reviews

  • Jackie Winsor

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    Every piece in Jackie Winsor’s show makes sense as an attempt to concentrate attention on the sculptural in a way that will not distract from the work’s identity as a repository for—and a consequence of—a process of physical modification of a particular sort. The work in this show spans three years (1970–73) and, seeing it all together, one realizes that Winsor’s is an imagination responsive to Minimalism and its aftermath, but resistant to its physical means, especially metal, and to any concentration on the actual situation of the piece.

    I think it’s primarily a need to deal with sculpture as

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  • Richard Nonas

    Clocktower Productions

    Richard Nonas’ work isn’t systematic in the sense of an ordering entirely generated by a preconceived idea of sequence, or an ordering that proceeds from a closely formulated set of rules. It is systematic, however, in its use of a single unit as the matrix for each piece, where each piece is the result of putting together several units all of which are exactly alike, and in the suggestion that this gives rise to of an infinite proliferation of orderings using the same components. In this respect Nonas’ work relates to Dorothea Rockburne’s Drawings which make themselves.

    Nonas’ exhibition at The

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  • Alan Cote, John Walker, David Diao, Robert Zakanych, and Lynton Wells

    Cunningham Ward Gallery

    Of the five painters exhibited in Cunningham-Ward’s show of gallery artists, Alan Cote and John Walker seem the most venturesome. Cote and Walker are at least prepared to entertain the idea that painting might have to see itself as more than an affair of internal relationships if it is to retain its viability as a context of communicability, as an activity within which more goes on than the manipulation of those inherited notions of good taste that the best art of recent years has seriously undermined.

    Walker’s Untitled, 1973 is the largest painting in the show, and in many respects the hardest

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  • Stephen Mueller

    Tibor de Nagy Gallery

    Stephen Mueller’s show consisted of large abstract paintings made with a combination of acrylic paint and raw pigment. Mueller seems to fall into that category called “sensibility painting”—more or less pejoratively—by Robert Pincus-Witten. I call his painting “abstract” because it is entirely concerned with a fluid, continuous space that doesn’t depend at all on material signification. In fact, it rather depends on a denial of materiality that doesn’t quite come off. Not Seated—Not Surrounded uses translucent colors in a variety of configurations set, for the most part, at an obtuse angle to

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  • Charles Hinman

    Denise René Gallery

    Charles Hinman’s work takes us back to the period when there were lots of shows with scientific sounding titles like “Quantum I”—the name of the first New York group show in which he participated in 1964. Hinman’s work is incredibly impeccable but, as James Collins recently said in connection with the similar impeccability of John McCracken’s work, times have changed.

    Hinman hasn’t developed the interest in materiality and physical process which is the difference between the painting of the last few years and that of the previous decade. Hinman’s shaped canvases have more to do with the “late

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  • Joseph Raffael

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    Joseph Raffael’s Water Painting II, which is representative of his show, is a study of a section of sea, or, perhaps, of a mountain stream. The color is hard and bright and thinly painted. Raffael’s use of the medium suggests two possible and related concerns on his part. One concern would be to present an image of great mobility frozen by the medium of paint, which is here made to come as close as possible to the light-filled transparency of water. Another concern—a corollary, perhaps, of the first—would be about the possibility of dislocating the viewer by eliminating painterly gesture in the

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  • Daniel Buren

    John Weber Gallery

    Daniel Buren’s work is political in that it openly embraces—and is in this sense fundamentally about—self-contradiction, and is ideological in its commitment to anonymity. Buren, like Duchamp but at the same time utterly unlike him, is engaged in part in an exposure of the museum that has the form of paradox, insofar as both Buren’s and Duchamp’s prominence derives from an assault on “uniqueness” as a guide to “value.” To me at least—and perhaps only temporarily—Buren’s thinking seems at the moment to be more to the point than Duchamp’s, because where Duchamp is concerned with a private, hermetic

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  • Sig Rennels

    OK Harris

    Sig Rennels has worked his way up from inflatable cars, through inflatable semitrailers, to his latest production, an inflatable small aircraft. I always thought that the cars and the semitrailers ought to be parked in the street outside the gallery for maximum effect, but the airplane looks completely at home on a polished floor. Why that should be so I can’t quite say, except that the airplane looks even more like a tired dog than Rennels’ other pieces, and is lower in height than is usual for his work.

