reviews

  • Irving Petlin

    Odyssia Gallery

    Irving Petlin’s large paintings at Odyssia are extremely disturbing. Their imagery investigates an awesome area, the invented animal. Petlin paints creatures impossible to read as lamb or fowl or man but suggestive of each. Going further in aberration than the conventional sphinx, centaur, or griffin, Petlin’s figures do not analyze neatly into, say, one kind of head on another kind of body. Feathers and limbs are familiar enough to make Petlin’s animals quite plausible, but their chilling if often whimsical mystery is that as animals they are totally new. They don’t just cross the line between

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  • Helen Frankenthaler

    Emmerich Gallery

    At Emmerich, Helen Frankenthaler continues her sure, airy, gentle ways. Stride contains the suggestion of a partial human figure which, like all such figures, implies its own history, the means by which it came to be incomplete. The means in Stride is mild—not dismemberment or harsh spotlighting but casually restricted attention; the hip-line and canvas’s left edge, which in their different ways crop the figure, are not read as violent.

    Stride, in its orange glory, hovers. Commune’s dark green is more sober, but it hovers as well. True, read as pure area, the figure simply “occurs” within the

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  • Stephen Kaltenbach

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    A work of art that literally jams you against the wall can safely be called aggressive. Stephen Kaltenbach’s Room Cube, at the Whitney Museum, deliberately does so and the effect, if a bit overwhelming, is also interesting. Kaltenbach’s Cube is like a white Don Judd gone quietly mad, distended to a size so monstrous that it leaves only a narrow corridor around the walls connected by a thin space below the ceiling. A room so wrenched is so shocking that it takes a while for a first strong reaction—delight, bewilderment, or outrage—to subside. Then, from gimmick, the room grows into art.

    Cube

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  • Lennart Anderson

    Taylor | Graham

    This brings us to Lennart Anderson, whose latest show was even more disappointing than the previous one. Anderson is one representational painter who did begin by painting human figures engaged in significant actions—or at least in actions, since whether or how they were significant and what they signified were certainly problematic, inevitably so. In a way, the question was whether the actions were to be taken as literal or symbolic; which is to say that Anderson raised problems that had last been actual in the thirties and showed that they were relevant once again. That was a very great merit,

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  • Gary Kuehn

    This segue is invidious; but insofar as both Urry and Gary Kuehn are sculptors committed to examining the contrast between hard and soft with the same piece, the lead-in is apposite. Kuehn, punching thirty but hardly unknown, is associated with the- Rutgers group from which Keith Sonnier and Robert Morris have emerged. Attracted by the problem of soft-to-hard in sculpture over several years, the earlier work indicated that Kuehn had been trapped by certain a priori conclusions. This scale of malleability had been undermined by the application of a literary idea from the outside. But, even if

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  • Richard Diebenkorn

    Poindexter Gallery

    The very fact that it is a relatively simple matter to distinguish between Richard Diebenkorn’s good and less than good paintings says something, I believe, about the quality of his art. Diebenkorn was, and still is, one of the finest painters in America, and I do not mean to belittle his achievement. The best paintings in his recent exhibition at the Poindexter Gallery were very good indeed, but were good in a relatively familiar way. He seems, in effect, to have been challenged by the quality of some of the best painting of this century, but seems not to have gone beyond the terms that it

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  • Jules Olitski

    Lawrence Rubin Gallery

    The recent Jules Olitski exhibition at the Lawrence Rubin Gallery consisted of eloquent, fully resolved paintings, yet exactly how and why they attained their eloquence is something of a mystery. Statements about Olitski’s art tend to hinge upon drawing and color, but seldom, so far as I can recall, the interaction of the two. This problem has been complicated by the fact that the word “drawing” has taken on rather unfavorable connotations in the sixties, at least that kind of drawing which occurs within the boundaries of the picture. Yet Olitski unquestionably draws within his pictures: to be

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  • Walter Darby Bannard

    Tibor de Nagy Gallery

    For the past number of years Walter Darby Bannard has been one of the most promising and one of the best young artists in North America. On the basis of his recent exhibition at the Tibor De Nagy Gallery, I would suggest that he is now something more than that. In the past I have been perplexed and excited about his paintings, but not without reservations. His pictures, for all their quality, seemed restricted by their formats, although from exhibition to exhibition that restriction seemed to steadily lose weight. In these new pictures that restriction seems to have been turned to real advantage.

