reviews

  • Alice Aycock

    112 Greene Street

    Alice Aycock has done some Mannerist carpentering in a work she calls The True and the False Project Entitled “The World Is So Full of a Number of Things.” It is a subtly eccentric pastiche of architectural elements based on the catacombs of St. Sebastian, the Thermae of Titus (after a Piranesi engraving), the circular building in Bosch’s The Temptation of St. Anthony, among other art historical sources. Her recipe aside, it does on the whole look rather like an Escher castle or some erratically proportioned fortification lifted from a Gothic tapestry. On its own terms, it is an outstandingly

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  • William Wegman

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Something of a Minimalist Ernie Kovacs in his video work, William Wegman’s incisive timing, eye for absurdity, and ironic deflations of expectation (shaped by popular television) delicately convert the most banal situations into wryly entertaining parodies of themselves. He makes stooges of his viewers by manipulating their credulousness through his deadpan sincerity in purposefully insipid skits—showing us just how addicted we are to the predictable and trivial both in the media and in our lives. In his best tapes we become a captive audience of psychological props, like his docile protagonist,

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  • Helene Valentin

    Max Hutchinson Gallery

    It might as well be said at the outset that Helene Valentin’s paintings bear a vitiating resemblance to tie-dye fabrics, crushed velvet, and wrinkled satin. This is unfortunate since Valentin’s technique can at times be ingratiating and some of the paintings are compositionally more interesting than immediate associations might suggest. Her general format plays off an allover mottled ground against drifting rows of crisply contoured blotches or fractured lateral strokes. The contrast of these splintery tactile incidences with the blurred effusions of the overall field does induce some visceral

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  • Pat Lasch

    A.I.R. Gallery

    Pat Lasch’s “Family Portraits” resemble cakes. They are white or pink, decorated with thin, icinglike paint. Delicate streamers of “frosting” mesh into ribbons or parting curtains. Sometimes the surfaces break out into roses with discreet green leaves. They resemble old-fashioned announcement cards, or sometimes stages. But they are really like shrines. In the center of each work is one or more photograph, always of a member of the Lasch family. A cake indicates a special occasion. On special occasions one brings out the camera.

    One is titled Blood Is Thicker Than Water But We’re Still Lovers.

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  • Roy De Forest

    Allan Frumkin Gallery

    It was good to see Joan Brown in the Whitney Biennial, but I wish someone like Roy De Forest could have been there too. By herself, Brown was funky and provincial. With another artist like De Forest, we might have started to understand the strength of figurative painting in this country. It would have demonstrated how different this kind of painting can be even when it shares a common sensibility. Both De Forest and Brown speak to a highly knowledgeable, connoisseur audience which is for the most part unconcerned with the New York scene. Both work with overt subject matter, narrative, and

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  • Tony Robbin

    Allesandra Gallery

    Perhaps I’ve grown up on too much literalist art. No matter how much so-called illusion there is in a painting, I just see something flat. Many people can’t seem to get over the illusionism in Tony Robbin’s work, and I don’t get it. I might quote Bruce Boice: “One kind of illusion is as real as another, and illusion is as real as any other allegedly real entity. A still-life painting is not less real than Carl Andre’s fire bricks. Illusion is a possibility, and in a certain sense, a necessity.” Boice was writing about representational art, but here it’s abstraction. Since there is no art which

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  • Bryan Hunt

    Blum Heiman Gallery

    Bryan Hunt’s sculptures are derived from the shapes and volumes of bodies of water. The forms are cast in metal and placed on the floor; they have planar tops and jagged bottoms, indicating the changing depths of the water. Some have “holes” which translate into islands. Each work is small, and the tops—the “surface” of the water—tip at different angles. There is also one drawing of a blimp. The relationship between lakes and blimps is that we are meant to be flying over the lakes, experiencing the sculptures from a bird’s-eye point of view. As we tilt and turn in the air, our sense of “level”

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  • Chris Burden

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    There was much to read and listen to, and very little to look at, in Chris Burden’s show. Well, there was the car, which I will get to later. And there were drawings, pencilled plans for the car, matched only by the videotapes in sheer sloppiness and institutionalized informality. Burden seems to be playing at celebrity: he has “Bob” Irwin and Alexis Smith execute some of “his” drawings for him, thus establishing his status in the L.A. art world. We also learn that Smith is his new girlfriend. She giggles politely every time Chris tells a joke on the TV.

