New York

Guy Dill

If it counts for much anymore, Guy Dill is the most consistent sculptor around: inventive, craftsmanlike, elegant, and reasonably witty. His two new pieces, Hume Ranch and Diaphragm, aren’t as delicate or clever as the sculpture I saw at the old Ace in Westwood (a sheet of glass tilting against a steel roll, held in place with cables, turnbuckles, etc.), but they aren’t as gimmicky, either. Diaphragm, filling the crisp, new back room, is a topless, floorless box—two glass walls and two steel walls anchored in slightly shorter concrete pillars (unbolted or glued, just slid in a slot). Hume Ranch, the more adventurous but less impressive, is a similarly wrought triangle. But its apex pillar is about 8’ high, the glass wall a stunning 9', the steel wall about 5 1/2', and the two subordinate pillars 5' tall—in short, it plays around more with angles (acute) and differing heights. 

They’re sculptures, all right, in the old sense: permanent (although disassemblable), slick (the pillars are subtly rough smooth, colored uncolored, the metal walls deftly corroded), big within room limits, precious (the glass looks so costly), and architectonic. Dill obviously regards Process (the rope-and-wood things he used to do) as an opportunity to further estheticize rigid objects with a little “materials” loosening up, rather than an attack on the validity of finessing around a lot of mineral weight. Within that attitude, Dill is very, very good—sure to the point of cockiness, but conservative to the edge of design; what the pieces have to say are answers to exercise questions. Can a 9' sheet of glass stand on end? Can concrete hold walls without embedding them? Can halfway gestural sculpture be fashioned from the stuff of Wilshire Boulevard bank buildings? Can natural (common) configurations of such material be put together with the grace of past sculpture (David Smith, Caro)? The answers are all yes, and a whole stratum of relatively younger sculptors (Wilmarth, Duff, Ganzer, Reineking) seem satisfied with that, whereas Morris, Andre, and Bell, in the end, weren’t. That’s O.K. The stampede to nonobjectness doesn’t have to drag everybody with it. But right now, as Phil Leider pointed out at the dawn of Richard Serra, “nobody’s home” at the house of sculpture, and the first artist who reaffirms the sensibility of put-together objects without falling back on physical glamour or bombast is going to take it over for the next go. 

Peter Plagens