New York

Marilyn Gelfman-Pereira

O.K. Harris Gallery

A seemingly odd situation of the late Abstract Expressionist phase and the transition into Pop was the virtual primacy in sculpture of two apparently antithetical artists, David Smith and Richard Lippold. While the latter now seems almost to mirror the former in terms of aspiration and quality they once held this important feature in common—both were Constructivist sculptors. Smith’s work exclusively has come to dominate our preconceptions regarding this term. In our minds Lippold has slipped into a kind of familiar and petty commercialism. I remind the reader of the way things appeared fifteen years back in order to assist him in grasping more of the sense of the wire constructions of Marilyn Gelfman-Pereira, a sculptor whom otherwise one might regard as a newcomer working her way through an unfashionable Minimalism. Gelfman-Pereira was, in fact, one of Lippold’s chief assistants and although this is her first one-man exhibition—the sensibility therein disclosed refers back to the lean, anti-gestural elegances of Lippold’s essentially lyrical and craftsmanly mode.

Not that Gelfman-Pereira is untouched by Minimalism; the crisp cleanliness is there and too, the module, though Gelfman-Pereira’s module is often much more complex than the square unit one regards as typical of Minimalism. Nor is the module in question exclusively a function of a serial organization. Often, in these delicate constructions, it is allowed to breathe out into a floral or crystalline figure or to engulf elements which might have been viewed as extraneous to Minimalism, such as electrical filaments or passages of annealed color.

For the most part Gelfman-Pereira is attracted by structural variations on the theme of crystalline growth, which at times billow into undulating wall surfaces. One might gather from such a phrase that a mammoth scale were in question. These works are exquisitely precious and understated. They tend to be only inches high or across and this minuteness exaggerates their exquisite feel.

Robert Pincus-Witten