reviews

  • Robert Indiana

    Denise René Gallery

    The Denise René Gallery showed works by Robert Indiana in November and December, the first one-man show for this artist since 1966. A lot has changed in this city and the world since then, but not much has changed in Indiana’s art. I found this engaging, however, and more a question of consistency than of bald stubbornness. If Robert Indiana is a “Johnny One-Note,” he does get an almost oriental range out of his single string.

    The show consisted of two series, Decade Autoportraits (1971)—ten paintings each spanning the years 1960–69 in the artist’s life—together with a huge linear, sequential

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  • Gastone Novelli

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Nine paintings by Gastone Novelli (1925–68) all from the last year or two of his life, hung in The Museum of Modern Art in late November and early December. Despite the superficial laxity—or even fiddling sloppiness—of their facture, Novelli’s paintings escape from the tedious decadence of the European post-Surrealist situation. Four or five of the works, in their extreme narrowness and verticality and their patternization, evoke Viennese Sezession painting: Novelli was born in Vienna, and there may be something to the analogy.

    But if Novelli himself was interested in “secession” as an act he

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  • Albert E. Gallatin

    Zabriskie Gallery

    Paintings by Albert E. Gallatin from the ’30s were shown in November at the Zabriskie Gallery. For the purpose of the exhibition “the ’30s” meant 1936–40, simply because Gallatin was doing Realist painting for the ten years before that. When you come down to it, the period covered was really 1936–39, except for one collage that wasn’t finished by New Year’s. I mention this because it may indicate the beginnings of an overenthusiasm that we could do without. It is true that a lot of decent American modernist painting got overlooked. But we can already sense the beginnings of an indiscriminate

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  • Erté

    Rizzoli Bookstore

    Erté comes from a generation in which you had to wait a very long time before you could expect to be revived. Somehow he always knew the day would come. Hundreds of examples of his inexhaustible supply of drawings were on display at the Rizzoli Bookstore in November.

    It is true that Erté has a very special, very narrow charm. But I don’t take readily to most of what he has done, mainly because he produces that offensive product, the art surrogate. Erté is an old Peter Max with an overlay of nostalgia, peddled at ripoff prices. I find him even more annoyingly flaccid than Beardsley, without the

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  • Charles Ross

    John Weber Gallery

    Light is an archetypical symbol with similar meanings in many cultures; it is used as a metaphor for visibility and warmth, understanding and knowledge. In painting, beyond any metaphorical content, light is an essential aspect of color and shape—the tonalities capable of conveying incandescence ranging from tenebroso and chiaroscuro to plein air painting and the abstract luminousness of Rothko and Reinhardt. However, at the source of light as a pictorial means is light as pure energy and information. Light as an aspect of the energy field, while not always consciously used within the art context,

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  • Dan Flavin

    Castelli Gallery

    Light as information has been the subject of Dan Flavin’s work over the last decade. Within his luminous spaces, light is dissociated from metaphors implicit in sources of natural light, while avoiding the commercial and Pop art aspects of other neon activity. Flavin’s work is moving toward purity of format and illumination. It is almost necessary to approach his art through negative description. Since his pieces use material as the vehicle for incandescence, it seems mistaken to view his work as sculptural. Because the luminescent areas are not illusory, the work is neither painterly nor

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  • Jane Kaufmann

    Paley And Lowe Gallery

    Jane Kaufmann’s new paintings at Paley and Lowe are almost black with glimmers of deep purple, green, alizarin, and blue. They generate more light than her earlier high-keyed paintings, for light must qualify itself as it emerges from opaque depths, the lack of contrast increasing the intensity of luminescence. Unlike Flavin’s work, Kaufmann’s paintings encourage metaphorical associations such as night and sky, the cosmic and universal. However, this expression remains within inherited conventions of field painting. The consistently modulated variations are similar to Olitski’s work, although

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  • Harry Callahan

    Light Gallery

    Harry Callahan’s recent exhibition at Light Gallery shows his continued interest in relationships of texture, space, and light around the subjects of city buildings, beach landscapes, and wooded areas. His work is essentially unmanipulated (the image isn’t changed after it is taken), although he has made extensive use of multiple exposures and has explored various perspectival distortions—the perception of one’s position in space while simultaneously seeing up, down, and at the periphery of one’s vision. Callahan, who developed a program in photography at the University of Illinois under

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  • Laura Dean And Dance Company

