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PRINT Summer 1978

On Joel Shapiro’s Sculptures and Drawings

LOOKING AT JOEL SHAPIRO’S SCULPTURES involves a lot of walking, and certain paths—usually ones uncharacteristic of moving in a gallery—prove to be the most informative. There is little to be gained from a Shapiro piece by shuffling past it once or twice like a shopper, or by boldly striding up to transfix it with a penetrating stare. Standing still, you scan the polished plain from which these remote objects rise in low relief as if you were reading a map; walking, you are within the map.

Shapiro’s sculptures make the boundaries of the exhibition space into their own “frame” so that the viewer is encouraged to approach the pieces by means of diminishing circumvolutions. The boundary is thus reiterated, and comes to be seen in retrospect as a circumstantial limit to contemplation as well as to circumvolution, suggestive of a parameter of signification. Shapiro’s pieces gradually build in

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