reviews

  • Claes Oldenburg

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Many of the Museum of Modern Art’s neighbors these days belong to the family. To the east stands Park Avenue’s famous “glass canyon,” to the west Sixth Avenue’s. Built a generation and more before, the Museum was an early champion of the International Style’s celebrated purities. In such an area, in such a setting, the work of Claes Oldenburg, however officially welcomed, simply cannot feel at home.

    Oldenburg’s soft sculptures show an empathy and gentleness profoundly at odds with the International Style’s immaculate visual rationalism. His empathy consists of granting his sculptures the full

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  • Group Show

    Castelli Gallery

    The group show which opened Castelli’s season had rather more to it than most such. Several of the artists broke out new works of much more than routine interest.

    Early this fall, Donald Judd had at Castelli a piece that was an elegant comment on the column. A series of stacked boxes attached to the wall, its elements reached from floor to ceiling but touched neither, nor each other; they hovered. Structurally this was no column at all. It could bear no more weight than the middle of a well. But visually the piece was a column indeed, firmly organizing space vertically, its elements like formalized,

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  • Harlem ’69

    The Studio Museum in Harlem

    Fifty-three artists were represented in the Harlem Artists ’69 show at The Studio Museum in Harlem, all by at least two works. Painting predominated heavily over sculpture. Naturally, as the show was so large, styles ranged considerably. Abstract work was rare, and African influence not large, though present in Dawson, Earley, Overstreet, and Carl Smith.

    George C. Carter’s constructions mix whimsy and savage caricature. His fine use of the charged, treasured place (American Dream) recalls Cornell, or the vulgar dolls of Marisol. Weekend Triptych includes a white cop, expressionless behind his

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  • Dennis Byng

    Martha Jackson Gallery

    Dennis Byng’s chosen medium is faultlessly transparent plexiglass, a material striking in having opposite qualities for different senses. To the eye, plexiglass is so diaphanous as to be invisible; it is literally nothing, in formal terms pure volume. But to the touch it is opaque, impenetrable; in formal terms, it is mass. As “solid void,” then, plexiglass teaches the senses to distrust each other, and in the mild bafflement and wonder which result lies some of the charm of Byng’s work.

    Within Byng’s plexiglass occur small perfect slabs of color. These present an interesting comment on much of

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  • Amilcar De Castro

    Kornblee Gallery

    Amilcar De Castro, at Kornblee, works with large, primary forms, sometimes of aluminum, sometimes of stainless steel. Slender rings support circles and squares up to five feet across. As the elements are rearrangeable, a single piece can have many different faces. De Castro seems interested in a blend of improvisation and the perfect, fixed image for which I find I have little sympathy.

    —Jean-Louis Bourgeois

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  • “Direct Representation”

    Fischbach Gallery

    “Direct Representation” is an exhibition of five artists, selected by critic Scott Burton. They are chosen, at least in part, to illustrate Mr. Burton’s critical position that, “Straight figuration is, I think, the only major mode now available to painting adequate for the expression of the fullest individuality.” Since the proposition is manifestly untrue, it places an unfair burden on the artists, who are, then, perhaps best discussed without reference to it.

    The artists in question are Yvonne Jacquette, Sylvia Mangold, Robert Bechtle, Bruno Civitico and John Moore, named more or less in order

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  • Abstract Illusionism

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    In her essay, “Abstract Illusionism” (Artforum, October, 1967), Barbara Rose took note of a pictorialism which posited either 1) a geometrically based illusion which despite an ambiguous reading did no violence to two-dimensionality (itself accepted as the hard-prized spoil of the battle for modernist art) or 2) a coloration which would equally respect this two-dimensional screen. This latter intuition had earlier been given strong endorsement in Clement Greenberg’s essay “Byzantine Parallels,” in which he had described a new kind of luminousness which, like Byzantine gold and mosaic, could

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  • Esteban Vicente

    Emmerich Gallery

    It grows steadily more apparent that the first generation of Abstract Expressionist painters worked within fairly identifiable imagistic sectors: insect abstraction, calligraphic figuration and gestural painting, free grid formation, quintessential landscape (“earth-horizon-sky”), field painting, automatic meander and still several other “iconic” subdivisions. Certain artists could easily appear in several areas. Nearly all first generation Abstract Expressionists went through a period of insect abstraction in the 1940s. And Rothko, for example, may easily be viewed as a field painter or one

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  • 16th Century Engravings

    Lucien Goldschmidt Gallery

    Lucien Goldschmidt’s overview of “16th Century Engravings” will open fresh areas of speculation while it reacquaints the connoisseur with a wide group of North European klein Meister—including Aldegrever, the two Beham, Goltzius, Pencz, Sadeler, not to mention such famous names as Peter Brueghel the Elder or Lucas van Leyden. The term is generally taken to refer to a body of expert practitioners who had grown up in the shadow of a great figure and who, while not especially altering his legacy, preserved it with admirable conscientiousness and virtuoso proficiency. But in this case the term klein

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