reviews

  • “3D Into 2D: Drawing For Sculpture”

    The New York Cultural Center

    Recently there has been much controversy between artists involved in reistic concerns and those attempting to define the paradigms of these art forms. While this investigation is valuable as a heuristic device, definitional paradigms can only analyze the relationship of particular modes to the culture of a given period. Such explanations form a metalanguage which assorts and criticizes subsets within the more comprehensive paradigms in which these languages are contained. However, even the most acute metalanguage is incapable of recreating a physical work, able only to supply a skeleton or

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  • Sol LeWitt

    John Weber Gallery

    Drawing as the result of conceptual premise, yielding results which transcend the structures upon which they are based, can be seen in the work of Dorothea Rockburne and Sol LeWitt. In Rockburne’s series, Drawing that Makes Itself, the information is contained within operations intrinsic to the activity of drawing, such as folds which create both line and edge.

    The drawing of Sol LeWitt, one of the first to establish the systematic attitude as a structure for work, may be seen in relation to the wall drawings currently at the John Weber Gallery. The drawing in the larger room consists of all

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  • Mel Bochner

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Mel Bochner’s drawings, which can be written about in connection to his current show at Sonnabend, operate as materialized idea pointing toward signification rather than attempting to define it. Much of his work is drawing—the setting forth of boundaries for the purpose of location and placement. His pieces have often involved the nonentities of relational connectives between substantive states, represented in language by conjunctions and prepositions—“between,” “on,” “in,” “and,” “or.” Bochner finds models for postulates, Euclidean axioms about space and objects in space, so that each postulate

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  • Joseph Beuys

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    The drawings of Joseph Beuys involve configurations of words—maps or diagrams, notations rather than pictorial concretions—which point toward a cosmological drawing on the dialectic of revolution through art or creativity, the “leap from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom,” as Engels wrote in Anti-Duhring. The material of the actual drawings is inconsequent. The relationship between terms—such as “art,” “science,” “religion,” “collective unconscious,” “past history,” “freedom,” “transmitter,” “receiver,” “Revolution,” “creativity”—constitutes Beuys’ poetics. The plot, characters,

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  • Dorothea Rockburne

    Bykert Gallery

    Dorothea Rockburne’s new work really is new work. Her work over the last year has undergone such a consistent and complete change that the only continuity maintained with earlier work is the continued use of paper as a physical material forming the work rather than simply receiving the forms of the work. The most significant difference in her new work Drawing Which Makes Itself at Bykert is the replacement of set theory as a structuring principle imposed on the work from without with a logic which structures the work entirely from within it, and as such, the structure of the work and the work

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  • Larry Bell

    Pace Gallery

    Larry Bell showed two works at Pace similar to those shown last year in which his now characteristic vacuum-plated glass panes stand vertically at right angles on the floor. As has often been described, Bell’s vacuum-plating process results in a pane of glass which is transparent on the left side, for example, and is a mirror on the right side; between those two extremes is a confusing middle ground in which the transparent almost imperceptibly becomes mirror so that the center portion of the glass is both at once. To move from the mirrored portion of the glass, in which one sees a bright clear

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  • Robert Mangold

    Fischbach Gallery

    Since the mid-’60s, Robert Mangold’s art has been unusually consistent, without the degree of repetition that so much consistency generally implies. Like his paintings, each shift in his progress has been subtle and complex. The early sprayed Masonite panels of the “Area” paintings can be thought of as examples of hard Minimalist facts in which lines were the consequent of the physical limits of surfaces. Or, they can be thought of as logical sets in which the whole for each painting was given and known even when only a fragment of the whole was actually present as the work: Given the existence

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  • Robert Zakanych

    Cunningham Ward Gallery

    Robert Zakanych’s paintings at Cunningham Ward are about normal size in current terms, meaning large but not that large, and they look something like unfinished wallpaper. The canvases are divided into large regular grids which don’t fit the paintings evenly but are, in a sense, cropped, and within or overlaid on the grids are regularly repeated patterns such as cloverleafs, circles, and uniform stacked wavy bands. In all four of the paintings the center portions are finished, at least comparatively, in that the patterns have been completely filled in, covering the white canvas; the areas moving

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  • William Scott

    Martha Jackson

    It is difficult to look at William Scott’s large show of paintings at Martha Jackson and not think at all of Robert Motherwell, which seems to mean, if only implicitly, thinking of Matisse and Miró as well. There is no problem distinguishing Scott’s paintings from theirs, but the particular way representational shapes and still-life situations are reduced to simple abstract forms, and in many paintings, the way the paint is handled, the kind of line and brushwork around a line is so close to those painters that comparison and the sense of a certain degree of derivation seems to me unavoidable.

