New York

Stephen Rosenthal

John Weber Gallery

The occasion of respected dealers showing work derived from that of their better artists takes one’s breath away. Recently, at Castelli, Alan Charlton’s gray panels linked Robert Morris and Ellsworth Kelly. Now, at the John Weber Gallery, Stephen Rosenthal seems to take Robert Ryman’s dead-pan use of materials to its most absurd and obvious extreme. (Rosenthal and Ryman were featured on the same page of the first issue of Newsletter of the John Weber Gallery, a recent gallery publication, the equivalent of about a dozen press releases, written in the benignly self-satisfied tone of a nonprofit organization.)

Rosenthal’s motivations are serious and positive, I’m sure, and his painting is not ironic, but I learned this more from his statements than from the work itself. Much abstract art combines polarities of public and private meaning, of general and specific aspects. In Rosenthal’s work

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