New York

Elie Nadelman

Zabriskie Gallery

The Elie Nadelman show at the Zabriskie Gallery is large, consisting of 40 drawings and 20 pieces of sculpture. Some of the sculpture was borrowed from museums and consequently was familiar, but other pieces, including two painted wood figures from the Hirshhorn Collection, have not been seen in public for a long time. New Yorkers whose idea of Nadelman comes chiefly from the twin giantesses at Lincoln Center will surely be struck by three small models from the ’30s. Like the original of the Lincoln Center figures, these were designed for mass production as decorative objects for the home, to be executed in papier-maché. The small size and broad handling of the masses give these pieces an odd, mobile sort of monumentality.

Nevertheless, for us the most interesting aspect of Nadelman is probably not his form, but his taste. The dandyism of his earlier work, with its good humored suavity, today seems overly arch, its mannerisms trivial, like old-fashioned slang. In the later work, however, Nadelman’s rather vulgar love of decorative detail broadens into irony, and a more full bodied expression of his basic feeling for artificial sensuality.

Amy Goldin