New York

James Rosati

Marlborough | Midtown

Having seen most of those recent works by James Rosati that have been executed full-scale, I can attest that the series of studies for large works shown at Marlborough gave a poor impression of what he is likely to have achieved. This exhibition included two full-scale pieces, but the low ceiling alone would have damped their effect. As the small studies barely suggest, Rosati’s new sculptures are able to translate the dimensions of pictorial landscape space into sculptural terms without being figurative themselves. Perhaps the closest pictorial equivalents might be found among Feininger’s works, though Rosati’s debt to Cubism is of a different order than that might suggest. When seen in the generous space they demand, these sculptures afford the direct experience of congested or expansive spaces such as seem to depend distinctly upon the framing edge in painting; and these spaces seem to be perfectly adjusted to bodily scale. The fineness of attunement to bodily scale actually locates Rosati’s new work as less distant from Morris’s object sculptures than from Bladen’s monuments, though the latter are far more pictorial. In Rosati’s large scale pieces the sense of a figure is displaced within the terms of the viewer’s encounter with them to the point where it is felt to be incumbent upon one’s own kinesthetic response. Gestures toward figuration become felt as projections of bodily experience. Very little of this came across in the Marlborough show; what was most apparent was the unfortunate resonance between the slick surfaces of the sculpture and those of the gallery.

Kenneth Baker