reviews

  • Joe Zucker

    Bykert Gallery uptown

    Joe Zucker’s new work places an increased emphasis on the relationship between surface and image. He works with cotton dipped in paint, pulled and squashed onto the canvas. The six paintings in this exhibition depict machines which in one way or another agitate air and therefore, by implication, the surface of the painting. The movement of air, elusive in real space, becomes the most visible activity in these paintings. Things are stirred up by airplanes, helicopters, windmills, tornadoes and ferris. wheels. Zucker’s “strokes” of paint vary more than before and describe more precisely. Thus the

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  • Doris Ulmann

    Witkin Gallery

    In contrast, it is the people who become the icons in Doris Ulmann’s platinum prints and gravures. Her main subjects are poor Southerners. She presents the time-worn faces of Appalachian craftsmen and women, the simple dignity of the blacks of the Gullah region of South Carolina. Reading Gene Thornton’s review in the Sunday Times I thought again about the soft-focus pictorialism of these images. Does it matter that these photos were taken in the late ’20s and early ’30s, at a time when the modernist impulse was toward a sharp-focus on straight reality? True, a few of Ulmann’s shots look

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  • Meryl Vladimer and Ted Stamm

    Artists Space Exhibitions

    Meryl Vladimer. A different kind of portraiture. Traces of presence. The masks and props of actors who have disappeared. On the wall a series of plaster-cast faces progressing from the lobe of an ear to a full profile in the center and back again on the other side. Recollection of a videotape, the head slowly turning to recognition and away. But here the action is frozen, splayed out into a. frieze, the relic of a performance. Another remnant on the floor. Chalk outlines of a figure measuring the room in body lengths. Defining a space in terms of body scale? Yet at the end a frontal face mask,

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  • John Walker

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Trying to understand my expectations of art. Anticipation before going to see John Walker’s “Projects.” I remember being impressed by his chalk drawings shown about two years ago in London. Yes, there is another in his current exhibit. A blackboard painted on the wall and dusted with white chalk which accumulates in varying densities on the surface. The image a negative, hieroglyphic in design, presumably created by pulling off tape to trace lines in the original surface after the chalk has settled. The lines look definitive, bold in their straight-edged blackness against the powdery haze of

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  • Jared Bark

    Bykert Gallery downtown

    Questions that keep recurring. Jared Bark’s work is also marked by his technique. His medium: photobooth strips mounted one next to the other to form an image narrated in frames. Order inherent in the simple repetition of equal rectangles which snap after snap imply their sequence in time. Yet paradoxically when used directly as the familiar photo-booth in which one sits and has one’s photo taken, the device seems less obtrusive, or rather more a tool for exploration. To be specific. In a group of nine pieces California North to South, Bark lines up strips of faces, each group having been taken

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  • Jim Alinder

    The Once Gallery

    Again technique predominates in Jim Alinder’s photographs. Alinder uses a special camera to capture a panoramic view rushing into a curve of perspective on either side of the focal point. Perhaps because this device is repeated in every photograph it begins to lose its impact. However, often the subject matter does coincide with the distortion of the lens. The photos monumentalize commercial landmarks which pockmark the U.S. The gigantic “Modess . . . because” sign which zooms along the New Jersey Turnpike. Santa and his reindeer riding above an endless supermarket display of packaged frozen

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  • Joyce Kozloff

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    Looking at Joyce Kozloff’s paintings. Searching for a way into painting. Night Stars. A crisscross of strips, changing their patterning, as they lay over and under each other to jumble the surface in a myriad of directions. The areas in between darker, receding behind, filled with a variety of texture designs. The whole a chaos of configurations which one groups and regroups. Eyes following the lines to articulate a shape only to find themselves jumping to another and another through an endless flux of possibilities. Again in Carousel, attempting to trace one line as it zigzags across the surface.

