New York

Richard Van Buren

Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

Though it may be unfair to class Richard Van Buren as a provincial artist (he has spent equal amounts of time working in California and New York) his sculpture’s uniqueness rests in the novelty of its materials, in a way that much work from the Mid-, South-, and Far West tends to do. Perhaps provincial fascination with unusual tools results from an absence of that competition with history, that overburdening of culture monumentalized that New York artists are forced to suffer and that makes thoroughbreds of them.

An artist who feels history’s test acutely understands that there is no exit to be found in a catchy device, and that his response to the weight of the past must be conceived on ground that may already be well tilled. This point is relevant in Van Buren’s case, since his work is conspicuous for lacking clear reference to or place in the general sweep of contemporary art. Yet if

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