reviews

  • Philip Pearlstein

    Finch College Museum Of Art

    Philip Pearlstein’s drawings have the same iconography as his paintings, Roman landscapes in the second half of the ’50s and nudes after 1960. There is a difference between them, however, which may have to do with the fact that the surfaces of drawings include areas untouched by hand whereas in paintings, as a rule, everything has been entered as a decision by the artist, the “empty” background no less than the foreground. There is a full surface in Pearlstein’s paintings that is not present in the drawings. Without the rich two-dimensionality of the painting, the drawings reveal Pearlstein as

    Read more
  • Fred Sandback

    John Weber Gallery

    Fred Sandback’s Sixteen 2-Part Pieces took place in the small room at the Weber Gallery. Sixteen times the artist changed the location of two taut, dark pieces of yarn that crossed the room from wall to wall. He had planned in advance where the lines should run on a diagram in the Gallery office. I saw the first couple of pieces, and my feelings went something like this. After I saw the diagrammatic drawing, I think I grasped the principle. Then I saw the first variation and that confirmed the feeling that I had the news already. The next variation was evidence of the punctiliousness of the

    Read more
  • Dan Flavin

    Leo Castelli - Uptown

    Dan Flavin’s new show is entitled/described: “Some uneven cool white circular fluorescent light for the new, even walls of the Leo Castelli Gallery . . . (with necessary sketches and diagrams) and seven pairs of diagrams with color, for lamp barred corridors.” Translation: there is one environmental piece, a letter-cum-diagram with instruction on how to install it, and cheerful colored drawings in the back room (the “lamp barred corridors”). Thus there is the big work, accompanied by small saleable items, an understandable though not a salutary mix. The innovation, as I suppose it can be called,

    Read more
  • Jennifer Bartlett

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    Jennifer Bartlett is a writer as well as a painter and the interrelations are worth mentioning. In Cleopatra I–IV, 1971 (Adventures In Poetry, 437 East 12 Street, New York City, 10009) she combines chronology, historical genre, sexual metaphors, aphoristic sentences, and, in section II, an array of diagrammatic signs in systematic rows. It is this area of course that is amplified in her paintings, which are based on square enameled metal plates on which a grid has been printed. In the grid she puts blob-like dots, hand-done in their irregularity, which make sequential runs, repeating patterns,

    Read more
  • Maude Boltz and Daria Dorosh

    A.I.R. Gallery

    The A.I.R. gallery has moved from two-artist to one-artist shows this season, but returned to the earlier format for Maude Boltz and Daria Dorosh. To take Boltz first: there are none of the large free-falling pieces, like trapezes or rope ladders, making long, kinky connections between ceiling and room-space that characterized her last show. The new pieces are smaller and wall-based, showing her acute sense of the relation of free and fixed materials, of loose and supportive forms. Rain Dance, 1973, with its two-story forms and color-dipped dangling strings, is a good example of her sensibility.

    Read more
  • Chris Wilmarth

    Rosa Esman Gallery

    Chris Wilmarth’s recent hanging sculptures and studies on paper allow a categorical interest in the properties of materials to sustain an assertively painterly but not extrinsic surface handling. The four sculptures shown recently are reliefs, somewhere between freestanding independence and an altogether wall-bound planarity. If they relate more closely to the plane of the wall than to that of the floor, they nevertheless do so against a formidable gravitational pull. Further, they break down categorically into those which lay a square plate of glass over a square metal plate versus those which

    Read more
  • “Seven Americans”

    Washburn Gallery

    A small but impressive show called “Seven Americans,” partly reconstructing an exhibition put together by Stieglitz at the Anderson Galleries in 1925, included works by Demuth, Dove, Hartley, Marin, O'Keefe, Stieglitz, and Paul Strand. For Hartley’s part there was a massive, energetic work called Landscape, New Mexico, from about 1918, together with a significant if less gripping study for it. Hartley, we always have to remember, is more than something like a German Expressionist: by 1918 he had shown with the Blaue Reiter and had a one-man show in Berlin. The strength and directness of technique

    Read more
  • “Paintings Of The Thirties”

    Midtown Galleries

    “Paintings of the Thirties” was a kind of class reunion in which pictures that had been originally shown in the Midtown Galleries during that decade returned to celebrate the gallery’s 42nd anniversary. If there was a unifying rubric for the artists themselves it looks like a social urgency that only got regionalistic in order to exercise its deeper and more general populism. The most interesting artists seen here were Isabel Bishop, Paul Cadmus, and William C. Palmer.

