• John Marmaras

    Studio Show

    John Marmaras, an artist from a photographic reportage background which he generally rejects as “reheating ideas already established by art” showed some witty videos—videos, unlike a lot of the genre, which weren’t punishment by tedium. Embracing a Conceptual-art history and without the luggage of conventional training in the history of art, Marmaras has for the last year and a half been working in the general area of grammatical structures, and how they condition visual information. These videos come from this. Starting off with an interest in captioning, Marmaras recently has been exploring

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  • Joan Mitchell

    Ruth S. Schaffner Gallery

    When genuinely concerned people talk about painting being dead, they could very well have in mind Joan Mitchell’s recent work—not because it’s bad, but because it’s so good. Within the context of painting—yea, oil painting—Mitchell does everything right; she is as scruffily solid as Guston, at least mentionable in the same larger neighborhood as Rothko as a colorist, and as conscious of reciprocal space as any Hofmann disciple. She even has her own mark—less effete, spikey, and treelike than in the old days—which denotes making paintings out of passion for what they can say rather than from the

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  • Ger Van Elk

    Claire Copley Gallery

    The insurmountable problem for Conceptual art is presentation. Put in a notebook, it’s actuarial material, in a manifesto it’s art criticism, and on gallery walls and floors, it’s cutely homely bric-a-brac. Ger Van Elk’s pieces are witty enough—if you can take one more distanced sneer at L. A. freeways, one more self-parodying, paradoxical definition of art-as-art, one more self-contradicting ontological pun, or one more tacky-glamour celebration of solipsism. But they look funny, spaced out real nice (one to a white wall), each with its own authentic small-white-card label, each with its own

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  • Bruce Nauman

    Nicholas Wilder Gallery

    Bruce Nauman has reached a point (at least we ought to let him) where he has no art-historical point to prove; we know at long last that neon signs, altered rooms, captioned Kodacolor prints, and body-part casts, among other things, can be “art,” at least in the operational sense. Perhaps that was the flaw in his Los Angeles County Museum of Art retrospective a year ago: the guy was rummaging around in his bag of tricks (more politely, devices) like any artist, but the institutional pressure/literature forced him to pose like Luther at the cathedral door, hammer and theses in hand. In a small

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  • Lucinda Childs and Company, and Laura Dean and Company

    The Whitney Museum and Loeb Student Center

    Recent performances by Lucinda Childs and Company and by Laura Dean and Company unavoidably evoke comparison. Both Childs and Dean employ highly legible structures for movement, including the use of immediately recognizable, geometricized floor plans, and a minimal, i.e., easily denumerable, vocabulary of steps. This somewhat broad descriptive similarity is accentuated by a common intent to divest dances of narrative or symbolic value. Both also forsake the use of music so that movement is not “read” as an illustration of a score. Representational values are replaced with an exploration of

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  • Robert Ehrlich

    Westbroadway Gallery

    In his first exhibition Robert Ehrlich presented The Pentagon Series, “conceptual color modular grid paintings, based on the pentagon’s inherent substructure of continuous proportion, asymptotic (approaching but never reaching) to zero and extending to or from infinity.”

    The panel arrangements grew from a single panel (The Aether Series) to a 25-panel polyptych (Second Phase Thruster). The paintings’ structures are determined by the outward and inward generation of the pentagon as the module (being the stretcher support as well as the painted and delineated image) and the trapezoid as its subsidiary

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  • Moshe Safdie

    The Jewish Museum

    The Jewish Museum is presenting “For Everyone A Garden,” an exhibition of the work of architect Moshe Safdie. We are shown documentation of Safdie’s best-known work from Habitat ’67 and recent work by means of photographs, drawings, writings, and architectural models — among them Habitat ’67; Habitat, Puerto Rico; Habitat, New York; Western Wall Square, Jerusalem; The Paris Cultural Center; and Cold-spring, Baltimore. Also shown are three films on Safdie and his work, and a slide presentation in a five-eighths-size modular unit for the controversial San Francisco State College Union.

