reviews

  • Dennis Oppenheim

    M. L. D'Arc Gallery

    Dennis Oppenheim’s art has frequently been projected through the actions of his own children. He has explored questions of heredity through studies of facial expressions, transferral of fingerprints, and other actions shared with or executed through his family. Search for Clues, a recent multimedia installation, extends this idea, reconstructing his vision of death as a dream of his seven-year-old daughter.

    A large oriental rug floats about two feet off the floor of the darkened gallery, immediately staking out the work’s magical territory. A puppet (an image of the artist himself which has

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  • Barry Le Va

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Barry Le Va’s work of the past few years has dealt with location. He postulates certain configurations relating to the gallery on the floor and identifies or leaves cues as to their positions. In his most recent show, he extends his geometry into three dimensions, with exponentially complicated results.

    Entering the gallery, one steps into two scatterings of wooden dowel slices, reminders of earlier installations. In addition, thin sticks of various lengths were stuck to the gallery walls in deliberate but indecipherable arrangements. A notice explained that the sticks represent sightings, taken

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  • Hamish Fulton and Jean Le Gac

    Sperone Westwater Fischer Gallery and John Gibson Gallery

    Travel has a universal appeal. It holds out the tantalizing hope of being able to step outside of oneself, shedding that shell of circumstance and habit that structures one’s day-to-day existence. It also has the effect of vastly sharpening perceptions. The senses are put on 24-hour alert, and the most peripheral baggage, details of which pass unnoticed at home, suddenly commands attention. Road-signs, labels, wrappers, newspapers, restaurant china, all become the focus of this heightened awareness. It’s hard to dwell on yourself when traveling; too much gets in the way.

    Whether mythical or real,

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  • Jan Groover

    Max Protetch Gallery

    First sight of Jan Groover’s groupings of color photographs of trucks and cars on thoroughfares suggests that they are about time. Multiple images invoke the multiple moments of their making, which, in turn, imply a narrative structure. The narrative could be simply a direction to the arrangement of such moments, a history of perceptions, or a statement about the variety, fleeting nature, and odd recurrence of moments. But this is not the case at all with Groover’s pictures. A first impression has to be modified: these pictures deal with space in dealing with time.

    They use sequence as a tool

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  • John McWilliams

    Light Gallery

    John McWilliams’s large view-camera photographs show out-of-the-way landscapes in the rural South. The land is dark and ruined, but singularly beautiful nonetheless. It is Eden after the fall, Georgia post-Sherman. Ivy covers the pilings of burned-out bridges. An unused silo has become only a shape, as abandoned in the woods as was Bishop Berkeley’s tree, falling unheard in the heart of the forest. The focus of each picture, however, is a human intrusion of some sort, either of the past or to be created as a future presence. There are old houses and outbuildings and there are signs of swamps

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  • John R. Gossage

    Leo Castelli Gallery - Uptown

    Like anyone who ever took a new camera out into the yard to test it on the neighborhood squirrels, the family dog, the roses in the garden, John Gossage takes “conventional pictures.” But not quite. Gossage adds a smidgen of difference. He parodies the amateur picture and adds touches of flaunted skill and hidden conceit. The squirrel here seems almost to have gotten away, the picture almost missed; but gaze again and that squirrel seems to be peering out over the edge of the frame in mockery. Then you realize how close up he is seen, how cleverly his movement has been caught, despite the

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  • Robert Motherwell

    Knoedler Contemporary Art

    Although A la Pintura does not signal any new directions in painting or open any doors, it nevertheless is one of Robert Motherwell’s most important paintings. It is basically a version of his continuing “Open” series, which consists of a one-color field and some kind of hanging rectangle drawn upon it, usually from the top. Compared with the rest of the show, in its refined black/white/brown and muted powder blues and rusts, A la Pintura appears to be a monumental release of energy—it is a field of the most sensuous blood red. This red is very powerful, and is something I would describe as

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  • Will Insley

    Fischbach Gallery

    Not paintings, not drawings, Will Insley's objects lay claim to some uncharted area in the vicinity of excavated architectural blueprints and inert flattened sculpture. He is showing work which is nearly identical to that seen in 1968 at the Whitney Annual. He presents series of objects which, sure enough, hang on the wall but do so in a rather noblesse oblige fashion. Their staid, purposeful, dark and light grays signal something above painting or sculpture, above mere art.