    I had not before realized the pains to which Bishop must have gone to produce her distinct Old Masterism of facture (even though

    Read more
  • Gary Kuehn

    Stefanotty Gallery

    Gary Kuehn’s show was a ten-year retrospective; he’s had perhaps less than his fair share of attention so the opportunity to readily obtain some kind of an overview of his career was timely and welcome. Over the last decade Kuehn has developed consistently toward a reliance on the modified readymade. He’s tended to use things like cardboard boxes—covered with tar that will soften and melt in the sun—in order to depict and exploit physical force within terms that reduce the evocation of gesture attendant on such a depiction. Kuehn’s progress has inclined toward elimination of the personally

    Read more
  • Brice Marden, David Novros and Kes Zapkus

    Bykert Gallery - Downtown

    Brice Marden’s recent drawings are delicate, brilliant, and central to one of the most pressing problems with which serious painting is currently concerned: the problem of working with a pictorial space that doesn’t deny its function as a subdivision of real space. Marden uses drawing (line) exclusively as a subdivider of the rectangle that continually refers to the dimensions and proportions of the original format. Line, in these drawings of Marden’s, is the means for an intuitive procedure that amounts to a constant revision of the pictorial space. Linear accumulation transforms the space,

    Read more
  • Ed Moses

    André Emmerich Gallery – Uptown

    Ed Moses is now painting diagonal stripes on laminated tissue paper in a way that equates the surface—pigment and rhoplex—with its support; the paper is about as thick as the painted skin it bears. Fragility, one of the most immediately apparent properties of such a work as Coyote, 1973–74, is as much a physical condition of the piece as it’s a feature attributed to it by color or line.

    The physical fragility of these works seems important because of, not despite, their involvement with the terminology of ’60s modernism. Specifically, they refer to Morris Louis and to the recent work of Frank

    Read more
  • Giulio Paolini

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Giulio Paolini’s work is of various kinds: literalist drawings with the middles torn out and other permutations of the same idea; a drawing made of graph paper with a hand holding a pen superimposed on it and made out of the same kind of paper; a self-portrait the title of which named objects—a bust of Heraclitus among them—the painting was said to contain but didn’t. The common theme can only be Paolini, whose privileged subjectivity seems meant to unite the disparate elements of physical perception and associated meaning he presents. The most elaborate work in the show confirms this. It consists

    Read more
  • Roberta Allen and Roman Opalka

    John Weber Gallery

    Roberta Allen showed work of two sorts. Strips of canvas arranged on rollers, in groups, partially rolled and partially unrolled and labeled according to the length exposed. And groups of vertical lines on gridded paper—one line to a square—labeled as arrows without heads denoted as pointing up in some pictures and down in others. The theme of partial concealment also enters into some of these drawings. Allen is impressive because of the variety she gets out of this simple idea, and this variety—the large number of different kinds of work she’s able to make with it—indicates the depth of its

    Read more
  • Lucio Fontana

    Alexander Iolas Gallery

    At a time when a reinterpretation of Abstract Expressionism seems both necessary and feasible, it’s especially good to have access to previously unexhibited work by Lucio Fontana, whose career in some ways paralleled that of postwar American painting. Rosalind Krauss has indicated that what needs to be considered is Abstract Expressionism’s internalization of the Surrealist idea of “content.” I’d extrapolate that what’s in question is the extent to which the Americans retained Surrealism’s preoccupation with the erotic as a subversion of the erotic. A well-known reading—William Rubin’s—seems to

    Read more
  • William Wegman

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Like Buster Keaton, William Wegman seems to lack a regular sense of humor. He operates in total and sustained seriousness, oblivious to his effect and to the discrepancy between his situation and the one from which he is observed. He shares with Keaton a consistently straight face and his own innate and appropriate sense of timing. Unlike Keaton, however, Wegman is not a misfit at odds with a larger, more powerful, and normal world, who, at the end of some epic, ultimately wins, proving himself right as well as funny. Wegman, as either performer or character, is not the central issue of the

    Read more
  • Dennis Oppenheim

    John Gibson Gallery

    Two Right Feet for Sebastian is the title of a piece Dennis Oppenheim exhibited at the John Gibson Gallery. On the wall beside this title is a large photograph of a man with a wooden (right) leg. The piece itself consists of two lead pipes parallel between the floor and ceiling, one of which stops about a foot short of the floor. A spot trained on the pipes is the only light in the room. On either side of these pipes, situated midway on adjacent walls, two right boots, each rigged to a small machine, kick the walls at regular, alternating intervals. Microphones amplify the sounds of the kicks

