reviews

  • June Leaf

    Terry Dintenfass Gallery

    Most of the pieces in June Leaf’s new show would look wild, gruesome, choppy and overloaded with blatant metaphor if seen by themselves, but the exhibition as a whole is intricate, demanding, and dense with ideas. Among its recurrent images are men on stilts with long, sinister spears; women with elongated, fused-together legs; mechanical diagrams of robot humans; brains swathed in burgeoning clouds of their own thought; real women brandishing magic wands that are formed like women; and fiery battle scenes. Leaf’s pieces occur in a plethora of media—many are small, wire-wound charmlike sculptures;

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  • Malcolm Morley

    Clocktower Productions

    Malcolm Morley, known for his glowing, Photo-Realist paintings of cruise ships, has committed a complete reversal of that work in his current show. His new pictures, thickly worked over with paint, come in eccentric shapes, are filled with abstruse symbolism, are often muddy and difficult to read, and repeatedly offer images of violence and disaster. To anyone familiar with Morley’s earlier concerns, it hardly needs to be said that these pictures glance backward with considerable bitterness. In a sense, they are at work smashing up and eulogizing the spare, clean, affluent, placid and sometimes

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  • Susan Mogul

    Anthology Film Archives

    Susan Mogul is a 27-year-old New Yorker turned Los Angelino three years ago. She works in video, photomontage and still photography; on the evening of October 17th, she appeared at Anthology Film Archives to present four videotapes, one from each of the last four years. In the tapes she talks a blue streak directly to the camera, usually with a few small props—her bargain clothing, her vibrator, her billboards, for example—whose importance in her life she relates to us in a flexible mixture of Yiddish comedy, feminist sincerity and pseudo-conceptual art self-consciousness. She kept her audience

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  • Eugene Smith

    Witkin Gallery

    Eugene Smith’s photography asks to be valued above all for the sincerity of its sentiments, and it is around that quality that his advocates rally. His work has evolved in reaction against the strictures of an earlier era of magazine journalism. Smith, himself a journalist for many years, is famous for contentiously repudiating the theatricality, sensationalism and voyeurism that his editors seem to have demanded of him, and that were indeed the dark underpinnings of the lucid views on our culture the great magazines proposed to be. In reaction, Smith offers heartfelt sympathy with, and humility

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  • Joseph Raffael

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    Joseph Raffael’s new paintings are all of flowers, creekbeds and lily pads, with the exception of one solemnly floating duck. Like a number of his colleagues, Raffael appears to be working to break out of his confinement in the Photo-Realist camp. Both the verdant subject matter of these picture—a repudiation, I think, of the trucks, diners, stucco houses and city facades for which the Photo-Realists are known—and Raffael’s execution are means in this effort. His scenes materialize through a kind of exploded pointillisme, whereby the individual units that make up the pictures are the size of

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  • Nicholas Nixon

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Nicholas Nixon’s views appear to have so purified and regularized the Boston landscape that his pictures bear little relation to such conceptions of our cities as Jane Jacobs or Garry Wino-grand have set forth in recent years. A bland, silvery light carpets most of Nixon’s city vistas, inviting the aluminum and glass towers to present their best cheek to the camera. Seldom does Nixon’s frame allow the viewer to descend to the lobby floor and shuffle out through the revolving doors to the living flux that thrives or subsists outside.

    If the esthetic of Nixon’s pictures is “pugnaciously anti-modern,”

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  • Suzanne Harris

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    The triangular sculpture and 12 drawings that comprise Suzanne Harris’ Dalet Series keep their geometric derivation to themselves. In the drawings each triangle is bisected by a line, the angle of line differing from triangle to triangle, but always creating two interior triangles within each of the larger figures, shaded gray with graphite. One of each pair of internal triangles has been shaded once again, with brick-red pastel.

    The hollow casting stands five feet high, with a wicked point on top; because it is a few degrees more obtuse than a right triangle it strains forward slightly, like a

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  • Lawrence Weiner

    The Kitchen

    Water fills space without compromising its own specific density, and Lawrence Weiner’s 39-minute Do You Believe in Water, played back for three weeks at The Kitchen where it was initially videotaped, attempted to fill that L-shaped space with its pressures. In the anteroom the visitor found

    WITH RELATION TO THE VARIOUS MANNERS OF USE:

    WITH PINK, VIOLET, SILVER

    (HAVING BEEN BROUGHT TO PASS)

    On The Wall In Large Letters.