    Each wall-mounted, masonite object is gridded, and each of his series plays out a transformation by fooling around with a

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  • Guy Dill

    Pace | 32 East 57th Street

    The odd mixture of refined elegance and rigorous Constructivism is what gives Guy Dill’s sculpture its edge. The mixture has usually produced Art Deco-like results (Stella, Lichtenstein), but Dill adds precariousness to elegance and formality. His work executed in huge glass plates and concrete, with the glass standing on edge, kept the viewer apprehensive contemplating the physical feat, but without any melodramatic effect. They were fascinatingly insecure.

    The work he showed at Pace is smaller than things of his I’ve seen in Los Angeles. In LA you can do anything giant size, in New York I

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  • Robert Barry

    Leo Castelli Gallery - Downtown

    After forays into image and color, association and evocative presentation, in such works as The Seasons Robert Barry has gone hermit again. He showed a number of exceedingly immaculate drawings, rather large, all white, with inscribed rectangles in pencil. On, in, or around these rectangles were word series in pencil, stencil, and Letraset. As an experience, it was definitely of the sensory deprivation type. Hinting at various personal responses by word nudging is an exercise I equate with early-’60s pseudo-Haiku and concrete poetry. Barry gives us the large blank interior of the drawings to

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  • William Copley

    Iolas Gallery

    No mistake be made, William Copley is quite clear about the matter of our country’s birth. Not confident that the sacred cows have been brought to the slaughter enough times already, he takes each of our national heros and myths and subjects them to a raunchy replay. Copley knows that to be subtle would be coy, and also overlooked. He had an all-blue painting with dark blue block lettering reading DON’T FIRE UNTIL YOU SEE THE WHITES OF THEIR EYES. It was a good pun and a good painting which not-so-incidentally poked fun at the one-color canvas school of painting. Other paintings with obvious

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  • Barbara Zucker

    112 Greene Street

    For several years Barbara Zucker has used the Hachi Ho, or “Eight Treasures,” benevolent symbols used to decorate Chinese ceramics, as a source for some of her sculpture. Although they have a consistent geometric/organic formal vocabulary, each time she uses one of them it’s manifestly different from earlier usages. One wouldn’t know the same source is involved. In her previous show she took the “Dragon Pearl,” a disc entwined with a line, produced it as a hand-sized module of pale green hydrocal and cheesecloth, and distributed 136 of these over a wall. Their repetitiveness was an environmental

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  • Berenice Abbott

    Marlborough | Midtown

    Berenice Abbott was originally known in the ’20s for her unadorned portraits of such famous people as James Joyce, Djuna Barnes and Marcel Duchamp. They were shorn of fantasy embellishments or formality, qualities thought to be necessary accoutrements of portrait photography at the time. One feels Abbott was completely comfortable with her sitters; occasionally, though, she allowed people to present themselves as dramatic personages. Accessories or props, like the attributes of saints in medieval art, were sometimes used successfully. In an attempt to show his inner, turbulent nature, Max Ernst

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  • Harmony Hammond

    Lamagna Gallery

    Harmony Hammond sets forth a didactic program in which she seeks to inform the viewer of woman’s role in the evolution of art. But the way her recent show divides in half illustrates the weakness of her method of arguing, while enhancing the strength of her art. In an attempt to simulate a section of a natural history museum on the archeology of primitive cultures, she placed an oak display case in the center of the room. On the top and in the drawers are deliberately constructed pottery shards embossed with textile and plaited basket textures. They are made of clay and coated with a thick,

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  • Ben Schonzeit

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    Ben Schonzeit’s paintings are more closely allied to the potentialities of photography than is the work of almost any other photo-Realist painter. No matter what his subject matter, his overriding concern is with the artistry of the color photograph. A common reaction to his air-brush paintings is the viewer’s questioning of whether they are indeed paintings. This ambiguity is enhanced by Schonzeit’s method of image construction. He projects a slide of a photograph on the canvas and copies it exactly, generating a machinelike paint surface which is identical at ten feet or two inches.

    Realism

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  • “Seven American Women: The Depression Decade”

    Vassar College

    The most interesting aspect of the exhibition of seven women artists of the ’30s at Vassar College, sponsored by A.I.R. Gallery, is not that seven more female professional artists have been reclaimed from historical obscurity to be interleafed in the ledger of artists, but that an independent feminist gallery has chosen to solicit the necessary funds to mount a historical show. The logic of their action is impeccable. The ’30s are the recent past and as such are still discussed in terms of such new “old masters” as de Kooning, Pollock and Davis. The careers of women artists of the period can be

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