reviews

  • Robert Morris

    Castelli Gallery

    At this writing, the third and last installment of the Morris exhibition at Castelli has not yet been mounted. The fact that the sculptor’s work is made to unfold successively rather than simultaneously in time, while it may be due to the restricted space of the gallery, is symptomatic also, of a larger program, of a definite, but bewildering intention. For one cannot see all at once the self-evident, cannot piece together the literal. This peculiar condition applies to his overall production itself, hauntingly variegated in its syntax, but never seeming eclectic or derivative in the light of

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  • Helen Frankenthaler

    Emmerich Gallery

    Hanging into and down the surfaces of Helen Frankenthaler’s new paintings are soft, sodden stretches of color, of which some titles—Cinnamon Burn, Chalk Zone—are fair indications of their sensory allusiveness. Frames are as arbitrary in their containment of masses as edges are meandering in their sometimes “cut” or blotted presence. One finds very little incident in this languid, often pastel, and occasionally bilious terrain. Some very delicate adjustments of energy and dissonance are necessary to bring off her particular suspension of forces, and these, for the most part, are lacking in this

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  • Frank Kupka

    Samuels Gallery

    “Though it seems quite simple, Kupka’s case has its own complexity. We find in him a kind of spontaneous generation of free forms arising independently of any Futurist, Fauve, or Cubist influence, or else spurred by all these movements at one and the same time. It is amazing to see with what ease he passes from one form to another, from the simplest to the most baroque, from the arabesque with very pure lines to Symbolist turgidity.” Written by Michel Seuphor, these words sum up much of the atmosphere and perplexity of Frank Kupka, an artist who has not really been put into the historical record,

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  • Joan Mitchell

    Jackson Gallery

    Joan Mitchell’s recent paintings at the Martha Jackson Gallery provide an instance of one of those critical hindsights, reluctantly formed, and disagreeable to contemplate. It is one thing to discover that an artist one had not been too fond of in the past reveals an unexpected solidity, enough perhaps to revise one’s previously negative estimate. It is quite another to see in present work a superficiality that retrospectively belies a long-held, and obviously not too perceptive indulgence. Such is my experience with Miss Mitchell’s new show.

    This time around, the artist, who has been living for

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  • Robert Natkin

    Poindexter Gallery

    In one of his two continuing pictorial idioms, Robert Natkin, at Poindexter, composes by means of repeated rectangular modules of jigsawed forms—bars, color grids, chromatic bubbles, and irradiated, voids—echoing each other up and down or laterally across the picture façade. Value contrasts are extreme, as is the range of the spectrum, but the total effect is dry, “ironed on,” even sometimes paper thin. A rather metallically graded series of greys or its equivalent in a harmonic registration of colors glints through the patterning in the form of intervallic registers of tone. Natkin plays with

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  • Judith Dolnick

    Pointdexter Gallery

    Judith Dolnick, the painter’s wife, exhibits a group of acrylics, some of them tondos, far less problematic in their appeal. Her facility in watercolor is authentically transferred to these larger works, not as ambitious and risky as her husband’s, although they contain some of the same motifs. Her strength, a relaxed and fluent handwriting of wavy filaments and burbling clouds, is also marked by a certain weakness—the tendency, once again, to be episodic. She may compose out from the center or spot more disparately, but in either case the margins are comparatively unemployed in the ensemble,

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  • Ray Johnson

    Richard Feigen Gallery

    Of a mixed bag of Rauschenberg, Cage, Cunningham, Lippold and Ray Johnson—who tore about the lower reaches of New York City in a black hearse a generation back—all but the last named have come into lions shares of renown. Of course, Johnson has had his New York Correspondence School to slake a thirst for infra-fame, if this modest appetite can be attributed to the benignly sweet, perennial teenager. The general feeling around is that Johnson is due for his cut of esteem and high time too. This leads to hard problems, for in Johnson’s work there is a wide breach between those elements usually

