reviews

  • Jack B. Yeats

    New York Cultural Center

    Jack B. Yeats was an uneven but remarkably good Expressionist painter. Roughly on a par with—but sometimes better than—Soutine, he occasionally equalled Kokoschka, except that his sensations were commoner and less articulate. It is difficult to assess Yeats fairly because he has been made a cult figure in a homey Irish chauvinism that doesn’t do him justice at home and vulgarizes his reputation overseas. In fact, many Irish devotees of Yeats’ painting ignorantly and anxiously deny any relations between his work and Expressionism in the rest of Europe, even when such parallels could add

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  • Gianni Pattena

    John Weber Gallery

    Gianni Pettena is an Italian artist whose work has features in common with both earth works and Conceptual art, though he stands significantly apart from their tendencies to suspend value and meaning. Pettena is a trained architect and has taught in schools of architecture, but what he himself makes is only “architecture” of a cleverly nefarious sort. In the last few years artists have tried innumerable ways of dealing with (or overlooking) a world that grows increasingly piggish. Pettena’s response is one of the subtlest I have yet encountered. In his work, political considerations are not

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  • Chris Wilmarth

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    Chris Wilmarth’s show at the Paula Cooper Gallery included some very thoughtful sculptures among its six freestanding works, nine wall pieces, and two items that rest on the floor and “hang” from the wall. A number of works consist of plate glass and steel and employ an active sense of the intrinsic visual and plastic properties of the materials. The tensile strength of these substances is at least as important as the way they absorb or admit light, although optical properties are sustained, preventing the works from becoming superfluous or redundant evidences. Otherwise they might be works-proper

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  • Charles Hinman

    Denise René Gallery

    The Denise René Gallery showed a large group of recent paintings by Charles Hinman during March. The works fall into three categories: shaped canvases with multiple stretchers having one continuous plane; relief aggregations of separately stretched canvases jutting out from the wall at various angles; and closed three-dimensional painted objects, some of which stand on the floor while others hang from the ceiling. All share a relaxed avoidance of profundity in formal relations and a freewheeling, unsystematic attitude toward color. The critical problem is to decide whether their casualness is

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  • Mary Corse

    Logjudice Gallery

    Mary Corse has two large paintings at LoGiudice which may supply, and not without wit, a special flavor of inflationary opulence not yet denominated, even by Baskin-Robbins. The canvases, both from 1971, are nine feet square. You could characterize them as Puritan sin, for while they are entirely white they dazzle recklessly with a satiny sheen that is impossible to photograph. Sugar-coated, fairy-sparkled Robert Rymans. Rich art, fat art, dessert art, “lobby” painting. The blatant indulgence is thinly glazed with an utterly Tasteful reticence toward color. Untitled is the more immediately

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  • “Thirteen Women Artists”

    117 Prince Street Gallery

    It is dangerous to suggest attributes, whether descriptive or critical in nature, of art made by women. While it has often been argued that the work is more organic, centralized, earthy, flowery, delicate, or sexual, these qualities are applicable to only a small portion of work done by women and hold for an equal number of men. For example, the obsession with sexual imagery in Eva Hesse, Yayoi Kusama, and Niki de Saint-Phalle has its male counterparts in Lucas Samaras, Bruce Nauman, and other post-Minimalists. The category “Women’s Art” may be necessary as a political issue but it can obscure

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  • Pat Adams

    Zabriskie Gallery

    In the work of Pat Adams, eccentricity and a rich imagination are both a virtue and a failing. Sometimes her paintings are as opulent as Oriental ornamental surfaces, the bark of trees, or precious stone; at other times, they are profuse and glutted. The credibility of the works depends largely on scale. The intimacy of the small paintings is in perfect accord with the precision of execution which modulates the surfaces from point to point like Far Eastern mosaics. The small size permits great arbitrariness of calligraphic elements that fill and warp the peculiar spaces. However, they are like

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  • Jack Bush

    Emmerich Gallery, Uptown

    Jack Bush at Emmerich Uptown also uses calligraphic elements in his paintings, but they function as indices of surface, volume, and movement, rather than as hieroglyphs. Placement and color are of primary importance. The stippled backgrounds, painted with rollers specked with various colors, give the paintings a feeling of density and activity. Because this surface doesn’t extend all the way to the edges, leaving some raw canvas, there appears to be a posterior flat plane which creates a connection with the superimposed shapes.

    A difficulty in the use of calligraphic figures, no matter how

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  • Susan Crile

    Kornblee Gallery

    Susan Crile’s show at Kornblee is the most straightforward gallery show I’ve seen this season. In tracing a path between color-field painting and the New Realism, her work has a crucial, if minor, resonance with that of Matisse.

    The freedom that Matisse’claimed and granted when he freed color from figure was also the possibility of seeing paintings as presenting themselves primarily as paintings rather than views of the visible. Similarly, color-field painting may be seen as seeking the possible role of color in that presentation, which might be described as the meaning of color in painting.

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  • James Bishop

    Fischbach Gallery

    James Bishop’s five new paintings at the Fischbach Gallery are as intense as the ones he showed two years ago were cool. Of the five canvases, all are square, and all but one done in burnt sienna hues. The odd painting is colored deep violet, highlighted with traces of pink.

    In these new paintings Bishop seems more than ever to be trying for transparency of surface without space. In each painting the lower half of the canvas is uniformly empty. The upper half is taken up with a pair of flat square boxes defined more by facture than anything else. In three of the paintings the bands that define

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  • Robert Rohm

    O.K. Harris Gallery

    The show was made of varied materials and elements: lumber, sandbags, steel reinforcing rods, stained rope, and hook lamps like the ones mechanics use. The pieces were experienced in terms of surface, weight, rigidity versus flexibility, and illumination.

    One had to enter the gallery by walking up a ramp of loose planks onto a plywood platform raised about two feet off the floor and running along a wall to the nearest corner. Another ramp brought one to the gallery floor. The gallery was lighted only by the hook lamps, which were part of three of the pieces, and by a little daylight leaking from

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  • Alvin Loving

    William Zierler Gallery

    As exemplified by Kenneth No-land’s and Barnett Newman’s art, the stripe has attained a kind of privileged presence in paintings. A stripe can be handled in such a way as to convey that it could be contracted into a line (the medium of figuration), or expanded to occupy the entire picture; some of Noland’s horizontal stripe paintings seem to be made up of stripes that compete for command of the painting in just these terms. Also, no other pictorial element so readily affirms the frontality of a picture or shores up large areas of open space in a painting that might otherwise implode; one sees

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  • Al Held

    Emmerich Gallery, Uptown

    Al Held’s new paintings at the Emmerich Galleries are in the gargantuan geometric mode he has been exploring for several years. Held seems to be bringing an unnecessarily heavy arsenal of effects to bear upon what is apparently the task of reintroducing space into painting. Each picture—most are black on white—is filled with precisely drawn geometric figures, cubes, slabs, rings, wedges, and such. Some of the figures are drawn so as to appear transparent, like classic optical illusions; others read as opaque; and some read as both opaque and transparent, at differing parts of the

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  • 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

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