reviews

  • Kenneth Hayes Miller

    Zabriskie Gallery

    Kenneth Hayes Miller was one of the eminent figures to span the period from Ash Can painting to the end of American provincialism. His teaching career began at the Fourteenth Street School and continued for thirty-eight years at the Art Student’s League—when it still meant something to go to the League. According to the faithful Lloyd Goodrich—himself once a student of Miller’s—Marsh, Bellows, Kuniyoshi, Hopper and Hartley, at some point in their considerably more impressive careers, passed through Miller’s studio. Doubtless his qualities as a teacher overshadowed his deficiencies as a painter.

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  • Richard Van Buren

    Bykert Gallery

    Richard Van Buren has had a great deal of exposure in the last two years, and one begins to formulate a view of his work, isolate problems, equivocate over the relative merits of certain pieces. I take the present exhibition to be his strongest to date, an opinion based on the fact that in these new aggregates Van Buren is more cogently expressing those sculptural aspects which may be regarded as traditional, particularly that part of his work which drifts toward a sharp, craggily modulated relief. Moreover, Van Buren’s coloristic thrust has intensified and he more insistently binds together

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  • “Software”

    The Jewish Museum

    The strategy animating most “technological art” seems to be to find a model for the terms of experience, especially esthetic experience, which can be represented or enacted by the available gadgetry, and then to design an encounter for the spectator in which he will recognize that this has been the character of his experience all along. This, despite disclaimers, was manifestly the strategy of the organizers of the Jewish Museum’s “Software” show. The difference between “Software” and other technological art is that the former is premised upon an informational or cybernetic model of experience

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  • Mbari Mbayo

    The Studio Museum in Harlem

    Our initial interest in “Mbari Mbayo,” a show of contemporary Nigerian art, must be in it as a phenomenon. The works all come out of three art workshops held in Oshogobo, Nigeria, in 1962, ’63 and ’64, and we naturally wonder whether a likely Peace Corps ethno-sentimentality will emerge. The artists here mostly steer clear of that. Not that they push art in a new direction (art is tired of being pushed anyway): the point is that they show that an African art can be made in the present time without a lot of sweat about roles, identity, or overcompensatory nittigrittiness, and that our old hunch

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  • 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,

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  • Richard Long

    Dwan Gallery

    Richard Long’s two new untitled works provide useful material for an exercise in Minimal valuation. I do not mean that they are intended to do this; in fact, from one point of view, it would be a failure if they were.

    Each work occupies a room to itself at the Dwan Gallery. The larger, and also the one you encounter first, is a spiral of gray footprints from tracked clay mud that winds from a corner of the room into its center. It is impossible not to think of Smithson’s Spiral Jetty at the Great Salt Lake. While the spiral motif has a primeval history, Smithson’s is surely the great work using

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  • Carl Andre

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

    For some time I have disliked Carl Andre’s work. His poems seem fifty or sixty years out of date and his “operas,” as I have already said, like high school versions of Four Saints in Three Acts. I find internal faults, mostly in his earlier works, and while so much is made of his concern with the Brancusian “Problem of the Base,” he has not, to my mind, always solved it. (To make the top part of a thing exactly like the bottom part doesn’t solve it, it evades it, because then the top, while the same size, just looks a little less dense, gawkier and quite a bit less useful. Very rarely are

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  • Philip Guston

    Marlborough | Midtown

    After a long and admirable practice as an abstract painter, Philip Guston once more returns to figuration, reminding us that he, like so many of his Abstract Expressionist confrères, had begun as a figurative painter in the ’40s. But then as now, his figuration is a dubious achievement. Once a purveyor of melancholy and classicizing nostalgia, Guston is now into second, perhaps even third school Chicago Funk and Momenta. The reasons for this return, or re-emergence, must be connected with emotional and intellectual pressures of a private nature. Such reasons really ought to concern us considering

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  • Andre Lhote

    Selected Artists Gallery

    The retrospective of the work of Andre Lhote (1885–1962), is revealing if after a certain moment—in Lhote’s case coincidental with the end of the First World War—equally deceiving. I am intrigued and instructed by the careers of painters such as Lhote who are first sustained by the vitality of a great new style, any style, and who then, when the style wanes, are revealed to be artists of dubious achievement. This is certainly a complex and painful issue as well as the central dilemma as to the distinction between modern artists and modern art as we see that speaking generally the life of a modern

