reviews

  • Alan Finkel

    59 Wooster Street (Rented Space)

    Alan Finkel makes sculpture influenced by Andre—in its use of modular, readymade components—and LeWitt, whose development of a nonrepetitive, systematic proliferation based on a grid seems basic to this work. At this time Finkel’s seems to be an art of small adjustments to the idiomatic usages identified with these two, slightly older artists. At the moment, too, he seems to have difficulty with the introduction of intuitive decision-making into a structure that’s systematic in derivation. But it’s interesting that that’s what he’s trying to do. I think of Finkel as a sculptor who, like John

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  • Lucas Samaras

    Pace Gallery

    By poking, caressing, scratching, scraping, modeling, and who knows what other means of molesting the photoemulsion of Polaroid SX-70 color prints, still wet underneath their protective seal, and faint in their first few developing minutes outside the camera, Lucas Samaras so violates the integrity of the photographic record that, even if he had not gangrened his chroma with the shrieking cerises and emeralds of filtered lights, the things observed through the lens seem to shrivel or wraggle, animistically, as if cursed with some metabolic disaster first urged on by genetic misalliance.

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  • Audrey Flack

    Louis K. Meisel Gallery

    Audrey Flack is perhaps an exception to the style—surely not in her pictorial handling—but in her apparent will to use its obtuseness as a vehicle for a personal, conceivably even an autobiographical statement. True enough, her still-life objects would seem to have moist lips, and she is unequaled in giving a spitting image of frosting. But a rope of costume pearls coils, like a signature, through many of her ambitious still lifes, even one devoted to model airplane kits. And if she is beguiled by brand names like Chanel or Revlon, the articles which they label are implied as being on her vanity

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  • Carl Andre

    John Weber Gallery

    Carl Andre’s new work, as one might expect, illustrates the problem contained in the repetition of an idea. Andre’s prominence has come from his identification of sculpture with the ground plane, which—as he made sculpture become an interaction between a specific materiality and an undifferentiated, though not unconsidered real space—has put him in a position possibly analogous to Barnett Newman’s some time ago. Andre is now, perhaps, confronted with the problem of maintaining a position based on an ultimate reduction. One problem with his new sculpture is that what Andre’s work proposes as a

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  • Brice Marden

    Bykert Gallery

    While, of course, the cultural vernacular is such that the capacity to engage in a kind of illusionism that counters its own materiality is understood to come as it were naturally to paint, in particular, to paint on a flat vertical surface. The question for painting, for quite some time and in terms dictated chiefly by the work of Brice Marden and Robert Mangold, has been how to bring that innate capacity for illusionist or “optical” signification to bear on real space.

    In an article on his work that was published last year in Arts Magazine (May–June, 1973) Roberta Smith noted Marden’s interest

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  • John Torreano, Elizabeth Murray; Marilyn Lenkowsky, David Reed, Herbert Schiffrin

    Paula Cooper Gallery; Susan Caldwell Gallery

    It’s taken me a while to get to a point where I can begin to appreciate John Torreano’s paintings. Torreano makes paintings out of oil paint and plastic diamonds, and I must say it’s very nice to see the medium revered by every painterly pedant around subjected to this kind of interpenetration by dreck. Unfortunately, conventional spirituality’s rape by banality is only engaging when the context thereby ceases to be banal, as is not always the case with Torreano’s work.

    With the paintings that are rounded off at either end, however, it is. In these Torreano seems to have found a format which is

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  • Bernd And Hilla Becher

    Sonnabend Gallery Downtown

    Bernd and Hilla Becher continue to make photographs. And these photographs continue to be of similar types of industrial structures like water towers, or like the ends of houses in Typology of Framework Houses (1959–74). I can think of no reason why I should like the Bechers’ art—which I do—save that it appeals to the religious side of my Marxism, an art of total self-abnegation dedicated to the tabulation of the everyday through its more apparently peripheral features. Certainly this is an art that’s historically conscious, not to say devoted or devotional. Even as I say this, though, I realize

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  • Robert Whitman

    Bykert Gallery Downtown

    Robert Whitman has been around for a long time and used to be connected with Happenings, at the time when Happenings happened. His recent show consisted of four—or maybe three—pieces of work. A set of two-sided pastel drawings, hung from the ceiling, and in which recto and verso are made to correspond. An example of this is a picture of a traffic light, with, on the other side of the paper, a red dot at the same place as the traffic light’s red. A pile of old furniture piled into a corner of the gallery, while a ridge of clothes that might have been rented from the Goodwill people stands free