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  • John Okulick

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    Traditionally I tend to think of painting in terms of illusionism. In this sense, John Okulick’s wall constructions serve as a pun on painting’s two-dimensionality. To take an example. Hercules Bound to Fail (the titles are puns as well). Here the edges of a diamond donut are drawn in receding perspective by slats of wood tilted into the wall. A golden fleece fiber is sandwiched between the inner and outer edges which are bound together with rope. The image looks like a piece of sculpture flattened into a Ron Davis shaped canvas which, conversely, through its illusionism implies three-dimensionality.

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  • Thomas Bang

    O.K. Harris Works of Art

    But, maybe, is there a game to art? A playing with materials as well as the viewer? Thomas Bang, for instance, seems to toy with dualities—in or out, empty or filled, fragment or whole. On the wall is a black metal rod which curlicues at both ends into slits cut into the wall and dammed up in black. A literal drawing in space. Two wooden slats parallel each other vertically on the wall. The top of one is broken off at an angle, the resulting wedge between the two clayed in. Displacement denoted in a visual tug-of-war as one pulls the skewed segment back into uprightness, closing the articulated

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  • Dennis Oppenheim

    John Gibson Gallery

    In the past, occasionally, and now with his current show, Dennis Oppenheim has resorted to a circular ordering of events. The pattern, for example, of “annual rings, taken from the cross-section of a tree trunk, was blown up to about 150 feet in size, then shoveled and chopped out of ice on the U.S. Canadian border” (David Bourdon, Village Voice, January 20, 1975). More recently, Oppenheim obtained the corpse of a recently executed German Shepherd from the ASP-CA, and draped it over the keyboard of a portable electric organ which trailed, I think, a kind of dark grease as the artist dragged it

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  • Mary Grigoriadis

    A.I.R. Gallery

    Mary Grigoriadis’s paintings may smack of origins as diverse as Byzantine, Navajo, and folk Sicilian. “Poly-ethnic,” one might call her icons, so definite in form but scrambled in reference. Titles such as Giotto’s Oranges, Etruscan Amber, and Rain Dance insinuate meanings supported by color, or less surely by design, but not by both at once. If you’re cued by New York art ideologies, you may well find her pictures unsettling, and not only because they’re so rabidly votive in presence. Grigoriadis has seen fit to “sit” her symmetrical and frontal imagery on the unprimed, linen surface in high,

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  • John Willenbecher

    A. M. Sachs Gallery

    A cenotaph is a “sepulchral monument erected in memory of a deceased person who is buried elsewhere” (Random House Dictionary). Etienne-Louis Boullee, a rather successful 18th-century architect, imagined such works on a megalomaniac scale, as conceived in large, pedagogical ink and wash drawings. Their forbidding structural simplicity is zoned by unbroken, transparent shadows that merge with the star-powdered heavens. John Willenbecher would have many of his arched plaster constructions, painted over with gray acrylic, and bottom shelved in wood—would have them be called cenotaphs for Boullée.

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  • Al Souza

    O.K. Harris Works of Art

    Al Souza comes across as a comparative anatomist of the differences between the photographed motif and the actual motif. That is to say, he investigates the unexpectedly shocking contradictions of reality that photographic form exhibits. And he does this by recourse to the simpleminded scheme of building compartmented boxes juxtaposing, for instance, color photographs of miniature roses with the roses themselves. One may, if one wishes, test the accuracy of the color printing process at firsthand. But this perfectly legitimate activity is deceiving: time has changed the color, and enfeebled the

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  • Robert Rauschenberg

    Castelli Gallery downtown and Sonnabend Gallery

    Robert Rauschenberg is entering his third decade of artistic prominence. He continues the practice which first achieved that prominence, appropriating the images and objects of life directly into art. The work remains a seductive accumulation of familiar materials, objects, and images from magazine, newspapers, postcards and occasionally other art. In this most recent exhibition, held in the spaces of both Castelli downtown and Sonnabend, Rauschenberg combines cloth and objects into wall pieces, extending the possibilities of a few works seen last year in a Castelli show shared with Cy Twombly.

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  • Bruce Boice

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Bruce Boice is one of several artists attempting to make paintings with an evident logical foundation. James Dearing and Gary Stephan are close in age and intention. Boice’s paintings exist as a set of propositions and steps as well as a visual experience. And this visuality results from, just as it obscures, the basic, underlying logic.