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  • William Conlon, Vincent Longo and Universal Limited Art Editions

    Reese Palley Gallery, Hofstra University

    The quality of William Conlon’s paintings is not immediately apparent. They have, however, a nagging power so that the elements of his work which proved so irksome before the paintings dissipate themselves in the memory that the works invoke. A young painter, Conlon deals in distribution-composition with a firm, designy sense. The graphic and 2D feel is the aspect of his work I most mistrust since it brings figures such as Paul Rand strongly to mind. Conlon culls his imagery from the vernacular of modern art, isolating motifs which are then blown up, exaggerated and coldly duplicated. Among them

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  • John Hoyland

    Emmerich Gallery

    John Hoyland’s condition as a painter is far more interesting than what he has so far painted. His oeuvre, at least as it has reached this country, appears to deal in an enumeration of modernizing phenomena which, when reenacted in what seems at this distance to be a provincial arena, transforms and reduces them into decorative features. Stated another way, Hoyland’s problem is how to be an American painter while being English and situated in England. The answer is that so far he has not succeeded, though, as the result of a surface reading of his work, and to judge by the quarters at which he

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  • James de France

    Sonnabend Gallery

    What James de France has on view are “canvases,” but not exactly paintings. They are, to be sure, made only of canvas on rectangular stretchers, and they are worked with nothing else than paint. But each work, hanging horizontally on the wall, is punctured by twenty-five (also horizontal) oblong slots through which we see the tinted light reflected off colors (painted on the back of the canvas) as it bounces off the white of the wall. We are thus made to marvel at the seeming immateriality of what we behold. The problem is in avoiding the suspicion of simple cleverness. De France seems almost

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  • Albert Stadler

    Poindexter Gallery

    Albert Stadler’s color paintings, all from this year, are sensitive, even moody. They take on the task of color—in fact, a multiplicity of color—while attempting to leave shape behind. In this way they are similar to De France’s attempt to manage hue apart from pigment, but here the optical-esthetic problem is kept under polite control, not only as far as the mechanics of the effect is concerned (the question of what new thing a piece of canvas can be made to do is impertinent here), but also in the way theory is kept in check by practice. Thus, the fact that we could even imagine Berkeley or

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  • Herbert Perr

    Myers Gallery

    At the newly relocated Myers Gallery, Herbert Perr showed a series of large rectangular paintings assembled from small, individually stretched and painted squares of canvas. Considering the issues invoked by allowing real space to incise the paintings’ surface, Perr seems unnecessarily preoccupied with the sort of lyrical color and abstraction found in paintings made more straightforwardly. Each of the small squares in Perr’s paintings has its own pictorial space; all the swatches of space are hazy and dense due to thin washes of paint and within each painting the same ground color is used on

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  • Robert Mangold

    Fischbach Gallery

    Robert Mangold’s work is becoming more subtle and more problematic. He is focusing down on fewer specific visual issues in a manner that is increasingly explicit and at the same time still ambiguous. He was previously involved, albeit in a very low key, with the problems implied by shaped paintings and modulated color, i.e. the action of wall area as ground that occurs with shaped works and the ambiguity of surface that subtly graded color creates. In his most recent work, he has retained vestiges of wall/work interaction but is concentrating now on the interaction of drawn line and framing

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  • Antonio Tapies

    Martha Jackson Gallery

    Antonio Tapies’ show at Martha Jackson is peculiarly frustrating. This Spanish artist can create surfaces of incredible beauty out of plaster, cinders, etc.; mark them with his fingers or his feet or a stick in mysterious ways that effectively draw the eye right into them for a rich helping of texture—and then fuss them up with some small, precious details—just enough to kill their aggressive splendor and make them, in the end, self-consciously “works of Art” rather than the magic presences they started out to be.

    —Kasha Linville

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  • John Griefen

    Kornblee Gallery

    John Griefen’s show at Kornblee is another exercise in frustration, but for different reasons. Griefen doesn’t start with strong art and then weaken it. Instead, he pours and splashes and hopes that, with considerable cropping, his unprogrammatic outpouring of inspiration in faintly mawkish acrylic will result in strong paintings. It does not. The canvases are murky and unresolved, leaving a viewer with no memory of image or atmosphere—except possibly the rather nice effect of several blank spots on the paintings where paint did not fall. They flicker like holes into the muddy pigment or bright

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