    Logiudice Gallery

    Laura Dean and her dance company, who have performed alone and with Steve Reich, recently presented two performances of Dean’s Circle Dance at the LoGuidice Gallery. Ten dancers, including Dean, move clockwise and counterclockwise in circles marked on the floor, in count cycles ranging from over 500 to two beats. The dancers, equidistant from each other in each concentric circle, move with a tiny shuffling step, the resulting sound almost like stamping—1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2—equally accented except for the slight variations of personalized syncopation. At given intervals, they change direction,

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  • Les Levine

    Fischbach Gallery

    Les Levine’s Position occupied almost half of the downtown Fischbach Gallery, while selected video works, Bodyscape, an enormous aggregation of 150 photographs in six horizontal rows adding up to a full-length portrait of Levine “on its side,” and Landscape, another photographic work seemed to be there almost because a certain amount of space was left over from Position. Position is a sort of political art talent test. Photographs of windows were taken following certain rules regarding the place from which the photograph was made, such as standing as far to the right of the window as possible

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  • Michael Snow

    The Center For Inter-American Relations

    Since Michael Snow’s reputation rests largely on his films, it is no surprise that about half of his show, “About 30 Works by Michael Snow” at the Center for Inter-American Relations, are films. I cannot comment on La Région Centrale as I haven’t yet seen it, and there isn’t much point in my writing about those films I have seen as Snow’s cinematic production has already been so thoroughly analyzed as to make my comments repetitious and naive. The rest of Snow’s art, that which more conventionally fits into a gallery situation, is not as powerful as his films but can be seen to show the same

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  • Barbara Zucker

    A.I.R. Gallery

    It is difficult to know what to do with Barbara Zucker’s show at A.I.R. Common to the four pieces in her show was what could be called a flat blob of latex, which in one case wasn’t latex at all, but plaster. Two of the works related to painting, if for no other reason than by being on the wall. One of them consisted of small latex blobs dispersed on a large sheet of white paper tacked to the wall; the dispersal was allover, and tufts of kapok were stuck on or stuck out of most of the latex blobs. The other work was similar but without the mediation of paper between the latex and the wall. This

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  • Richard Nonas

    112 Greene Street

    The difficulty in Richard Nonas’ work at 112 Greene Street is in not thinking of Carl Andre’s early work, especially the wooden pieces stacked in various ways, and Nonas seems to be after the same physical “thereness.” Nonas’ works tend to stay simpler than some of Andre’s similar works, which at times and within a narrow context, became somewhat Baroque. There are 13 works on the floor of the gallery, and most of them have the same general arrangements of lumber, the size of which varies with different works. Two pieces of lumber of the same size are placed on the floor parallel to each other;

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  • Edward Avedisian

    Robert Elkon Gallery

    Not too long ago, to talk about painting was to talk about the great issues of painting, and then, there may have been something to those great issues, but if so, there doesn’t seem to be much to them now. Generally, to speak of the great issues now seems not so much a lapsing into poetry as into metaphysics. The point is not to wage a monthly assault on formalist painting, for the assaults were made quite some time ago, but remarkably, formalist paintings continue to be churned out, which is admirable if you look at it one way, and ridiculous looking at it another way. Edward Avedisian’s

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  • John Hoyland

    Andre Emmerich Downtown

    John Hoyland’s paintings at Emmerich downtown are subject to the same nonproblems, but there does seem to be some evidence of thought in his work, and his work can be considered as something of a commentary on these nonproblems. Basically, three sorts of things go on in Hoyland’s new paintings: staining and drip-staining which forms the ground of each painting; squeegeed rectangular shapes of thick acrylic; and thick blobs of acrylic which appear to have been splattered against the canvas. Within this methodology, there are, at the extremes, two kinds of paintings. Some of the paintings are an

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  • Gary Bower

    O.K. Harris Gallery

    Hoyland’s show consisted of two kinds of paintings only when considered in terms of the extremes, but there was a middle ground between the extremes so that his paintings could be seen as a progression. However, Gary Bower’s show at O.K. Harris was a case of excluded middle and consisted of two distinct kinds of paintings, which are supposedly not chronologically distinct. Four of Bower’s paintings were a continuation of his earlier work based on horizontal-vertical-diagonal grid structures; but the new grid paintings are made of layers of gestural brushstrokes within which the grid of masking