    If this seems peripheral, the main attraction

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  • Sean Scully

    Duffy Gibbs Gallery

    Think of stripes. Think of Noland. Think about taking all of Noland’s colors—mush them together—come up with a color that looks like a muddy background grayish color for a Dutch Masters portrait—give it to Sean Scully and he’ll give you a painting that is more than just handsome—it’s significant.

    Scully’s large gray-made-up-of-much-more-than-just-black-mixed-with-white horizontal striped paintings are built-up one- and two-layer thicknesses of alternating bands which create a physical foreground and background. The background is one layer of gray paint, the foreground two. The differences between

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  • Louis Cane

    Leo Castelli Gallery

    Une peinture cultivée translates as: a cultivated painting—that is, a cultured painting, a painting which includes the culture of its own history and depends on the viewer’s culture, knowledge and perception for maximum appreciation. An exchange of cultural information via the art object. According to Louis Cane, in creating une peinture cultivée, the painter incorporates his own culturalization to develop a universal signification via painting.

    Cane’s work reflects such art historical sources as Uccello, Piero della Francesca, Masaccio, Titian and others, not literally, but certainly in its

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  • Michael Vessa

    Rosa Esman Gallery

    Michael Vessa transforms the gallery into a dialectic playground for an intuitive investigation of two-dimensional and three-dimensional (both real and illusory) architectonic spatial relationships. His most recent installation piece consists of wall-size pieces of paper glued with packing tape to the wall (one on each of the four walls) on which are drawn two-dimensional renditions of a three-dimensional structure in quasi-mathematical perspective. Their freestanding counterpart—a 10-foot-square panel—stands virtually floor to ceiling. One side of the structure is varnished paper, the

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  • David Reed

    Max Protetch Gallery

    I love to see painters take chances. Stella did it. Johns did it. Many of the oldies and goodies have done it; many more have not. Continuing to learn and to develop one’s art is something always to be admired. Though David Reed’s break with his former convention may not be of the same consequence as Stella’s, the development is certainly venturesome and should be regarded with optimism.

    Reed has broken away from his brushstroke-as-drawing motif contained within a vertical structure, to two horizontal panels: one brushstroke-as-drawing panel butted up against a conventional troweled-on color

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  • Peter Reginato

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    Peter Reginato’s welded steel sculptures are fine examples of a consistent sculptural tradition, investigating concerns that carry through from Picasso, Gonzales and Smith. Although Reginato’s work over the past several years has gone from more contemporary to less contemporary to more traditional—a chronological step backward—these pieces are still well “put together.”

    There are four large sculptures—three vertical structures and one horizontal piece. Reginato’s cut-out shapes are combinations of flat-against-curve-against-cylindrical forms. He uses both flat solid forms and flat open-shaped

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  • Jill Kroesen

    The Kitchen

    Jill Kroesen’s 10-act, 21/2-hour presentation of all of Western history from Evolution to The End had minor difficulties. Twenty performers, props such as oatmeal and potatoes, missiles and limp swords, 10 countries, a bardo (the Tibetan afterworld), three social classes, memorized lines and throwaway lines, some songs, a reigning god called Mother and played by Michael Cooper, and her son, named Stanley Oil and played by Kroesen, are some of the components juggled in Stanley Oil and His Mother: A Systems Portrait of the Western World. The Western world, it turns out, is something like a Montessori

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  • Stuart Sherman

    Open Space Theater

    Stuart Sherman’s “Spectacles” exemplify a kind of performance art whose roots are not only in visual art and traditional theater, but also in music, popular entertainment, and games both of skill and of make-believe. This genre depends heavily on the performer’s almost continuous use of various readymade and unelaborate, but provocative, props. They are usually manipulated by a single performer. The artistic sources for this “device theater” include the highly structured and introspective drama of Richard Foreman, the formalized “structurist” theater related to Foreman which Michael Kirby has

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  • Michael Goldberg

    Galerie Denise Rene

    Michael Goldberg’s long career has been marked by several changes in format and style. During the ’50s (when he was one of the leading lights of the Abstract-Expressionist “second generation”) his style vacillated between the expansive, theatrical, emphatically painterly drips and slashes of action painting and the evidences, tenuous or overt, of figuration. In the 1960s Goldberg modified his abstract vocabulary into graceful, erratic, still grandly scaled networks of lines and forms rendered against delicately hued fields.