    Boice paints in series; each painting in this exhibition is one of about three arrangements of the same components. And each painting is in itself a series of three: literally a combination of three separate canvases and, not so literally, of three conditions.

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  • Frank Bowling

    Noah Goldowsky, Inc.

    Frank Bowling’s paintings have been generally improving over the past few years, but the paintings in this exhibition are not as good as several which he exhibited at the Center for Inter-American Relations last year. Both the improvement and the lesser interest of this recent show are relative. Working out of Olitski and Noland, as Bowling is, strikes me as a fairly unadventurous endeavor. But at times Bowling’s work is more interesting than theirs, or, maybe just easier to take, since it is unaccompanied by an inflated reputation. Bowling tapes, stains, retapes and stains again. The tapes are

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  • Arlene Slavin

    Fischbach Gallery downtown

    Arlene Slavin still uses a small diamond grid, formed by intersecting. diagonals, but now it merely forms an underlying structure to plot much larger shapes and areas. This broadens the scale of Slavin’s work considerably. The grid is nonetheless responsible for the general layout, resulting in a series of diamond shapes of varying sizes and proportion. Diamonds with sets of greatly unequal sides read like large rectangles in extreme and rigid perspective, floating in space, which intersect with the picture plane. This tilts pictorial space inward, creating the illusion of an aerial plan of some

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  • Peter Saari and Gordon David Wine

    Lamagna Gallery

    Peter Saari makes paintings which look like bits and pieces of ancient Rome. They simulate fragments of wall paintings, grave steles and shrines, the corner of a room from Pompeii, an end wall of an Etruscan tomb and spearheads of decayed copper and iron. These items are all paint on canvas, with plaster, gravel or dust where needed. The results are appropriately decayed, with pale, flaking surfaces. The geometric designs, images, colors and architectural details are equally convincing; Saari has obviously researched his topic thoroughly and some of the pieces are complete with museum registration

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  • Adja Yunkers

    Zabriskie Gallery

    In a special edition, Adja Yunkers illuminated Blanco, a poem by Octavio Paz, either in silkscreens, lithographs, or intaglio images. In this, their second collaboration in book publishing, two poets, one of the pen, the other of the brush, invite us to a feast of the eye and a delectation of the mind. Adja Yunkers, by labeling his contribution “illuminations“ directly renews the link with Rimbaud, the poet of the alchemy of colors and words. As Andre Breton had translated this theme in terms of “les mots font l’amour” (“words make love”) so Octavio Paz rephrases it when he speaks of “two

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  • Louisa Chase

    Artists Space

    Louisa Chase arranges painted sticks and plaster balls on round pieces of colored felt on the floor. Gallery administrator and critic Irving Sandler remarked to a crowd of visitors that Cars and Triangles looked like a model railroad. Perhaps he had Stuart Davis in the back of his mind, because Cars and Triangles, like much of that Cubist’s work, is an active and ingenious abstract composition bounded by a metaphor. These works look like games, but it’s not any game you can play. It’s more like toys left out on the floor. Chase neither infers systemic preconditions for the existence of her pieces

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  • Alice Adams

    55 Mercer Gallery

    Alice Adams’s works look like bare sections of a plaster wall’s internal structure, made as they are from strips of lath and supporting beams. The idea is to make sculpture by representing, recreating excerpts from preexisting (but by now somewhat outmoded) tectonic systems. To my mind, art that usurps the technics of architecture also references its circumstances; the art can relay something about the way buildings are conceived, built, used, and destroyed. Adams’s work doesn’t, or, at least she takes the clear high road. Her pieces are clean and insular, woodwork in the nude, the product of

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  • Kenneth Snelson

    Waterside Plaza

    Kenneth Snelson’s energetic tensegrity structure sculptures on the Waterside Plaza rock slightly with the wind off the East River. Although the pipe and cable assemblies are dwarfed by the hatchetlike apartment buildings (by Davis, Brody and Associates) that tower above them, it’s clear that it might have been the other way around. I mean that, as Buckminster Fuller has demonstrated, Snelson’s structural method can generate architecture, and, given the site, that is what I think about in their presence. Snelson’s work is rationalized down to the last bone, with an inevitability like botanical