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  • Hannah Wilke

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    “Since sexual issues still frighten, and male superiority still flourishes leaving cunt queens quite lonely . . . could we possibly find a better name for my kittens?” Hannah Wilke charmingly asks this in reply to Art-Rite’s recent question to several women artists: “Do you think there is a shared female artistic sensibility in the work of female artists?” Nancy Graves, Sylvia Stone, and Joan Jonas said “No!”; Laurie Anderson and Judy Chicago hedged; and Agnes Martin rejected the question. But Hannah Wilke’s answer is the one I remember. It’s the one I tell friends. And that’s the point. I

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  • Niele Toroni

    John Gibson Gallery

    American artists of both sexes will have problems with the single brushstroke paintings of Niele Toroni because it’s difficult to fit him into any category. Toroni has been doing the same thing for the past seven years—exactly the same thing! In Bernar Venet style of a five-year strategy and then out, Toroni’s only difference is he’s serving life with the system he adopted in 1967. But times have changed. If he’d shown these paintings in 1967, the reception might have been different. Throughout those seven years separated from dramatic developments in the States Toroni has used a static system

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  • Keith Sonnier

    Leo Castelli Gallery Downtown

    Even though I’m aware of his sizable reputation for other things, I consider James Collins’s early flocking pieces his best. Sympathetic to Sonnier’s use of videos as a “historyless” medium par excellence, I’ve never understood what he’s about. Respected but not understood. Perhaps it’s my bias against the general tedium of video in a gallery situation, which few videos except, say, Wegman’s stories, Serra’s game theories, or Acconci’s confessions avoid. I thought Sonnier used video more to generate static images—as a present-day Rosenquist of video. Sonnier’s video with its fragmentary

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  • Klaus Rinke

    The Clocktower

    Klaus Rinke is one of those artists whose use of systems often pushes his work toward the very decorativeness which such systems are generally intended to circumvent. This is probably because the systems and ideas which Rinke is involved with form the content of his work; they do not really determine its visual appearance as much as they are illustrated by it. This visual appearance seems familiar, involved with an ordinary kind of drawing which becomes really academic since, unconnected to Rinke’s feelings, it is not connected to his ideas. The large drawings of graphite on paper, bristol board

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  • Elie Nadelman

    Zabriskie Gallery

    Elie Nadelman lived in America exactly half of his sixty-four years. He came here in 1914, five years after the first exhibition of his sculpture in Paris. He had three shows in New York and never exhibited again from 1925 until his death in 1946. Nadelman’s work is perplexing because of the range and visibility of his sources; as an artist he is saturated with the history of sculpture, and his first, continuing commitment is to that of Classical Greece. Pieces in this exhibition suggest, besides Greek, Renaissance and Mannerist art, Victorian china, American folk art and dolls. Nadelman’s

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  • Hugo Robus

    Forum Gallery

    The sculpture of Hugo Robus (American, 1885–1964) is not very good and does little more than clarify conclusions about Nadelman, and increase appreciation of him. Both are involved with the idea of modernizing figurative sculpture but the difference is not just great, it is infinite. In Robus’ case “stream lining” is a literary device. Water Carrier, for example, is a female figure with a jar for a head. Robus’ figures are not abbreviated, they are amputated. Other pieces depict serious universal themes and are titled Maternal, Figure in Grief, Despair. They look as if Keene, the creator of

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  • John Mclaughlin

    Emmerich Gallery

    In last month’s issue I reviewed John Mclaughlin’s small exhibition at the Whitney. The 13 paintings in that show dated from 1946 to 1970. Those in his show at Emmerich, his first gallery exhibition in New York (he is seventy-six years old) are recent, from 1973 and 1974. In this work it seems that color and surface, which McLaughlin previously played down with deliberate control, are now being ignored, becoming either mechanical or genuinely neutral. The difference in surface is particularly startling: it is now overt, hard and closed. This deadens rather than subdues color, although it affects

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  • Moshe Kupferman

    Rina Gallery

    Moshe Kupferman, an Israeli painter, has had his first one-man exhibition in New York. His abstraction is fairly up-to-date, combining ’50s expressionism and ’60s geometry with a measure of European tachism. His small canvases have two basic formulas: a large dark grid is obliterated by a layer of lavender gray scumblings or this top layer is scratched through with a loose, finer grid configuration to reveal different colors underneath. For the most part the work suggests an amalgam of Twombly, Guston, and Martin, combined in a peculiar layering of space (over, under, behind and through) which

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  • Richard Tuttle

    Betty Parsons Gallery and Susan Caldwell Gallery

    Eight narrow, vertical strips of 1/4-inch plywood, each unobtrusively nailed more or less in the middle of a wall. Elongated rectangles truncated at varying angles with different side edges painted white. Such a physical description of Richard Tuttle’s new work seems totally inadequate to the occasion. One does not see Tuttle’s pieces as self-contained objects, as hermetic repositories of meaning. In fact, one doesn’t merely “see” Tuttle’s works; one experiences them through one’s body. Visual awareness becomes inextricable from body perception. This is not to imply that one actively projects