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  • Adolph Gottlieb

    Marlborough Gallery | New York

    Adolph Gottlieb’s first one-man show in New York since 1967 rounds out the series we’ve seen this fall of new paintings by major Abstract Expressionists. Despite his recent serious illness his familiar images—the blasts or burst and the imaginary landscape—look stronger than they have in many years. He has even broken with his expected vertical format to create a huge horizontal triptych. The usual system is to bisect the canvas horizontally into broad areas of nuanced ground. He then activates one or both sides of this separation with sky or earth symbols. Gottlieb’s retinal color operates to

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  • Harold Bruder

    Forum Gallery

    Some interesting aspects of the handling of subject matter are raised by three exhibitions of representational painting. Harold Bruder is the most problematic of the three artists. His attitude toward the subjects he depicts is abstract. Rhetorical gestures abound, but no specific messages are being conveyed. The paintings recall the work of Puvis de Chavannes—many figures standing about in studied poses dressed in voluminous classical robes but not communicating with one another. In Celebration, with figures in dance-like positions, he raises more questions than he answers. We are given no

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  • Willard Midgette

    Frumkin Gallery

    The cool detachment of Bruder’s approach is similar to that of Willard Midgette. Midgette is quite specific about his subject matter, however; in Choreography: The Paul Taylor Company, for example, he intends each head to be a likeness and renders each environmental detail as exactly as possible. The endeavor eliminates all significant traces of the artist’s sensibility normally discernible in color and touch. Neither has any independent existence in his work. They are completely subjugated to the illusionistic rendition of his subject. The ingenuousness of Midgette’s approach, like that of an

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  • Wolf Kahn

    Borgenicht Gallery

    Wolf Kahn, working in an Impressionist style, takes a disinterested attitude toward specificity of his subject. He is more interested in painterly means than either Bruder or Midgette. Some of his country barn and house paintings are practically abstract, having been blurred out of focus. This is especially true of the gray, fog-enshrouded earlier landscapes. Kahn aligns barn edges with the picture edge, eliminates detail, and uses strong compositional thrusts in many of his paintings; these formal devices save the paintings from banality. The painterliness of his impasto operates to advantage

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  • Louise Nevelson

    Pace Gallery

    Louise Nevelson has returned to the black wooden conglomerate constructions which are her hallmark. She exhibited similar black sculptures at the age of 59 in her 1958 “Moon Garden Plus One” exhibition. This was her first “environmental” exhibition of the work of her mature style, which coalesced in the (and in her) mid-’50s. The current show, entitled “Houses,” but not confined to that configuration alone, includes dollhouses, armoires, columns, plaques, a table, and two large wall-size reliefs. All the work is cluttered; every cavity is filled and each surface is articulated with wooden trim,

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  • Agnes Denes

    A.I.R. Gallery

    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

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  • Giovanni Anselmo

    Weber Gallery

    Giovanni Anselmo’s exhibition consisted of several small gray framing projectors located within the large room at John Weber’s and a single, wall-sized photograph on canvas in the smaller gallery. The photograph shows the artist from an aerial view running away from the camera in a field of grass on which the figure is centered. Entitled Entering Into the Work, it is an obvious play on the Abstract Expressionist notion of being “in the work” which is half pun and half a misreading of the idea of Action Painting. The huge size of the canvas, of course, includes the viewer in the work too, which

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  • Ronald Bladen

    Fischbach Gallery

    Ronald Bladen occupies a sculptural position that is exactly opposite to that of Louise Nevelson. His work is holistic, fully threedimensional, and clean of surface. But the unbroken black skins of his pieces hide an Expressionist heart that his resolutely Minimal stance rarely permits us to see. His recent show of plywood prototypes and drawings, however, exposed this interior world in a small model for Coltrane, 1969, which bristled with aggressive nails and splinters of roughly cut plywood. Looking for all the world like a Piranesi prison, it is a maze of engineering complexity so dense it

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  • Thomas Bang

    O.K. Harris

    Thomas Bang’s repertory of small, floor-bound plaster block and wire coil sculptures has been augmented this year. The new works, also small in scale, are six wall pieces in wire and black rubber. They play similar kinds of competition, connection, and counting games with the viewer, but stress the flexibility of their materials and coloristically incorporate the whiteness of the wall in a pictorial way as well. Bang’s work explores interesting nonfigurative, nonarchitectural, and sculptural ideas. One is grateful for the lack of histrionics.

    ––April Kingsley

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