reviews

  • Robert Rauschenberg

    Castelli Uptown And Downtown

    My reservations regarding Robert Rauschenberg’s Cardbirds and Cardboards must be understood within a larger view which regards these works as his best efforts in nearly a decade. The Cardbirds and Cardboards evidently revert to Rauschenberg’s Expressionist position of 1958–62 when, I think I can fairly say, Rauschenberg was an artist of genius. Like his work of that time, Cardbirds engage the Expressionist collision of street detritus—Rauschenberg refers to cardboard as “a material of waste and softness.” The present fundamentalist-Constructivist solutions take their clue from the rich period

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  • Richard Serra

    Joe Lo Giudice Gallery

    A remarkable group exhibition by several first rank artists, notably John Chamberlain, Mark Di Suvero, and Jo Baer, has been installed in the enormous quarters of the Joe Lo Giudice Gallery. One can hardly claim that the intention of the exhibition was to play up the signal qualities of Richard Serra’s recent sculpture, although, in all honesty, much of the work other than Serra’s seemed rather casually included, if not wholly overwhelmed by the characteristics of Serra’s recent hot rolled steel plate organizations. Even Mark Di Suvero’s work, to which Serra acknowledges an early debt, seemed

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  • Donald Cole

    55 Mercer Gallery

    By chance last spring I was able to see Donald Cole’s work in his loft. At that time he was abutting stretched canvases which were striking by virtue of the degree of clash between the simple and strong patterns assigned to each rectangle. The pattern image was strong, not because it tied into Matisse but because it derived from something quite vulgar—decorative fabrics. Some of these works are included at Donald Cole’s exhibition at the 55 Mercer Street Co-Op, and I think they still constitute the bulk of his viable work. By contrast, the summer proved an enormously fertile period for the

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  • Don Lewallen; Kes Zapkus; Robert Zakanych

    O.K. Harris Gallery; Paula Cooper Gallery; Reese Palley Gallery

    The historian of contemporary art must at this moment be intrigued by, if not committed to, the analysis of an evolution which is difficult to chart but which nonetheless contains numerous clues. I refer, of course, to the problem of how Minimalism became post-Minimalism. The contrast between these positions has been so often enumerated in my writing that in the context of a New York rubric these many distinctions are expendable except perhaps the one which contrasts a classicist objectified art and an expressionist atomized one.

    However, by curious coincidence, several painters of distinction—granting

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  • Allan D’Archangelo

    Marlborough Gallery | New York

    Allan D’Archangelo’s recent Constellation paintings, at the Marlborough Gallery, consist of striped, beamlike forms which are the abstract residue of the traffic barricades and dashed highway dividing lines of his Pop American road landscapes of the 1960s. These forms (which also relate to works by other Pop artists, such as Wayne Thiebaud’s Candy Cane, 1965) are compounded in space-generative clusters which are in turn flattened out patternistically.

    The road pictures carried a heavy load of American—not just Pop—romance. From Whitman to Frost to Kerouac, and beyond to Easy Rider, Five Easy

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  • Peter Saul

    Allan Frumkin Gallery

    Like D’Archangelo, Peter Saul comes out of the Pop Art scene; he too is attempting to develop his Pop materials into something else—in Saul’s case a kind of blasting, bombardiering, socially relevant funk. At the Allan Frumkin Gallery during November he showed three groups of paintings, all about equally hysterical and iconoclastic.

    In Saul’s famous Saigon (Whitney Museum), a horrors-of-war extravaganza with an anti-hokey edge to it, the embodiment of hatred and anxiety seemed justified; in fact, the utter offensiveness of it (as in Guernica) had a decorous appropriateness. Now, however, in the

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  • Bernar Venet

    The New York Cultural Center

    The complete nonworks of a French nonartist can be seen in a show called the Five Years of Bernar Venet at the New York Cultural Center. Venet practices—or practiced—a dilettantish monkeying with “information theory,” starting in 1966 and ending, as previously announced, at the age of 30 in 1971. The whole career was an attempt to be swingingly cybernetic, but now that we can look back we see that it was hardly serendipitous.

    It is amusing that radical revisionists so often come up with ideas that are pseudo-intellectual recapitulations of aspects and fringe benefits of established university

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  • Gary Stephan

    David Whitney Gallery

    Gary Stephan’s work at the Whitney is a reminder that it is currently easier to make art about painting than it is to make good paintings. Stephan’s work might be quite strong if it left us some doubt that it is not painting. What Stephan does is make irregular patterns of colored shapes in polyvinyl chloride. They hold together thanks to the cohesive nature of the material and hang unsupported from the wall. Apparently the last step in making these pieces is cutting holes in the various colored shapes, holes which often echo the shapes they penetrate and which allow the wall to show through in

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  • Pier Paolo Calzolari

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Pier Paolo Calzolari does not speak English and I do not know Italian, so I was not able to ask him what he intends his work to be about. In his show at Sonnabend he uses a lot of neon and a lot of sound. I take it that he’s interested in different registers of information—visual, auditory, linguistic, tactile, and even perhaps olfactory in one piece involving tobacco leaves. The show contains such things as a row of mattresses on the floor, each of which supports a couple of words or phrases (in English) spelled out in neon, e.g., “My own hand—my free one.” Then there is a neon triangle traced

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  • Joan Snyder

    Paley And Lowe Gallery

    Joan Snyder’s paintings at Paley and Lowe are fuller and more commanding than her earlier works. Her vocabulary is experimental and fearless: strokes on strokes, shiny on matte, drips, stains, smears, and daubs. These marks of often jarring color are grouped in perceptual configurations similar to motivic patterns in musical compositions. Although colors and textures are layered as if transparent planes have been superimposed, the new works avoid chaos because the colors function as pure chromatic touches rather than as areas or shapes.

    Another reason for the clarity of these paintings is Snyder’s

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  • Carol Haerer

    Max Hutchinson Gallery

    Carol Haerer, on the other hand, remains within a narrow range of pastel colors, seemingly the colors that white contains. In her paintings at the Max Hutchinson Gallery, she has covered bright hues with layers of transparent white until the colors barely glimmer through the surface. The effect is like trying to readjust one’s vision to indoor light after being outside in the sun, for it takes a long time for the paintings to reveal themselves. Because there are so few variations within, the exact sizes and shapes of the paintings assume primary importance. The smaller paintings, unable to

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  • John De Andrea

    O.K. Harris Gallery

    John De Andrea’s naked figures, posing casually on the floor of the O.K. Harris Gallery, are clearly meant to be shocking. And they are, for a moment, until one realizes that they are not real. With casts made from models, De Andrea has transcribed and frozen the particularly human—gesture, goosebump, pore, and pimple—into painted plexiglass. The uneasiness caused by these works lies in the manufacturing of what appears human from technical and mechanical processes. This is exactly the reverse of what had been disturbing about Gilbert and George at the Sonnabend, where the human had been

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