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  • Isaac Witkin

    Robert Elkon Gallery

    Isaac Witkin, on the basis of his recent exhibition at the Robert Elkon Gallery, seems to have matured to the point where he is a very considerable sculptor, if an uneven one. A large, untitled brown sculpture in the exhibition seemed original and moving despite its superficial similarity to David Smith and Anthony Caro. Its similarity, as well as its originality, had something to do with Witkin’s use of I-beams, a material which has been used in great sculpture by both Smith and Caro. Witkin is one of the few artists I can think of who has turned a medium with so many built-in associations into

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  • Clyfford Still

    Marlborough Gallery | New York

    The present exhibition of Clyfford Still’s paintings covers the years 1943 to 1966. It is a magnificent survey. The paintings are, with rare exception, very strong, complete and profound. This said, and it is after all the only thing really worth saying, there are tiny curious issues which crop up throughout the exhibition and which creep into the catalog. Thus questions like, “Why is Still showing at a commercial gallery after all these years?” or “Why is there no catalog essay?” and even more miniscule speculations about details of the catalog and presentation are almost forced upon one as a

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  • Frank Stella

    Castelli Gallery | Uptown

    Frank Stella’s new paintings continue to simplify and enlarge aspects of the protractor and compass series. They appear to reject an earlier “eccentricity” of format to favor regularly shaped rectangular supports or simple lunette-shaped canvases. Although the support may be of simpler configuration, the system whereby it was generated is perhaps not so simple as it may first appear, nor is it without complex side effects. The shape of the present support results from the play of circle and square interlockings and overlappings. This last feature is noteworthy in Stella’s evolution, as it supposes

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  • Edwin Ruda

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    How quickly reputations are made and remade. Edwin Ruda, for example, was a ranking figure of geometrically-based Minimalism. In this capacity he contributed not only some of the better work to Lawrence Alloway’s important exhibition, “Systemic Painting” (held at the Guggenheim Museum in 1966) but also some of its tersest and firmest commentary: “. . . simplification is not synonymous with boredom but on the contrary demands visual acuity.” From sharply-angled lozenges set up in cat’s-cradle configurations, Ruda moved into more open sprayed aluminum constructions. This shift was accompanied by

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  • Ken Showell

    David Whitney Gallery

    In 1963, a loose alignment of very young painters—at once as interdependent as they were at odds with one another—coalesced in, of all places, the Kansas City Art Institute. Andrew Morgan, the director, had invited Ronnie Landfield there and then Michael Steiner, both of whom had been comrades at the High School of Art and Design (the old “Industrial Art”) here in New York. Dan Christensen was a Senior at Kansas at the time and they gravitated to the old hand. Peter Young and then Ken Showell joined the group. But the Kansas City amalgamation was short-lived and its members split, some for a

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  • Steven Urry

    Zabriskie Gallery

    Biomorphism and automatism were conventions developed during the sway of Surrealism. Insofar as the vacuum elicited by the demise of Pop art appears to have been filled by multi-media events and similar Surrealizing derivatives, one can see that Steven Urry is using these conventions to advantage. Certainly, biomorphism and automatism appear at this moment to be enjoying a refreshed prestige—almost as if it had entered a third phase of Pop art (if one considered Rauschenberg and Johns as the parental unit and Warhol, Lichtenstein, Segal and Rosenquist as the second generation).

