reviews

  • Klaus Rinke

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    “Don’t mind what he says, mind what he does,” is a trite, useful tip for looking at much of post-Conceptual art. The gap between artworks and discussion that certain artists used to complain was widest between art and philosophy of art, and, rarely, narrowest between art and art criticism still exists—but the culprits are new. Artists themselves are to blame. They are the new wordmongers. As a belated rebuke to Duchamp’s claim that painting and sculpture weren’t at the service of the mind, and as a backlash to the view of the artist as a dunce, the artist who creates visual forms has been

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  • Al Held

    André Emmerich Gallery

    Al Held had a big show at the André Emmerich galleries mounted uptown and downtown at the same time. The black-on-white pictures and the white-on-black ones relate like black- and red-figured vase painting. Held’s works have never made me feel grateful in any way for encountering them. They don’t tell me anything, and they don’t make me feel good either.

    Held’s light, structural, angular grids sometimes remind me of Stuart Davis, as much in their patternistic jumble on the surface as in some of their internal forms. But I would rather look at a Stuart Davis any day.

    I find Held’s tricks with

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  • Kimber Smith

    André Emmerich Gallery downtown

    Kimber Smith has been around for a long time, although mostly in Europe, which is why he may seem like a new face. In fact, he has been around so long—he was born in 1929—that while his painterly abstraction is fully contemporary, it actually rests on the experience of sharing in the original flowering of Abstract-Expressionist painting in the United States.

    His new paintings from 1972 and 1973 are mostly loose and light, and relaxed in an offhand way. That, combined with his expatriation, may suggest Cy Twombly, but the flavor is more like Matisse—when he charms by contented laziness, putting

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  • Alexander Archipenko

    Pace | 32 East 57th Street

    The Pace Gallery held an exhibition of 25 sculptures and groups of drawings and prints by Alexander Archipenko (1887–1964). Archipenko was right in there in the early days of Cubism, having been a member of the Section d’Or from its founding in 1912 and exhibiting with that group as late as 1921. At least one of the sculptures here, Portuguiesen, a bronze of 1916, parallels a painting by Delaunay, another member of the Section d’Or—the Portuguese Woman of the same year. In fact, the parallel bandlike arms of Archipenko’s figure, one angular and the other curving, are like the curving chromatic

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  • Jackson Pollock, Adolf Gottlieb, Arshile Gorky, Karel Appel, Joan Mitchell, and James Brooks

    Finch College Museum of Art

    Martha Jackson, dealer, enthusiast, and friend of many of the best artists of the New York School for a generation, died leaving behind a large and remarkable art collection, nearly 200 works, selections from which appeared at the Finch College Museum of Art. The show, first mounted at the University of Maryland, will be at the Albright-Knox in Buffalo after the New Year. It represents a large part of the collection, although a number of important pieces had to be left behind because of sheer size, and so as not to make the assembly overcrowded. This is an exceptionally sensitive and diverse

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  • Joseph Goto

    Zabriskie Gallery

    Joseph Goto showed 23 sculptures. The works, dating from the mid ’50s to the mid ’60s, are of steel and are mostly table-sized, although there were also photographs of two recent, large-scale public pieces (one being installed for a stint in the little square across from Lincoln Center).

    During the decade in question Goto worked in a plastic, even malerisch, expressionist mode. He hovers stylistically between men like Lipton and Ferber on one side and Smith on the other. His emotionalism is less assaulting than the former but less elegantly resolved than the latter. The expressionism reveals

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  • Rube Goldberg

    Hammer Galleries

    In Rube Goldberg’s show of cartoons and sculpture I had hoped to encounter some of those inventive and amusing contraptions that made Goldberg famous. For in some ways the nuttiness of his high phase is a natural, homegrown Dadaism, more than simply a parallel to the more intellectual varieties and wider in its appeal, like the relation in music between Spike Jones and the famous German piece called Bahnfahrt. It seems more apt than accidental that once Goldberg actually contributed a drawing to one of the New York Dada periodicals—The Blind Man, if I remember right. Unfortunately this was not

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  • Peter Campus

    Bykert Gallery

    Peter Campus exhibited a closed-circuit video piece and a videotape in his second one-man show. In the closed circuit piece, Stasis, two video cameras with an enlarger project two images of the viewer onto the wall. One of the cameras is pointed through a turning prismatic device which causes the image to also rotate; the other image is stationary. The cameras are placed at different elevations and at slightly different angles. This means that the stationary image is generally of the head and shoulders while the rotating image includes more of the torso, and also that they never overlap exactly.

