reviews

  • Walter De Maria

    Heiner Friedrich Gallery

    The fall season opens. No one’s much interested this year; people haven’t even gotten excited about the fall clothes collections, which are relatively more important to New Yorkers. Here and there the fringe elements climb into Punk skins, but it’s a façade of a difference. Things aren’t merely the same as last year, but pretty much the same as ten years ago. All that tautologous art has kept us at A equals A equals A; we haven’t gotten to B yet. One artist doesn’t even bother to paint this time around; just colored construction paper and two or three lines. A friend and I duck into a Soho bar

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  • Agnes Martin

    The Pace Gallery | 508 W 25th Street

    Reductive abstractionists often back themselves into a corner with color. When structural variation is reduced from the start, or after repetition grows weary, there isn’t much more left to work with. In her last show, Agnes Martin flirted with color—pale orange and pink, and pale blue. It was a kind of naive representation of atmospheric, “poetic” color, and it was obvious that she had no feeling for, no idea about, color. After all those years of repression, it was probably too much for Martin to break out with some convincing or genuine account of color. It was nevertheless an interesting

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  • Max Kozloff

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    There are many things going on, and many things to be said about Max Kozloff’s photographs. This is both an asset and a problem. Obviously possessed of a lively intelligence, Kozloff packs every detail in every image with meaning; I’m sure he knows exactly what he’s doing, even if I don’t. The consequence of this thoroughness is that he does all the work for the viewer.

    A typical Kozlovian image reads as follows: a display of both carefully arranged and chaotic shelves of gold and silver objects which reflect light; the window in front of the display which reflects the scene across the street;

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  • Lois Lane

    Willard Gallery

    I have seen other paintings by Lois Lane, and I don’t quite understand how she got from there to here. There doesn’t seem to be any linear progression. In her new work, the consistency was to be found in a sensibility and roughness which pulled disparate things together. None of the paintings looked very much alike. Lane used to lean heavily toward process—folding, stapling—but none of that has been carried over in the new work. What is now important, it seems, are iconic elements, which are both direct and associative, blunt and allusive. There were iconic elements which were not repeated in

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  • Christopher Rauschenberg

    Parsons-Dreyfuss Gallery

    Formalist photography has become so respectable that a curious reversal is underfoot. With so much photography being exhibited everywhere, it is easy to spot where enthusiasms and dissatisfactions are leading. Young photographers who once might have followed the formal route (emphasis on composition, texture, placement, cropping, a few elements under complete control) are slipping over into something else, losing coherence and gaining in informality. Christopher Rauschenberg might have played his hand straight, but perhaps he recognized how easy it is to achieve the nicely juggled photograph,

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  • Steve Gianakos

    Droll Kolbert Gallery

    Steve Gianakos has been for some time a master of the cosy, unruly materials which comprise his encyclopedic mischiefs of Americana—shabby, homespun curio items of cardboard and foil. Recently, the fabricated objects, which are in a sense cartoons of their own clumsy object-hood, have given way to straightforward two-dimensional cartoons.

    Cartoons are a good medium for artists titillated by the more vernacular mechanisms of communication. The cartoons of Neil Jenny, William Wegman, and Gianakos underscore one of the peculiarities of ’70s art: the decadence of represented imagery and the simultaneous

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  • Luigi Ontani

    Sonnabend Gallery

    There is a cliché about contemporary Italian art being hopelessly overwhelmed by the living presence of the nation’s artistic past. Like most clichés, this catches the sense if not the facts; at any rate it is a question that particularly concerns Italians, and a number of artists are addressing their heritage directly. Luigi Ontani, a young Roman artist who had his first one-man show in New York recently, seems to be working in just that area.

    Preceding him to this country was a little book, representative of his performances and tableaux, in which the artist re-creates Renaissance mythological

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  • James Lee Byars

    Goodman/Multiples Gallery

    With the dreamy but aggressive flamboyance of the have-nots James Lee Byars lingers amidst the ephemera of religious thinking and the trappings of the elite, using the most perishable of art mediums. Were he to relax the contrived difficulty of his manifestations he would fade out entirely, but behind this dubious presence he must be there, somewhere. Nonetheless I think his art would disappear if we pressed it through a sieve of mechanistic criticism. His world is that of a salon Buddha.