    Still, it seems

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  • Frank Lincoln Viner, Craig Kauffman, DeWain Valentine, Peter Alexander, Bruce Beasley, Robert Bassler, The Gianakos brothers and Eva Hesse

    The Jewish Museum

    Maxims: It is not what you do but how you do it. It is not what you do it with but what you do with it. Armed with these, I expected little from A Plastic Presence, an overview of the uses of plastic as a contemporary medium. The pretentious name of the exhibition did not help, nor did the sponsorship from private industry (although the Philip Morris Company has saved up indulgences with its support of the fine broad international exhibition “When Attitude Becomes Form”). My trepidations were perhaps unfounded. Tracy Atkinson, Director of the Milwaukee Art Center, made a judicious and in places

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  • Leopold Survage

    Vestart Gallery

    Leopold Survage (1879–1968) is an interesting artist on several counts. Early on, he joined the circle of the Cubists, and Apollinaire himself composed twelve Calligrames for Survage by way of introducing the painter in his first one-man show in Paris in 1917 (although he had been showing regularly at the advanced Salons of the period). In time he became the secretary of the Section d’Or, that faction of classicizing and decorative Cubists to which Gleizes, Metzinger and Marcoussis belonged, not to mention Juan Gris and the young Duchamp. His relationship to the group of expatriate Russian and

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  • Arakawa

    Dwan Gallery

    Arakawa, at Dwan, has a fine flair for the diagram and for literal designation. His show announcement envelope, a pleasantly unlikely place,, provided a first hint of his interests. Under the word “mistake,” written in fairly large letters, was the statement, in smaller ones: “The letters in the above word have an average height of 5'6'' (5'2''–6'2'') and an average weight of 145 lbs. (110–190 lbs.).” The statement exploded another dimension into “mistake,” making it jump its visual role from text alone to text plus diagram.

    The show’s largest piece, 35' x 7'6'' and 126 lbs., plays with designation

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  • Hans Haacke

    Wise Gallery

    Hans Haacke’s show at Howard Wise insists very earnestly that it is real. First we have Haacke’s word for it. “In all cases,” he writes about his work (which he thinks of as “physical, biological, and social systems”) “verifiable processes are referred to.” More important, the work itself is insistent about the issue, notably in its noises. Pumps hum, vacuum tubes click, and a UPI teletype chugs out stock information. The effect, when coupled with various prominent motors belligerently unsheathed, is of a kind of brutal chorus extolling the virtue, in art, of contemporary technological literalism.

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  • The American Scene

    Hirschl & Adler Galleries

    “The American Scene” affords a very good example of how badly the presentation and the understanding of art can suffer when the market goes crazy. Subtitled, very impressively, “A Survey of the Life and Landscape of the 19th Century,” it is not a survey at all, just a miscellany from a dealer’s stock, and while it includes several decent things, only one or two are really outstanding.

    The rest are poor, and it is alarming to consider the assiduity with which reputations like that of Roesen are being promoted (for myself, I was thankful not to find anything by Bunker in the show!). Since it is in

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  • Gabriel Laderman

    Robert Schoelkopf Gallery

    Gabriel Laderman showed excellent still lifes and landscapes. They are not so very different from what he last exhibited, the principal gain being in landscape. Laderman’s idea of space is one which is very usual for a figurative painter: he conceives of it as a kind of void in which solids can be placed and to which they give interest, accent or inflection; space is passive, in this approach. But in Laderman’s most recent landscapes this is much less true, and sometimes not true at all. The buildings remain as solid blocks or planes punctuating a void, but foliage now becomes a fluid, indeterminate

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  • John Ferren

    A. M. Sachs Gallery

    John Ferren’s was a sympathetic show, and while I confess that for me part of its appeal is in the memories it evokes of bygone days, when this artist seemed more important than he does today, the exhibition is worthwhile in another respect, too. The work in it may be divided roughly into two classes, those paintings which are entirely rectilinear and the others. The latter are obviously emotive in their interest; without intending to make an irrelevant and unilluminating analogy, I thought that many of them were rather like Tantric art in their insistence on formal symmetry when the feeling

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