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  • Jean Dubuffet

    Pace Gallery

    It has been forgotten that Jean Dubuffet and Bernard Buffet rose to celebrity at the same moment owing largely, I imagine, to a commonly shared calligraphic excess which, at the end of the Second World War, was experienced as an anxiety manifestation in the face of the horror just ended and the uncertainty about to begin. Twenty years and more have passed since then and in that time Bernard Buffet has rightly been discredited for the merely stylish illustrator he is. Dubuffet, on the other hand, for reasons connected with his seemingly fetishistic extractions from insane art, Art Brut, and other

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  • Robert Graham

    Kornblee Gallery

    From a certain point of view Robert Graham may be thought of as a George Segal turned inside out and seen through the wrong end of a telescope. His wax figures are sexy, tinier-than-lifelike effigies, the only touches of color in otherwise blank environments constructed out of balsa and kleenex. The girls are sunkist versions of Pat Oldenburg and disport themselves in affective ecdysiast postures. Their bikini striped breasts are exquisitely punctuated with standup nipples and their hand-painted pudenda are painstakingly fitted with pubic hair. In part they are casual relations to the new

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  • John Ferren

    Kornblee Gallery

    Abandoned since the eclipse of Abstract Expressionism, to which he contributed perhaps its most open and lyrical note, John Ferren continued to be concerned with the problems of a luminous, ebullient and etheric color. At moments this preoccupation with chromatic effects led him into apparently theoretical culs-de-sac but Ferren always countered with a native stress on feeling and mood over intellectual stringency. The vase series established the precedent of a Jungian motif in his work.

    In recent years he has been drawn to the Mandorla shape—though in neither of these series are the symbolic or

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  • Paul Frazier

    Fishbach Gallery

    Paul Frazier’s new work gives a fascinating view into this dilemma. Frazier’s solutions attempt to refute the cardinal feature of minimal structure—an unwavering Euclidian frame of reference. Employing hollow planar forms, the sculptor attacks the equidistant, congruent, symmetrical planes of the minimal mode in favor of organic crystalline arrangements in which each separate face takes on eccentric trapezial configurations. Moreover, Frazier is intrigued by the theme of the staggered form, not unlike a slipped layer of schist or crystal. This salutary attempt to lighten the tyranny of purely

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  • Richard Randell

    Royal Marks Gallery

    Having been interested in Richard Randell’s earlier Klapper pieces which I greeted enthusiastically (Artforum, February 1967), I was curious to see in which way these pleated, concertina-like structures would move. While the Klapper motif is still evident in Randell’s new sculpture of brightly colored fiberglass epoxy, his up-to-date pieces appear merely funny and ribbon-candylike in an all too pat mini-pop mode. Brightly colored ups-n’-downs pleasantly investigate space—sometimes with a touch of stringent theory to them, such as when Randell combines sequences of similar units. The new Meanders

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  • Jack Zajac

    Landau-Alan Gallery

    Jack Zajac is yet another victim of High Polish. In his case this predilection is a thousand-fold more delightful than the anguish of the School of Rico Lebrun to which Zajac had earlier adhered. Zajac’s new columns are bronze and marble cobra-like sheaths related to the form of running tap water. In a unique piece the liquid theme is transposed into that of a small crested wave, smoothly polished out of marble. All these sheens and liquefactions are indeed quite handsome, if terribly facile.

    Robert Pincus-Witten

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  • Paul Feeley

    Guggenheim Museum

    An exhibition of 49 paintings and a huge nine-piece sculpture court by Paul Feeley, who died in 1966, was organized by critic Gene Baro at the Guggenheim Museum, and included works dating from the last decade of the artist’s life. Since his death there has been a good deal of ballyhooing around and about the work of an artist whose modest and certainly not extraordinary talents do not seem commensurate with such attentions. Nor does one gather from the narrow ambitions of the paintings themselves that Feeley would have been party to such a fuss. The body of work exhibited is, in fact, notable

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  • Robert Goodnough

    Tibor de Nagy Gallery

    In a series of large mural-sized canvases painted over the past two years Robert Goodnough has been synthesizing two alternate tendencies which have made themselves felt throughout his development. In his show at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, this combination is especially manifest, taking form in a new kind of openness and clarity which mark these paintings as among Goodnough’s major achievements in an otherwise uneven career. One has always noted this artist’s vacillation between an impulse to structure, perhaps too rigidly (derived from the Purist disciplines he experienced while studying with

