reviews

  • Brice Marden

    Bykert Gallery

    Over the past few years, painting has been moving away from the classicizing work of the ’60s toward a more painterly involvement with material and gesture—thick paint against stain, matte against reflective, strident against lyrical color. In comparison, much of the work of the last decade, in which concept equals or surpasses materialization, looks chaste and retiring. Brice Marden, whose paintings share the reductive literalness of Minimal work, has, however, always been interested in the palpability of surface. The sensuous quality of his work links him to current concerns, even though he

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  • Kenneth Noland, Larry Zox

    André Emmerich Gallery uptown

    The involution of the modernist position is apparent in the work of younger artists, which repeats the pictorial conventions explored in the last decade. Within the support structure, this reconfirms the economic value of older modernist art, and even the older painters assure the value of their past work by continuing to refine it or by integrating the pictorial conventions of their colleagues. This is visible in Kenneth Noland’s recent show, whose refined and delicate work is the essence of taste and sensibility. He has amalgamated structures explored in the ’60s: stripes (his own), around

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  • Friedl Dzubas

    Lawrence Rubin

    Another aspect of current modernist painting involves the relational format, advocated as long as the work avoids “Cubist space”—the shallow, boxlike space of easel pictures—through the use of color. An accepted model for such work is Jack Bush, whose eccentric personal calligraphic forms may have inspired Friedl Dzubas, whose current exhibition demonstrates a similar manner of execution—deliberately awkward, the shapes operating between flatness and atmospheric illusion. Another painter using relational elements is Ronnie Landfield, whose recent paintings combine rectangles with quasi-Morris

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  • Ronnie Landfield

    André Emmerich Gallery downtown

    Another aspect of current modernist painting involves the relational format, advocated as long as the work avoids “Cubist space”—the shallow, boxlike space of easel pictures —through the use of color. An accepted model for such work is Jack Bush, whose eccentric personal calligraphic forms may have inspired Friedl Dzubas, whose current exhibition demonstrates a similar manner of execution—deliberately awkward, the shapes operating between flatness and atmospheric illusion. Another painter using relational elements is Ronnie Landfield, whose recent paintings combine rectangles with quasi-Morris

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  • Paul Wiesenfeld

    Robert Schoelkopf Gallery

    The problem with representational art is not its unreality, nor its exploitation of what Greenberg calls “sculptural illusion.” One kind of illusion is as real as another, and illusion is as real as any other allegedly real entity. A still-life painting is not less real than Carl Andre’s fire bricks. Illusion is a possibility, and in a certain sense, a necessity. Illusion is a necessity in the sense of the peculiar meaning that must attach to a notion of eliminating illusion: What would be eliminated, and what sort of thing would remain? As illusion exists as the product of the mental construction

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  • Jack Beal

    Frumkin Gallery

    There’s a lot more flash in Jack Beal’s paintings, in his obviously contrived compositions (“contrived” is not intended as a negative term), and in his garish colors. Beal’s show of four paintings at Frumkin also presents two similar paintings for comparison, but in this case, the distinctions are sharp ones. It’s not difficult to see Beal’s two versions of Danae, of 1965 and 1972, as developing from Titian’s painting of the same title, at least, in terms of the poses and the positioning of the figures. As Beal leaves out any suggestion of imminent impregnation by a shower of gold, it can be

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  • Roy Lichtenstein

    Castelli Gallery | Uptown

    Roy Lichtenstein’s show at Castelli uptown was, for me, something of a disappointment. After his successive shows of the “Mirrors” and “Entablatures,” the new still-life paintings seem to be a retreat in the direction of the modern old master, Matisse in this case, done in comic-strip style. Matisse is everywhere in the new paintings, and where he isn’t, images from earlier stages of Lichtenstein’s career appear in the form of a Matisse device. Artist’s Studio is like a strange detail of Matisse’s The Red Studio complete with a comic-strip style Art Nouveau plant in a vase on a table in the

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  • Saul Steinberg

    Sidney Janis Gallery and Betty Parsons Gallery

    Saul Steinberg has been known for a long time as an extremely unconventional cartoonist. In his books of more than a decade ago, the next page always represented the unknown. Steinberg’s drawings were never jokes with punch-line captions, and what appeared within balloons demonstrated its form, but was never legible. Penmanship became a linguistic alternative to syntax and semantics. Steinberg’s concurrent shows at Sidney Janis and Betty Parsons don’t contain this kind of constant surprise, but they are not without small, quiet ones.

