New York

Frank Stella, John McCracken, Arman and Jim Dine

Sonnabend Gallery

The reasons for Sonnabend’s showing “Major Works in Black and White” are not clear, but it is doubtful anyway that they have much to do with artistic issues. There isn’t much in a small show like this to connect Stella, McCracken, Arman, and Dine, say, but the fact that they happened at different times to make pieces in black and white. It seemed to be more of a nostalgia show than anything else, a chance to see how tame the once daring stuff can come to look, and to reflect that that is how art historical change registers these days. It seems that if any of the pieces here were really taken seriously, a different sense of art historical process would result. But as such shows demonstrate, there is too much to be seen for that to happen very often.

Kenneth Baker