reviews

  • James Rosenquist

    Castelli Gallery | Uptown

    At Castelli James Rosenquist showed two new large multi-paneled paintings in the same space, occupied by his Horizon; Home Sweet Home late last spring. The new paintings, like Horizon, incorporate panels of stretched mylar, here flanking the assembled panels of images which cover opposite walls. The new paintings seem to be about taking the notion of artistic feedback with Pop liberal-mindedness. The real space of the room is visually turned into the funhouse space of Rosenquist’s paintings largely by there being nothing much to look at other than the paintings and their and one’s own distorted

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  • California Color

    Promising scholars and philosophers, the story goes, move to California and then just play tennis and swim for years. There is that whole shallow, indulgent, Republic-of-Trivia aspect to it which reminds us here in New York that not since the invention of bronze casting has anything of consequence happened in that kind of climate. Stories of easy love and the vision of Reagan combine to remind us that sexual freedom is often a substitute for political freedom. In short, the whole California Weltanschauung bristles us up and makes New Yorkers feel for a moment extraordinarily responsible and even

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  • Robert Smithson

    Dwan Gallery

    Robert Smithson’s new film about the making of his Spiral Jetty, in the Great Salt Lake, informatively gives us a sense of what that magnificent sculpture, difficult of access, is like. But it is also, in itself, a beautiful thing. Smithson’s geopoetic commentary accompanies images of a road, dinosaur skeletons, maps of Atlantis, crusty landscapes, construction equipment, dump trucks dumping their loads, in such a natural rhythm that the sculpture seems to grow by some developmental necessity on the earth’s part.

    As a film the movie belongs to the ill-defined category of the “artistic” documentary,

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  • Art Nouveau

    Hofstra University

    Art Nouveau, perhaps not purely Symbolist in character, is certainly nourished by antecedent and overlapping Symbolist features. As surveys, Art Nouveau exhibitions are hardly events of note. Yet, the present installation at Hofstra University indicates how much a small museum of limited budget and few assistants can do for a theme show when presented imaginatively and carefully. The period installation is as fine as any that has been arranged at prestigious institutions and the bibliographic extension in the Hofstra rare books collection is far better than most. Important loans such as the

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  • Neil Jenney

    Goldowsky Gallery and Whitney Gallery

    Neil Jenney’s new paintings—more accomplished than those included last year in the Whitney “Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials” exhibition—opt for vigorous hyperbole. Less about direct transcription for all that is directly transcriptive about them, they appear to be illustrations of illustrations. Tool and Sign, Wood and Saw, Cat and Dog, Girl and Doll, all these confrontation close-ups echo what we Americans immediately take for real news—Man bites Dog. If nature at one remove is discardable for Jenney, then nature is not really at the core of Jenney’s representationalism; Oldenburg is. The

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  • Brice Marden

    Bykert Gallery

    Brice Marden is the guy who sat on Cézanne’s tombstone, as anyone who reads the ads in this magazine knows. When I first saw the photo I thought it would be much more interesting if nobody was sitting on the tombstone—that solid, crisp chunk of stone, the neat flagstones, the weathered tones of the dressed masonry behind. To have a bloke sitting there seemed to spoil the effect. Then again, was it merely flippant or insulting: is it nice to sit on somebody’s tomb, particularly (if you are an artist) that of a man who probably painted himself into heaven?

    Now that I have seen Marden’s new paintings

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  • Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries

    The Met | Metropolitan Museum of Art

    “Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries” rounds out the cycle of centennial exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum. Enough is already widely known about its general set-up, that it will be best here to steer clear of issues like the original (international) plans, means of selection, “experiments” (what can they prove?) in display, etc. For our purposes it is best to take it simply as it stands and decide, by being specific but without pretending to be exhaustive, how consistently and by what means the “masterpiece” standard is maintained.

    For whatever reason, almost all the works of art in the exhibition

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  • Mark Rothko

    Marlborough | Chelsea

    Marlborough’s recent show of paintings by Mark Rothko was apparently intended to culminate in the small separate room which contained four of the artist’s last works. Perhaps the isolation of the last paintings, the most austere and ungenerous of Rothko’s career, was meant as an honorific gesture, but the effect of it was cheaply dramatic. The sepulchral atmosphere of the small room did depend upon the paintings, but it was made by the installation to seem to be the point of the paintings, a bit of stagecraft that Rothko would undoubtedly have thought revolting. Worse, of course, was the fact

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  • Walter Darby Bannard

    Lawrence Rubin

    Walter Darby Bannard showed a series of recent paintings at Lawrence Rubin that had none of the flaccidity or excess that characterizes so much color painting showing these days. Bannard’s paintings seemed to be about color and framing. Each painting used only three or four colors of a range permuted through the series. They were mostly cake-icing colors, but were kept from being cloying by being used carefully, with particular attention to the extent of dominance. The paint, alkyd resin, appeared to be sponged on over large areas, though probably applied with brush to form the fragmented stripes

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  • 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

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  • Symbolist Art

    Samuels Gallery

    The circuit of “The Sacred and Profane in Symbolist Art” began in Turin in 1969. From there, altered slightly, it arrived in Toronto (Artforum, January, 1970). These exhibitions were followed by a companion survey, “Symbolist Art,” held at the Piccadilly Gallery in London this spring, the same gallery which had sponsored the First Retrospective of the Salon de la Rose+Croix, 1892–97 (Artforum, September 1968). It is largely the Piccadilly “Symbolist Art” which is now at Spencer Samuels.