    It’s his ability to turn machines into animals—I’m being serious when I attribute an element

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  • Gerhard Richter

    Onnasch Gallery

    Gerhard Richter raises questions of implicit value structure—not whether you like, but accept his premises. Richter’s paintings contradict successful contemporary, and especially American art over the last 15 years or so. He challenges the “single idea” approach of artists who take narrow areas of inquiry and explore them obsessively, an inquiry cutting across ideological grounds and applicable to all manner of artists. He rejects the single idea, choosing instead broad swathes of inquiry which he explores in a wide variety of ways.

    Richter not only alternates between figuration and abstraction,

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  • Sandy Skoglund

    The University of Hartford

    Sandy Skoglund’s Xeroxes, drawings, and object could also be considered as part of this reaction against single viewpoints. More interesting is that supposedly contradictory positions are now possible within the framework of a single show. Skoglund’s show is a homage to various “mistakes”—the mistakes of machines, the mistakes of people, the mistakes of objects. Let me explain. The mistakes Xerox machines make determined a number of works or objects put through various stages of transformation by “Xerox” and “re-Xerox.” I’ll not discuss these works, however, since the area is somewhat well

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  • Mac Adams

    The Art Collaborative

    Mac Adams, showing only two actual works, 1970, and a book of photographs documenting works from 1972 and 1973, also reflects a reluctance to be cast into any stylistic cell and have the key thrown away. His work reflects a range of catholic concerns with a fairly strong Conceptual underpinning. The multiplicity of Mac Adams’ approach is best shown by the documentation of some of his recent work ranging from Body Module of 1970, where he located a minute piece of wood in and around regions of his body; Two Triangles of Joanne of 1972 with a “tautologous” measuring tape containing measurements

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  • “Extraordinary Realities”

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Sometimes it occurs to me that the Whitney Museum, despite its good intentions, is giving American art a bad name. This sensation was particularly strong while viewing one of its current exhibitions, “Extraordinary Realities,” organized by Robert Doty. Edward Gorey wrote a preface to the catalogue which traces the development of what he calls the “attitude of irrationality” and “defiance of logic and high art” through Dada and Surrealism, Chicago’s Hairy Who, and California Funk to the artists in this exhibition. The last are involved with “a restructuring of the existing world.” According to

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  • “Pioneers Of American Abstraction”

    Andrew Crispo Gallery

    “Pioneers of American Abstraction” is not historically representative; only a few of the nine painters included seem to have pioneered anything which could be called both abstract and American. There are also several major exclusions. The exhibition consists of 150-odd paintings, watercolors, and collages by Oscar Bluemner, Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, John Marin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Joseph Stella, Charles Sheeler, and Max Weber. Despite the fact that the premise posited in its title is not borne out, this exhibition does provide a number of interesting if not unfamiliar insights.

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  • J.B. Cobb, Martha Edelheit, Ree Morton, Mcarthur Binion, Jonathan Borofsky, Mary Obering

    Artists Space

    Artists Space, organized by the Committee on the Visual Arts and funded by the New York State Council on the Arts, is a new alternative to the commercial gallery situation which opened in SoHo this fall. Three artists per month exhibit in its large, divided space, the third floor of 155 Wooster Street. The process by which these artists are selected is the distinguishing characteristic. The Committee invites individual, known artists to each select one artist to exhibit. The only stipulation is that the selected artist cannot have any gallery affiliation, which means that the space functions

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  • Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

    Sonnabend Gallery Uptown

    In an informative exhibition of 27 photographs by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, the works are recent facsimiles made at the Hochschule für Fotographie in Munich from originals that date from 1922–39. They convincingly claim to be scrupulous copies, even to paper type and the nuances of exposure in printing. They also accurately follow the originals in the placement of the image on the sheet, so that the integrity of the edge is preserved, and no jazzy cropping intervenes.

    The business of the edges of the image is vital. When an adequate formulation of modernism in photography is arrived at, a consideration

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  • Jud Fine

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    Jud Fine’s recent sculptures work with bamboo poles, and tubes in analogy with bamboo poles. Fine seems concerned with differences between them when assembled, or only grouped into configurations, and when they only serve by standing and waiting. The drawings are mainly studies for the poles, although there are also alarmingly compulsive exercises in building up a palimpsest of written and overwritten text; both kinds make every effort not to please. Yet, that’s what they end up doing.

