reviews

  • Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman and Peter Alexander

    UCLA Art Galleries

    UCLA’s exhibition, Transparency, Reflection, Light, Space: Four Artists, reveals, sometimes inadvertently, almost all that is at once strong and frail about Los Angeles art. The show is fittingly (for a university facility) a kind of crash course in the thrust of recent art-thinking: a super problem-solving process (problems of consciousness, not one color or shape against another) whose products run the gamut from Larry Bell’s still-fantastic object, to Robert Irwin’s stairwell (“activated . . . perceptually with as little event or object as possible”). All of it deals with the title categories

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  • Tom Wesselmann

    Newport Harbor Art Museum

    Tom Wesselmann always seemed to me the least of the “core” group of Pop artists because his work is essentially a Beaux-arts product with a Pop image. Although the exhibition at NHAM does fill in a gap in Southern California’s direct knowledge of New York Pop, and although it concentrates admirably on the “early still lifes, 1962–64,” that initial suspicion isn’t dispelled. Perhaps it’s because Wesselmann, more than the others, is propelled by the impetus of the original Pop sensibility: the seizing of lower echelon sign-painter techniques and the automatic enigma of kitsch inventory as a way

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  • Roy Lichtenstein, Oskar Schlemmers and Irving Blum

    Irving Blum Gallery

    It’s hard to figure Irving Blum’s Thirties Style. This modest, intimate exhibition is too rigorous to be easily saleable, too polyglot to be a decorative showcase, and too partial (“Thirties” is secondary to “Style”) to be historically genuine. There are a couple of Lichtensteins, mixed with three “real” Things-to-Come moderne sculptures (two Oskar Schlemmers and a fantastic Déco-Constructivist head by Belling), together with some newly-minted furniture lifted from blueprints of the day. Surprisingly, the furniture, turning the gallery into a sitting room from an Astaire-Rogers movie, makes the

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  • Charlie Nothing

    Eugenia Butler Gallery

    To paraphrase Lord Chesterton, young men should beware any gallery enterprise which requires the presence of a tape recorder. Charlie Nothing has one present to dispense the sounds of his installation and opening; it, and other process-y professional display devices, belie Nothing’s seeming role as the penultimate flower child. The general tone of the exhibition celebrates purity of soul, implying (at least to me) that one’s personal vibes, spread over a lot of therapeutic busywork, will carry the day (in fact, funkiness is construed by the show as an ethical, as well as esthetic, virtue; the

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  • Ken Price

    Mizuno Gallery

    Ken Price has done fifteen small paintings which, although incorporating a printed halftone, look like prints and are really unique originals. That discovery is not merely a mechanical thing, but an esthetic matter, with the finely tactile glow of Price’s work manifesting itself only after a bit of looking. All the pictures involve cups, a subject used by Price in his apparent transition from a mainly sculptural artist to a pictorial one. It seems at least possible that Price, who has always been a delicately eccentric artist, concerned more with pleasure than theory, has arrived at the station

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  • Chuck Prentiss, Earl Reiback and Fletcher Benton

    Esther Robles Gallery

    Chuck Prentiss, Earl Reiback and Fletcher Benton, all of whom have been around for a while, are the Three Artists shown in a group by Esther Robles, and the common denominator is a watchmaker’s way of dealing with electrically produced light. Prentiss uses a row of small filaments inside a mirrored box to give that “endless” effect served up with colored light and a contained format. That particular visual phenomenon always seems natively profound, little embellished or debilitated by what any artist does with it (one reason to avoid it), and Prentiss is no exception. The intent, moreover, is

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