New York

Otto Piene, Nam Jun Paik, Jack Burnham and more

Howard Wise Gallery

The Christmas season was not, perhaps, the most tactful time for an exhibition entitled Festival of Lights at the Howard Wise Gallery. As the gallery version made clear, the real competition was in the streets, and Le Park (Avenue) looked lots better than Le Parc (Julio).

The exhibition contained over thirty works, international in character, ranging from catastrophically boring light boxes from Brooklyn, to electric flowers from Germany (Otto Piene), to “an authentic antique Japanese scroll adapted to the electric age” (Nam June Paik). It was a dull exhibition, because no one seemed to be interested in employing the medium of light toward the end of creating works of art, and the most frequent comment heard in the gallery was the most inaccurate: “Gee, the kids would love this.” The kids would have been bored silly in five minutes; they live in the electric age.

Yet light remains the most

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