reviews

  • Edwin Ruda

    When I wrote about Edwin Ruda’s work last (Artforum, January, 1970), I found I was instructed because Ruda seemed to be a representative figure of a painterly evolution out of second-generation field painting, a position which carried the transient tag “lyrical abstraction.” I am still instructed by Ruda’s painting, although this Expressionist swan song of the ’60s seems, as an issue of sensibility, going (if not gone) by the board. Ruda’s painting, like that of Larry Poons as well, suggests that it is possible to continue painting and evolve within that activity even though the mode selected

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  • Tony Smith

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Tony Smith has taken another step backward with his new piece 81 More at the Modern. This sculpture is somewhat similar to Robert Morris’ arrays of boxes of the mid-’60s, only Smith has made his array into a place, not just an ensemble. 81 More is an equilateral triangular platform made of 81 smaller similar triangles, 15 of which are the bases of triangular pyramids occurring regularly in the platform pattern. One immediate difference between Smith’s piece and, say, Morris’, is that Smith’s is decidedly abstract and one feels unmistakably that its geometricity is meant to guarantee its

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  • Howard Buchwald

    French & Co.

    Howard Buchwald’s paintings at French and Company are larger than the ones he showed last year at Bykert and the new works benefit from their size. Instead of a network of discrete threads of color such as comprised the earlier paintings, the new ones have fuzzier areas of color which approach the discreteness of threads only as a limit. The present paintings are filled with overlapping areas of pigment which look something like raveled soft yarn, only with a shiny finish. It is much clearer in these paintings that Buchwald is after some sort of all-over treatment of the canvas which will not

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  • Robert Mangold

    Guggenheim Museum, Fishbach Gallery

    I can’t think of when I’ve seen paintings look as undramatic as Robert Mangold’s do hanging in the Guggenheim Museum. The works in his concurrent show at Fischbach make it clear that his paintings need to be seen in a sort of intimate situation in order to state themselves properly. The sense of how they need to be seen fits with my feeling that his best works are those in which drawing is most clearly an issue. His curved shaped canvases are somehow undermined by their own smoothness. The ambiguities in them arising from the combination of painted lines and the open intersections of canvas

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  • “Two Aspects of Illusion”

    Finch College Museum

    Two Aspects of Illusion is a two-man show at Finch College of paintings by Michael Mazur and constructions related to paintings by Paul Gedeohn. The more interesting work is Gedeohn’s. He stretches clear plastic sheets over wooden canvas supports and paints spare geometric configurations on the plastic.This results in the painted lines appearing to bring the wooden stretcher forward so that the work as a whole seems to sit in an illusionistic space. The best are those painted in black with the lines running to the edge of the plastic surface. The kind of illusion generated by Gedeohn’s compositions

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  • Nina Yankowitz

    Kornblee Gallery

    Clearly, Nina Yankowitz shares the acute sensibilities of the younger generation of New York artists—one is tempted to say, of the generation of the School of Visual Arts’ artists—a sensibility which, in a short time, three years at most, has been subject to, in Yankowitz’ case, the purification of the devices she came upon and claimed for her own while still a student there. These devices—non-stretcher supported canvas, peculiar methods of joining, sprayed color, and Expressionist maculation—if not entirely immediate to the corridors and studios of SVA were also the issues being argued in the

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  • Sam Gilliam

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    These remarks are apposite to the draped and speckled color paintings, Sam Gilliam’s project for the smaller downstairs exhibition rooms at the Museum of Modern Art which have become, since this past summer, perhaps the museum’s most interesting exhibition halls, what with Mel Bochner following Keith Sonnier and Gilliam now following Bochner in this space. I note the architectural problem presented by these rooms because each of the artists has attempted to answer in some way the architectural riddle posed by them, solutions which have been reported on at length in Artforum.

