New York

Bill McGee

Max Hutchinson Gallery

Although Thorne’s pictorial language is given to the extent one does not speculate on why she chose her marks, it is not a priori. Her words, as well as grammar, are formulated in the course of painting in response to her activity. In contrast, Bill McGee’s vocabulary and rules of structure seem to be learned instead of found. His narrow vertical stripes on color fields inevitably invoke Barnett Newman, and it is to Newman that one refers again and again. One has seen all these paintings before. There are no discoveries, no changes in the language to make one pause and reconsider one’s grounds for seeing. I might talk about how McGee’s saturated color soaked unevenly into the canvas creates an airy, cloudlike space which expands from and yet adheres to the surface. Or how his narrow bands, often moved to the edges, contain the breathing color within the confines of the support. Yet the terms are all familiar. They are only inflections on a well-established language, shifts in touch or scale or color preference which do not change the basic premises. The presence of Newman is just too overwhelming. The language is Newman’s; McGee is only trying to speak it. How well he succeeds is unimportant, for the result remains imitation rather than invention.

Susan Heinemann