John Balsley

Nancy Lurie Gallery

John Balsley’s 1960s motorcycle sculptures reeked of stereotyped macho values: phallic speed machines complete with ruptured cyclers, gravel path and skid marks. His slightly later dark, bombardier-type hanging assemblages were less blatant—the way the parts were put together left it up to one’s imagination to invoke an antiwar response. But did Balsley really intend to glorify brute power, or harbor a lingering horror/fascination for speed, or want to confront a viewer with the imbecility of force? I would imagine Balsley never really resolved these questions himself.

What a surprise, then, to see so many of his ’70s projects reminiscent of the recent craftlike diaristic art by women. His very engaging “Diving Women” series, 1977, consists of small-scale paintings with pastel colored surfaces, decorative Art Deco stylistic influence, an immediacy of paint put on and scratched off the

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.