    He dresses the part, appearing at the performance opening his exhibition in black silk attire looking altogether

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  • Brad Davis And Ned Smyth

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    Brad Davis and Ned Smyth recently collaborated on an installation entitled The Garden. It might seem strange that The Garden was exhibited or that it took place, or especially that it was indoors, encompassed by a showcasing business structure—a gallery. It wasn’t the best context. In fact, much of the art shown at this particular gallery suffers from being shown in a gallery. I find that negative comments about the art shown there often disappear when the work is encountered in a less formal setting.

    In spite of, or rather because of, the difficulty the notion of “gallery” imposes on the work,

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  • Robert Mangold

    John Weber Gallery

    Robert Mangold’s latest show consists of four paintings, three painted studies, and four drawings (shown on projecting wedges). Two of the major works use a similar format: an isoceles triangle inscribed in two adjacent, equal rectangles. In one, the panels are parallel; in the other, perpendicular. Both are roughly 4 by 5 feet. The other two works (dated 1976) are larger. In one, two right-triangular panels form a scalene triangle, in which are inscribed two squares, the inner complete, the outer truncated by the right hypotenuse. In the other, two right-triangular panels and one rectangular

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  • Power Boothe

    A.M. Sachs Gallery

    In shows in 1975 and ’76 Power Boothe experimented with grid patterns set upon stained canvas; this created a tension in the image between contiguity and superimposition. In the present show the stain is replaced by textural paint, the veiled hues by a harsh palette. Still, the canvas web is important as it affects and is echoed in the design. The paintings consist of thin (1/2“) bands of five colors (which vary from painting to painting), broken by an occasional vertical band. A weave is created: a tapestry rather than a grid; a sensuous design rather than an abstract construct. The flavor is

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  • David Von Schlegell

    Pace Gallery

    Ranging from an architecture of intimacy to monumental construction, four recent sculpture shows offered variations on a theme of the built form. Gleaming white Minimal pieces revealed David Von Schlegell’s straightforward love of pure structure while Beverly Pepper’s Amphisculpture brought sculptural architecture outdoors on a grand scale. “Condensed Space” miniaturized architecture and personal expression, and pursuit of the personal touch pervaded Miriam Bloom’s vessels. Not united by one theme, but consistently overlapping, these separate shows juggled interrelated concerns from gallery to

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  • Miriam Bloom

    Truman Gallery

    In contrast, a commitment to the personal dominates Miriam Bloom’s vessels, from the smallest single bowl to the large outdoor pieces eight times its size. The vessels may be small individual bowls or imposing, water-catching pools stacked several feet high, or placed loosely along the floor. Most are black, constructed from papier-mâché or cement, and finished with rough, nubby sand. Running through the finish, small bits of glitter reflect light from their otherwise absorbent surfaces.

    A certain fascination with the primitive is evident in all the works; just verging on crudeness, they’re saved

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  • Beverly Pepper

    Andre Emmerich Gallery

    Constantly changing, width converts to narrowness, becomes a formidable expanse of blank wall, sharpens to a point, opens, becomes a thin connection between planes, closes again to an oblong box. Recesses fade into darkness until a solid piece of wall or cover cuts off the view. These are small pieces, but with the kind of inherent monumentality that suggest an urban landscape, and that might well be executed on the scale of Beverly Pepper’s Amphisculpture.