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  • Forrest Myers

    Sculpture Now

    Forrest Myers’s was the inaugural exhibition at Sculpture Now, the Max Hutchinson Gallery’s spacious new two-story showroom. The fat steel and brass tendrils of Myers’s sculpture, like Snel-son’s pipes and cables, act to bind up an area on the floor and a volume in the room. But Myers shuns geometry; although they are connected, his tendrils delineate no clear figures. He imputes a gestural softness to his metal so that it undulates like an old swami’s trick rope. Some ends run out from the main configuration and arch off the ground inquiringly, as if they meant to go somewhere, or attach

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  • Charles Simonds

    Artists Space and 112 Greene Street

    Charles Simonds occupies the sweet and ethical position of giving his art away. For years now he has built tiny clay brick dwellings in the predominantly Puerto Rican neighborhood of New York’s Lower East Side to accommodate a migratory race of little people. Simonds’s mythopoesis is immediately accessible. Introverted kids frequently involve themselves in a world of wee folk, and the idea has generated a lot of children’s literature: William Donahey’s Teenie Weenies, for example, and Mary Norton’s Borrowers. (In The Borrowers Aloft, Norton’s heroes find a home in a miniature city built by a

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  • Michael Heizer

    Fourcade-Droll

    Michael Heizer doesn’t face this problem. He tractors along with a simple vocabulary of form derived from structural painting of the ’60s, particularly Held’s and Mangold’s. His paintings demonstrate the commutability of this formal rhetoric. I like some of them, and it was brash of Heizer to show them. He has risked trivializing his oeuvre through the implication that he merely traveled these pictorial forms west as die stamps for his Earthworks. The canvases, thinly painted with a round figure rendered in the hues of stone, are muscular, almost Romanesque despite the flimsiness of pictures on

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  • Eunice Golden

    SOHO20

    Eunice Golden paints the figure, both on canvas and literally. She juggles her depiction of the “male landscape” through three media: scumbled paintings of schematized penises like emblems on a dot-and-dash grid, photoworks of nude men and women sprawled on a beach like so much driftwood, and films about the adornment of genitalia. In the 1973 films, Blue Bananas and Other Meats and Face of Landscape, Golden most particularizes her content. Blue Bananas is a role reversal on the nude woman as entreé at Surrealist banquets. It records the decoration of a penis and crotch first with vegetables,

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  • Anne Frye

    55 Mercer Street

    Anne Frye’s exhibition of black-and-white photoworks is as discontinuous as a comic’s monologue. It’s as if she’s still thrashing around for a style. In three series, she does a Baldessarian label-covering act with a ball of twine. Covering implies revealing, and since Frye doesn’t caption her work, this deliberate denial of a graphic motif throws her back entirely on her images. But more, it’s coy pandering: she’s denying us information we already know. Three other series exploit the darkroom accident of the bleached print. The progression of the image toward white reveals the lines and masses

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  • Jean Dupuy

    The Kitchen and 112 Greene Street

    Jean Dupuy’s two installations deal with what in a more resolutely Christian era would have been called the two aspects of marriage—the sacred and profane. Dupuy installed I & J at The Kitchen shortly before he produced Soup and Tart, an evening of artists’ performances there. “I” & “J” (referring to Jean and Irene, his former wife) is spelled out in grommets on a canvas screen. Through them a large screen with a video monitor inserted in it at lower right is visible. Graphic grainy stills of a couple making love and masturbating are projected on the screen, stills taken from the videotape on

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  • “Photography in America”

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    As if the point had not been made with sufficient clarity by Stieglitz and Steichen in the early years of our century, Robert Doty, a former curator of painting at the Whitney Museum, has mounted an exhibition of several hundred American photographs designed, evidently, to convince the observer that photography can have the same intensely personal introspection and stylistic sophistication that we have come to associate with Fine Art, especially since the Romantic period. The point is underlined by the artfully haphazard arrangement of photographs in the exhibition, which follows neither a

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