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  • Laurace James

    A.I.R. Gallery

    Laurace James continues to work with wood, ropes, pulleys, rocks, and in her show at A.I.R., bricks as well. In a sense, two of the three works in her show are one work by being isolated sections of a “separated diptych.” Both of the works of the diptych are essentially the same: One brick and a bundle of three bricks are suspended at the opposite ends of a rope which is itself suspended by a hinged set of vertical planks against the wall and a complex of pulleys. The bricks attain a suspended balance in just about any position but the most extreme ones, in which case the bundle of three bricks

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  • Frank Stella

    Castelli Gallery | Uptown

    Frank Stella had nine relief paintings at Leo Castelli’s during January. These new works, all from 1972, grow out of the late irregularly shaped, juttingly angular—but flat—compositions, although developmentally they seem like forced mutations.

    Stella is one of the masters of our time, which sometimes makes change as difficult for us, the audience, as for him, the painter. He is under one obligation to remain satisfactorily himself and under another to keep moving. The question of in just what direction the resultant vector will pull always has a certain urgency. Also, his real achievements are

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  • Robert Natkin

    André Emmerich Gallery

    Robert Natkin showed a dozen new works at André Emmerich’s in January and February, all under the general title Intimate Lighting and all dating from 1972. I take the group title as simple indication of mood rather than a direct reference to the film of the same name. The paintings turn on a lyricism that is delicate but rich enough in large doses to threaten satiation. It is all very pleasing, even if the works massed together begin to produce a kind of heartburn of sensitivity as we move on to the next.

    The paintings strive at once for flavorful colorism and graphic sedateness. Patches of color

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  • Abraham Walkowitz

    Zabriskie Gallery

    I used to think of Abraham Walkowitz as one of those “pioneer American modernists” who deserves, but needs, the benefit of the doubt: definitely a favorite son candidate. I have more respect for him after having seen an exhibition called “Abraham Walkowitz: the Early Years” at the Zabriskie Gallery in January. The guy is far from perfect, but he is amazingly good. Some of the drawings in ink and watercolor of Isadora Duncan, for example, are as gross as they are interesting. And yet one of his earliest paintings, Harbor Scene (c. 1895–1905), is so much more than merely accomplished as to stretch

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  • Florine Stettheimer

    Columbia University

    Florine Stettheimer (1871–1944) was as ultrasophisticated as she was primitivistic. Her mature paintings—one of the very best is, I think, a circus picture in the Hartford Atheneum—combine a delicately dematerialized Rococo handling of the figure, in an airy space, with an orange icelike brightness of hue.

    From February to March, Columbia University exhibited more than 60 of Stettheimer’s paintings, watercolors, and drawings, together with sketchbooks and scenographic projects, in the rotunda of Low Memorial Library. The works, which comprise a gift to the University of the Ettie Stettheimer

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  • IX Painters

    Fordham University

    Nine women showed one painting apiece in a show called IX Painters at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus in February. The setup was somewhat inept, not because of a cramped and inaccessible space as much as the promotional attitude. An accompanying catalogue, in tabloid form, announces “IX PAINTERS — 9 Styles” (styles come cheap?) and quips coyly, “Coincidentally, all the painters are women.” The two most professional efforts were Alice Baber’s Wind-Divided Mist the Darker (1972) — something like a color-field work seen though a kaleidoscope and Loretta Dunkelman’s Sky Series: Summer of ’71, a

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  • Stanley Boxer

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    Stanley Boxer’s articulate paintings in oil on linen, shown at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in January, have two levels. There is, first, a clearcut graphic design. Then there is a sensitive in-painting, in parallel strokes usually, of the defined forms, in colors that tend to be pastels; these areas, regarded in themselves, vary in density from the almost spacious to the opaque.