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  • Michael Steiner

    Candace Dwan Gallery

    Faced with Michael Steiner’s radical rejection of his affinities to Don Judd or to others of that reductive persuasion, one senses this young sculptor’s ambition to create an art imbued with the complexity and toughness of say, a David Smith—yet without the latter’s imaginative ability or formal inventiveness to back up such an aspiration. Steiner has now given up fabrication processes in order to work more closely with his own materials (polyester resin which he casts over wood and paints bright pastel shades and primary hues). If there has been a logic to Steiner’s short development—from the

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  • George Sugarman

    Fischbach Gallery

    Where Steiner fails to capitalize upon the use of color in order to articulate (rather than equivocate) sculptural ideas, George Sugarman, showing at the Fischbach Gallery, succeeds to a greater extent. This is of course due to fundamental differences in formal organization and aim, but it also points to the fact that color need not always be felt as a superfluous feature of plastic form. In his four-part sculpture Yellow to White to Blue to Black (in which the last two parts are coupled) Sugarman emphasizes the separateness of each unit by both spatial disposition (the pieces are set at intervals

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  • David Weinrib

    Royal Marks Gallery

    Although it is evident from this year’s group of cast plastic sculptures exhibited at the Royal Marks Gallery, that David Weinrib has overcome certain technical difficulties with his medium, it is also clear that the exploitation of its full expressive potential still offers him distinct formal problems. On the one hand, he shows several elegantly achieved pieces, while on the other, he reveals his still Abstract Expressionist attachments, in an unwillingness to abandon notions of assembling and agglomerating separate, multiple forms. Bulbous sacs, barrel shapes and buttressed arcs are often so

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  • Jasper Cropsey

    Staten Island Institute

    Three exhibitions of American landscapists shed light on the nature of landscape painting during the generation that followed Cole and Durand and reached maturity about the middle of the last century.

    Of these three, only that of Jasper Cropsey (1823–1900), originally organized and shown at the University of Maryland, offers a comprehensive view of the artist’s work. At the outset Cropsey was wholly under the sway of Cole: his early landscapes are not so much landscapes as they are pastoral history paintings, roughly comparable in intention to the landscapes of Claude Lorrain, which are always

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  • Frederic Church

    Cooper Union Museum

    The exhibition of Frederic Church (1826–1900) is hard for me to judge, because I’m afraid I went to it with exaggerated expectations—not from Cole, but from the Cooper Union Museum. Certainly the show does not represent a fraction of the range and depth of the Museum’s collection of Church, and that isn’t because it is small: Church is not a complex artist, and his work can be adequately represented by only a few examples, if they are chosen with intelligence and care. What was shown were all oil or pencil sketches, however, and at least that is interesting. Church was the only pupil Cole ever

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  • Albert Bierstadt

    Florence Lewiston Gallery

    The small oil sketches of Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902) are of special interest in just this connection. Like Church, Bierstadt is of course best known for his big “machines,” landscapes done in the highly finished, meticulous Dusseldorf manner. There is no doubt that Bierstadt, like Church, wanted to maintain landscape at the level of dignity that had previously been associated with history painting, and it is import ant to realize that for him, as for Church, landscape—as a vehicle for the highest kind of dignity—was not considered as a pis-aller, an ultimately unsatisfactory substitute for

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  • “19th Century American Drawings, Pastels and Watercolors”

    Kennedy Galleries

    This is an appropriate moment to mention, however briefly, a show of 19th-century American watercolors, drawings and pastels at the Kennedy Galleries. The important thing about it is how much better it is than a show of oils would be by these same artists, who are on the whole not the best artists. In oils, most of them do work that is petrified; or bombastic, or both; but in a less ambitious medium the pressure is off, and the work shows a corresponding gain in suppleness, if not quite always in sensitivity. Who would expect, from David Claypoole Johnston, an adequately managed arrangement of

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