reviews

  • John Chamberlain

    Leo Castelli Gallery uptown

    Each of John Chamberlain’s six new welded auto sculptures, comprised of the front ends of car chassis, bodies and fenders, is pinned by a rod to the wall, and bears an unmistakable resemblance to hunters’ mounted trophies. The massive top third of each piece tapers, with tusklike planar thrusts to left and right, to the narrow lower part, whose shape, a cross between the trunk of a baby elephant and the snout of an oversized hoar, ends about 18 inches above the gallery floor.

    The sculptures are about five feet in height, so one must gaze up at the outer sweeps of metal, smallish like Indian

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  • Michael Asher

    The Clocktower

    One of art’s most irritating characteristics is its capacity to irritate. Bad art generates little irritation beyond a casual “Why bother to make it?” The irritation of good art is something else. Perhaps it stems from an uncertainty one never likes to admit to: whether or not the art really is good, how one ought to be reacting, and finally, if one is really “getting it.” Viewers don’t like to feel they’re being reviewed by art; it’s a presumptuous switch in roles that gets under the skin. But that’s what art based on perceptual manipulations often sets out to do, and as such it usually succeeds

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  • Donald Judd

    Leo Castelli Gallery downtown

    For the past few years Donald Judd’s work has also dealt with altering and adjusting the relationship between outside and inside, but since he confines his investigations to sculptural forms, the viewer has something concrete on which to test his perceptions. These forms are, in themselves, less complex than his earlier constructions that explored seriality and progression. Many of these newer works are variations and manipulations of a simple cube.

    One of the two in the current show was a reiteration in steel plate of a 1974 plywood work, a 3 x 5 x 5’ cube with its “lid” slanting down into the

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  • 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

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  • Brice Marden

    Sperone Westwater Fischer

    Brice Marden was discovered just when many were saying that painting seemed to be on its last leg. A certain rescue strategy was initiated that magnetized his work, attracting every possible influence and predecessor of the last 400 years. This made Marden seem to be the apotheosis of it all, the crowning glory, the last gasp, not just of the endangered species—painting—but Western Art and Culture itself. To me, this is undoubtedly the worst thing short of utter neglect that can happen to a painter and his art. These canvases exist solely as vehicles for critics to exercise their ability to

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  • William T. Wiley

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    It’s no wonder that William T. Wiley strikes fear in the hearts of veteran New York art pundits. I doubt if I’ve ever seen a more perverse display of self-consciously bad-art-for-bad-art’s-sake than Wiley’s “Projects” show at the Modern. Oh, how they try and understand him! “Dude Ranch Dada” and deliberate put-on of New York art, meant to 1) categorize him with familiar (European) terms and 2) place him in some kind of relation to New York art; even if he’s anti-Big Apple, it still means he’s concerned with the capital of the art universe—no one gets to ignore it.

    The perversity of the

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  • Andre Kertesz

    French Cultural Service

    From time to time in Andre Kertesz’s work there is a picture that bespeaks the uncertainties of courtship. One famous photograph from 1915 in Budapest frames, with a closeness that mimics their embrace, two well-dressed lovers on a garden bench, brushed lightly by the dark leaves that surround them. Her gloved fingers are clasped, immobile, around the small of his back, but his bare and ringless hands hold her shoulder close in, and wait with cautious hope and gentle pressure just above her breast. If she leans just away from his kiss, her amused and barely resistant smile also predicts her

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  • Robert Adams

    Leo Castelli Gallery uptown

    Robert Adams is a photographer of rising popularity. He has spent recent years making pictures of the burgeoning cities and suburbs that form a vertical stripe down the center of Colorado’s rectangle, in a region of foothills and high plains just east of the Rocky Mountains. These sunny purlieus of the Midwest are hastily being covered with freeways, and new tracts of prefabricated houses, and with a rather underzealous variant of the type of commercial architecture Robert Venturi celebrates. The import of this sprawl of belated homesteading is intimately connected with the motivation and esthetic

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  • David Smith

    Knoedler Contemporary Art

    There are no masterpieces in this spring’s David Smith show, but there is such diversity in its 12 small sculptures as to extend a lesson in the repertoire of ideas and techniques that occupied Smith’s work. The exhibition divides almost evenly between pieces conjoined from found objects and sculptures cut fresh from blank steel and pulled direct from the imagination. It is a test of the viewer’s acuity and persistence to find the thread of sensibility that continues through all 12, and the 11 years they represent.

    The found objects that compose some of the pieces are usually recognizable—though

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  • Meredith Monk/The House

    La Mama Annex

    Quarry is the most recent of Meredith Monk/The House’s mixed-media events, revolving around Monk as the quarry mining herself for self-knowledge, and Monk as the quarried prey, a powerless reagent for others’ preoccupations. She plays a child, which was her final transformation in an earlier piece, Education of the GirIchild. The House is Monk’s 10-member performing group, which, in this event, was augmented by 30 additional performers. Together they premiered this 90-minute piece subtitled “an opera in three acts,” blending speech, song, organ, bicycle bells, dance, ritual movement, mime, props,

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  • Bill Brandt

    Marlborough Gallery | New York

    Bill Brandt’s photography is as dramatically prosy as George Orwell’s prose is dramatically photographic. The artistic testimony of both men accuses a dark century for England and her people, a time of soot, storms, wars, blackouts, and shadowed recreations. Brandt could have been playing Evans to Orwell’s Agee on The Road to Wigan Pier when he pictured coal miners and coal gatherers, some returned black-faced to the surface where the sun pastes itself as blindingly on their bodies as it must in their eyes. As for Orwell, social contrasts for Brandt are as extreme as the stark contrast of the

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  • Tony Smith

    Fourcade, Droll

    If on first study Tony Smith’s sculpture threatens to seem too scientific, too thorough in its exploitation of a restricted vocabulary of forms, a closer consideration finds it breaking down into unconnected interests. The forms would seem to require a sharp, crystalline edge in execution, but often the bronze has been polished soft at the corners, almost to the extent of suggesting an intervening plane. One is hard pressed to decide whether this is done by design or simply tolerated in the conviction that the form will suggest itself beyond the contingencies of workmanship.

    The large, networklike

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  • Anne Arnold

    Fischbach Gallery

    Anne Arnold’s life-size sculptures of animals combine the anthropomorphizing of creatures in Walt Disney creations such as Bambi and the eerie, trompe I’oeil presence of Duane Hanson’s and John de Andrea’s Super Realist sculpture, with a concern for formal relationships between surface and armature. Though obviously sculptural objects, these domesticated and pet animals—dog, skunk, three-quarters of a white horse, his and hers portrait busts of sheep, a reclining cow—are at the same time disturbingly animate.

    What elevates this work out of the category of fancy stuffed toys or kitschy ceramic

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  • Blythe Bohnen

    A dancer seeing Blythe Bohnen’s recent graphite drawings of “motions” remarked that they were about dance. This seems to have a certain truth, because going beyond mere depiction of random motion, they bear a resemblance to the vocabulary of choreographed movement, and the sequences of minimal or vernacular movements which characterize recent dance. Bohnen says, “My work defines and categorizes gesture to develop a vocabulary of forms possible through a single medium, a bar of graphite . . . motions consist of human actions on a surface such as pushing and pivoting.” Bohnen’s definition of her

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