    There are basically three kinds of work at the Janis Gallery:

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  • Jim Dine

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Jim Dine’s work once seemed to lie somewhere between the constellations of Johns-Rauschenberg and Pop art. His persistent use of objects in, or dangling from paintings put him on the side of Johns and Rauschenberg, while his subject matter, such as neckties, shoes, toothbrushes, and red bandanas, often brought him closer to Pop imagery. This is not to establish Johns-Rauschenberg and Pop art as opposing poles, but only to establish Dine’s work as generally existing between two major forces. Dine’s earlier work is probably closest to Oldenburg. Their work shares almost no common physical

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  • Lewis W. Hine and George A. Tice

    Witkin Gallery

    There is a glaring difference between the photographs of Lewis W. Hine and George A. Tice, shown in separate galleries at Witkin. The difference is indicative of photography’s problems and possibilities. Hine’s photographs are documentary, playing on our acceptance of the photograph as a reliable and accurate depiction of reality. Clearly, the presentation of a kind of social reality was the aim and achievement of Lewis Hine. The photographs shown at Witkin were made when Hine worked for The National Child Labor Committee in New York City, from 1908–30. All of these photographs are of workers

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  • Lynton Wells

    Cunningham Ward Gallery

    Lynton Wells’ work is a kind of synthesis of photography and painting. In his show at Cunningham Ward, there are four large four-panel works, and two smaller single-panel works which appear to be sketches. Wells’ works are large photographic prints made on photosensitized linen, stretched on a frame, and partially painted with black or white acrylic. The subjects photographed are a studio wall, and normal studio paraphernalia, such as ladders, reflector lamps, wires, and huge sheets of clear plastic. There is no special sense of the artist’s studio about the works, or of biography or personal

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  • Lynda Benglis

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    Lynda Benglis showed videotapes at Paula Cooper’s which seemed simultaneously boring, interesting, and funny. But there’s no point getting entangled trying to explain such an apparently contradictory response. Most of the time, the content of Benglis’ videotapes is another monitor screen, which sometimes shows still another monitor screen. Much of what appears on the screens is the visual static which occurs when a monitor is on, but the tape has run out. However in these tapes, the tape hasn’t necessarily run out at all. Usually the visual static is at one remove or more from the machine we’re

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  • Dan Flavin

    John Weber Gallery

    The announcement for Dan Flavin’s show at Weber reads accurately, “more circular fluorescent light, etc.,” though how many “more” depends on how the counting is done. The circular fluorescent light referred to, Untitled (In Memory of Barbara Schiller) 1, consists of two horizontal rows of circular lights, each at eye level, and spanning the length of opposite walls of the large front room at Weber. In a sense, the rows of lights measure the walls they occupy. The larger span of lights consists of 23 cool and 23 warm white lights, and 11 of each kind form the smaller row on the opposite wall. In

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  • David Tremlett

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    David Tremlett showed a number of pieces in his Projects exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art. Tremlett is British; his work relates in various ways to the landscape, and his travels through England and the rest of the world.

    The first piece, Green, consists of slides of the English countryside projected on a wall, in continual rotation. The shots are random and unslick (and, therefore, represent more nearly the way the countryside is really seen), generally alternating shots of trees, wooded paths, fences, with longer ones of farmlands and horizons. Green is peaceful, lulling, perhaps a bit

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  • Gene Davis, Sally Drummond, James Bishop, Doug Ohlson, Bill Jensen, Ray Parker, Robert Mangold, and Ron Gorchov

    Fischbach Gallery

    Fischbach mounted a group show of abstract painting, companion piece to the Realist painting show held earlier in the season. Gene Davis and Sally Drummond continue their abstract styles, which are neither credible or discreditable, filling the entire canvas respectively with vertical stripes and dots. James Bishop’s monochrome rust-colored painting, through which glows the faint outline of a window, is perhaps too close to Rothko’s work, as is a painting by Doug Ohlson. Still working with round sprayed shapes, Ohlson has increased their number until they overlap. The shapes in this painting,

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  • John Button, Alice Neel, Lowell Nesbit, Philip Pearlstein, George Schneeman, Sylvia Sleigh, and Rosemary Strider

    The School of Visual Arts

    “The Male Nude,” an exhibition organized by John Perreault at the School of Visual Arts Gallery, corroborates the claim of the most conservative art historians, that contemporary artists cannot draw the figure. Of course, the second half of that claim, that they therefore make abstract art does not, in this case, follow—although one might wish it had. The artists in this show are John Button, Alice Neel, Lowell Nesbitt, Philip Pearlstein, George Schneeman, Sylvia Sleigh, and Rosemary Strider. Their work all includes at least one (or in the case of Nesbitt, part of one) male nude. The work