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  • Mel Bochner

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Like most so-called Conceptual art, Mel Bochner’s work has always had its perceptual and visual aspects, the most basic of which emanate from little more than the attractive quality of his handwriting or his choice of mundane but appealing material. His floor pieces have often functioned spatially, forcing one to change position in order to decipher them. In The Axiom of Indifference, from his exhibition here last year, such movement was combined with the impossibility of seeing the entire piece at once and a consequent straining and splitting of memory and vision.

    In his most recent one-man

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  • Roger Welch

    John Gibson Gallery

    The announcement for Roger Welch’s exhibition read: “On four consecutive Saturdays, the artist will work with a person born before 1890. Drawings, diagrams, and constructions will be made to illustrate what they can remember about their childhood hometowns.” The persons and towns were Ruth Elliott, 87, on Hannibal, Missouri c. 1900; Harry Lieberman, 96, on the village of Ginivashov, Poland c. 1890; Laura Connor, 81, on Marshville, North Carolina c. 1900; and Winifred Wakerly, 94, on Rome, New York c. 1890. On each Saturday visitors could listen and watch as Welch, with the guidance and supervision

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  • Jud Nelson

    Bykert Gallery

    Jud Nelson’s work, seen in his first one-man exhibition, can be reduced almost entirely to several other artists’ ideas; it is the combination which I find so unlikely. Six white folding chairs are arranged in a row which is in line with a window, almost the only light source for the room. The wall behind the chairs is medium gray. Light falls on the chairs in progressively decreasing amounts; the furthest from the window is a completely different white than the first, and the structure of each is differently and maximally articulated by the amount of light which hits it. The chair becomes a

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  • Floyd Johnson

    Leslie Rankow Gallery

    Floyd Johnson’s paintings are unstretched canvases in which concise, often multiple shapes float behind fluid stains of color. The result suggests a combination found in the early painting of Ron Davis. The combination in both painters seems somewhat artificial, an obvious attempt at some kind of universal duality, although Johnson’s is more mystical and Davis’ more formal. In Johnson’s case, the elements combined are often among the worst of those possible. The geometry is too often complicated and decorative in an attempt to also be organic; the fluid areas too often suggest Paul Jenkins at

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  • William Haney

    James Yu Gallery

    Completely different ideologically, coming from a photo-Realist rather than a Conceptual background, the paintings of William Haney have similar problems about saying and doing. Haney makes it even easier than Rinke to see why. Instead of simple titles beside each of his paintings, Haney displays typewritten notes about his intentions. Tempting though it is to say Haney’s trying a marriage between photo-Realism and Conceptual art, it’s an oversimplification. But considering the fact Conceptual art has given carte blanche to anything smacking of the intellect—like typewritten notes on the gallery

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  • “Artists' Books”

    Pratt Graphics Center

    One of the cultural objects needing its rules checked is the book. To briefly comment on “Artists’ Books,” all I would say about the bewildering diversity of the books in the show is that a healthy pluralism exists. The range includes: Dick Higgins’ What are legends, 1960; Ed Ruscha’s seminal Various Small Fires, 1964, and Colored People, 1972; Dieter Roth’s numerous works like Snow Book, 1970; James Nutt’s The Portable Hairy Who Comic Book, 1966; Daniel Spoerri’s An Anecdoted Topography of Chance, 1966; Carl Andre’s Seven Books of Poetry, 1969; Mel Bochner’s 11 Excerpts, 1971; and Tim Johnson’s

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  • Clinton Hill

    Zabriskie Gallery

    Clinton Hill’s paintings are made with acrylic paint applied .to a surface treated with fiberglass. Discriminanda; black is made up of eight fiberglass-covered styrene panels, joined together to make a painting eight feet high and 32 feet long. It’s the largest work in the show, and impressive in its weightlessness—weightlessness is not after all a property one associates with black nor with large format—and for its capacity to be read as an object in the explicitness of its materiality while not sacrificing a delicacy of surface that sets Hill apart from much of the painting of the immediate

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  • Edwin Ruda

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    Edwin Ruda is, in my opinion, an essentially reactionary artist, especially when compared to a painter like Hill. The sense in which he’s reactionary is I think the sense in which his work continues to contain an—nowadays almost completely buried—allegiance to Constructivism; an allegiance most explicit in the paintings he made while a member of the Park Place group. This is a theme I hope to develop on some other occasion, in greater detail than the space available here will allow. I bring it up only to qualify what I have to say about his most recent paintings, which are I think the best he

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  • Hardu Keck

    Warren Benedek Gallery

    Hardu Keck has exhibited elsewhere in this country, and in Italy, since 1964. But his show at the Warren Benedek gallery was his first in New York. Keck is an academic artist who—to an extent—manages to make the material identity of his work act in a way that mitigates its fundamental triviality.

