reviews

  • 22 Realists

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Too much representational militance of late. The rash of exhibitions began in 1969 at Vassar; then at the Milwaukee Art Center, the Riverside Museum and now at the Whitney. A broad-based amalgamation of representational painters talk shop in East Broadway as once the Abstract Expressionists met at The Club. Numerous one-man shows and group exhibitions have familiarized the viewer with the work of most of the participants of the Whitney assembly; William Bailey, Jack Beal, Robert Bechtle, Harold Bruder, John Clem Clarke, Charles Close, Richard Estes, Howard Kanovitz, Gabriel Laderman, Alfred

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  • Robert Ryman

    Fischbach Gallery

    Five years ago, Robert Ryman began to pare his painting down to apparent essentials, reducing it to a reiterative kind of manipulative experience of white paint on a two-dimensional surface. The Delta paintings—an alphabetical, non-referential designation—are three thoughtfully coated, nine foot squares painted in 1966. At that time one would have considered them as extravagantly desensitized although in 1970 they have a tender cast to them. The paintings are interesting because they are Ryman’s last complete stretcher-supported canvas series. By the end of 1966 his painting had become a bristly

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  • Theodoros Stamos

    André Emmerich

    At exactly mid-century, Life Magazine pointed to those young artists whose work would mark the second half of the 1900s in America. Among the disclosures was a young Abstract Expressionist, Theodoros Stamos—a lyrical and evocative painter. The lyricism has remained—a kind of Italianate nostalgia realized through a highly nuanced color. But, my disappointment in Stamos’s recent offerings will be better understood if I contend that as pictures they are little removed from the pedantic organizations typical of the Yale School of Fine Arts of the early ’50s. I have the abstractions of Neil Welliver

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  • Lawrence Stafford

    David Whitney Gallery

    Lawrence Stafford presents a dry and dispassionate variant of a kind of painting which is more immediately understood to be wet and extroverted. I refer to the changed conception of field painting which of late has drifted toward heavily moist surface and impassioned gestural sprawl. I have designated this development as fat field painting but as a term it doesn’t seem applicable here.

    Stafford will not identify himself in a single way except perhaps that there are more long dry stroked paintings off a whisk broom than any other. This stroke is presented in a straight horizontal rendition or it

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • Ray Parker

    Fischbach Gallery

    Ray Parker is a painter who gained a certain strength of reputation based on the way he was able to extract himself from the more derivative phases of late Abstract Expressionism. By 1958–9, Parker was painting loaf-like suspended forms in muted colors on neutral grounds. His pictures evoked a light, hovering sense of spatial liberation in a period when only a few other young painters were able to pry themselves loose from the stale drips and spatters of 10th Street painting. Since 1965, Parker has worked with hard-edged mobile strands in crisp, even-keyed colors, dispersed over bright monochrome

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  • Larry Bell

    Pace Gallery

    In his new works at the Pace Gallery, Larry Bell seems to be retrenching, returning voluntarily to the intimate scale to which he had been limited in his earlier glass cubes, but which he appeared to have transcended in several glass “wall pieces” shown outside of New York last year.

    The glass is still treated by Bell’s elaborate optical lens coating machine, so that evanescent spectrums of rosy, smoky hues slide over the surfaces of the fragile, mirrored pieces. They are extremely narrow strips (three to six inches wide by about six to nine feet long) attached to the wall at waist height like

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  • Robert Duran and Brice Marden

    Bykert Gallery

    Robert Duran’s transformation to loose, lyrical color paintings began to occur around the time of Duran’s last show (see Artforum, Dec. 1968, p. 58) when he got interested in spraying the separate flat slabs and square posts of his compactly organized sculptures with very pictorial cloudy films of color. What was most vital about this work for me was not the positive forms of the solid units, but, instead, the more freely circulating labyrinthine channels created between and around them. Geometric mystical diagrams familiar to the art of India, China, or folk cultures throughout the world often

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  • Frank Roth

    Martha Jackson Gallery

    Frank Roth used to paint volumetric automobile-part shapes in oddly jutting perspectives. Although his newer paintings are also concerned with such spatial effects, they are of a more abstract and more delicate nature. The basic idea of these paintings is to create a subtle impression of receding, corridor-like spaces which are realized by geometrically subdividing the field and surrounding some of the units with soft halations of color. The divisions suggest the orthagonal projections of perspective diagrams, but they lead from the corners of a field (sometimes rhomboidal, sometimes square or

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  • The Neglected 19th Century

