reviews

  • Alice Aycock

    112 Greene Street

    The work in Alice Aycock’s first solo exhibition spanned the past three years and included relatively Conceptual photographic pieces, various pieces executed outdoors and documented with photographs, and one work executed in the gallery itself. Aycock’s work varies physically, but it is generally concerned with natural processes or systems and with the human consciousness of and response to them. The more Conceptual photographic pieces date from 1971, and often deal with the location of “abstract” things in nature, like directions or boundaries. Photographs also document Sun/Glass, a piece which

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  • Paul Sharits

    Bykert Gallery

    Paul Sharits is a filmmaker dealing only with those elements which he considers inherent to the medium. In the piece he exhibited this spring, Synchronousoundtracks (“3-screen super 8 continuous loop projection”), those elements are the movement (and speed of movement) of the strip of film itself, its celluloid transparency, and the sprocketed edges which move it through the projector. Sharits combined these simple elements in a very complex manner, one which both stresses and in some cases subverts their original state.

    The piece consists of three film loops projected sideways on the wall; the

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  • Roger Cutforth

    John Gibson Gallery

    By comparison, Roger Cutforth’s work makes it clear that there is such a thing as too much accessibility. Cutforth also works with film, and often still photography, in a way which juxtaposes various states of mobility and immobility. In the largest piece in his recent exhibition, three near life-size images of women walking outdoors cover two walls of the gallery. The initial impact is startling since the gallery walls are almost dissolved, opened up into landscape space. The women are all walking forward, but they never get any closer. Through the use of a zoom lens, the cameras pull back at

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  • Colin Greenly

    Finch College Museum Of Art

    Like Cutforth, Colin Greenly’s work is based on a simplistic, romantic conceptuality, and one which is made more disagreeable by pretentiousness. Greenly’s work is of unspecified medium, dimensions, and time duration. He calls it “intangible sculpture” which “neither inserts an object into a site, be it landscape or other physical source, nor is it represented by physical action taken on a site. Instead, the site becomes part of the total sculpture and the sculpture’s energy manifestation.” The work is much simpler than this, consisting of large photographs, usually landscapes, with black or

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  • Michael Todd

    Zabriskie Gallery

    Michael Todd’s work is not only as tangible as ever, it is also improved, although ultimately the improvement has strange implications. Todd was and still is involved with a linear mode, known as “drawing in space” which originated in the work of David Smith. In Todd’s previous work (exhibited at Reese Palley several years ago), repeated circular elements implied cylindrical volumes and were connected or adorned by additional straight and curved pieces. The regular geometry of the elements always made the basic decorativeness of this work rigid and brittle, like the sound of fingernails on a

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  • Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

    Rina Gallery

    The work in Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe’s first exhibition was both ambitious and derivative. Gilbert-Rolfe is a young painter who also writes for this magazine, and his work attempts to specify both its pictorial and objective nature, an undertaking which he has discussed in writing on other artists. He also attempts to combine a structure that is self-explanatory with a painterliness that is not. The issue in all this seems to be the resolution of a number of dialectically opposed positions. Such an ambition is as interesting as it is prevalent right now. My objection is that in Gilbert-Rolfe’s work

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  • James Dearing, Joanna Pousette-Dart, and Tony Vanderperk

    Susan Caldwell Gallery

    The dialectic in much painting, which concerns Gilbert-Rolfe in both his art and writing, was apparent in a show of three young painters at Susan Caldwell, where, in two cases out of three, it was misinterpreted, with rather complacent, if coherent, results. In the third case, James Dearing’s work, the involvement is more explicitly with the strictly pictorial space of the painting, with a clear lateral measurement and structuring of it which ultimately implicated its physical support and real space. Dearing’s paintings are middle size and squarish; they are divided by a combination of vertical

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  • Joseph Beuys

    René Block Gallery

    I missed or was spared the various events which Beuys’ visit to this country precipitated last winter, so possibly my conclusions have already been reached by everyone else. Either way, it seems that the performance piece Beuys swiftly and discreetly executed here last spring finally gives some indication of what all the noise has been about. The enormous reputation which his various exhibitions in this country failed to elucidate has in some measure been corroborated. Beuys is, at least, a very good performer.

