New York

David Weinrib

Royal Marks Gallery

At the Royal Marks Gallery David Weinrib has a good sized spread of pieces in the new manner and technique seen in the just-past Whitney Annual. Superficially, the novelty of Weinrib’s new pieces is in the material. He is now using a clear, or at least translucent plastic that can be solid-cast quite freely. Right off, this produces several unique effects, in that light is not only reflected from the surface of the work, but may penetrate into and through it as well. Happily, it is the spatial implications of these phenomena which Weinrib has chosen to work with; that is, now that the works not only displace a certain volume, as does all sculpture, the directional extension of a given form may he experienced both in terms of surface areas and internal volumes made newly visible.

In the exhibition there are two varieties of this new manner. The earlier type makes use of a wide range of colors among the elements of a given piece, and these elements are relatively small in relation to the total configuration, largely organic and rounded, and arranged in set pieces rather like abstract still lifes over the area of their bases. This kind of form and the complexity of each piece harks back to Weinrib’s earlier work. The second, more recent type, are more restricted in color (almost all are violet-tinged and clear), severe and angular in form, and have but a few large elements which make up the whole. Also, they tend toward the bilaterally symmetrical. These qualities permit the pieces to have a bulk, which, thanks to the translucent material, is not gross despite its compactness. Using forms which angle or fold, and being able to contrast solid clear chunks with hollow prismatic forms involves the sculptor with form that is revealed by transmitted as well as reflected light. This transmission necessarily involves an experience of space through as well as along any given form.

While clear and translucent materials have been used on and off since their appearance in the twenties, it has been Weinrib’s contribution to liberate the material from the sheet and block forms in which it had been available, and to which artists had restricted their formal vocabulary. In one way Weinrib’s work does maintain continuity with earlier uses of the material, but not through any stylistic dependency. Weinrib’s approach to form is essentially additive in that each of his pieces appears to he made of separate (and in some cases separable) preexisting formal elements. This, however, was a mark of his style that antedated the new cast plastics, and it will be interesting to see if his habit of putting together the sculpture rather than creating the whole as an indivisible form will maintain itself long now that he is casting each part from the fluid mix rather than making each part from materials with a fixed preexistent form. Since, in this show at least, the most recent of the pieces tend to, or rather do not depart greatly from, forms capable of geometric formulation, perhaps the casting technique will remain just that, and not influence his formal vision. His earlier organic, open, and discursive compositions show, however, that he does not consider that the new method of working dictates only one kind of appropriate shape.

Weinrib’s new work then, sticking pretty much to an angular, conceptualized form in order to explore carefully the spatial implications, directional inferences, and area relationships of a more or less transparent matiere, is not a mere gratuitous demonstration of technical finesse. The artist has grasped, from the beginning, that the innovation in material and its handling is the new definition of questions about the articulation of sculptural form and its peculiar relationship to light as a space-constructing factor. To clarify the terms of this new definition, he has moved away from the burgeoning inventions of his previous manner to a more severe, reduced vocabulary of great dignity and power, and with a curious, stern loveliness.

Dennis Adrian