Los Angeles

“New York Group”

Dwan Gallery

In an uneven group sampling Los Angeles viewers have their first opportunity to judge some of Dwan Gallery’s New York contingent. Richard Baringer’s contribution is a curved Stella-derived optical panel of painted aluminum. A dazzling pair of repeated stripes, red and chartreuse green, zig-zag toward a compressed center point. The vertically dividing open slot between the two arcs and the yellow ochre flat areas used to fill out the rectangular format are unfortunate if necessary compromises.

The Arakawa lithographs of room plan blueprints are typically minor homages to the Duchamp method and contribute little. In a similar fashion the Anastasi gesture echoes Dine at his most noncommittal. And Tom Doyle’s small 1-U-KA appears, its bent magenta plane sailing out from the wall to the floor, to be involved in mastering barrel vaulting movement in space in an older fashion. Its spindly little legs busy them selves about the floor.

Sol LeWitt and Robert Smithson are represented by minor examples. That Smithson should choose to work with hexagons is surprising. It is a highly decorative and commercially overworked shape lacking the useful anonymity of the few other basic ones. Therein is the challenge. That this shape should be overlapped in step sequence in multiples seems even more dangerous. His method could indicate that a scientifically oriented esthete has taken completely to heart illustrations of crystalline and molecular structures from a Kepes publication. His Discontinuous Aggregates (second version) is a five piece group, each made up of seven overlapped hexagons of welded steel painted in a greenish spray. Evidently the size of the first is arrived at arbitrarily; each section is a slightly enlarged copy of the previous one. These permutations progress in fractions of an inch and therefore are barely noticeable, and here the gallery’s floorboards supply about the only guide. While a top view of the sequences is dynamic, the overall scale is too small to sustain its floor position. Certainly they are cells of intensity, but could just as easily be interpreted as too precious and fussy. One wonders about the discontinuous nature of the series. Based (unfairly) on a single example, Smithson seems either involved in an elegant but capricious numbers game of dubious origination, or else we need a discourse on his method.

LeWitt’s Hanging Modular Structures are wall reliefs of his typical groupings of enframing, two-inch thick membered squares. His modules, though open, are not solely linear (not, in effect, drawing), and therefore aspire to a concentration and compactness, however bland. The thickness of the wood and approximate twenty-inch size of the openings balance the tension of structure and enclosed space quite handsomely. One, with a grid of three by three squares reminds one as strongly of Reinhardt as of Duchamp’s windowpanes. The other, a horizontal row of five, blossoms out climactically and ironically as a fully dimensional cube at its last interval. The contrast of flat and volume is dramatically picked out, the cube appears solid and yet transparently involved in complex lights and shadows.

Despite doubts that there is sufficient independence from Morris, the star contribution proves to be Michael Steiner’s group. Three identical two-foot boxes, each with a ten-foot long beam are arranged three feet apart. The beams project horizontally a foot off the floor. The total floor area involved covers approximately one hundred and forty-four square feet. They fully fill this ample space. Though fabricated from aluminum, painted medium grey, they have the solidity and weightiness of cast concrete. Hovering across the space, the beams are like levers, barricades, or hurdles emerging from housing bunkers. A kinesthetic involvement is maintained by the extended cantilever effect, but actual physical involvement in the extensive negative floor space seems forbidden. They are steady mechanisms, which because of their solemnity exist as a unified volumetric projection in space with strong associational values.

Fidel A. Danieli