    The major sculpture here, Analogy, consists of an array of the bamboo and bamboo-shaped poles, together with a

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  • Tony Berlant

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    The Whitney showed four of Tony Berlant’s architectural sculptures under the title “The Marriage of New York and Athens.” Each involved the toylike simplification of the concept of a Greek temple. In each case, the temple is faced differently, in each it is a different size, and each deals in a different way with the cagelike interior space. The basic form is actually only minimally like that of a classical temple, identifiable by its pedimental ends and its evenly spaced peripheral supports. So there seems even at the start to be a playful (and perhaps mock-functionalist) paring down of the

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  • e.e. cummings

    Gotham Book Mart Gallery

    The Gotham Book Mart Gallery is showing paintings and drawings by e.e. cummings. Cummings was an uneven artist. His best art seems to have been done before the promise of his writing fully bloomed.

    Gotham has a tremendous range of cummings’ work culled from the estate of his widow, only a part of which can hang at one time. It is a pleasure to look through stacks and stacks of pictures and occasionally to come across things as intense and lovely as the ink wash drawings Fuchnal and Landscape. The junk in between makes looking all the more fun.

    Most of the portraits, including paintings and drawings

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  • Stephen Rosenthal and Martin Bressler

    55 Mercer Street

    Stephen Rosenthal and Martin Bressler are holding a two-man show at the 55 Mercer Street Gallery. Both artists are concerned with line for what it is, and not for its academic design-oriented potential. They regard line almost as a given within a geometrical theorem—line in its conceptual context as Ready-made. Rosenthal has had several exhibitions, but has somehow managed to elude recognition. He works primarily on sections of unstretched canvas, which he first stains with a pale monochromatic wash of india ink (larger ones are done sectionally, sometimes leaving marked areas where the previous

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  • Jacqueline Gourevitch

    Tibor de Nagy Gallery

    Artists who insistently overload their work with futile emotionalism and vague symbolic imagery present harriers that obstruct one’s view. Jacqueline Gourevitch is presently showing paintings from her Cloud and After Image series, as well as some lithographs she executed while artist-in-residence at Tamarind this last spring. The earlier cloud paintings are an amalgamation of various cloud formations, and as she puts it “an inventory of cloud possibilities.”

    We get some rudimentary information from Gourevitch’s titles. An afterimage is an engrained sense impression that persists after a visual

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  • Vincent Inconiglios

    Westbroadway Gallery

    Vincent Inconiglios’ new work is reminiscent of ’50s abstraction, and one could easily supply the pretentious rhetoric to go along with it. A press release for the show states: “His geometric planes further re-emphasize his involvement with space and emote a dynamic quality of directed movement.” What planes? What space? What movement? Granted—work born out of such formalist language can only be talked about using that language. However, I prefer talking about the paintings for what they are and not what they’re supposed to do visually.

    The drawings in the show are more successful in their

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  • Sylvia Sleigh

    SOHO20

    Sylvia Sleigh is improving her painting by imitating the compositional structures and the subject matter of figurative paintings. In her recent show, Ingres, Titian, and Signorelli are mentors. Sleigh’s struggle to integrate portraiture with Classical models and modes is one familiar to every art student faced with the (usually) less than ideal life-class model. The nude-in-north-light is an idealization, a transformation of the flawed physical facts. Unlike Pearlstein, who accepts the model as model, Sleigh is interested in transformation. Several problems complicate this process.

    First, she

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  • Pierre Montant

    Touchstone Gallery

    The newly opened Touchstone Gallery, a bit removed from the downtown area (up on 4th Street and Bowery) endorses three European artists fairly new to the New York art scene. What’s unfortunately problematic with much contemporary European painting, and admittedly due in large part to our SoHo conditioning, is that it looks better in a dentist’s office than in a gallery. Pierre Montant, a Swiss-born artist, in his first one-man show in New York, exhibited paintings completed during his winter months here. They are all professionally presented and have the traditional qualities of permanence,

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  • Jackie Ferrara

    A.M. Sachs Gallery

    Jackie Ferrara’s recent works—apart from their iconographic meanings—forcefully demonstrate elementary methods of building. Stairways, towers, and pyramids are assembled from modular units. The process is additive and archaizing. As in Egyptian pyramids, stacking is primary. In most of her work, there is no disguise of the support; the work itself is embodied support.

    Ferrara’s materials are wood, canvas, cardboard, cotton batting—which covers all the surfaces—and glue. In 2x4 Tower, 2“ x 4” pieces of wood are cut into equal 21" lengths. The equal, bricklike units, the tactility of her preferred

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