    Read more
  • Michael Tetherow

    Bykert Gallery

    In his first New York one-man exhibition, Michael Tetherow exhibited a series of vertically rectangular paintings, each with two holes about six inches apart slightly above center. The paint is applied in a controlled splattered technique and is almost entirely monochromatic except around the holes where there is always an aura of contrasting colors. Generally, a pale brown, orange or red will, at the center, give way to drips of brighter blues, reds, and yellows. The ideas Tetherow seems concerned with—visibility of process, literalness of the support and some kind of perversity—are current,

    Read more
  • John McLaughlin

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    John McLaughlin, born in 1898, has painted full time since 1946, when he settled on the West Coast after the war. He has shown there since 1952, but never here. The closest he came, until now, was a retrospective at the Corcoran in 1968. The 13 paintings in this small exhibition at the Whitney range from 1949–70 with the majority from the mid-’60s. The paintings are not large: ten of them are 4' x 6', and the rest even smaller. McLaughlin’s work has always been geometric and usually quite simple. Judging from the Corcoran catalogue, the work during the ’50s seems to have been relatively complicated

    Read more
  • Chris Burden

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    If you take seriously Morse Peckham’s antiformalist stance that the artist is “raging for chaos” rather than order, Chris Burden might bethought a good example. But is he? Is Burden really stepping out of line? Isn’t Burden playing with danger—for example, shooting and attempting to electrocute himself? Isn’t he involved in game-playing that is not only tokenly dangerous and significant within art? Shooting himself through the arm, as gory color photographs of Burden’s best-known work Shoot bear record, would in another context group him with Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch, alongside the comparatively

    Read more
  • Elaine Sturtevant

    Onnasch Gallery

    I write reviews as a meta-art of chosen subjects, so while sympathetic to Burden’s use of media, I’m also aware of limitations with Elaine Sturtevant’s remaking the work of Joseph Beuys. The art world has had for some years a pitting of meta as against speculative concerns: the clash whether in object or Conceptual art between questioners of and speculators with the norms of art, but the debate is growing a little tired. The world is too big and interesting a place to think only of varieties of art incest. Sturtevant’s fat and felt replicas of Beuys—in an object rather than language meta-art

    Read more
  • Joel Shapiro

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    I’d guess the size of the gallery showing Joel Shapiro’s lilliputian sculptures is about 3500 square feet with 17-foot ceilings. Showing only five tiny things—two on the floor and three on the wall—that’s about 1200 cubic feet per sculpture—the size of an apartment. Unless you’re a dedicated Minimalist looking for less, or you’ve great eyesight, you could be in and out of the gallery without knowing the show was on—as a friend of mine did. Shapiro sculpture—no less interesting for being small—is also meta-art because by its quirky scale and figuration it’s a snub to the continuing tradition of

    Read more
  • Horst

    Sonnabend Gallery

    By contrast Horst’s portraits of the ’30s and ’40s are about glamour. And since glamour in art exists more often in galleries or artists’ lofts than in their objects or persons, I welcome it. If I have to choose between Renato Poggioli’s division in The Theory of the Avant Garde between the dandy or the bohemian, I’d choose the dandy. That’s why I find Horst’s photographs of people who’ve made glamour into an art form such fun. Although in the 50 photographs on exhibition, Horst ranges over the literary, artistic, and entertainment fields of the haute monde of ’30s and ’40s Paris and New York

    Read more
  • Alice Neel

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    “I have always considered the human being the first premise—I feel his condition is a barometer of his era.” With this assertion, printed in the brochure accompanying a retrospective of her portraits at the Whitney Museum, Alice Neel affirms her focus on the human individual as subject matter. Yet the term “portrait” is somewhat deceiving, for it implies an emphasis on the personality of the sitter. In another statement, Neel explains, “I decided to paint a human comedy—such as Balzac had done in literature.” The comparison is apt because, like Balzac, Neel tends to stress characteristics

    Read more
  • Jillian Denby

    A.M. Sachs Gallery

    Because Neel focuses so sharply on human nature as content, I find it difficult to criticize her use of figuration. That photography is probably a more effective means of social documentation seems a moot point. The problems involved in the use of the human figure in contemporary painting are more obvious in Jillian Denby’s work. Denby stages her naked models in calculated abstract compositions which hint at a modern-day revival of Neoclassicism. This reference to Neoclassicism is not made in jest, for the stoical clarity of design is reminiscent of David, while the decidedly linear contours of

    Read more
  • Sylvia Mangold

    Fischbach Gallery Uptown

    The fitting of representational subject matter into an abstract mode of thinking is more successfully resolved in Sylvia Mangold’s new paintings. As in her previous works, Mangold objectively renders the recession of hardwood floors inclined upward onto the vertical picture plane. What is different is her positioning of an oak-framed mirror where the floor meets the wall; a mirror which reflects the space in front of the painting and ostensibly behind the viewer. The result is a disorienting transgression of painting’s illusionistic space into real space. There is a sensation of actual presence

