, and above all in movie theaters, as it was once almost ten years ago, in that war’s aftermath, when The Deer Hunter, 1978, and Apocalypse Now, 1979, dispensed their strange tortured fantasies, huge and rugged and difficult. In those films directors Michael Cimino and Francis Ford Coppola avoided many of the conventions of the Hollywood war-movie genre based primarily on World War II, suggesting in doing so that the reception of the Vietnam war was recognized as being different from the

  • Adrien Piper

    This retrospective of Adrian Piper’s works consisted of an uncommonly small and unassuming set of objects that took on larger dimensions and greater depth as one examined them. Most of the exhibition (which was curated by Jane Farver) featured photographs conspicuously lacking in technical splendor, videotapes in an easy and relaxed interviewlike style, looseleaf binders containing conceptual works based on mental experiments, and audiocassette players with headphones. Many of these deal with complex areas of language and thought, subjects that Piper has studied intensively for more than 15

  • Jo Goldberg

    In her first show of paintings, Jo Goldberg exhibited six large, unstretched, horizontal canvases (and two small vertical ones) that hover in between abstraction and representation. All of them show a strong sense of landscape, as if one were peering into an overgrown thicket. They also demonstrate a broad range of emotional tone, from somber and stately in the earlier works to a brighter, slightly oversweet, stylized tachism in the most recent. The somber tone was achieved by using an old master palette, building up the colors in layers from ochers through greens to black. Although she maintained

  • Pat Steir

    For her installation at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Pat Steir had the movable interior walls taken out and the permanent surrounding walls painted with a dilute solution of India ink that was then wiped away. The resulting feathery or windblown-looking gray ground received, from the hands of Steir herself and of several coworkers, about 140 images of human facial features drawn with black Conté crayon and oilstick. These images were adopted from various books ranging in date from the 17th to the 19th centuries, mostly books about how to draw human anatomy. The installation’s title,