reviews

  • Patrick Ireland

    Visual Arts Museum

    Patrick Ireland’s installation piece Camera radiated a genius loci of exceptionally charming gentility. By using his characteristic materials (rope, nylon thread, and now, pale paint on walls) and a minimum of visual manipulation (just “lines” of rope), Ireland does little to upset the calm of the bare white room. He doesn’t push; his perfectly achieved effects are a function of humility and controlled passiveness. There is art which, by being resolutely and aggressively blank and empty, forces the viewer to confront its obstinacy; Ireland walks the thin line between blankness and its tendency

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  • Rodney Ripps

    Rodney Ripps bunches cloth elm leaves into tight bundles, adds layers of thick paint to the approximately rectangular “face” of the bundle, and displays them with the “leaves” standing “on end” off the wall. Slight variations occur from piece to piece (I don’t know whether to call the things paintings or sculptures or painted sculptures or sculptural paintings) according to density and sequential layering of color (sometimes you can see through the paint to the cavernous spaces between the leaves, and sometimes you can’t see the leaves at all from the front).

    Among the pieces, there is no real

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  • Pat Steir

    Droll/Kolbert Gallery

    There is something very dark, very pessimistic about Pat Steir’s new paintings and drawings. Her previous work incorporated disturbing elements in an ensemble of marks and feelings; this variety has given way to a focus on despair. Dense, black squares, which were small sections of older paintings, have taken over. And although the “X” motif is not present visually in the paintings, it becomes instead implicit throughout. This “X,” or crossing out, used to appear alone, or it cancelled irises or roses, or marked out entire sections of a painting. It represented, in context, the artist’s (unique)

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  • Alexander Liberman

    André Emmerich Gallery

    For a number of years, Alexander Liberman seems to have been working toward something ambiguous, searching, step by step, exploring through controlled experiment, as if working out some unknown problem, working through a block. His background is Abstract Expressionist—large, simple geometric paintings of rectangles and triangles in dynamic arrangements—a kind of loose Newman. I think back to those paintings, and remember their authoritative confidence. Liberman’s next step was a confused synthesis of the gestural and the geometric—a triangle standing on its point that was really an accumulation

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  • Alex Katz

    Marlborough | Midtown

    Within the tradition of realist painting, Alex Katz stands as one of the most refined of artists. I would liken his position to that of Brice Marden in the tradition of abstract painting. Only the absolutely necessary feature of the tradition is preserved, and the elements that once were separable are collapsed into style. I often felt, while looking at Katz’s depicted interiors, that the walls were hung with Mardens (or Nolands), rather than being “blank.”

    The injection of people into Katz’s paintings can often appear irrelevant to the main purpose, which is the smooth sailing of style as form

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  • Paul Waldman

    Leo Castelli Gallery

    The limbless, headless, naked bodies in Paul Waldman’s new paintings a restuffed into tight corners, as if into plastic bags. The paintings are sectional, repeating long, narrow shapes that, when read together, remind one of progressively longer spikes or knife blades. Each panel is dominated by extended expanses of pink, baby blue or pearly gray, and the bodies complement this fruity arrangement by appearing more apricot than flesh-toned, in order to make them more “luscious.”

    The spiked-shaped panels are right-angled on the left, and severely diagonal on the right; one painting may consist of

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  • Gilbert and George

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Coleridge once observed that while ideas possess most people, few truly possess an idea. Gilbert and George, the “odd couple” among Conceptualists, aspire to proprietorship by dramatizing their idea of being possessed by the idea of art. In the “New Photo-Pieces” their own images are integrated into a series of grids, each composed of nine or sixteen rectangular black and white separate panels (these are unique articles, not an edition, and each separate photograph is individually framed by the artists). Studio portraits of Gilbert and George among the panels bear witness to, but stand a world

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  • Stuart Sherman

    The Performing Garage

    The places depicted in Stuart Sherman’s portraits are as diverse as Harper, Kansas,and Istanbul. The validity of what he does with them is something only the residents of each city can confirm or deny. Whirling about the “stage” like a mad street performer, Sherman juggles a bizarre assortment of props and ritualized actions into a nearly incomprehensible but somehow effective melange. If the “portraits” are meant to convey some essential spirit or attitude of each chosen city, then I have a lot of traveling to do. Or, maybe it would be better to stay out of places where one’s steps are rigidly

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  • Fred Sandback

    Heiner Friedrich Gallery

    Three separate pieces, installed at different times over an interval of several weeks, comprised Fred Sandback’s most recent show. The idea of three installations would seem to stress the fact that the minimal is most important in his work; otherwise, we can assume all three could have been managed in the space simultaneously. The concept is a flattering one for Sandback, since it supports his creation of a perfect space within the vastness of the entire gallery.

