New York

Joe Perlman

André Emmerich Gallery downtown

Joel Perlman exhibited sculpture of welded steel in his first New York one-man show. The work is fairly small and low; his general compositional formula is to arrange a number of beams of varying length and thickness on, under, or tangent to one or two relatively flat square or circular shapes. The beams on or tangent to these flat shapes can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal; those underneath are usually horizontal. Except for a couple of the smallest pieces which incorporate upright flat pieces, the work adheres to this formula. One source of variety is increasing the thickness of the beams, which alters the scale and the relationship of parts somewhat. The work owes a great deal to Anthony Caro and some to Michael Steiner. There is a suggestion of leaning and piling, a casualness of arrangement which probably has its source in Richard Serra, but which is used here with an absence of balance and tension. Some pieces seem casually placed in compositions which are arbitrary and indeterminate; they could be arranged any number of ways except they are welded together. There is not much to say about this work except that Perlman has the usual competence and facility, and to wonder why it needs to be done. The objection is not so much to his work as it is to the boring, undifferentiated continuance of both the Emmerich and the Caro lines.

Roberta Pancoast Smith