• Bruce Nauman

    Leo Castelli Gallery Downtown/Sonnabend/Sperone Westwater Fischer

    Bruce Nauman’s career as a famous artist in New York went by as fast as you could say “phenomenology.” It began in late 1968 and ended early in 1972 with the pronouncement that Nauman, by giving up Duchamp, had ceased to “interesting.” This was also the year of Nauman’s “retrospective,” which had been “several years in planning.” Although Nauman has continued to show every year, little attention has been paid to his work. Successive pieces have displayed increasing difficulty and waning collectability.

    After the abstract “split” sculptures came the punning word games; these gave way to the

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  • Charles Simonds and Mary Miss

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    The first of MoMA’s projects galleries was filled with the miniature dwellings and geography of Charles Simonds’ Little People, an ancient civilization born in his mind around 1970. Among the hills, dried out waterholes, sacred sites marked with sticks, and half-ruined roads and pathways were an evolutionary network of dwellings ranging from V-shaped caves in the earth to adobelike clusters, circular and spiral remains of dwellings, and a modestly citylike complex in the far corner.

    The work’s real frame was a look through one of the two sets of binoculars mounted at eye level at the room’s

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  • Nancy Wilson Kitchel

    M.L. D'Arc Gallery

    The six deserted desks in two parallel rows were carefully unkempt, a drawer open here, a stuffed wastebasket there. They were presided over by what Olivetti calls a word processing system, converting computer tape into yards of Nancy Wilson Kitchel’s analysis of social strategies in the art/business world. As artist and officeworker, Kitchel has a carrying card in both sectors. Her statement, rolling out of the machine and onto the floor like a proclamation, explored a progression of contradictions about the individual’s illusion of autonomy in the controlled systems of art and business. At

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  • Cynthia Carlson

    Hundred Acres Gallery

    Cynthia Carlson has been tagged as part of the “thick paint” gang, but the ongoing drama in her work is best described by the title of a recent Joan Snyder painting: Mom’s Just Out There Tryin’ to Break That Grid. Carlson, Snyder, and others like Jennifer Bartlett, Arlene Slavin and Miriam Schapiro are all trying to get away from the grip of the grid, inventing ways to subvert or dissolve it. Snyder runs over the grid with painterly gesture. Bartlett uses it in extremis so as to make it a joke, and all the while she’s filling it in with an inventory of pictorial images, making the content more

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  • Elijah Pierce

    Phyllis Kind Gallery

    Elijah Pierce is an 84-year-old black man who lives in Columbus, Ohio. He is a barber and a sculptor. He showed a remarkable set of carved wood reliefs painted with enamel and occasional glitter. The works portray religious scenes from the Bible, narrate scenes from the history of slavery (Pierce’s father was a slave), illustrate old sayings (“Life is a book and each day is a page”) and generally involve subject matter unavailable to present-day sculpture and painting in New York.

    The best work was the Noah’s Ark scene. The animals, in pairs, were carved with an affection for the strength and

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  • Jake Berthot

    David McKee Gallery

    One thing you can say for sure about Jake Berthot: he’s up on his contemporaries’ painting—Johns, Motherwell, Marden, Twombly, and so forth. The sources seem to be right out there in the open. Berthot was on solid ground in 1974 with paintings that established a clearly articulated space, with proportioned, sectioned canvases, and forthright yet subtle color. His paintings after that became dark and moody; color was sacrificed for surface density, for continual scraping and repainting. Line which had functioned as shape was reintroduced inside the frame as scratching and as a desire to return

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  • Jackie Ferrara

    Max Protetch Gallery

    Jackie Ferrara’s new wood sculptures take a step toward complexity, and consequently endanger the basic position established in her earlier work. That position consists of a number of interrelated antimonies. The first maintains that there is a balance between reading the form as a unit—a gestalt—and viewing it as a construction of parts. From this basic dualism comes the tension between the obvious mathematical system which generates the form and the form itself (a pyramid, an incline, steps, etc). There is really no reason why, given certain mathematical formulae which determine the “cuts”

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  • Willem de Kooning

    Xavier Fourcade Gallery

    In 1971, John Ashbery, discussing Willem de Kooning’s future work, wrote: “All that we know is that it will change, and in art . . . any change has to be for the better since it shows that the artist hasn’t yet given in to the ever-present temptation to stand still . . .” It is 1976 and de Kooning’s new works show no signs of “change,” stylistically and thematically, in relation to his work of the past 10 years. Here again appear disembodied snippets of his notorious Women, truncated legs, flat hysterical eyes, railroad-track teeth, and again his paint, in love with itself, dries in thick textural