    On the near wall of the main room a small video monitor was playing the continuously run color tape. But the sound source was a large audio monitor on the other side of the room and,

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  • Richard Fleischner

    Hammarskjold Plaza Sculpture Garden

    Sod Construction’s tightly disciplined space at Hammarskjold Plaza gave little ground to anyone not willing to move in and on it. Richard Fleischner’s 95-foot platform began a few inches off the ground at its west end and rose, assisted by a drop in the plaza level, to 9' 6" at its east end. Five feet wide and sodded on top of a four-inch deep soil bed, the structure stood like an aircraft launcher or diving board, fairly remote from the recessed office building with which it shared the northwest corner of the plaza.

    Viewed up its tilt from the low end, the strip of sod stuck out like a green

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  • Buffie Johnson

    Andre Zarre Gallery

    Buffie Johnson’s ten paintings at Andre Zarre are literally so many flowers strewn along the path of her years of research into a prehistoric goddess who has left her mark throughout ancient mythology. Johnson has left similar marks on her paintings of pods and flowers, in the resonance of some of their titles, such as Pasiphae and Circe, and in her positioning of their axes to the picture plane so that Fiddlehead resembles a curled-up embryo and Iris an altar. For many years she worked as an Abstract Expressionist and painter of large murals; her oil on linen plant series, begun in the late

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  • Cy Twombly

    Leo Castelli Gallery Uptown

    Cy Twombly’s new works were billed as watercolors, but no one familiar with his work would expect them to-restrain themselves to that category. He uses watercolors, all right, usually brown and green, but they are often straight from the tube, smeared and occasionally washed over. But there are also pencilled passages from Spenser. The structure of the paintings themselves continues Twombly’s Scotch-taping of paper segment atop paper segment. The process is too orderly and systematized to be called collage: sheets of watercolor paper are located in a carefully chosen fraction of larger sheets.

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  • Bruce Boice

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Since his last show a couple of years ago Bruce Boice has turned to diagonals and some new colors. His new paintings recall some of Frank Stella’s work of the late ’60s, when he too found new uses for diagonals, found some similar colors, and seemed to reach a certain plateau in the strength of his art. Boice uses a design unit based on the sensed depth (from the wall) of the stretcher, as Stella was one of the first to do. Boice leaves that strip bare, bounding areas of paint. The rough cream or grey-green canvas shows through, demonstrating that the paint is applied on top of something. Boice

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  • Robert Stackhouse

    Sculpture Now

    In the basement of Sculpture Now, Robert Stackhouse constructed a piece called Running Animals and hung a number of painted sketches for similar sculptures. The piece consisted of two long tilted “walls” made of two by fours loosely sheathed in rough slats. Placed a couple of feet apart, they formed a long narrow passageway which could be walked through. Inside, at a couple of places, deers’ antlers were placed like relics above head level. They could easily go unnoticed.

    The drawings on the wall, proposals for pieces to be built in the woods, indicated several versions of the basic idea, including

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  • Larry Zox

    Andre Emmerich Gallery uptown

    Larry Zox’s new paintings develop out of what used to be called the “mainstream” of American abstract painting—out of Noland, Frankenthaler, Olitski, Louis, Motherwell. But more and more this mainstream—the product of historical criticism—seems to fit Matthew Arnold’s description of all history as “that great Mississippi of falsehoods.” The mainstream, moreover, has spread out into tributaries. And theories that claim to have “gotten to the bottom” of the nature of painting have, in fact, only flattened it out.

