Los Angeles

Joe Goode

Nicholas Wilder Gallery

In his past work, Joe Goode has consistently combined a purist formal stance with common-object subject matter, producing an ambiguous, sidelong rather than head-on confrontation with the problems of contemporary art. The ambiguities attendant upon this combination reach critical proportions in his current exhibition of staircase-like constructions. The mute installation of six of these constructions, varnished, lovingly finished with sensually pleasing rugs tinges with Surrealism a brilliant game between formalism and realism.

The constructions do not parody the ready-made, for had Goode sought to make this connection, a “ready-made” staircase could easily have found its way into the group. On the other hand, the artist seems at pains to distinguish, in minute ways, these constructions from mere nostalgic re-creations. On several, for example, the carpet is laid asymmetrically, producing a slight zigzag effect up the steps that would drive home-owners to distraction. On others, the steps are plainly too steep, or too short, or the lips of the steps are not the same size. The discrepancies are so minute that one senses the artist’s own ambivalence regarding the precise effect he intends the pieces to have. Formalistic and realistic motivations come to a condition of perfect, ambiguous balance.

Without regarding the artist’s intentions, two pieces in the exhibition transcend their association as common objects and engage the viewer strictly as supremely successful sculptures. These are the corner-fitting, downy, champagne-rugged steps, and the red stained, blue rugged, wall-ascending piece, which dominates the exhibition. The exhibition is one of the most beautiful seen this season in Los Angeles.

Susan R. Snyder