    As an

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  • Christo

    Rosa Esman Gallery

    In what seemed an attempt at asserting an absent quality, the Rosa Esman Gallery exhibited six collage and assemblage “drawings” of 1964–65 for the storefront projects by Christo. In a color range from lemon yellow and tangerine orange to lime green, the diagrammatic sketches for the storefronts presented calculations and designatory measurements for the storefront images. Using paper, cloth, and sometimes charcoal on paper to represent these, Christo draped and bandaged the storefront windows and doors, as is his habit, so as to prohibit our gaze into the potential general store and corner

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  • Julius Tobias, Alice Adams and Susan Smith

    55 Mercer Gallery

    Julius Tobias’ new piece at 55 Mercer deliberately confronts the viewer by blocking the entry into the gallery. Five rows of concrete beams, each split in two, extend horizontally like curbstones across the space, with aisles on the side and in between for passage. As in Tobias’ previous work, the basic ideas have already been worked out by Carl Andre. The new element for Tobias of psychological confrontation was examined in Andre’s early styrofoam blocks as well as later floor pieces. All that Tobias adds is a different situation.

    Both of the other artists represented at 55 Mercer are involved

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  • Ann Healy

    A.I.R. Gallery

    Although involved with the effects of light and gravity, Ann Healy’s art focuses on the object in the creation of clearly present images. Her recent work consists of transparent silk gathered on metal rods and then allowed to fall in accordance with gravity’s pull. In general, the rods are arranged in simple geometric configurations—combining the design shapes characteristic of her outdoor sailcloth hangings with the free-falling folds of her large dramatic drapes. These new works are less overtly theatrical, more lyrical, than the previous draped forms, due to the soft folds and the transparent

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  • Harmony Hammond, Sarah Draney, Patsy Norvell, Jenny Snider and Louise Fishman

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    If feminism is a consideration in assessing Golden’s work, it is because she deals explicitly with sex. In contrast, to discuss the group show at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery—labeled “a women’s group”—in terms of feminism would be to create artificially separate standards for women’s art. The artists represented are primarily involved with issues raised by other art. None of them, not even Harmony Hammond with her braided rugs, a traditional woman’s craft, seriously questions, “What does it mean to be a woman? Is my perspective different as a woman?” Not that I am advocating this approach for all

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  • Eunice Golden

    Westbeth Art Gallery

    While for the most part distinctions between men’s and women’s art on the basis of sex are arbitrary, if not downright discriminatory, occasionally an artist through his or her choice of subject matter forces consideration of his or her sexual bias. To discuss Eunice Golden’s work, for example, without acknowledging her feminist stance would deny her deliberately erotic art much of its impact. There is after all a biological differentiation of the sexes, and it is perhaps largely because of this, combined with the historical predominance of men in the arts, that we have such a tradition of the

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  • John De Andrea and Martin Hoffman

    O.K. Harris Works of Art

    Grooms makes puppetlike wooden objects that figuratively represent people; John De Andrea fabricates polyester resin sculpture that looks exactly like people. He takes casts of models sitting, standing, or reclining, being careful to record every minute detail, from goose bump to acne. The figures are hand brushed with oil paint and completed with all the required details, from eyelash to toenail. In one particular piece the model was a middle-aged pregnant woman sitting in a chair with her legs crossed. She was dressed in a dingy beige-colored set of undergarments. Across the room a rather

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  • Red Grooms

    New York Cultural Society

    “The Ruckus World of Red Grooms” transformed the fifth floor of the New York Cultural Center into an entertaining Disney-like extravaganza. Rather than trying to compete with Edward Durrell Stone’s obtrusive wood-paneled interior, Red Grooms simply covered it with a retrospective exhibition of his large environmental constructions: The City of Chicago (1968), The Discount Store (1970), and The Astronauts (1971). Smaller constructions, selected theatrical pieces, paper movie facades, and various props used in past films were displayed in adjoining rooms.

    If you happened to come out of the elevator

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  • Paula Tavins

    55 Mercer Gallery

    The recent paintings of Paula Tavins continuously seek structural clarification. Although the compositional organization depends on the use of a rectilinear grid, she feels no obligation toward the structural dictates of this grid, but uses it rather as a framework or referential guide. For example, in Revenge, she began by first penciling on a 2” x 1” modular grid over raw, unstretched canvas. She then arbitrarily brushed on a light, uneven magna wash that tended to dissolve the surface into an undefined illusionistic mass. As if to defend the integrity of the picture plane, she refers again