    Gilliam has made a

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  • Tom Doyle

    Brata Cooperative

    A characterological feature of Tom Doyle’s mind, his bonhomie, has consistently allowed him to confuse the weather vane with the wind. He tends to lock modes together rather than isolate particularities. You might think that this is a conflict in irreducibles; that he is where he is and I am where I am. My only argument is history. Styles are moved by analysts not synthesists. The numerous clues that Doyle exposes in the new work deal with the eccentric Constructivism inherent in much of post-Minimalist sensibility. Working in gunmetal polyvinyl chloride sheeting, Doyle has made a variety of

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  • Merrill Wagner

    55 Mercer Street Cooperative

    Merrill Wagner is a young artist who is trapped by her own sensibility. Clearly these extraordinary, refined examinations of pure surface—the vagrant textures of stretched canvas for example—or of the most delicate application of paint in near monochrome, attest to the power of her obsessive commitment. Moreover, they deal with a kind of fundamentalism which indicates that she is close in on the problem. This acuteness, which would have passed for prescience in 1967 or 1968—they bear relation to Agnes Martin or to Robert Ryman (whose own work may in fact be informed by evolutions in Merrill

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  • Camille Faure

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Between 1903 and 1918 Camille Faure continued in his father’s business of lacquering bodies of carriages, an occupation both luxurious and involved with glistening surface. In 1918 came the revelation of handicrafts and, with Alexandre Marty, Camille Fauré developed an elaborate and beautiful technique of enameling on copper. Joined in this effort by his daughter, Andrée Fauré Malabre, Camille Fauré became one of the celebrated laureates of the 1925 exhibition of decorative arts that gave the style of the luxury objects of the 1920s the nickname Art Deco.

    Varying the surface of the enamel with

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  • Karl Schrag

    Kraushaar Galleries

    Last June I promoted a view of Karl Schrag which tended to identify him exclusively in terms of printmaking because his contribution to that field is so important. However, as he said, “The painter was around a long time before the printmaker.” Thus the present exhibition affords an opportunity to amplify the dualistic struggle which I attempted to identify in Schrag’s graphics, sensibility countered by symbolism. This strain is also to be noted in Schrag’s painting as well but, as painting, the struggle suggests an argument far broader in its ramifications than the one connected to the prints.

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  • Gene Davis

    The Fischbach Gallery is showing six large paintings by Gene Davis, two of which have been previously exhibited, four of which are new. The two earlier paintings hang in the downtown Fischbach in SoHo—Satan’s Flag, which has been shown at the Newark Museum, and Saratoga Springboard, which appeared at the London Fischbach in the Spring of 1970. All the works are large, long canvases covered completely with vertical stripes, although the nature of these stripes has changed. Two of the works are so long that they have required two immense stretchers apiece, although the join is not in the center

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  • Paul Jenkins

    Martha Jackson Gallery

    Paul Jenkins’ biggest difficulty is that we cannot look at his paintings and not think that Morris Louis’ are better. In both, pigment is spilled onto the virgin canvas; in both, the control of the result involves the careful handling of the canvas itself as much as the paint. But the works of Jenkins have, by comparison, always wound up looking too pictorial or even too graphic-designed. This is because Jenkins’ forms can so often be read as motifs fixed onto an inert ground, like butterflies pinned to mounts. Or else, when they do seem spatial, the space seems inappropriately illusionistic.

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  • Edward Moses

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    Edward Moses has eight recent paintings and five drawings at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts. The paintings, because they are composed of colored lines and because they are concerned with the extent of the rectangular format, in some respects touch on Gene Davis’ concerns. But they touch on them much more lightly. There is an oriental delicacy in these limp, unstretched canvas hangings which blanket areas of wall like tapestries.

    The lines seem to be made by snapping the pigment off a tight string, which introduces a kind of Eastern simplicity and makeshiftness that is not unlike William Wiley’s elegantly

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  • Jann Haworth

    Sidney Janis Gallery

    Somewhere out in the swamps at edge of the island of art Jann Haworth presides over a little kingdom all her own. She makes compulsive, “heavy” dolls and constructions which actually seem to seek out weirdness and bizarrerie. But the result has about as much significance as neo-Victorian toyshop decoration (many of the properties here are in fact supplied by Secondhand Rose).

    I have observed Haworth’s misunderstanding of the relation of camp to Pop before (Studio International, November, 1968), and there is no progress to report now. The accompanying photograph, showing three of her fairy dolls

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  • Piet Mondrian

    Noah Goldowsky Gallery

    There have been two worthwhile fin de siècle shows. At Noah Goldowsky it was a group of early works by Piet Mondrian. Some of them were shown in New York many years ago by Allan Frumkin and Sidney Janis, and to me they do not seem to have worn well. I mean physically: the colors seem altered and more dead and the surfaces more cracked. This is important, because their sensuousness is an integral part of the content of these canvases, as it is a strong element in Mondrian generally, and not just in his early work—the whites of his abstractions are increasingly richly brushed. It is not necessary

