New York

Mark Di Suvero and Edwin Ruda

Park Place Gallery

At the Park Place Gallery Mark Di Suvero and Edwin Ruda share the premises in a two-man show having the novel fillip of a couple of works done by the two men in collaboration. As has happened before in painter-sculptor two-man efforts where Di Suvero has been the sculptor, he completely dominates and steals the show. I have remarked upon this before, when another “wall artist” was the victim, pointing out that the sculptor always has the advantage in such a situation, but presumably the parties involved know what they’re doing.

Ruda’s work is modular, “systemic” if you like, in that each piece consists of a number of (usually four) identical units which are arranged into a configuration on the wall. His figures are regular and geometric, and in this show consist in each case of parallelograms of painted metal elements rectangular in cross section. The designs he forms with them are handsome, if obvious. The disadvantages he suffers under here are that from no place in the gallery is it possible to get a clear long distance view of any piece, since one of Di Suvero’s pieces is bound to be in the sight-line. Also, while Ruda’s pieces have minimal volumetric existence, what amount of it they do have is there for a reason, and the much fuller volumes of Di Suvero’s works tend to make Ruda’s pieces look as though they had been done with Mistic-tape directly on the wall surface. To be at all fair to Ruda’s work, it will be necessary to see it when there are not so many crippling technical fouls: in the present show he cannot be rightly seen.

Di Suvero’s pieces in the show continue, in the majestically phrased idiom he has long since mastered, to prove just exactly how grand isn’t heavy, heavy isn’t big, big isn’t dumb, and open isn’t weak.

One comes into the gallery through Di Suvero’s Blue Arch for Matisse, an angled portal that might have been the steel frame of a freight elevator door. The electric blue outlining its frontal planes marks the transition from outside, shifting, and random spatial experience to the arbitrary rhythmic experience of space that each of the other Di Suvero pieces creates. The nature of the transition is a brief but memorable forward and upward torque as exhilarating as a dive through one of Cocteau’s mirrors. All Di Suvero’s other pieces here are steel, too, and triumphantly proclaim the maturity and monumental phase of welded steel sculpture which makes use of used material. While Stankiewicz may be said to have invented and developed the genre to a remarkable degree, his work seen to date has shown no inclination to command the kind of scale in which Di Suvero’s finest and most moving ideas come to form. Lest this be misunderstood as a denigration of the older artist, let it be noted that Di Suvero’s current work would not be possible without him. Stankiewicz’s choices of scale have always been exactly suited to the character of his inventions in a way that his numerous imitators and followers have always failed to grasp.

The boldest and most breathtaking of Di Suvero’s large pieces here is his Sliced Boilermaker, making a proud curtsey of massive I-beams, an enormous tube, and the diagonally cut-off end of a good sized boiler. With seven or so elements, the artist has constructed a work of striking variety in its various views, and the eloquence of its imperious gestures is great and moving.

It is very clear that Di Suvero is a young master. He has gone through an unusually fortunate development in the past seven or eight years and his standards are high. It is a glory in space and in the directional experience of form that are his passions, rather than the concoction of esthetic posers. How this mastery will grow and ripen from the present cannot fail to have the greatest influence on a large proportion of sculpture both here and abroad.

Dennis Adrian