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  • Steve Reich

    Loeb Student Center

    The musical compositions of Steve Reich serve as an excellent example of an ordered system that undergoes almost no alteration in the actual execution of the work. In other words, once Reich decides on the so-called mathematics employed in each composition, the performers mechanically carry out the orchestration according to this predetermined structure—that is, a straightforward, nonimprovised reading of the sheet music. This is a traditional aspect of his work, but what I’m getting at is that Reich makes no attempt to remove his personal control and self-expression from his music, and disclaims

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  • Barbara Kruger, Don Gummer and Laurie Anderson

    Artists Space

    The tendency toward a highly decorative art is further evinced by Barbara Kruger’s ornate fabric circles shown at Artists Space. Her five large circles are haloed by borders of garishly colored synthetic fluff. Inside, patches of striped, checked, quilted, and shimmering fabric vie with impasto acrylic polka dots, stripes of brightly colored yarn, thick oozes of paint and nodules covered in sparkling silver netting—altogether an incredibly busy surface dazzle. The choice of cheap, gaudy materials arranged in psychedelic patterns, glittering kitsch, relates these works to the pop culture. Once

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  • Bill Dane

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    I’d been painting for ten years and then a year or so ago Burback showed me some Ed Ruscha photos. Oh Boy! I said.
    4th January 1971

    This is the start of Bill Dane, photographer, whose show of slides from his own postcards has recently been caned—I understand—by one photographic critic (the old photography/art dichotomy again) on the damaging grounds that Dane is a Johnny-come lately and has jumped a line of photographic worthies to show prematurely at MoMA. I don’t know the line, but I enjoyed Dane’s show. Apart from his funky but deadpan views of America—quite unlike Shore’s—looking more in the

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  • Stephen Shore

    Light Gallery

    Stephen Shore with his jewellike color photographs of everyday subjects of city streets and motels, taken on journeys across the States, raises the issue. Shores’ photographs are not just simply beautiful, they also are a spinoff from painting. Labeled, I understand to Shore’s chagrin, “Sharp Focus Realism,” they might on one level be looked at as photography once again moving into an area mapped out first by fine art, namely the photo-Realists. And although Stieglitzians, Westonians, and Bressonians would no doubt yell and scream against such characterization, photographers in the past have

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  • Alex Katz

    Marlborough | Midtown

    I find Alex Katz’ painting casually appealing; the more I look at it the more seriously I am interested by it. Like Ault, Katz is primarily involved with the way light flattens and changes shapes. Katz is also involved, much more than Ault, with the way trying to paint those changes alters them even further. His precision, as real as Ault’s, seems based on awkwardness verging on the most primitive. Roger Fry wrote that Cézanne “happened to lack the comparatively common gift of illustration.” Katz is not to be compared with Cézanne but I think he does, at first, seem to lack the “gift,” and then

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  • George Ault

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Downstairs from Krasner, an exhibition of Nocturnes by the American George Ault reflected a greater degree of artistic as well as institutional attention. The points made by this exhibition are so clear and interesting that they almost overwhelmed the rather modest work, except that the clarity emanated directly from the work itself, work unaccompanied by an impressive catalogue, by previous information or expectations (at least on my part), or by artistic reputation. It was the kind of exhibition in which paintings of less intrinsic value were interesting for the contrast they supplied, for

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  • Lee Krasner

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    “Lee Krasner: Large Paintings” is an exhibition of 18 works dating from 1953 to 1973. These range in size from approximately 5’ x 7’ to approximately 7 1/2’ x 17’ with the widths usually between 10’ and 13’.

    The paintings reveal Krasner’s involvement with the painting of Picasso, Miró, Matisse, and Pollock. I found the exhibition confusing in terms of historical and individual chronology. First because the paintings all seemed dated—they look as if they should have been done earlier than they were. Second, because there is no real sense of direction or development; Krasner has used various kinds

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  • Elias Friedensohn

    Terry Dintenfass Gallery

    Elias Friedensohn’s oil paintings connect with the work of others who seem—to me—to be involved with the “innocent modernism” of Puvis de Chavannes. In particular, they remind me of the work of Bruno Civitico, whose paintings are also technically adept, historically evocative, and philosophically—esthetically—marginal.

