New York

Peter Reginato

The exhibition of Peter Reginato’s welded steel sculptures presents problems concerning the relationship of a young artist to the Constructivist/Cubist idiom. Widely rejected on the basis of its familiarity there are, however, certain Constructivist/Cubist inferences, say, within the affirmative character of Richard Serra’s axiomatic structures. By contrast, the strain which Reginato emphasizes deals in the plane, shape and scale comparisons inherent in the tradition of Cubist sensibility. In this respect Reginato’s work may be compared to Michael Steiner’s recent steel structures although he studiously avoids the low-lying, collage-derived sensibility of the latter. In the degree that Reginato is drawn by organizations which rise up, if somewhat squatly, the immediate figure for comparison is, evidently, David Smith. Reginato’s chief problem, it seems to me, is not in having adopted the Cubist/ Constructivist vernacular, but in the formulation of this vernacular in a middle scale range. Insufficiently small for us to perceive the conjunctiveness of Cubist comparison—the famous, possibly mythical “Cubist grid”—and insufficiently large for us to relate in a physiological way to scale, the Reginatos end up in a middle range which is curiously neutral in its effect at this moment in art history. The scale issue is important because as middle range works they are not able to compel us on an adumbrative level nor do they easily correspond to our ingrained desire for magnitude as content. In short, they .remain objects of a certain dimension within a gallery context and as such seem ethically doubtful, devaluating the Cubist/Constructivist vernacular into an ornamental exercise.

Robert Pincus-Witten