    By the first years of this decade Goldberg had subsumed formal detail

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  • Bruce Robbins

    Truman Gallery

    A matrix is a system of coordinates which determines a form. In mathematics a matrix is activated by some “function,” a quantity whose value is dependent upon the values of other quantities. Bruce Robbins calls his “leaning structures”—ladders, inclined planks and runged planks—“matrixes” although they are not born out of a bilateral grid arrangement. Unlike a conventional ladder or plank which is grasped in relation to its function, to its operational duty of forming a sturdy means of ascent or descent, Bruce Robbins’ leaning structures are incapable of functioning serviceably.

    His planks and

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  • Don Nice

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    The American Dream comes packaged, lining the shelves of our supermarkets, mass-produced and uniform, and unit-priced. Even the fruits are perfect. In their uniformity these items become packaged images, almost archetypes. Don Nice renders these images in watercolor, placing them in frames and compartments of unfinished wood. His subjects and sitters are American institutions: BLT-on-toast-to-go, construction shoes, Jack Rabbit, bubble-gum pink plastic water gun, Barnum’s Animal Crackers, a “Fliback”, a TastyKake donut, Kraft Campfire Marshmallows, a Ballantine six-pack, a buffalo. I am so

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  • Francine Halvorsen

    Bertha Urdang Gallery

    Francine Halvorsen’s drawings and paintings are the result of ritualizing chirography on paper, or the very rectangular space of the canvas. The drawings, graphite on Arches paper, consist of small, handwriting-sized marks, squares, “U”s like fingernail impressions, all repeated in hypnotic succession creating both straight and drifting lines. The paintings, oil on 4’ by 6’ linen canvases, are each horizontally subdivided into different ratios of white, black, gray and unpainted bands. A drawing ethic prevails; every inch is intimately worked: the white paint is either slathered on like thinned

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  • Aris Koutroulis

    Gloria Cortella Gallery

    Aris Koutroulis’ current paintings are variations on one theme: having developed a way of mixing pigment with glue, his large canvases are actually composites of hundreds of small rectangular strips of linen that are at once bound to and set apart from each other by the viscous mixture. Koutroulis holds to a single color of glue in each picture, but the strips of cloth change in size. This modulation of size is an intelligent move on the artist’s part. One can easily imagine setting Koutroulis’ program for oneself and coming up with little but a few more Minimal grids. Albeit subtly, Koutroulis

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  • Charles Ross

    John Weber Gallery

    Grandeur in a work of art does not necessarily follow from the grandeur or monumentality of its content, or of the idea behind it. In fact, there can be a kind of inverse relation between a picture and its conceptual course, whereby the picture is made to seem small and insignificant if it is not absolutely and authoritatively greater than the world it shows. Thus Charles Ross stacks the deck against himself when he proposes to paint whole years full of time or, in his current show, the entire cosmos. Both his major undertakings, his solar burns of several years ago and his recent stellar maps,

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  • Dave Freund

    Light Gallery

    Dave Freund’s pictures employ a few of the most sophisticated formal devices photographers have invented, yet in all but a few cases, Freund fails to find subjects worthy of his acute constructive sense. His formal adroitness appears in his manner of arranging detail. Repeatedly, he’ll continue trees into poles, fill wayward parts of his frames with leafy branches, execute pleasant juxtapositions—as between a cluster of cinder-blocks and a townful of houses, placed so that the houses perch, doll-size, atop the blocks. Freund’s framing is careful: he’ll usually include all of an object or exclude

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  • Jack Tworkov

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    Jack Tworkov is 77. He recently exhibited 12 new canvases and 4 smaller pieces. These new works, in which he claims to consider “line and painterly mass” anew, form an accomplished exercise.

    Untitled (Q1-76-#1) would seem to be the progenitive work in the show. The canvas surface, 80 inches square, is broken up into segments described by varying acute and obtuse angles. The angles radiate from a single point, where vertical and horizontal lines intersect, and where, in many of the works, a red dot is found (like coordinate points plotting material stress in some engineering diagram). In the lower

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  • Horace Pippin

    Terry Dintenfass Gallery

    Horace Pippin lived from 1888 to 1946. He once wrote, “My opinion of art is that a man should have love for it, because my idea is that he paints from his heart and mind. To me it seems impossible for another to teach one of Art.”

    Wounded in the First World War, he taught himself to paint by gripping the brush in his paralyzed right hand and guiding it with his left functional one. His mind, heart and hand designed and executed paintings with what seems to have been an inviolable concentration upon the image fixed in his mind. His works manifest a sure physicality by means of highly impastoed

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