    All three pieces are constructed with Sand back’s trademark—black yarn, strung in various configurations from floor to ceiling. Breaking

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  • Winifred Lutz

    Marilyn Pearl Gallery

    With all her classically good skill intact, Winifred Lutz’s new works are something of a disappointment. The large standing piece composed of triangulated towers is so handsome in material and execution as to detract from its possible toughness; her door/ archway so minimal as to be incomplete; the wall pieces, framed and presented as collaged drawings, so busy and clever as to be confusing and weak.

    The tower, composed of two jutting, angled planes and a compressed passage in between, embodies exactly those attributes that made former works sculpturally impressive—perfected tension and balance,

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  • Ann Norton

    The Clocktower

    Ann Norton’s recent show consisted of six large vertical wood sculptures, 41 watercolor drawings and some documentary photographs of this sculptor’s major efforts—a cluster of big brick abstract “monuments” erected in her backyard in West Palm Beach. Norton showed and was known in New York forty years ago, and to a certain extent some of the interest in this show was in wondering what she is up to now. But if this is the work of a practically unknown older artist, and one working in a definitively provincial situation, it is nevertheless of considerable interest.

    It testifies, for one thing, to

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  • Mac Adams

    John Gibson Gallery

    Step off the elevator into a darkened hall. Turn left into the gallery and you’re immediately blinded by a searchlight aimed straight at you out of the darkness. What’s going on here? Something’s wrong. You walk toward the light—cautiously, because it’s blinding you and you can’t see where you’re going. Once inside the gallery you move outside the beam of light and discover that it’s coming from a motorcycle parked on a patch of dirt. There’s an orange nylon backpack beside the bike, and there are a woman’s clothes and half a dozen color snapshots spilling out of it. You study the backpack, the

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  • Daria Dorosh

    Daria Dorosh’s recent paintings seem to be largely about color—deep, rich, glowing color with only the slightest bit of visual detail used to structure them. Curiously, however, I was hard put after first seeing them to say with certainty precisely what colors I had been looking at. I was left with the impression of color per se, rather than of specific colors.

    The 16 paintings in this show ranged from one foot square to five feet square. They were installed on only one wall of the gallery—some at eye level and some considerably higher, some in groups of three or five and others alone. It was an

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  • Alice Aycock

    John Weber Gallery

    The more I try to figure out what Alice Aycock is up to the more frustrated I become. Her work seems filled with blind alleys and false leads, and, for me at least, it defies all attempts to get close to it. This, of course, may be precisely the effect Aycock is after, and if to frustrate, insult, irritate, and anger are her intentions—and there is some reason to believe they are—then she succeeds with me. That her work elicits such negative emotions, however, is not necessarily bad. Art that elicits any emotion is rare, and the best art is often like a slap across the face.

    Pulling from 6,000

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  • Lucas Samaras

    Pace | 32 East 57th Street

    Lucas Samaras is one of the more theatrical and prolific artists working today. He’s a combination magician, traveling medicine show, and one-man band, and we’ve come to demand of him what we’d expect of few other artists: that he amaze us every few years with something new and even more marvelous. His latest offering is a series of abstract fabric constructions that have all the unrestrained joy and beauty of a 14th Street yard goods store. Cheap, bright, exuberant colors everywhere. Rayon and polyester. Polka dots, stripes, plaids, checks and herringbones mixed in with gold, silver and copper

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  • Richard Fishman

    Max Hutchinson Gallery

    There is a time when an artist finishes working his way through recent art history, leaves his artistic influences behind, and begins making his own work. Some artists reach this point in their early 20s; others may be well into their middle years; some never reach it. But no matter when it happens, there’s a freshness and sense of experimentation about the new work. It may be tentative and lack the assurance of earlier work done on safe, familiar ground, but it will have enthusiasm, vitality and individuality.

    Richard Fishman reached this point about two years ago. The 11 sculptures and four

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  • Rafael Ferrer

    Nancy Hoffman Gallery

    Rafael Ferrer’s large drawings are done on navigational charts, so that outlines of islands and oceans of numbers show faintly through a dense layering of waxy red, green, blue, yellow and orange. One must squint to decipher the maps’ authentic geography, for Ferrer has embellished them to near oblivion. He feels no obligation to hold to definite points of view in these pictures: sailboats go by in perfect profile on water meant to be seen as the crow flies. Ferrer’s Caribbean is a fantastic, quiltlike patchwork where the island of Puerto Rico has ballooned in size, generating gaudy ripples that

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  • James Juszczyk

    Rosa Esman Gallery

    James Juszczyk is a “pure” abstract painter, in the manner of Mondrian, Barnett Newman, Ad Reinhardt and others. He borrows substantially from these artists, producing works of rigorous rectangular geometry and deep, resonant color. The typical Juszczyk painting is divided into even thirds, quarters or fifths, which in turn contain a few small elongated subdivisions. Sometimes, these parts will be separated from each other simply by difference in color, but Juszczyk frequently draws boundaries between them by extending the color of one area into the territory of its neighbor. The dark crimson

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