Critics’ Picks

Installation view, 2006.

New York

“Nothing and Everything”

Peter Freeman, Inc.
140 Grand Street
September 7–October 28

A crowded installation of photographs, sculptures, and drawings by many of the twentieth century’s great artists, “Nothing and Everything” playfully investigates the materiality and experiential nature of art through careful juxtapositions. Sol LeWitt cleanly tears a piece of white paper into stark geometric sections in R115, 1973, generating an elegant composition with a simple gesture, while Robert Ryman defamiliarizes the monochrome in Untitled, 1967, a white-painted canvas square affixed directly to the white wall with masking tape. Many of the exhibition’s Minimalist pieces foreground the process of art’s construction, a premise to which Walker Evans’s crisp image of a hand tool and Steve Wolfe’s handmade sketchbook slyly allude. Robert Rauschenberg toys with the aestheticization of base materials, framing and hanging clay like a painting. Material also dictates Jean Dubuffet’s Récit de Terre, 1960, which mimics the texture of cracked mud, and Yves Klein’s adjacent Fire Painting, Untitled (F113), 1961, in which he burns cardboard to coarse, elemental effect. Both Vija Clemins and Richard Misrach arrive at lush, abstract landscapes of patterns by different approaches and media. This kind of contextualization serves to reanimate and inform a new reading of the pieces. Whereas Hiroshi Sugimoto allows the horizon to divide his picture plane into soft gradations of gray in North Atlantic Ocean, Cape Breton Island, 1996, Ellsworth Kelly crudely extrapolates the result of this effect in his inked squares, Light Reflection on Water, 1950. Although the Donald Judd and Carl Andre sculptures would require more space to be appreciated, Richard Serra’s contribution tames industrial materials into an optical game that nicely complements the show’s two-dimensional work; its two elements are companion pieces, contingent and in conversation.