New York

Jackie Winsor

Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

Five new sculptures indicate that Jackie Winsor is shifting from the deliberately antiformal structures of her previous work. Her preoccupation with natural materials—logs, hemp, etc.—has been tempered by the addition of more “manufactured” ingredients—sheet rock, wire, staples and lumberyard wood. But her emphasis on the rigors of the construction process remains.

All the new pieces are variations on the cube shape which range from about 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 feet in size. This is in itself a departure for Winsor—much of her previous work was considerably larger and involved many different kinds of forms. Two pieces indicating her transition from rough to more refined materials consisted of vertical sticks, each supporting meticulously wrapped balls of twine that butted against each other to form the sculpture’s central core. One consisted of 49 sticks (7 x 7) with three layers of hemp twine balls; the other, with 36 slightly thicker sticks, had two layers of elegant copper wire balls. These balls of string confined within the cube format call to mind Duchamp’s Hidden Noise—which is ironic, since Winsor, far from adopting anything readymade, bases her art on precisely the opposite approach. Two other cubes consisted solely of 3/4” sticks, 40” long, intricately stacked (one log-cabin style) and nailed together to form a pattern of solids and open spaces. One could look into the cubes to appreciate their detailed construction, or move around and see light through them. Moving around and altering one’s vantage point produced a flickering quality as the spaces between the sticks were revealed or obscured, giving the momentary sense of penetrating the dense forms, as well as exposing the delicacy of their structure. In this respect they recall Sol LeWitt’s cube constructions.

The last, and perhaps most eccentric, cube stacked sheets of plasterboard. Each side had a small square opening in the center, so again it was possible to verify the interior layers or to pierce visually through to the other side. The outside surfaces were punctuated by batteries of randomly placed staples with no structural function, affirming Winsor’s obsession with laborious, even gratuitous processes.

In method these new works are quite close to Jackie Ferrara’s plywood zigguratlike constructions. Both artists stack and build, and both open their forms enough to emphasize the relationship between inside and outside. But whereas Ferrara heightens the architecture and archeology associations by drawing detailed plans and quoting from the forms of ancient buildings, Winsor expunges all such references. Her simple shapes declare themselves unequivocally. It is evident that the art of Winsor’s work is in its making.

Nancy Foote