    Beuys’ last stay in this country was entirely performance. Once through Customs at

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  • “Narrative 2”

    John Gibson Gallery

    The artists David Askevold, Didier Bay, Bill Beckley, Robert Cumming, Peter Hutchinson, Jean Le Gac, Italo Scanga, and Roger Welch, working with a variety of photographic and text mixes, show a definite post-Conceptual disregard for the primacy, or the separation of the visual and the verbal. They provide a good model to discuss what has been variously called autobiographical, diary, narrative, journalistic, or as I prefer, the more casual title of the first group show held last year: “Story.” With a lightness of touch similar to that established last year by virtually the same group of artists—with

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  • Tom Wesselmann

    Sidney Janis Gallery

    Myths like Tom Wesselmann are hard to talk about, but I find it easier with my post-Conceptual perspective. Confidence in the world of appearances is returning. Visual is no longer the dirty word it was, and this fact is liberating artists, critics, galleries, and collectors alike. Seeing Wesselmann’s show with its stunning wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-ceiling paintings, I was convinced of the absolute necessity of visual models in our cultural life—whether the images be on canvas, photographic paper, or film. Wesselmann is in the enviable position of not having passed through the debilitating

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  • Robert Smithson

    New York Cultural Center

    What we got at Robert Smithson’s drawing show was essentially a rehearsal of the central part of the story whose limits were recently determined by John Coplans, in the course of his discussion of the Amarillo Ramp, 1973 (Artforum, April, 1974). The themes established there—Smithson’s Romanticism, his feeling that art could be made out of anything, his interest in the manipulation of landscape, and in entropy—are paralleled by Susan Ginsberg’s and Joseph Masheck’s contributions to the catalogue. Ginsberg’s is a kind of eulogy that orients one to the work. Masheck’s discussion concentrates on

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  • Raphael Ferrer

    The Museum Of Modern Art; Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    For one thing, the Surreal is strident in Raphael Ferrer’s work as far as I can see. Ferrer’s measuring devices, which can measure things only in their own terms rather than in categories interchangeable with those of any other system, engage in a frustration of the utilitarian quite central to Surrealism. And, its resurrection by Ferrer has a precedent in Robert Morris’ collection of unequal yardsticks. Taken as a whole, Ferrer’s work seems to enunciate an indirect association with Surrealism inasmuch as it recreates the primitive to place it in a gallery. The preconscious is provisionally

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  • Barry Le Va

    Bykert Gallery Downtown

    Looking at Barry Le Va’s drawings, I get the feeling that one is expected to respond as if to withheld information. Unlike the sculpture he’s made recently, the drawings don’t appear to be even hypothetically self-explanatory. Instead they look like choreographer’s notes without the written notations and, like the sculpture in this respect, they suggest a systematic distribution that’s hard to grasp. Le Va almost seems to be engaged in the communication of an impenetrability resulting from the absence of apparent motivation. One is confronted with an experience which might reasonably be treated

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  • Marcia Hafif

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Marcia Hafif showed paintings that are each of one color, and made with a brush, oil paint, and stretched canvas. In what you might call its institutional reduction, her painting concentrates attention on the even passage of a small brush across the surface in little scanning marks, an activity bracketed by the association of a particular color with a particular size of stretcher. The result is work totally committed to post-Minimalism at its most orthodox: a surface that conceals nothing about its construction, and presents itself as time measured in a specific material in a particular format.

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  • Michael Johnson

    132 Bowery

    Michael Johnson showed paintings at his studio that were subsequently shipped off to the antipodes for an exhibition, whence they’ll probably not return. Johnson started to paint in Australia and then spent some years in England before coming here. It shows. However, his work has persisted in being an intelligent articulation of color through a vocabulary derived from that history. Gold Nomore 1974 is an atypical painting in that it has a fifth color, a block of white at the top right. Usually there are four, three blocks and the ground. Since one tends to see changes of value and hue on a flat

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  • Jules Olitski

    Knoedler Contemporary Art

    As the ’60s progressed Jules Olitski’s paintings went through a series of changes that, in my opinion, aimed at incorporating the openness of Pollock’s work of 1947–51 into a format comparably overwhelming in size, but structured by color. Color, to Olitski, has always operated—as did line for Pollock—as a material substance as well as an optical signifier, but in his new work—unlike that of the recent past—violent gesture is no longer undermined by a fragile and spatially ambiguous pigmentation. The result is a retreat from the heroic into pathos, from internal complexity to a thick surface

