• “Language”

    Dwan Gallery

    Rumor has it that the “Language” exhibition, held annually these past four years at the Dwan Gallery, will be discontinued. Since these exhibitions have been so difficult, crowded and divorced from familiar pictorial issues—belle facture, say, or sensuous impasto—and because of their historical sprawl, they have been overlooked, ignored even, by the critical reviews. Yet their relationship to the recent development of an art seemingly based on linguistic principles has been profound and abiding. I mentioned historical sprawl. From time to time Marinetti’s I Paroliberi Futuristi appeared as well

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  • Group Shows

    Rykert Gallery, Paula Cooper Gallery

    Two exhibitions of startlingly high achievement were held at the Bykert Gallery and at Paula Cooper. They might have been taken as Uptown and Downtown manifestations of the same excellence. In the case of perhaps the most fascinating artists in question—such as Dorothea Rockburne and Richard Van Buren—they were shown at both. The Van Buren shown Downtown was particularly handsome, I mean in the way in which jagged and cracked plastic edges were aligned along parallel diagonals.

    Another work, at Bykert, by Gordon Matta, strove to unite a sprawling environmental and coloristic sensibility—I hope

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  • John McCracken

    Sonnabend Gallery

    In the mid 1960s John McCracken seemed an interesting figure by virtue of the fact that his beautifully lacquered slabs had so exquisitely united both image and object into a single unit which was neither painting nor sculpture but both. There it remains except for alterations in dimensions and colors—although such changes are always a function of a change in sensibility. The once thin and wide slabs are now taller, narrower and thicker, all crafted and colored in the loveliest hues for which words are no substitute—studied blues, ochres, yellows, browns, whites and blacks—all leaning around

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  • James Rosenquist

    Castelli Gallery

    Mixed feelings were evoked by the colored panels and mylar passages of the recent James Rosenquist environment, Horizon: Home Sweet Home. All that I feel need be noted at present is Rosenquist’s serious involvement in the coloristic and environmental concerns enforced by the ascendancy of Keith Sonnier’s work, although Rosenquist was by far the earlier executant of this impulsion toward luminous and technical polymorphs. In the present instance Rosenquist has turned to a fog machine which bathes the bases of his panel, in gentle atmospheres.

    The exhibition went largely unattended since the fog

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  • “Archipenko: The Parisian Years”

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    The two shows of sculptures by Alexander Archipenko—work done in Paris, where the artist lived until 1921, at the MoMA; subsequent, New York work at the Danenberg Galleries—give us a chance to renew acquaintance with one of the most gifted sculptors of the heyday of the modernist movement. Gifted, yes, but important? In the last one-man show Archipenko had in New York, at the Perls Galleries in 1962, his works were dated in such a way as to present Archipenko as the originator of most of the seminal ideas of 20th-century sculpture; but as some readers will remember, these dates were questioned

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  • “Modernist Painting in America”

    Robert Schoelkopf Gallery

    The show of thirty-two small works at the Schoelkopf Gallery affords a minor confirmation of the same point. There were three or four decent things in it—especially the Matulka and the Bruce—but all these artists are too certainly artists who are dealing with other artists’ art and who understand, of what they are dealing with, principally the inessentials—not even entirely the “look.” And like Weber, or Dove in his early years, or O’Keeffe even at her most abstract, these artists always turn to sources that any informed or alert spectator would inevitably and automatically consider as primarily

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  • Morris Louis

    Rubin Gallery

    While it is undeniable that the paintings of Morris Louis excel in optical luminescence and colorism, I have sometimes felt that putting them too confidently in the Post-painterly bag does them a kind of violence of historical reduction. In this I feel confirmed or at least encouraged by the recent exhibition of seven of his paintings at the Lawrence Rubin Gallery. Certainly works like these, in their latter-day rayonnance, belong to the party of Matisse. In Untitled B, painted in 1954, the very year of Matisse’s death, there is even a whole area on the right-hand side of Matisse Blue, almost

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  • Michael Steiner

    Marlborough Gallery

    A large group of steel sculptures by Michael Steiner, all dating from 1969, showing at the Marlborough Gallery, incorporate some Minimal attitudes and grant to these a greater permanence (of statement as well as of material) than they often take when left to their own devices. It’s all very post-Smith. Pre-rusting even gives the Cor-Ten steel the look which David Smith’s Cubi are only now gradually taking on. But it is also something quite formidable in itself.

    Oddly, but fruitfully, Steiner’s work relates to the most British side of Anthony Caro. Pieces like Bowie, Low (ten feet long; only 3

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  • Max Weber: The Years 1906–1916

    Bernard Danenberg Galleries

    Max Weber’s early work—the show of it at the Danenberg Galleries preceded that of Archipenko—is even more eclectic; and partly for this reason it is hard to evaluate. Taken singly, most of the paintings in it are adequately good, some of them perhaps quite good; but their wild variations in style are of course characteristic of an artist who has not found himself; and even when artists of this kind do good work there are valid reasons for not taking it very seriously. In the end, the principal reasons for taking it seriously are reasons of cultural history and sociology—the problems of being an

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  • “Black Artists 1970”

    Visual Arts Gallery

    In a group show called “Black Artists 1970," at the Visual Arts Gallery, only three figures out of sixteen evidence any talent. Bill Howell achieves a hieroglyphic, iconic expressionism in his Growth of a New Life and a sensitive, poetic imagism in his Twelve Seeds of Truth; neither of these is in a mode that I enjoy, but I can grasp their competence. Romare Bearden’s Morning collage includes one very fine Légeresque female figure, but the piece suffers from an unbalanced and overcomplicated, pseudo-De Stijl background. Perhaps the best single piece is a stone head by Warren L. Harris, of his

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