New York

William Tucker

Feigen Gallery

The English sculptor William Tucker makes his American debut at the Feigen Gallery with a group of works done over the past three years. Tucker is one of the new “conceptual form” sculptors who works almost exclusively with regular geometric forms, both planar and solid, disposed rhythmically through space in sequential fashion. Working in polychrome metal, plastics, and wood, his pieces are given an industrial finish consonant with their idealized Platonic forms. Tucker’s intellectualized perfection of image and execution does not lead to hackneyed Purist sterilities however. Skillful articulation gives each of his pieces vigor and infuses them with a “pneuma” organic and easy. As ever, the lesson is not what it is but how it’s put together. Tucker kicks up simple and basic contrasts to the level of revelations in perception. In “Meru III” symmetrically ascending and descending stepped blue quarter-spheres of epoxy unaccountably become straight stepped planes meeting at right angles. “Unfold” (1963) presents two Ellsworth Kelly curved shapes meeting at an obtuse angle; painted two shades of pink, the piece reminds one of Giacometti’s “Slaughtered Woman” of the ’30s. The sheer size of Tucker’s pieces prevents his images from relapsing into referential liberalism. “Orpheus II” is a sinuous open square of thick wide and thin narrow forms alternatingly joined like the links of a bicycle drive-chain. Amplitude of scale ensures that its reptilian muscularity is not tritely ornamental. An earlier piece, “Source” (1962), makes a series of simple contrasts of the same form treated now as a volume, now as a plane, in a combination suggesting a column from Bernini’s Baldacchino. The implied helical movement in this iron and plastic piece gives Tucker a third factor to juggle with.

A most satisfying aspect of Tucker’s work is the unpretentiousness of his statements. His candor and openness show he has no need to disguise bankrupt invention as grand and pregnant simplicity. Together with the felicity of his color, this straightforward sleight of hand and eye is ingratiating and praiseworthy.

Dennis Adrian