new-york

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 shapes begin to look incidental as one sees more of the paintings at the Guggenheim. The suggestion that the frontality of the painting is broken, which is carried by the curved edges, is too equivocal to make the ambiguity of painted line and open abutment amount to much. There’s something too easy

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