New York

Edward Corbett

Grace Borgenicht

In a paradoxical way the recent painting of Edward Corbett may have had a measure of interest. I personally have never much liked Corbett’s work: it has been eminently synthetic, with just the right dose of figuration and of abstraction, of poetry and of intellectualism. . . . In trying to be everything it has never seemed to me to be much of anything, and the artist’s very limited gifts as a draftsman and a colorist have seemed entirely appropriate to a nondescript style. But while the work might have been tepid, it was certainly respectable, and the present work is not, or is barely so. Is it Corbett who has changed, or us? No doubt Corbett’s style has changed slightly—it now seems a little more rigorous, sometimes having the look of Newman, sometimes more that of Ludwig Sander; but certainly the greater change is in what is around Corbett, in the other art one looks at and which affects one’s response when one looks at him. It is really a very complex and mysterious thing: why does a style lose its vitality; and, does the practitioner himself need to know his style has lost its vitality for those who look at his work to know it? At any rate, I suppose Corbett’s kind of “poetic” abstraction has been left out in the cold by styles that are far more (more authentically) abstract than any which flourished when Corbett was developing his own, and by other styles that are far more genuinely rooted in the experience of things seen.

Jerrold Lanes