    Zox’s painting could be a model of that process. Once he resisted flaccidity with

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  • Barbara Schwartz

    Willard Gallery

    Barbara Schwartz crafts wall reliefs by filling in chicken-wire forms with plaster and painting them with casein. I used to think her former work resembled carpets; they appeared to be paintings fattened out with plaster decorated with half-circle forms. With these new works the feminist meaning is clearer. They are all composed of two-part mirror-image forms with rounded, protruding centers and mostly thinning, elongated tops and bottoms. These generalized forms are not only organic, they are humanized. They are colored with hot, dry pigment, layer after layer, to produce a complex visual

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  • Mary Heilmann

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    The interest of Mary Heilmann’s paintings is in the discrepancy between their obvious structure (strictly deductive) and their subtleties of execution—how they were painted. Composed of rectangles which either frame the edges and/or divide the canvas into two rectangles, they do not claim any new structural identity. The “drawing” of the rectangles is done in one-shot Ryman-like strokes. But these strokes are bolder, more vigorous—closer to Kline than any post-Minimal painting. The image and the style of painting are simple—it is the layering of the paint, the textures along two thickly painted

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  • “Three Generations of American Painting”

    Gruenebaum and Gimpel and Weitzenhoffer Galleries

    There is another more common way of aggrandizing a younger artist’s work—connecting it to older, established art so it appears to be the heir to a great tradition. The younger artist gets the residue of accomplishment from the older artists, and is from then on identified with them. This kind of thing is so easy to spot, it is difficult to understand why anyone would even try to do it. Such a lineage is attempted in the double-gallery exhibition Three Generations of American Painting, but the inclusion of a young member is the least of its problems.

    Considering that the first two generations in

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  • Frank Stella

    Almost as if he deliberately set out to infuriate the people who found his aluminum relief paintings last year some of the best modernist painting ever, Frank Stella’s new work makes that anticipation about “what he’d do next” just plain stupid. These new “paintings” are also constructed out of aluminum, and really are no longer just “reliefs”; they ignore the wall and come out so far into the room (almost two feet) that they might almost be free-standing sculpture. (That one is dedicated to Noguchi is revealing.) Most of the work is so large that it obliterates our orientation to the wall by

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  • Daniel Buren

    Leo Castelli and John Weber Galleries

    Daniel Buren takes a page from Morse Peckham’s behaviorist esthetics and reiterates (in the catalogue for his recent exhibitions ’To Transgress“ and ”To Place“) the contention that a primary signifier of any work of art is its gallery or museum viewing context. Buren figures that if he can physically include this powerful signifier—the gallery—in his painting, his work will somehow include, like the cannibal who hopes to incorporate the courage of his adversary/dinner along with his amino acids, some of the esthetic, sociological or political power of the gallery space. He does this by literalizing

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  • Frank Young

    55 Mercer

    On the floor of the Frank Young exhibition are dozens of books each with hundreds of pages of a single photographic portrait. If we accept for a moment Andy Warhol’s contention that “you can’t take a bad (or therefore a good) photograph,” this picture is as good as any in creation. But what, then, is remarkable about any single photograph if every photograph is equally truthful—and therefore equally beautiful? Young seems to be saying it’s that a photograph can be reproduced ad infinitum.

    The repetition like a broken record of one instant of time that Young’s photos represent makes an interesting

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  • Tom Forrestall

    Marlborough | Midtown

    “Magic Realism” designates a group of Canadian painters whose commitment to sharp focus, atmosphereless renderings is tempered only with occasional touches of well-behaved fantasy. Their pictures are never properly surrealist, although they sometimes suggest a sort of dream reality.

    Tom Forrestall shows the requisite virtuoso command of egg tempera and watercolor in his recent show. He also adds a wrinkle that sometimes puts his work among the most intelligent done in the style and sometimes appears as just another formal conceit. This wrinkle is the shaped canvas. It works when, as in Stella,

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  • Marcia Hafif

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Marcia Hafif has covered 12 untitled rectangles of drawing paper, sizes ranging from 25 1/2“ x 40” to 6’ x 30’ with thousands of pencilled lines roughly parallel and one to two inches in length. Like most right-handed persons’ handwriting on unruled paper, the lines slant to the right and gradually slope downhill. But this tranquility is disturbed by a sprinkling of simple geometric and biomorphic forms, about the size of a fist, also in pencil, throughout the drawings. The forms preceded the lines, and have affected nearby lines like so many weak magnets, causing them to point in angles deviant

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