New York

Robert Rohm

O.K. Harris Works of Art

Robert Rohm’s recent show of sculpture veers away from the theatricality of his exhibition in this same gallery last year. In the earlier show he transformed the space into what appeared to be a dormant construction site dimly lit by mechanic’s safety lamps. He must have sensed this to be a situation dangerous in its seductiveness, just as earlier he feared that his rope grids resembled the net-draped walls of a “seafood restaurant” (Artforum, April, 1970). The current sculptures deal with problems explored in the earlier work with cut rope grids and drooping latex—one that engages the wall as a support system. Now, the size and weight of the rope actually dictate the construction of its wooden support. It is as though Rohm selected massive sections of wound rope and simply constructed a scaffolding system against the wall to present the rope off the floor. This elaborate support system is, therefore, the sculptural base, something more than the resting surface for the sculpture; it is the sculpture. Even the sandbags anchoring the 4” x 4” posts in place serve functionally in sparing the polished gallery floor from damage, but, other than this obvious practical purpose the sandbags take part in the visual esthetic. Even in the stained manila rope pieces the thickness varied proportionately to the total dimensions of the work, picayune concerns Rohm can never quite abandon. The supports are so meticulously constructed that an attempt is made to place each nail precisely over precalculated markings. Such petty visual interests seem negligible in a basically conceptual presentation.

To Rohm’s credit, the sculpture, although ideologically strongly dependent on post-Minimal investigations by Jackie Winsor, Alan Saret, and Mark de Suvero, still evolves directly from his own early experiments in this area.

Francis Naumann