    As is always the case with broad surveys, few works stand out by themselves—the drawings of Fernand Khnopff

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  • Guilio Aristide Sartorio

    Shepard Gallery

    Known as the Italian D. G. Rossetti, Guilio Aristide Sartorio, also seen at the Samuels’ résumé, is better understood in an exhibition of more than seventy of his drawings at the Shepherd Gallery. The exhibition throws some light on the evolution of Italian and Italo-Swiss Pointillism, a movement profoundly marked by Symbolist themes and Pre-Raphaelite prototypes. Our awareness of the group cannot be underestimated since such eminent figures as Previati, Segantini and Casorati emerge from it as does Umberto Boccioni who, as late as 1910, was still deeply committed to Symbolism. For my taste the

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  • Odilon Redon

    Acquavella Galleries

    Little need be said in connection with the supreme selection of later Odilon Redon flower pieces and reverie studies at the Acquavella Galleries for the benefit of Lenox Hill Hospital. Ever since The Museum of Modern Art survey of Re-don, Bresdin and Moreau and recent re-editions of Redon’s graphics, the artist is regarded as a Symbolist only by default. Theoretically a member, indeed a leader of the movement, Redon now has the following, the “box-office,” of a Renoir. What is interesting about this exhibition, especially as we are able to compare it with the Samuels show, is the degree to which

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  • Leon Kroll

    Danenberg Galleries

    It is difficult to exaggerate the pleasure one feels at the Leon Kroll exhibition, “The Undiscovered Years,” by which name its organizers mean the production from about 1908 to the end of the 1920s. Several notable issues are alluded to in so simple a phrase, particularly the misapprehension, even revulsion that we feel vis-à-vis later Kroll, who, in the 1930s, as our preeminent National Academician, came to purvey a slick, quasi-Ingriste nude to enormous public reception. It is ever to our discredit that in 1936, when the Carnegie International awarded Kroll the first prize, Pierre Bonnard came

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  • Joyce Kozloff

    Tibor de Nagy Gallery

    Joyce Kozloff is a young artist (born in 1942), who, in her first one-woman show, interests me because she aspires to a nostalgia and associativeness which other artists of her age have tended to regard as a discredited option. I am not speaking about representational painting—legion are the painters in their twenties who are once more adopting representational causes. I refer to delicate field painting and easy geometrical compositions which derive from numerous sources of the 1950s, even ’40s—Rothko, Baziotes, Tomlin, these artists for their refined colors—and even John Heliker for aspects of

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  • Ira Richer

    Kornblee Gallery

    Failed painting is as instructive as works the ambitiousness of which has prevailed, provided that the ambitiousness was present at the outset as is the case with a young painter, Ira Richer. I don’t like his work but his method is so lucid as to be an almost diagrammatic test case of the faltering appeal of classical field painting, of the kind codified in the years 1964–67.

    Richer employs large horizontal canvases which he divides into four equal fields. Color is applied one to a rectangle and his downbeat color selection—beiges and blues—is perhaps the most admirable aspect of his work. He

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  • John Salt

    O.K. Harris

    It is not often that I’m sympathetic to representational painting as representationalism tends to function as a crutch, a supposed measure both of technique and quality based on the existence of a prototype—nature—against which the artist can measure his achievement; the closer the approximation to nature the more successful the work of art. The argument is false but once more prevalent. Which is why I’m happy to write about John Salt’s car pictures.

    It is apparent from Salt’s present painting—earlier, the wrecked cars were painted in an Expressionist manner akin to Bacon—that the automotive

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  • Mary Heilmann and Joan Snyder

    Paley and Lowe Gallery

    A handsome new space called the Paley and Lowe Gallery has opened downtown on Wooster Street. Its owners plan to sponsor group shows in the gallery space and give access to the artists’ work in their studios as well. The premise—that group shows can induce enough interest in individual artists to encourage further investigation of their works in their studios—is a questionable one, Its fault lies in the selective process involved in group shows, where work is chosen that will look “nice” in the gallery, instead of for its toughness or representativeness. Unfortunately, it’s impossible not to

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  • Sharon Brandt

    O.K. Harris

    Sharon Brandt’s canvases at O.K. Harris are demanding and complex works as well. For Brandt, in contrast to Joan Synder, less is more.These are sparse paintings in terms These are sparse paintings in terms terms of impact, because their surface has been mobilized so effectively with minimal means. The artist works with the premise of an exquisite, almost colorless texture created by using a polyester resin to stain the canvas. She then strives to toughen the atmospheric image by the incorporation of a few lines, placed as compositional organizers on or under the translucent resin.

    Line and surface

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  • Gary Hudson

    Reese Palley Gallery

    For Gary Hudson, more is not more but visual obfuscation. There is so much going on in his canvases, it ’s hard to see what is really happening. The major visual problem in these paintings is the relationship , or lack of it, between large floating rectangular shapes and the heavily textured areas that surround them. The discontinuity between texture and forms is exacerbated rather than alleviated by sprayed halos around the forms that disengage them even further from their surroundings, allowing them to float freely out in front of the canvas surface.

    These are truly schizophrenic paintings.

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  • Benny Andrews

    Acts of Art

    Benny Andrews’ art is true to itself. Andrews seems to follow no canons of visual selection besides those that originate within his own experience—as an artist who reached maturity when Abstract Expressionism was in its heyday, as a black man in America, plus a good deal of native stubbornness about not just doing what’s expected of him. His work runs the gamut from delicate line drawings through epical murals to elaborate collage statues and groups of figures.

    There are strong elements of abstraction in his composition, use of color and almost Cubist, schematic rendering of forms. His forms are

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