    The paintings have a rather British look, partly, no doubt, because of the even but highly textural unbleached linen, but also because the compositions can resemble Victor Pasmore’s. American attachments, however, are

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  • Donald Judd

    Castelli Gallery

    Don Judd’s two new plywood multiunit works, one cubic, the other rhomboid, are among his largest to date. The taller of the two is 6’5“ high, larger than most people, and as a result, the new work represents a major jump in his internal scale and volumetricity. His usual pattern with floor or wall pieces (that were not stacked or ”Stacks") was to establish their height below or congruent with the average person’s line of sight. This prevented the objects from looking flat against their ground while it stressed their humanness and underplayed their quasi-architectural role.

    One of the major

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  • Dennis Oppenheim

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Dennis Oppenheim exhibited four pieces in his recent one-man show at Sonnabend. I’m not overly familiar with Oppenheim’s previous work, but it seems to have varied quite a bit, including Earthworks, performance pieces, body art, their combinations, and documentation through film and photography. The work in this show involves aspects of the earlier work. The four pieces differ, but each is concerned with creating, within the gallery, the psychological essence of a larger system or situation. The work is autobiographical in that Oppenheim, either by choice or circumstance, is intimately involved

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  • Ernest Briggs and Edward Dugmore

    Green Mountain Gallery

    Ernest Briggs, born 1923, Edward Dugmore, born 1915, and Michael Goldberg, born 1924, are members of the second generation of Abstract Expressionism. They all flourished during the ’50s, working out of the pioneering efforts of the first generation of American art pioneers. Briggs and Dugmore were influenced by Clyfford Still, Goldberg by Willem de Kooning. Briggs studied with Still at the California School of Fine Arts and was a close follower of his work. Though his paintings in The Museum of Modern Art’s “12 Americans” show in 1956 have a powerful diagonal thrust and a fractured New York kind

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  • Michael Goldberg

    Paley and Lowe Gallery

    Michael Goldberg’s linear gestures no longer register with Abstract Expressionist emotional intensity. He was a close de Kooning follower in the ’50s, like Milton Resnick but not so consciously or so effectively. The counterinfluence of his teacher Hans Hofmann probably did a great deal to stabilize Goldberg’s imagery. He has undergone the most stylistic change of the three artists. In this year’s show at Paley and Lowe he has moved into opulent vertical configurations in gold and dark green which have a self-consciously screenlike appearance. They are oddly reminiscent of turn-of-the-century

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  • Harry Kramer

    55 Mercer Street Coop

    Harry Kramer is another. His show at 55 Mercer Street of very large black-and-white geometrical paintings was dedicated to Izaak Walton, who wrote a great deal about fishing, because Kramer is an inveterate angler himself. The paintings (full of angles) are wittily titled with lines about fishing. Kramer has been painting Neoplastically during much of the ’60s, consciously trying to invest his former Kline-like imagery with the structural inevitability of a Mondrian. He alternates between black-and-white and color paintings, but for the past few years he has been working primarily in black-and-white.

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  • Liliana Porter

    Hundred Acres

    The work of three artists exhibited recently seems involved with the relationship between reality and illusion in an explicitly physical sense. Liliana Porter’s paintings and prints, seen at Hundred Acres, center on the combination and confusion of real elements with their images. Actual screw eyes, nails, string, holes, and shadows are used beside their photo-silkscreen images. For example, a large white canvas is slit across the top front edge so the canvas corners curl forward, revealing the wooden stretcher. Toward the center, the canvas is reattached to the stretcher by two nails, complete

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  • Wayne Stephens

    141 Prince Street

    Wayne Stephens’ approach to illusion and reality, unlike Porter’s, is definitely within the context of painting. While Porter employs images which are deceptively real, Stephens employs real elements which are deceptively two-dimensional. His paintings are large (7’ x 14’) and monochrome. The entire surface of each painting is a fine matte texture, except for the curved stretcher edges where the paint is applied in a smooth, shiny gloss. A red and a cream painting each consist of nothing more than the differentiated applications of paint and the curved edges, which create a continuous surface

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  • Louis Lieberman

    James Yu

    Louis Lieberman, at James Yu, is another artist working directly and rather belatedly on the wall, following, like Porter, a path opened by Sol LeWitt, Richard Tuttle, and Dorothea Rockburne, etc. Unlike Porter’s work Lieberman’s is all real and does not involve illusion, although it presents a somewhat unreal phenomenon. Fiberglass bas-relief forms are glued to the wall, spackled and painted until they are continuous with its surface. The result is a network of intersecting tunnellike lines. Different patterns are formed in each piece—a square, a group of small crisscrosses, a long vertical