    Friedensohn’s color and composition, besides bringing to mind Puvis’ last gasp of Mediterranean classicism in the industrial age, also appear to be about the kind of deep space that occurs in the paintings of Tiepolo. In nearly all of Friedensohn’s pictures figures float in the

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  • Art & Language

    John Weber Gallery

    The Art & Language show centers around a “message” which ends: “. . . we have replaced Angst with the grammar of going-on (concatenation).” This is a revealing sentence, I think, which needn’t be taken literally—whether or not that’s the intention behind it. Rather, it can be read as an assertion which encapsulates an ambition. It serves to demonstrate the Art & Language group’s general tendency to identify itself, by assertion, with what is true of advanced thought in general—that the nominal subject of existentialist speculation, the (psycho-historical) dilemma of the individual, has been

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  • Andrew Tavarelli

    Fischbach Gallery downtown

    Andrew Tavarelli’s paintings get better, I find, the more one looks at them. They are helped in this by being a bit rough in execution, which reduces their tendency to be seductive, as so much painting that relies on ’60s chromaticism is. Like the sculpture of Anne Truitt, some of Tavarelli’s paintings appear to have something to do with the Constructivism-qualified-by-Matisse esthetic of Ellsworth Kelly. Also with the idiosyncratic use of the stretcher’s edge developed in the mid-’60s work of Jo Baer. But I am most interested in an aspect of Tavarelli’s work that doesn’t refer to either of

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  • Anne Truitt

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Anne Truitt’s show confirms one thing—if none other—about her work: she’s consistent. In fact, in ten years her sculpture seems to have changed virtually not at all. A Washington artist, born in Baltimore in 1921, Truitt depends on color in a way that links her with Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. In connection with this, Roberta Smith reminded me that Clement Greenberg called Truitt the first Minimalist. That, given her dependence on color as a property which qualifies and reduces the material emphasis of her work, doesn’t seem to me a useful way of characterizing what she does. Except for

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  • David Rabinowitch

    Bykert Gallery

    David Rabinowitch’s sculpture is primarily of interest for the way in which it concentrates attention within the work while seeming to be related to a sculptural enterprise that seeks to do the opposite. Rabinowitch is a Canadian, and developed his attitude to sculpture in a milieu as responsive to English art as to American. Perhaps because of this, perhaps for some other reason, his ambition is of a sort that’s opposed to the kind of literal reassertion of the ground plane that occurs in the work of Carl Andre, with whose sculpture his seems at first—to an eye that’s been educated by recent

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  • Lynda Benglis

    The Clocktower

    Lynda Benglis’ work interests me more and more. An article that will compare her Knots—especially the metallic-looking ones that were recently exhibited in Houston—with her work in video certainly should be forthcoming. Such a comparison could, I think, locate Benglis’ concern with narrative, and come to grips with the nature of her concern with narrative as a concept that’s vitally altered by mediation—representation—of any specific sort.

    Benglis has told me that she has always thought of herself as an artist concerned with pictorial issues, rather than a sculptor. Her present show confirms

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  • “Public Dialogue with Joseph Beuys”

    New School Auditorium

    Joseph Beuys’ “Public Dialogue,” at the New School on January 11th, was much more interesting for what it revealed about the New York art community than it was as an event that shed light on the work and epistemological limits of Beuys’ career and persona. In this respect, it must be counted as a great success, for Beuys’ achievement is predicated on forcing an act of didactic reflexiveness to occur.

    The evening promised to be exhilarating from the start. On arrival at the New School, one found that many more people had turned up than the auditorium could possibly accommodate. Since the event

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  • Mark Cohen

    Light Gallery

    If the photograph’s ability to promote myth is photography’s power, Mark Cohen, approaching image-making through the use of fragments, reminds you on the one hand of Degas’ pioneering daring with his objects cut off by the edge of paintings, and on the other of just how much snapshots, with their arbitrary cropping of images, have eroded the significance of Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment that decreed no cropping after clicking.

    Cropping things and people, but mainly people, Cohen approaches the realm of fragmentation presently associated with the violent cropping of fashion or advertising

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  • David Askevold

    John Gibson Gallery

    It’s revealing David Askevold should use two philosophers like Descartes and Kepler as inspiration; for both Descartes with his mix of method and religion, and Kepler with his of observation and fantasy were in different ways genial fusers of apparently contradictory preexisting concepts into new wholes. And this is something Askevold aims to do. A scramble of diverse visual and verbal references, his work forbids the linear reading of ABC Conceptualists.

    Seeing Askevold’s The Dream of Descartes and hearing his Kepler’s Music of The Spheres As If Played By Six Snakes, I was reminded of Susan

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