    H. Shickman Gallery

    As the catalog to the exhibition explains, The Neglected 19th Century is not a comprehensive survey: the paintings in it are taken entirely from the gallery’s stock, and the result is the spotty and miscellaneous kind of show one nearly always finds when New York dealers attempt to cover important areas of art. It is likely that the title of the show does it an injustice in another way, too. The fact is that very few of these painters are “neglected,” unless perhaps by people whose opinion is not worth very much—in fact, many of them have come in recent years to be rather fashionable—and the

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  • Thomas Hart Benton

    James Graham And Sons

    The drawings by Thomas Hart Benton were interesting on more than one count. Part of their interest—at least for those, like myself, who think that Benton is generally a good painter—is in the puzzle that they are not better than they are: usually, in this show, the presentation is as commonplace as the subject, and often the drawings are more like cartoons, or illustrations of some other kind, than they are like art.

    It would seem that one reason for this involves Benton’s notion of style: for him, style appears to have been only high style, echoes of Roman or Venetian mannerism, and he was

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  • Rosemarie Beck

    Peridot

    The recent paintings of Rosemarie Beck mark a significant advance over her previous work, but by the same token they reveal some basic weaknesses, which, in her last show, were not so evident if only because the problems were less boldly faced. Miss Beck’s last show consisted of intimist interiors and figures painted in flat, lozenge-shaped strokes. The subjects were attractive, no doubt, but the lozenges were only decorative, in that they made for a pattern that was of the surface alone: the pattern was too broken to allow of contour, but too flat to generate volume; which is to say that it

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  • David Alfaro Siqueiros

    Center For Inter-American Relations

    What to say about Siqueiros? The work in this exhibition does not show him at his best, of course: these are easel pictures, and the fact that they were all borrowed from two private collections suggests other limitations of size and importance. Still, it is painting from another world altogether, and with the change of time it is seen not to have enough merit to stand on its own. The shapes are almost nostalgic—curving, baroque forms that were actual in the twenties because of the biomorphic shapes of Tanguy, Dali and Miró. This is in a way similar to what one finds in Benton, and I would like

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  • Dan Flavin

    Multiple Galleries

    A major new realm, vast and stunningly beautiful, is opening in art. It is the art of light, of radiance, literally of glory. Till very recently, it was practiced largely by prisms, Roman candles, and saints. Now artists have begun to practice it too. Dan Flavin has been a pioneer. His first pieces using lights date from 1963. Earlier this month the New York art world saluted Flavin on a scale which surpasses its celebration of any other American artist since World War II, including Pollock and de Kooning. Five exhibitions of Flavin’s work ran simultaneously, including an important retrospective

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  • Lynda Benglis

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    Lynda Benglis used to do poured pieces in “two” dimensions, lush with swirls of color, large latex mats. Painterly and rich, they seemed the resurrection of extraordinary craft by a slower, gentler sensibility, an event to enjoy and herald.

    But Benglis has now abandoned the meander for the glop and blob. Her current work, poured too, consists of three-dimensional corner and wall pieces like servings of semi-liquid ice cream for a giant. At the sight of them the Statue of Liberty would smack her lips, but fantastic Pop gratitude aside, in these pieces Benglis downplays her fine sense of color (

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  • Mary Frank

    Zabriskie Gallery

    Mary Frank is a fantasist in stoneware. Some of her pieces are small, stages where figures “fresh” enough to seem made of wax or bread glide, gallop or pivot. Physically, Frank’s odd, diminutive dramas seem brusque and naïve, particularly compared with Joseph Cornell, whom they suggest in their sense of miniature, intimate theatre. But where Cornell’s fantasies tend toward the immaculate and the fixed, Frank’s tend more toward the rush and swirl of fantasy in motion, fantasy changing even as we watch.

    —Jean-Louis Bourgeois

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  • Milet Andrejevic

    Goldowsky Gallery

    In Goldowsky’s group show, Milet Andrejevic works with the lovely, sometimes erotic intrusion of myth into the gentle lawns, jogging paths, and pond-banks of Central Park. Andrejevic’s two Falls of Icarus, recalling Bosch’s, are placid landscapes showing the young boy plummeting toward distant water. In the foreground of both, the banal predominates: a boy washes his dog, a couple pitches a pup tent. But it is precisely through this banal note that Andrejevic becomes a high-noon, gentler Charles Addams, slipping Apollo and Daphne as well as the doubtful and the exotic through the bars of reality.

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