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  • Paula Modersohn-Becker

    La Boétie Gallery

    Much less familiar was a group of things by Paula Modersohn-Becker at La Boétie, consisting of some drawings, a couple of paintings, and all the etchings (twenty-odd) that she is known to have done. Modersohn-Becker died in 1907 at the age of 31 in Worpswede, one of the many colonies that sprang up as a result of the stimulus of the arts and crafts movement and that seem very actual in a day of communes, natural foods, and love instead of war; her entry into the annals of history probably came about through her friendship with Clara Westhoff, the wife of Rilke, who for a time also lived at

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  • John Singer Sargent

    The Met | Metropolitan Museum of Art

    The Met had a show of drawings and watercolors by John Singer Sargent that deserved a visit, although it wasn’t very good. Those who read my article last month on painting in Boston about the turn of the century will have understood that I have an intense interest in that period and a fondness for Sargent. I think that, in addition to being a good painter, he was an interesting personality and a far more complex one than he is usually thought to have been. But it’s hard to see what he thought he was doing in his watercolors, and to tell the truth I have scarcely ever seen a good one. Part of

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  • Alex Katz

    Fischbach Gallery

    At Fischbach, Alex Katz showed two cutouts, Rush and Wedding. It may be that Katz is not as bad as I think he is; let’s just say that his work is very simple. And in the cutout he has found a medium that suits his perky, flat physiognomies much better than canvas, in that it accords very well with the absence of psychological depth that is their most striking characteristic. More especially, since turning to cutouts Katz has developed, very logically, a physical depth in its place: in Rush, rows of faces are aligned on all four walls of one of the galleries, that is, in a real space; in Wedding

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  • Jules Olitski, Sol LeWitt, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, David Novros, Eva Hesse, Jan Dibbets and Dorothea Rockburne

    Bykert Gallery

    The Group Drawing Show at the Bykert Gallery demonstrates that drawings are still of major importance to artists. But, for the most part, there was a lack of energy and involvement in the work, almost as if they were shown because of a moral attachment to the activity even when not essential to the other forms of an artist’s work. Where drawing is a fundamental element, as in Oldenburg’s baroque forms or Olitski’s brushed lines, the graphic qualities of traditional drawing are retained throughout. Otherwise it seems necessary to transform drawing, as LeWitt has done, into a self-sustained body

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  • John Pearson

    Paley & Lowe Gallery

    John Pearson at Paley and Lowe uses drawing to convey information about the properties of line under controlled experiment to express movement—expansion, rotation, and sweep. Through precisely calculated systems, Pearson has charted the ability of marks to influence, modify, and transform one another. Combinations of progressive axial shifts in degree are studied by additive and subtractive methods of diagraming. Any poetry that arises does so from the textural sensualism of the masses of line as they become pure motion.

    Pearson has tried to blow up the results of the immaculately realized drawings

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  • John Seery

    Emmerich Gallery downtown

    John Seery, at the Emmerich Downtown, seems to be wrestling with divergent tendencies in his painting. On the one hand, he is trying to break out of conventional picture-making by approaching the chaotic through a multiplicity of techniques, forms, and colors. On the other hand, he is forced to include several constructs, either compositional devices or repeated colors, to unify the disorder. His paintings thus vacillate between chaotic order and ordered chaos, producing lusciousness at their best, and garishness at their worst.

    The use of spraying, soaking, staining, brushing, and splattering

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  • Gary Hudson

    Reese Palley Gallery

    In his paintings at Reese Palley, Gary Hudson has tried to combine large-scale field painting with elements of design dependent upon the framework of his pictures. The backgrounds are built up thickly and texturally with scrapes and cracks through which one can see spots of preliminary colors. The backdrops generate particular atmospheres: blue suggests the ocean; gray, the air; and brown or dark red, the earth.

    Over the fields, however, Hudson has superimposed floating rectangular shapes, placed most often around the edges of the paintings. The sizes, shapes, and colors of these forms seem

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  • Nancy Graves

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    The “Projects” of Nancy Graves presently on view at the Museum of Modern Art is primarily composed of the sculpture, Variability and Repetition of Variable Structures.

    Thirty-eight vertical poles stand like sunflowers or flamingos, separated from each other by planned intervals and covered with a multitude of forms to create the atmosphere of a jungle or the most tropical room of a greenhouse. With painted tarlatan and wax, Graves has modeled a variety of organisms, shells, plant forms, and animal parts. Since the feeling of being surrounded by movement and foliage is at first overwhelming, one

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