• Francis Picabia, Jacques Villon, John Seery, Don Lewallen

    Various Locations

    One either sees the Picabia Retrospective as a fragmented sequence which has no internal logic or stylistic cohesion––“We are not responsible for what we do; we are ignorant of our acts until we accomplish them”––or, one attempts to view Picabia’s development as a logical outgrowth of a central predeterminant. The first way is easier. You don’t have to know anything and everything Picabia painted after 1926 can be dismissed. The latter method, that of Dr. William Camfield, the Curator of the exhibition and the author of its expert catalog, involves a lot of wrangling and hard relooking at what

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  • Lucas Samaras

    Lucas Samaras is not widely conceded to be the figure of importance that I take him to be. It seemed to me that much of the tactile diversity and desultory palette of coloristic or pictorial sculpture of the last two years had learned from his example. When last I wrote about Samaras’s work I was concerned with situating the artist in an historical situation which was still part of late Surrealism as it had arrived on our shores as an emigré art in the late 1930s. I thought particularly of the Breton poème objet as realized not only in the work of that great theorist but also in the assemblages

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  • John Duff

    David Whitney Gallery

    The idea that contemporary art follows a linear development, that there is a discernible mainstream from season to season, seems even more a figment of critical and dealer imagination this fall than usual. There is a feeling of uncertainty in New York now about what art ought to be––induced partly by the art community’s abortive effort at political activism last spring, and more significantly by the sense that it is a time of real flux and shifting relevance for all the participants in the art game: artists, dealers, critics and museum curators. The work of an artist like John Duff whose imagery

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  • Ray Johnson

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Ray Johnson, collagist, has let the public in on his private pun and continuous happening, the New York Correspondence School, via a small show in the main floor gallery of the Whitney Museum. Johnson’s meticulous, nostalgic collages have been seen in galleries since the mid ’60s. Although his collages are minor, his Correspondence School is a novel inspiration that has entertained its members for a decade or more. Johnson has been fascinated by the way objects move through the mails since he sent for his first cereal box premiums as a child. He began by mailing select detritus to a few friends

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  • Victoria Barr

    John B. Meyer's Gallery

    A number of younger painters are presently investigating acrylic as a medium. Various experiments with staining and pouring abound. Flaccid, rainbow-pretty work often results. One technique that is yielding some effective painting is that of working acrylics on wet canvas, on a wet ground, like watercolor. Watercolor is tricky enough; there are additional risks with acrylics because they react unexpectedly as the various pigments spread and mix with each other when applied in wet layers.

    A problem that often occurs is compositional. For those artists who allow distinct forms to coalesce––rather

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  • Chicago Group

    Feigen Gallery

    Unfortunately, the show of thirteen Chicago artists at Feigen downtown almost defeats itself. Intended to acquaint New York viewers with the expressive, fantastic art of a group of young painters affiliated with the Hyde Park Art Center, it creates visual confusion instead. There are too many styles to assimilate at once, given the aggressive quality and dense detail of the works.

    On initial impact the show has the cornball bite of a bad souvenir tapestry or a flowered linoleum rug. Colors are deliberately garish, reminiscent of ’30s movie posters and fluorescent marquees. Imagery, often

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  • John Freeman

    Reese Palley Gallery

    John Freeman’s blood systems are revolting without purpose. They use a guaranteed shock device––real blood––without justification in terms of a special message conveyed by its presence. Everyone is horrified by the sight of blood; that’s no revelation. In fact, most people are so horrified that any more sophisticated content attached to a piece in the form of political or ecological commentary is totally obscured by the viewer’s simple negative response.

    Apparently, Freeman came to Reese Palley’s director with a set of plans for the proposed machines. The director liked the idea on paper and told

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  • P. R. Jenkins, Ralph Goings, Lila Katzen

    Various Locations

    P. R. Jenkins’ show at Allan Stone reminds us how much sculpture, during the fifties and sixties, interested in heavy materials and the gestural, has distrusted the look of meticulous craft. Though much minimal work depends on fine, even exquisite, finishing, such finishing rarely calls attention to the work’s technical expertise, more often, quietly, to its ascetic simplicity. But Jenkins’ work manifests intricate, painstaking care.

    In the two works I liked best (both narrow, one three feet high, one three feet long), biomorphic forms, which are usually associated with spontaneity or the

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