New York

Lyman Kipp

Graduate Student Center, City University of New York

I think Lymann Kipp is a relatively minor figure among contemporary sculptors, but I found the new pieces he showed at the City University of New York to be the strongest of his I’ve seen. Kipp has moved from making painted geometric solids to a sculpture of surface. His use of color seems to make much more sense when it is applied to open surfaces rather than to solid volumes. The consistent verticality of the new sculptures works in favor of their abstraction because the surfaces comprising them are painted. As in Caro’s sculpture, color works here to suspend considerations of literal relation of the material to the ground, for instance. The steel sheet and angle stock Kipp is using now is thin enough so that its edges turn into lines, pure pictorial elements, and so that the sculptural elements tend to be felt as sheets or shapes of color, rather than pieces of material that have received color. The sculptures in this show seem to have been designed to allow the edges of the steel elements to play a prominent role; one finds, for instance, a blue slab sandwiched between two red angles. From head-on, the blue slab reads as a blue line against a red ground. From a perpendicular point of view, a tall red plane stands abutted to a shorter blue one; the effect is reminiscent of an Ellsworth Kelly painting. Other pieces in the show have echoes of Barnett Newman and Don Judd.

The really surprising work was in matte black and seemed to form a kind of bridge between the new work and that which preceded it. Frontally, this piece looked like a pair of rhomboidal black boxes, open on top and separated by a channel of space about six inches wide. Moving around the piece, one discovered that each element has only two sides. The sculpture is completely open at the back, and the channel of space is experienced as something quite different. It actually looks deeper without the illusion that it is separating two solid volumes.

Kenneth Baker