New York

Agnes Denes

If diligence, intellectual curiosity, a good heart, and attention to detail are qualities necessary to produce a work of art, Agnes Denes has them all. Her encyclopedic simplifications and systemizations of everything from evolution to esthetics, from truth to traffic patterns, are occasionally so densely compacted that they seem fictional (her Dialectical Triangulations, for instance). At other times they are so open and simple they seem naive, like her x-rays of art works to “get at” the artist’s hidden meaning. The recent show at A.I.R. contained the results of a whole range of her investigations presented in a variety of modes. She has invented her own process of photographing and producing huge prints which enables her to put her conclusions into visual form with a maximum of comprehensiveness and a minimum of confusion. Her latest elongated print, Psychograph, is her most fascinating work from a purely associative point of view. It shows the results of analyses by two psychologists (unidentified) of the responses made by 12 well-known artists (also unidentified) to her questionnaire about their aspirations and thoughts on art. It evokes general feelings of a poetic sort about the role of an artist in today’s society and about art in general. She may perhaps be tilting at windmills, but each foray she makes seems to be more successful than the last. Her lack of intimidation in the face of sophisticated material equals the futility of ever coming to know and codify everything.

––Agnes Denes