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  • Will Insley

    Fischbach Gallery Downtown

    That the formalist approach has tended to obscure the visionary role of the artist is a point of contention with Will Insley. Explicitly rejecting the surface values of pure color, form, line—“art for the sake of art,” Insley seeks to penetrate behind this “facade” to uncover a personal mythology, the inner “dream space” which is for him the content of art. Insley transmits the information gathered from his “journey” into interior space through a collection of poems, fragmented musings, diagrams, and architectural drawings compiled over the past 11 years and presented in book format. Ostensibly

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  • Richard Long

    John Weber Gallery

    In a way, one might classify Insley as an armchair philosopher, for he seeks his being in the inner recesses of the mind, traveling into the realm of imagination. Richard Long, on the other hand, finds his content in active dialogue with nature, mapping out his personal space in terms of the landscape. If one senses a romantic primitivism in Long’s involvement with the earth, it is not the idealist mysticism of Insley’s vision. No, Long’s searching is a marking out on this world and is, thus, contingent on the physicality of his existence. His art is a personal record of his contact with the

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  • Blythe Bohnen

    A.I.R. Gallery

    Body gesture as one’s means of acting in the world and defining one’s sensibilities becomes explicit in Blythe Bohnen’s drawings. Moving three-inch, six-inch or nine-inch graphite bars on their edges, Bohnen creates a series of twisting and turning forms across the paper. Each drawing explores the range of possibilities within a restricted framework of related movements. For example, one series investigates the sequential rhythms of a down, across and up motion, another the different speeds of a sharp sweep up and then down. The resultant page reads as an alphabet of gestures, a catalogue of

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  • Brenda Miller

    The Clocktower

    Like Morris, Brenda Miller connects her cognitive idea with its physical realization. Her four grids, drawn on the wall in light blue pencil, are filled in with stenciled letters in ordered sequence. Each grid is a 52 x 52 unit square, allowing, for example, the stamping of two complete sets of the alphabet from A to Z and Z to A in the horizontal rows and the consequent repetition of single letters in each vertical column. However, this patterning is only clearly visible at the terminal A and Z points, for Miller shifts her stencil and reprints on top of the original structure in successive

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  • Michael Vessa

    Rosa Esman Gallery

    In describing the process of perception, reading is frequently used as a metaphor for seeing. Expanding this analogy, Michael Vessa makes books the subject of his drawings and sculpture. Several pieces are actual notebooks opened up and attached to the wall. That the pages are lined, numbered and often captioned “Read and Understood” at the bottom stresses how in reading one proceeds with the knowledge gained from the first page to the next. Vessa relates this memory process to seeing by suggesting that visually one connects the marks on separate pages in a sequential absorption of information.

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  • Paul Brach

    André Emmerich Gallery – Downtown

    In contrast to Vessa, Paul Brach stresses the optical rather than the conceptual aspects of seeing in his paintings. His information is on the surface, to be assimilated by the eye instead of interpreted by the mind. Using the pointillist technique of optical mixture, Brach creates flickering bands of color-light from tiny dabs of color. For instance, in Horizon No. 3 the canvas is covered with horizontal rows of blue gray diagonal brushstrokes. Near the bottom of the painting there is a band of loosely spaced dots of light red purple and unsaturated orange lying on top of the gray. The effect

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  • Alvin Loving

    Fischbach Gallery

    Although the formal precedent for Al Loving’s new pieces seems to be Stella, there is a sense of energy and playfulness to his large painted cardboard and paper constructions which recalls Matisse’s late cutout collages. Loving piles up ragged shapes and festive colors into a chaotic conglomeration which visually recreates the additive process of its making. One’s eye, flicking from one area to another, joins in the fun of putting the pieces of a puzzle together. Loving’s constructive method, his selection of scattered bits of information which combine into a whole, repeats and thereby highlights

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  • Barbara Coleman and Galeyn Remington

    SOHO20

    It is Loving’s sense of joie de vivre which determines the impact of his pieces. What I mean is perhaps clarified by examining the works of Barbara Coleman and Galeyn Remington, who also stress painting’s materiality. Coleman concentrates on the thereness of the paint itself. Her thick tubular oozes of plastic paint become relief shapes which highlight the textural three-dimensionality of paint. Color serves a decorative function subordinate to the physical presence of its substance. Remington, on the other hand, asserts the objecthood of the support with her rolling and overlapping surfaces of