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  • Robert Frank

    Marlborough | Midtown

    Robert Frank’s departure from still photography in the early 1960s is well known, the artist having concluded each of his books with sections of stills from the films to which he turned. One senses that Frank repudiated photography bitterly, yet he has returned to it sporadically in recent years, in one instance publishing his work of two decades ago in The Lines of My Hand. Occasionally he has also allowed exhibitions of his photographs. I do not think that I am the only admirer of Frank’s pictures who was disappointed by the current show, which he shared with an old friend, Gotthard Schuh.


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  • Emmet Gowin

    Light Gallery

    In none but two of Emmet Gowin’s photographs of his wife, Edith, which make up a substantial part of his work, does the photographer allow her to smile, converse, laugh, grimace, weep or otherwise express any human emotion but unbudgeable seriousness. She is not always patient with this, and more than once annoyance and disdain creep into her hard composure. Nor would Gowin have it seem that she ever really gets out of her nightgown except to pose nude for him. The other people in Gowin’s pictures, mostly relatives, are just about as sober, except for a few whom he permits the beginning of an

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  • Kenneth Noland

    Leo Castelli Gallery Uptown

    Gradually abandoning the neat congruence of subject and form that characterized his rectangular work, Kenneth Noland now offers an exhibition of multi-sided, irregularly shaped paintings in which there’s not a single right angle. The move has a feel of exultant liberation from a well-explored type of pictorial space.

    The color, typical of Noland, burns at a low flame; areas of color appear flat and opaque like different colored objects. The eye moves, in these paintings, from one color area to the next, each area reacting with its neighbor in sequence, but rarely with an area at the other end of

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  • Stephen Shore

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Too many photographers conduct their careers like big game safaris—peering down the barrel of a Nikon F, waiting for a photograph to wander into their sights and then bagging it. But when the trophy room is already full of wrinkled old men, barn doors, old shoes and lower-class individuals with manifestly less taste than the photographer and his audience, some restless souls may want to go after the big one: “Art.” The trick is knowing when you’ve got a bead on it. It oughtn’t look like the small game (photograph), and it should not look like painting. Anything that deliberately avoids these

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  • Michelle Stuart

    Max Hutchinson Galery

    A traditional task of landscape painting is the codification of some characteristic of a topography on a two-dimensional surface. It has had a special significance in American art history, where painting a tract of brute nature was sometimes a first step in civilizing it; and where the transcendental belief that unspoiled nature was a record of God’s intention for earth lent early American landscapes an almost religious aura.

    Michelle Stuart makes landscape images that seem to share with 19th-century American landscapists an almost mystical reverence for their subject, codified according to the

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  • Edda Renouf

    Julian Pretto

    An incident is something out of the ordinary. Edda Renouf creates incident in the archetypal ordinariness and regularity of the weave of cotton duck by removing every tenth (or so) woof thread and then stretching and “lacquering” the canvas to give her activity a formal meaning and get it considered as painting.

    As a Minimalist strategy her work is flawless. She does almost nothing to the materials, just alters them slightly to call attention to their nature. She enables us to see how the woof will bow out at the ends of her long narrow pieces when the canvas shrinks because of the gray acrylic

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  • “Sculpture Sited”

    Nassau County Museum of Art

    There’s a risk involved in labelling a show and then recruiting artists who deal with its supposedly unifying theme. “Sculpture Sited” managed to overcome the artificial limitation of its title as a concern with concept and process dominated its four environmental pieces. Since each invited artist had an individual approach to his site, the work showed surprisingly diverse intentions.

    Richard Fleischner interpreted the title most literally and in its purest sense—by eliminating built structure entirely, using site itself as the medium. For George Trakas, the built piece is crucial, becoming the

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  • Bill Beirne

    The Kitchen

    Last fall Bill Beirne did a performance on 23rd Street in Manhattan titled Cross Reference. It was recorded with two cameras stationed at opposite ends of the street and broadcast live on Manhattan Cable TV’s channels C and D simultaneously, with each channel carrying one of the cameras. At home, on a single set, the final structure of the piece would vary from viewer to viewer, depending on when and how often he switched from one channel to the other. When I saw the tapes later at the Kitchen, however, they were run on two monitors simultaneously. This “double exposure” revealed the work’s

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