    Read more
  • Agnes Martin

    Robert Elkon Gallery

    If Mangold’s paintings can be described as arriving at abstraction through representation, in an inverse way Agnes Martin’s drawings from 1960 to 1967 can be seen as achieving representation through pure abstraction. Not that I mean to imply that there is any one-to-one relation between Martin’s work and nature. What she suggests is more an idea of nature than a transcription of perceptual reality. In reflections published in Artforum, April, 1973, Martin stated, “In our minds there is an awareness of perfection; when we look with our eyes we see it, and how it functions is mysterious to us and

    Read more
  • Racelle Strick

    55 Mercer Gallery

    In discussing Martin’s drawings, I indicated that her grids were woven rather than built. This distinction is perhaps clarified by an examination of Racelle Strick’s work, which emphasizes the additive construction of painting. Looking at Strick’s paintings shown at 55 Mercer, one is always aware of the process of making; the whole image constantly refers back to the systematic structuring of its parts. In 5 Inch Square from Bottom Center Out, the square module, consisting of narrow horizontal bands of pale blue acrylic, is repeated unit after unit from the bottom center, in opposite directions,

    Read more
  • Angela DeLaura

    Touchstone Gallery

    Angela DeLaura’s drawn paintings at the Touchstone Gallery also imply an order through the repetition of analogous forms. With a rapidograph pen she delineates circles and ellipses over a smooth linen surface brushed with acrylic color. By massing her units in different densities and by varying their size, she sets up vibrant rhythms which intimate nature’s growth processes. The tonal gradations produced by her technique establish a spatial pulsation parallel to the surface increasing and diminishing of form. Within this linear fabric, there are hints of cumulus clouds, cellular leaves, vaginal

    Read more
  • Justin Schorr

    Westbroadway Gallery

    Justin Schorr’s images, shown at Westbroadway, also derive from the aggregation of unitary shapes. However, it would be more accurate to say that his large painted shapes, which read as clearly defined figures against the white canvas ground, are divided into parts. The separateness of the parts is accentuated by their individual illusionistic modeling without reference to the total mass. In fact, the whole figure reads as a flat shape which is contrarily composed of three-dimensional units. The question raised by Schorr’s work is whether his seemingly systematic ordering doesn’t need a consistent

    Read more
  • Alan Saret

    The Clocktower

    It is this translation of personal whimsy into a publicly accessible art that informs Alan Saret’s work. His recent show at The Clocktower included proposals for the construction of fabric houses which would realize his romantic dreams of “planetary and universal Eden.” The playfulness of Saret’s illustrations allows one to participate in his fancies, although too often his overly simplistic idealism degenerates into a cute mysticism. Less exclusively eccentric, and thus to my mind more interesting, are Saret’s scribbled color pencil drawings. These works seem to underline the nature of drawing

    Read more
  • Natalie Bieser

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    The most striking aspect of Natalie Bieser’s wall pieces is the decidedly musical rhythms they set up. Bieser attaches thin strips of wood to the wall which act as sustained, emphatic notes against the falling and rising thread strung between them. Because of variations both in the length and the hanging position of the thread, different speeds suggest themselves. One feels compelled to articulate the implicit score through gesture, as if one can only really “know” the perceptual information through one’s own body movement. The fragility of Bieser’s medium, its lack of any substantial mass,

    Read more
  • Stephen Antonakos

    John Weber Gallery

    Prettiness is also a problem with Stephen Antonakos’ neon pieces at the John Weber Gallery. In choosing warm reds and softly cool greens, Antonakos accentuates the visual attractiveness of his medium. The designlike reflections cast on the wall by Red Neon Box Off the Wall, Sides Not Touching, in particular, reinforce a decorative reading of the work. Because Antonakos outlines such clear shapes with the neon tubes, the light defines objects which have a fragile, almost precious, existence because of the actual insubstantiality of the medium. For example, in the open red box the red lines of

    Read more
  • Mabou Mines

    The Performing Garage

    The Mabou Mines is a performance group intensely preoccupied with the metaphoric possibilities of gesture and movement. They specialize in a variety of mime reminiscent of someone like Charlie Chaplin. For Chaplin, a key technique was the switch image: in The Pawnshop, Chaplin opens a broken alarm clock with a can opener, then sniffs the contents to find out what is wrong. The image of the clock is no longer merely denotative, for through these two simple gestures, the audience recognizes a second object in the clock—a sardine can. The kind of shift of attention involved in Chaplin’s switch

    Read more