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  • Porfirio Di Donna

    Jam

    The paintings of Porfirio Di Donna were also exhibited at James Yu. Di Donna’s medium and small square paintings are pale in color and completely covered with dots evenly spaced along parallel lines. Both the lines and the dots occur at approximately one-inch intervals. The dots are almost too small to be seen; their accumulation, their changes in color, and the lines they are on, account for what is seen in each painting. The dots covering one vertical half of a pale pink canvas are dark red, blue, and green, while on the other half they are orange. From a distance this reads as two kinds of

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  • Tim Deverell

    x

    The accumulation of tiny units into a relatively single, unvaried surface is also basic to the paintings of Tim Deverell. As with Di Donna’s work, what you see is not what you are looking at. The paintings consist of closely placed imaginary organic fragments and organisms which vaguely suggest plant or animal life without being recognizably either. They are cartoon-like, similar to parts of creatures from Breughel or Dr. Seuss. These little things, whatever they are, and the shallow space they inhabit, are usually nearly the same color (red, blue, gray, or orange). From a distance, the paintings

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  • William Pettet

    Willard Gallery

    William Pettet’s previously cloudlike lyrical abstractions, which very often brought to mind a Baroque ascension into heaven, have acquired some structure. The paintings in his most recent one-man show at the Willard Gallery are usually broken into relatively discrete areas, either horizontal, vertical, or slightly diagonal. They seem primarily involved with the tension created by combining different physical surfaces. Smooth opaque areas are juxtaposed to heavily impastoed or poured ones, and both or either of these to areas built up of several translucent layers of color. All three things

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  • Edvins Strautmanis

    Logiudice Gallery

    Edvins Strautmanis’ paintings, seen at LoGiudice, are very similar to some of de Kooning’s done during the late ’50s and early ’60s. Those paintings were, for de Kooning, rather diluted, and Strautmanis continues the dilution. He may even, if only because of the current state of painting, transcend it. The canvas has once again become an arena for heroic activity. The velocity of that activity is the most prominent aspect of the work. It appears to have been created at top speed with broad continuous strokes zigzagging side to side or top to bottom, spewing aside splatters and drips. In several

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  • Alice Baber

    A.M. Sachs

    Alice Baber showed recent paintings at A.M. Sachs while that gallery mounted a larger exhibition of both her recent and earlier work at 141 Prince Street. The combined exhibitions cover about 13 years of work and reveal that Baber has progressed toward a form of abstraction that increasingly relates to natural events. Several paintings from 1959–62 consist of round edgeless spheres which spread into each other. The use of a narrow range of bright color, which varies mostly in terms of value, encourages this spread. Several paintings are primarily bright pink with a little red and orange; others

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  • Howardena Pindell

    A.I.R

    Howardena Pindell’s paintings at A.I.R. result from the buildup of small dots into fields of color. Pindell works on raw canvas, using a technique which is vaguely pointillist and achieves an interesting degree of variety within her very defined means. The paintings primarily reveal the way different colors accumulate, in terms of space and surface. For example, there are two paintings which are predominantly a rust orange color; in the first this color is interspersed with blue and a lighter orange and in the second with a pale green. The dark rust consequently occupies different spatial

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  • Harmony Hammond

    A.I.R. Gallery

    Harmony Hammond, also at A.I.R., exhibited a diverse group of work which ranged from woven baskets and sandals (which I mistook for American Indian products at first) to painted collages made of brown paper and shopping bags. Between these extremes of “craft” and “art” were small woven handbags painted and decorated with human hair, pencil drawings of various types of weaves and braids, and several much larger handbags and garments. The last two types, because of their size and number, seem to be the work with which Hammond is presently most involved. The bags hang from their handles on the

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  • Martha Mayer Erlbacher

    Schoelkopf Gallery

    Martha Mayer Erlbacher showed a number of paintings, watercolors, and drawings at Schoelkopf. Her work is figurative and eclectic. In several paintings, single male and female nudes stand or are enthroned on Renaissance terrazzo floors backed by the ocean, cliffs, or other majestic vistas. The paintings are uniformly pale in color, the figures reminiscent of Botticelli except for their lack of warmth and suppleness and a vacancy which makes them seem very surreal. Their similarity to late pre-Raphaelite painting twice removes them from their source of information. A number of small watercolors

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