New York

David Prentice

Ileana Sonnabend Gallery

David Prentice’s exhibition inaugurated the New York quarters of the Ileana Sonnabend Gallery. Prentice assembles large canvases out of smaller vertical units, tightly joined together and painted in varying whites, which fall just below the threshold of distinct tint or tonal perception. The evanescent blues, roses and yellows which appear seem to be dependencies of the state of the illumination as these effects alter considerably from day to artificial light. I think that within the same panel the white in question is an unchanging monochrome and that the retinal spotting, clouding and speckling is the result of the free activity of nerve endings and chance illumination. Although the pictures seem to want to be about the kinds of effects I am describing they also become pictures about vertical seams—and as such become removed cousins of Agnes Martin’s work. More obviously they are the stepchildren of late Reinhardt, and the siblings of Robert Irwin’s and Larry Bell’s many imitators. Perhaps this is interesting since Prentice is a young Easterner and not from California where this kind of blanched hypersensitivity has long been integrated into abstract aspirations.

Robert Pincus-Witten