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  • Rosemarie Castoro

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    In her third one-woman show at Tibor de Nagy, Rosemarie Castoro continues her use of gessoed Masonite rubbed with graphite which, when fixed to the wall, has the appearance of enlarged brushstrokes. This year’s work differs from previous work in that the squiggles and brushstrokes have now also become figures. As figures, the marks are usually undifferentiated outlines—“exoskeletal auras” Castoro calls them—but they are definitely figures, conveying the essential characteristics of human posture, silhouette, and movement. As before, the white wall serves as a ground for the marks which are now

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  • David Shapiro

    Poindexter Gallery

    David Shapiro’s work, seen at Poindexter, is more abstract than Castoro’s, but it too seems to have a problem with depiction. Shapiro paints soft, misty abstractions through which float little geometric bits and pieces, often accumulating in the corners of the painting. The paintings are vertical and horizontal rectangles, usually elegant and narrow. The colors are subdued: gray white tinged with rose or blue, or golden browns fading to black. The effect is a foggy light which either recedes into or hangs in front of the surface, depending upon color, layer, and tonal transition. The canvas

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  • Loretta Dunkelman, Rachel bas-Cohain

    A.I.R. Gallery

    Loretta Dunkelman, showing at A.I.R., works with oil and wax base chalks on paper. Three of the four very large works on exhibit are white and divided by grids. Underneath the layers of white are ones of colors, usually pink or lavender, which give the white a faint color and which are particularly visible at the grids. The surfaces are very reflective, and there is a tendency for them to seem overly spread out and vague, particularly in the pieces with large grids and little color. The most successful large piece is Ice Wall which has the smallest grid and greater density of surface. It is

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  • 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,

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  • Salvatore Romano

    Max Hutchinson Gallery

    Nonfigurative sculpture usually refers either to architecture or to nature. Post-Minimal sculpture, for example, has largely been concerned with making a return to nature (random principles of distribution; accidental, gestural structuring; loose, organic, unmanufactured looking materials, etc.) in reaction to the rigorous architecturally oriented Minimal work of the mid-’60s. One of the problems Minimal sculpture often failed to solve involved its competition with architecture when located in an exterior urban setting. As a stand-in for architecture, it functioned to maximum effect when it

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  • Roger Fenton, Francis Frith, Clarence Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, William Bell, Timothy O'Sullivan, William Henry Jackson, Frederick Sommer, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Paul Caponigro, William Dane, Henry Wessel, Jr., and Gary L. Hallman

    Emily Lowe Gallery, Hofstra University

    Landscape and Discovery, at the Emily Lowe Gallery, Hofstra University, presented a clear, informative view of landscape photography, at least for those somewhat unfamiliar with its extensive history and development, of which I am one. The 100-odd photographs by 14 19th- and 20th-century photographers trace the development of photography from a purely documentary use to one which is increasingly personal, though not necessarily more esthetic. What remains clear is that, despite technical developments, also clearly delineated in this exhibition, and despite an increasingly personal use of the

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  • Don Cole, Richard tum Suden

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    In the current period of post-Minimal impurity, a tendency to overdo is beginning to emerge that may undermine recent gains in pictorial complexity. There was considerable evidence to this effect on the walls of the Whitney Museum during the Biennial where overly detailed and redundant paintings seemed to predominate. Much the same must be said for the recent show of paintings by Don Cole and Richard Tum Suden at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery.

    What possessed gallery or artists to mount a joint exhibition of two such similar painters is beyond my comprehension. Both artists use a wide variety of

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  • Ed Ruscha

    Castello Gallery uptown

    Charles Sheeler, who was a photographer as well as a painter, is often hailed as the father of recent developments in photo-Realism. His true son and heir may be Ed Ruscha, a painter, draftsman, and photographer living in Los Angeles. One can’t help feeling their similarities in front of Ruscha’s 14 recent drawings of stained sheets of paper. Precisely toned in gunpowder, single or stacked, their sharp, clean linearity, lucid light, and distinct shadows recall Sheeler’s watercolors of sunlit factory walls. Their metallic silvery tonalities also conjure up his stark light contrasts.

    Whereas Ruscha

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  • Ray Parker

    Fischbach Gallery uptown

    Ray Parker, like Al Held, Ellsworth Kelly, Sam Francis, Grace Hartigan, Paul Jenkins, Joan Mitchell, Jack Youngerman, and Kenneth Noland, belongs to the second generation of “New American Painting.” His stylistic brother in this group is Jack Youngerman, with whom he is often linked. They seceded together from the rest of their generation, sharing a reverence for Matisse, especially his late collages, that encouraged them to get close to Matisse’s style. In so doing they separated themselves from the Constructivist orientation in current American painting.

    In the late ’50s and early ’60s, Parker’s

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