New York

Nancy Graves

Resse Palley Gallery

It becomes clear from Nancy Graves’ current show at Reese Palley that the camels were a way-station for her. They enabled the artist to move away from the art going on around her and into unique visual territory where she can now work with tremendous facility, control of materials and imagination to create art of extreme originality. So it’s good to see the camels go, bones and all. They were too close to the meticulous model-making of the Museum of Natural History to declare themselves apart from that craft—even though in declaring them her art took courage and strength of conviction.

In her most recent work, Graves uses her skill in making latex, steel, fabric and paint suggest organic qualities, to enable her to weave open, mystical webs of wire and substances that could be feathers, or bits of flesh or bones, but aren’t. None of the most recent pieces at Palley have the extended interplay between open patterns and hanging shapes—dense enough to suggest once-filled volumes or wrung-out carcasses—that made her work at the Whitney Annual, Shaman, so compelling. But they are all singular, beautiful and suggestive of natural things we can’t quite remember.

Kasha Linville