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  • Grace Bakst Wapner

    55 Mercer Gallery

    A more theatrical involvement with the body in space is evident in Grace Bakst Wapner’s “barriers and passageways.” In the more dramatic work, four separate rows of elegantly colored satin cords loop from ceiling to floor in an even, rhythmical pattern. Each row consists of two layers of overlapping U-shapes in alternating wavelike formation. Because there is ample space for passage between the loops and the gallery wall, as well as between the rows themselves, one is not tempted to actually enter the piece. Yet as one walks around the work, various possible pathways through the forest of

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  • Marilynn Gelfman-Pereira

    O.K. Harris Works Of Art

    While Wapner’s sculpture tends toward environment, Marilynn Gelfman-Pereira’s modular wire constructions are definitely object oriented. Remaining firmly within the Constructivist tradition, Gelfman-Pereira builds delicate miniatures through the ordered addition of complex geometric units outlined with sections of lacquered wire. The completed forms intimate crystalline growths or atomic structures. In these pieces there is no domination of mass over void, no differentiation between interior and exterior space. The wire lines merely articulate the configuration in three dimensions; they do not

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  • Agnes Denes

    James Yu Gallery

    In a different way the problem of congruence between medium and message occurs in Agnes Denes’ work. Her drawings serve as diagrammatic explorations of her philosophical ideas. Yet the complex verbal thinking underlying the visual information is left out; the illustrations have no text. It is not so much that Denes’ visual explanations are inappropriate, it is rather that they are insufficient. For example, Pyramid Series #1 depicts several pyramids built up of wobbly lined units which suggest instability—as if the pyramids might crumble and have to be reformed. Several mathematical formulae

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  • Anne Ryan

    The Brooklyn Museum

    Anne Ryan discovered collage after seeing the Kurt Schwitters memorial exhibition in 1948. Within the remaining six years of her life, Ryan transformed Schwitters’ influence into a quiet poetic vision of her own. Her early works explore the various possibilities of collage. One piece uses hard-edged rectangular shapes arranged individually without any overlapping; others employ stamps, letters, and similar connotative materials in direct reference to Schwitters. Soon, though, Ryan structured her format with a Cubist grid and selected her personal palette from bits of cloth, ranging from finely

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  • Marguerite Zorach

    Brooklyn Museum, Kraushaar Gallery

    In contrast to Ryan, whose work reached its peak late in the artist’s life, Marguerite Zorach painted her most successful pictures at the beginning of her career. From 1908 to 1911, while living in France, Zorach assimilated the flat, decorative patterning of the Nabis and Pont Aven Schools as well as the bright colors and elements of the vigorous brushwork and spontaneous drawing of the Fauves. Although one can point to the influence of Gauguin, perhaps Bonnard, certainly Derain and Vlaminck, Zorach’s work offers images of her own: a lively market scene where numbered signs pop out amid the

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  • Peter Saari

    C.W. Post Center Art Gallery

    Peter Saari’s oils on shaped and stretched canvas simulate Etruscan and Roman tomb paintings. Saari represents the visible canvas—both surface and edge—as masonry, rendering peeled layers of paint, rough wall surfaces and broken edges, even the chalky blush of ancient pigments on plaster. Like the Poiriers, Saari transposes antiquity, literally transmitting the experience of ancient walls with a curatorial reverence for the physical facts of the artifacts he represents. He groups canvases as if they were chunks of wall (some are even numbered on the edge) reconstructed in a museum. The show

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  • Richard Mock

    Louis K. Meisel Gallery

    Some super-Realist galleries have been showing Concept artists and documentors in their back rooms and basements much as a department store moves slow-selling low profit items to the bargain basement. Richard Mock fills the basement at Meisel with large constructions of plastic sheets, and papers the walls with Xeroxed documents from two sculptural programs, World Piece (1973 and continuing) and On Board Q-E 2 (1974).

    For World Piece, Mock entrusts his plastic assemblages to travelers who place and photograph them in various spots around the world—on a crowded street, draped over a nude woman’s

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  • Barbara Roan And The Blue Mountain Paper Parade

    Concord Hotel, Kiamesha Lake

    Barbara Roan and 20 dancers performed Landmark at dusk on the snowy slope of a deserted ski run. A kind of land painting was systematically evolved within the eight squares of a grid 60 feet wide and 120 feet long, marked out by flags and colored discs. Performers unrolled sheets of bright plastic, wrote the name of the piece in the snow with colored water, moved in groups carrying black cardboard arrows, laid out diagonal lines of snowsuits (they each wore several) in the shape of bodies, and finally lit sparklers as night fell.

    Roan has organized several parade pieces in the past, and Landmark

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