    Keck’s work, or at least that which he displayed here, connects with Frank Stella’s painting of the mid-’60s. His format and color refer directly to that source, as does his use of reflective tape in one of the pieces. The latter is an important mitigating influence. In this context the tape comes across

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  • John Moore

    Fischbach Gallery

    I suspect that John Moore thinks of himself as a straight painter, concerned with the question of representation in painting in a way that distinguishes him from the position suggested by William Bailey’s work—representational painting as a taxonomy of techniques otherwise lost to art history—or from that of an artist like Jack Beal, who has made a reputation out of attributing classical titles to scenes from middle-class life, located firmly in the sensibility of the last decade by a kind of color which can be described accurately by the term psychedelic. Moore’s still-life paintings are all

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  • Denise Greene

    98 Greene Street

    Denise Greene paints quiet, understated studies of bits of the Soho landscape that have less to do with a flamboyant use of pictorial devices and much more to do with painting as direct representation than John Moore’s depictions of suburban interiors. In Greene’s paintings direct visual perception really is mediated i.e., transformed by the strictures of the rectangle. What happens within that flat rectangle acknowledges its flatness even as it presents an image of deep space, and this takes place through a procedure derived from the properties of paint and line rather than one that apes the

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  • Steve Urry

    Zabriskie Gallery

    Steve Urry’s work has become flabby and overconfident. As if to call history to his support, the gallery put out a curriculum vitae for Urry which included extracts from critics’ comments on his work. These read like the sort of thing found in certain movie advertisements, and included the following, from a review Max Kozloff wrote for this magazine in 1967: “ . . . an extraordinarily controlled intelligence, wedded with a sharp eye, keeps even the most outlandishly abandoned of his ideas within the bounds of sculptural decorum.”

    Well, something must have happened. Urry’s show consisted of a

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  • Athos Zacharias

    Landmark Gallery

    Athos Zacharias’ painting is as unlike Urry sculpture as anything could be. Not a hint of flaccidity is to be found in this work, which is meticulously sprayed and rigidly composed. What Zacharias does have in common with Urry is the provision of flashy gallery notes, in his case, one written by him and another whose author is antonymous.. His own statement seems a bit self-contradictory: “My imagery contains a drama filled with cylinders; shining and still. . . . Spaces are in constant movement and interchangeable with all other spaces . . . bars pull and stretch, images constantly change. .

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  • Marlene Oliver

    Ward-Nasse Gallery

    Marlene Oliver’s paintings depend on a kind of opticality that links them with Zacharias in their use of opposed colors, contrasts of hard edges with sprayed gradations, and a kind of indifference to paint as a material—as opposed to an exclusively optical—element. Unlike Zacharias, though, Oliver has little or no control over the space she manipulates. Her paintings are billed as paintings on plexiglass, and the advertisement for the show has a picture in which she is reflected in the surface of one of her works. This is quite misleading, since the effect of the plexiglass is to shut the viewer

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  • Robert Breer and Jene Highstein

    Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, 1615 Hart Place

    Limited ambition is also but in a different way, what Robert Breer and Jene Highstein have in common. In the case of these artists, though, this is attendant on undertaking something which while evoking the vocabulary of “difficult art,” is in itself too easy, i.e., involves little risk without challenging or obviating the notion of riskiness as such. In both cases I became less enthusiastic about the work the more I thought about it, although remain convinced that Breer and Highstein are fundamentally serious artists, capable of much more than the work I am discussing here.

    Breer’s sculpture,

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  • “Groupings”

    O.K. Harris Works of Art

    “Groupings” was made into an especially pleasurable experience by one’s having to walk through a room of photographs by William Anastasi to get to it. Anastasi’s were photographs of the walls on which they hung, while “Groupings” was a large number of group photographs by, in the main, anonymous and provincial commercial photographers. These were collected over a period of two years by Ivan Karp, the gallery’s director, and his assistant Patterson Sims. Unless the original date was part of the photograph—as in the title Fat Men of the West at Put-in Bay, Ohio, September 10th., 1872—the work’s

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  • Re-creation of a Chilean Mural

    West Broadway between Houston and Prince Streets

    On Saturday, October 20, North and South American artists and sympathetic passersby on West Broadway re-created a large, popular mural that, until its defacement by the military junta, ran along the Rio Mapocho in Santiago, Chile. The artists’ intention was to protest the massacres, repression, and censorship of the new military regime, and to assert their solidarity with the people of Chile. The mural was chosen as the most appropriate artform because it seemed to typify the freedom of expression that existed under Salvador Allende’s government, when murals appeared spontaneously and anonymously

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