    Funded by ITT for its corporate headquarters, Amphisculpture took two years to build and covers a 270-foot diameter of ground, enough for

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  • “Condensed Space”

    Nassau County Museum Of Fine Arts

    There are a number of other artists working similarly close to their materials, affecting thick sloppy surfaces with the care of a master. One of these is George Grant, who slaps concrete on his Houses of Torment so it oozes between bricks and wood like mud. His houses in the “Condensed Space” exhibition contrast innocence with implications of morbidity. Painted near-white or candyland pastels, a single gaping black hole acts as doorway to each small house—the one opening allowed. Looking like the neighborhood haunted house they suggest scenes of torture or imprisonment. Rejecting slickness,

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  • James Rosenquist

    Leo Castelli Gallery

    Like the work of his fellow Pop artists, the paintings James Rosenquist made during the 1960s rendered symbols and objects that seemed vulgar to many viewers. Rosenquist was singular among his contemporaries in that the manner of his paintings was meant every bit as ironically, was in fact as much a vulgar thing, as their subjects were. Rauschenberg and Johns suffused America’s popular visual landscape in melancholy collage and expressive brushwork. Emerging a few years later, Rosenquist represented bright red lips, trademarks, soap flakes-box children and the F-111 with the same heightened

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  • Howard Hodgkin

    Andre Emmerich Gallery

    Howard Hodgkin’s paintings bear such evident marks of his borrowing from predecessors that they are pictures about the dynamics of influence as much as they are about their nominal subjects. The presence of Seurat in Hodgkin’s frames within frames is immediately apparent, as is that of Matisse in Hodgkin’s bright colors and his attraction to landscape seen through windows. This is not to say that Hodgkin’s works are directly imitative. In fact, what is extraordinary about them is the degree to which they can candidly admit the weighty influence of these past artists while still maintaining their

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  • Michael Venezia

    Sperone West-Water Fischer Gallery

    Michael Venezia's “Narrow Bar Paintings” are a series of horizontal 2 1/2-by-120-inch canvas-wrapped stretcher bars which have been sprayed against their narrow sides, with a mixture of lacquer, powdered glass, pigment, dye, silicone and powdered metal. These substances are not only chemically non-homogenous, but physically incompatible when aggregated; once sprayed, they begin to separate. As they travel across the surface heavier substances slow down and swell, while the lighter or more resinous ones continue moving to the bottom of the bar.

    Venezia’s recent show consists of six bar paintings,

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  • Julias Tobias

    55 Mercer Gallery

    When constructing an installation piece, the floor, walls and ceiling have to be dealt with whether by being outrightly ignored, played with or actively utilized to energize the piece. Julias Tobias’ involvement is with self-possession of the inner sanctum of both the exhibit space and the people within it. His latest work, titled Half and Half, consists of four 6-inch-deep concrete slabs, each 36 inches high and 44 feet long, forming three austere 32-inch corridors originating from and returning to the back wall of the gallery. The runners parallel the side walls and fill up exactly half of

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  • Sharon Gold

    O.K. Harris

    Sharon Gold’s acrylic-on-canvas-on-wood paintings are a congregation of dark, almost black rectangles varying slightly in size. From the center of the room the surfaces seem matte and monotone; moving closer they are wonderfully shiny, scratched, imperfect and underlaid with many layers of color. Like the black paintings of Ad Reinhardt, these canvases have been trisected. The recurring “T” configuration, painted in the same overall tone but a few strata thicker and against the grade of the rest of the painted surface, functions like cartilage, connective tissue holding the darkness taut over

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  • John Margolies

    The Kitchen

    Leisure is said to be “the basis of culture.” Cut off from the demands of practicality and livelihood, man is assumed to engage himself in finding a higher level of existence. The early 1900s saw the rush for land in the Catskills and its ensuing cultivation as a vacation haven for many growing middle-class communities seeking a communal retreat. John Margolies narrated slide show and video presentation titled Resorts of the Catskills deals with the present decline of these structures and institutions. Margolies’ live narrative accompanying the endless series of slides recounts the history,

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  • Nancy Holt

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Nancy Holt’s videotape Revolve centers on the reflections of a 30-year-old Canadian filmmaker who has leukemia. Set and kept in verbal motion by off-camera questions from Holt, Dennis Wheeler’s stunning discourse deals with his experiences in the hospital, his chemotherapy, and the adjustment to “normal” life during a remission from the disease, when the tape was made. Wheeler’s monologue rivets the attention through a coolly eloquent articulation of the most harrowing events and uncanny insights borne by a bold attempt to comprehend the imminence of his own death. This approaching a “state of

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