New York

Arthur Koepcke

René Block Gallery

As a formal determinant in object-making, this participatory function is partly rooted in what Dali called “Objects of Symbolic Function,” Surrealist works like Giacometti’s Suspended Ball of 1930–31 which incorporate particular elements designed to be moved. The cheerful presumption thateveryone is an artist underlies the populist expansion of the mail art movement, and this idea is implicit in the proto-Conceptual work of George Brecht and Arthur Koepcke, Danish artist and Fluxus promoter of the ’60s.

Continue . . . is a box multiple ($75 from the gallery) containing 129 ideas—strategies, declarations, word games, pictorial equations, strategies for theater actions, etc., on sheets of black paper. Each sheet bears the line: “you can put each piece as a way of action for the rest of the pieces.” It’s rather like an anthologized art education. Piece 95 even lays out a major aspect of the critical task: “which of all these pieces are: reading-pieces work-pieces reading/work-pieces? or what? distinct explanations are necessary.” Sorry. Koepcke came up with these ideas and projects between 1950 and 1964, encountered difficulties in realizing many of them, and finally gave up and put them all in a box.

Sheets from Continue . . . are tacked up on one wall of the gallery. The rest of the installation is comprised of realizations of some of the ideas in the box. These include paintings in a loose childlike style and collages which reiterate a European emphasis on modes of childhood expression that has continued throughout this century. The show, however, seems to have been installed so as to excuse this. Continue . . .—both the multiple itself and the injunction—is its focal point, and the box is the basis of programs from which the realizations spring.

As some of the pieces seem to indicate, the fact that Koepcke made the paintings and collages is irrelevant. Like LeWitt’s instructions for wall drawings which could conceivably be executed by anyone, Koepcke has reserved intention to himself, and who makes these works doesn’t involve him. So it comes down to the box.

Alan Moore