New York

Jo Baer

Goldowsky Gallery

At the Goldowsky Gallery, Jo Baer shows a 1967–69 set which comprised part of the “Spectrum” series seen at last year’s Corcoran Biennial, in addition to a new four-part group of 36 by 39 inch paintings. While I am still mostly unmoved by the rigors of Miss Baer’s sets of white, banded-edged panels, her work nevertheless looks uncompromisingly single-minded, even tough, in the present context of loose, lyrical color painting.

The three larger works of the “Spectrum” group consist of greyish white fields (each 6 by 6 feet) bordered on all four sides with 3-inch wide black bands, lined on their interior edges with half-inch strips of dull grey-green, mauve-brown, or grey-blue. The outer edges are the same color as the field, though the stricture of the dark interior framework tends to make them look lighter than the central areas which are so unflinchingly compressed and confined to the surface. Here the limits are set much more stringently than in the later paintings from 1969, although the statement from one group to the next has not radically changed. Again, a non-radiant greyish white covers the four fields, but it appears that slight adjustments in warmth and coolness were made in correspondence to the taupe, blue, brown, and grey-green elements of the edging segments. Only the vertical borders of these canvas panels are marked with bands, thin black double “L” shapes which sandwich a colored core and run one inch short of both top and bottom edges. The field thus appears to be in the grip of its own framework, while it also rests in a curious state of suspension, less restricted than the earlier set, less graspable as a completely closed visual entity. Yet the effect of the “L”-shaped braces can also make one more aware of the field as a flat tangible object, whose compressive tension lies only at two of its peripheries. The alteration of these side braces seems to mark the extent of pictorial development within the period the show covers. Although it traces a stepping away from the more restrictive format of earlier work, the degree to which these panels provoke a considerable change in one’s perception of the basic ideas and concepts they convey is, to my thinking, unextraordinary.

––Emily Wasserman