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  • Dennis Oppenheim

    The Clocktower

    A totally different perspective on the same space is given by Dennis Oppenheim’s work. As one opens the door and mounts the stairs to the room, one’s ears fill with the incessant reverberation of a single chord. At the top of the stairs one stops. Directly in front is a dead German shepherd sprawled on top of an electric organ keyboard. The floor is covered with asphalt swirled in a spiral pathway which suggests the prior dragging of the dog and organ across the surface in a ritualistic ceremony. As in Oppenheim’s earlier Two Right Feet for Sebastian and dancing marionette piece, one has the

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  • Consuelo Kanaga

    Lerner-Heller Gallery

    “When you make a photograph, it is very much a picture of your own self. . . . Most people try to be striking to catch the eye. I think the thing is not to catch the eye but the spirit.” With this observation, Consuelo Kanaga succinctly characterizes the retrospective of her photographs from the 1920s. Beginning as a newspaper reporter, Kanaga soon came under the influence of Alfred Steiglitz and the photographers featured in Camera Work. The simple directness of her vision, as well as the controlled developing of her prints to bring out their tonal richness, evidence her affiliation with

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  • Nancy Holt

    The Clocktower

    Usually one considers a room’s space in terms of its interior dimensions. With her video piece at the Clocktower, Nancy Holt locates one in the enclosed space, 14 floors above Broadway, through its outside view. High above one in the room, a porthole cut out of white paper filters the light through the window on each of the four sides. Underneath, the wall is labeled with its direction—N, S, E or W. In the center of the room, a solid white box with a monitor imbedded in each side provides an inside equivalent for the exterior shell. Four videotapes, one for each direction, play sequentially on

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  • Mel Ramos

    Louis K. Meisel Gallery

    Pop veteran Mel Ramos has expanded the series he began with his pinup Ingres, mounting a show of paintings recasting well-known compositions of nudes by Boucher, David, Gérard, Ingres, Manet, and Modigliani in contemporary terms, like a Las Vegas nightmare of the Louvre. Ramos’ style is a crisp version of commercial illustration. He paints people and things in the same flat photographic light. His debt to Playboy illustrator Vargas is obvious, and this exhibition shows that Ramos has kept pace with the venerable purveyor. His nudes, with their modish pubic hair, reflect the latest soft-core

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  • Nancy Kitchel

    112 Greene Street

    Nancy Kitchel exhibits her diaristic documents in a dramatic literary installation. The viewer sits in turn at each of four lighted desks in a darkened gallery, examining groups of artifacts in a pool of light. Reading the art is a carefully arranged invasion of privacy, like a late night session with incriminating documents. The subjects Kitchel treats—the decomposition of her love affairs, the gestures and social strategies of her aging relatives, and her own failing memory are the stuff of letters and private journals.

    Such material is usually advanced into the domain of art as literature,

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  • Douglas Dunn

    308 Broadway

    The basic strategy of Douglas Dunn’s performance piece is to reverse that convention of performance that keeps the audience stationary and sends performers moving. That is, the focus of attention is not directed at what Dunn does with his body, but rather toward the way the spectator acts or reacts in the situation.

    One enters the exhibit through Dunn’s apartment. The exhibit itself is a wooden maze structure about 13 or 14 feet high, fully occupying a space of approximately 2,000 square feet. The initial passages, through the maze, run north–south and open eventually on two east–west passages,

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  • William Wiley

    Hansen-Fuller Gallery

    William Wiley’s mini-retrospective (ten years) is a curious affair: an enormous amount of varied work (sculpture, paintings stretched and unstretched, big and little drawings, and memorabilia) sending out the message that this stuff, like Rauschenberg’s Combines, is a lot more arty than we suspected. A friend with me said it succinctly: “Certified F-u-n-q-u-e.” As an ensemble, Wiley’s proto-hippy frontier style (part of a bow-and-arrow with tin can, with oar, with . . . etc.) looks mannered, as do the formerly stretched canvases hanging as updated softies.

    But the man, or the artist, is in a

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