• “Abstract Expressionism: The Formative Years”

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    It is difficult to regard this show primarily as an esthetic event. The paintings do not appear to be selected on the basis of their relative profundity or delectability. They rather have the look of a few surviving artifacts of a curatorial dig. Not too much painting was being done at the time in question (1938–1948) and much less has survived.

    A museum, almost by definition, offers its art as art historical document and the Whitney is no exception. But one has only to recall the fare at the Whitney at the time these paintings were made; (Marsh, Evergood, Levine, Shahn, etc.) to appreciate the

    Read more
  • Hamish Fulton and Richard Long

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art and Sperone Westwater Fischer Gallery

    How the work of Hamish Fulton differs from that of his friend and occasional walking companion Richard Long is not as easy to say as it first seems. What one has in the gallery, of course, are different kinds of souvenirs from the cross-country hikes Fulton and Long make in England, Scotland and Wales, as well as in Australia, Iceland, Africa, Peru and the Himalayas. Having made a walk, each artist will provide a photograph of some aspect of the country he has traveled through, and will caption it with information about the route, length and duration of the trip. In addition, Long will sometimes

    Read more
  • Richard Avedon

    The Met | Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Although I would like to, I cannot deny that Richard Avedon’s photographs are brilliant and often beautiful. Where I might disregard most fashion photography on the ground that it is shallow, and compensates for its general lack of mystery and insight with a theatricality that is silly at best and obscene at worst, Avedon is masterly at avoiding the pitfalls of this genre. At least this was so until the onset of the 1960s, when his work changed substantially. The pictures he made in cafes, parks, casinos, restaurants and limousines, before he retreated to the studio, are filled with a very

    Read more
  • Paul Brach

    Lerner-Heller Gallery

    Of his newest paintings of horses running beneath mountains and mesas, Paul Brach wrote last summer, “During the 9 years I spent in California, my paintings evolved into abstract landscapes evoking the silent spaces of the Southwest. Upon my return to New York, the covert landscape became overt. These new paintings are about a dreamspace—mountains, mesas, grazing and running horses—an ideal place distanced by reveries and memories of boyhood summers on a ranch in Arizona.” We can infer a good deal about these pictures from the fact of Brach’s return to New York, which seems bound up with their

    Read more
  • Simone Forti

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Simone Forti is a dancer and sometimes performance artist whose work has involved such movements as young children and animals make. I have not seen her perform, but by most accounts there is a good deal of the primitive in her dancing, as it employs and describes motions that are supposedly un- or precivilized, and in her talk as well, where she refers freely and eclectically to various mysticisms.

    Her recent show (produced with the technical help of Lloyd Cross) consisted of holographic images of her, lit by candles and mounted on the wall or, in the central and best piece, on an orange crate.

    Read more
  • Owen Morrel

    American Thread Building

    Perched on top of the American Thread Building in the heart of Tribeca is a 35-foot-tall structure of steel ladders, bars and industrial piping. It looks the same as other rooftop structures on neighboring buildings, but Owen Morrel’s Asylum is actually a questionable refuge from the din below. I say questionable because it is actually a rather threatening, slightly intimidating cage. Open prison-bar walls on three sides offer an exhilarating/terrifying lookout over the roofs of Tribeca and Soho; the floor tilts crazily, right angles are ignored, and notions of solidity are banished. The fourth

    Read more
  • Michael Mcmillen and Alan Herman

    Whitney Museum and O.K. Harris Gallery

    Working with props and realistic settings poses several immediate problems for a sculptor. It’s a question of manipulation, really, whether or not the artist can subvert the entire set of inherent connotations to his own purpose. The purpose may vary somewhat—to exploit the meaning of a prop; to transcend connotation and/or pervert the universal reaction; to replace the connotation using the object offhandedly, ignoring previous meanings.

    Perhaps as a result of photo-realism, the duplication of objects and our environment has become an accepted form of expression; we abound in self-documentation.

    Read more
  • Doug Hessler

    Project Studios One

    The set-up for Tracking is preparation for a straightforward piece involving a re-creation of a section of wilderness trail. As experienced by the artist, the trail is a fixed site filled with a finite set of elements, yet the experience of walking the trail is never the same twice. Weather, sunlight, the hiker’s own state of mind, all contribute to the perception of the walk. Tracking uses several overlays of visual material to duplicate such a set of possibilities.

    Doug Hessler first built a long, wide corridor that heads the viewer into the piece. At the end, images of the trail are displayed.

    Read more
  • Laurie Anderson

    Holly Solomon Gallery and Museum Of Modern Art

    Boundaries between the visual and performing arts have long been blurred, if not altogether erased in many artists’ minds. Shifting intermedia activities have focused on new, often uncategorized issues. As a “conceptual performance” artist Laurie Anderson has addressed these issues, sometimes with illuminating originality. Recently, in two acoustical installation pieces, she removed herself as performer, substituting props of a sort that propose perceptual predicaments. Anderson hasn’t abandoned the concept of performance but has displaced it by activating the role of the “perceiver”—a strategy

    Read more
  • Richard Serra

    Blum Heiman Gallery

    You wouldn’t expect Richard Serra—an artist consistently conscious in his sculpture of what sculpture is—to want to carry his sculptural thinking over into his drawings, which would emphasize the parameters and possibilities of drawings. Yet he cannot act as if he didn’t make sculpture, and neither can we. Serra is a master of sculptural space and construction, but I don’t think he has been able to unknot the problems of pictorial space, and he often tries deliberately to pervert them. This cannot be done by eliminating the trappings of pictorialism, or by pretending they are not necessary,

    Read more
  • “Pattern On Paper”

    Gladstone Villani Gallery

    Historically, the celebration and decline of most major modern art movements coincides with their institutionalization as academies that breed new movements standing for opposite values (though adopting some of the features of their predecessors). Since Impressionism, this reaction has usually taken the form of primitivism, with painting returning to the crude, the naive, the childish, the exotic, for energy. Gauguin and Van Gogh retreated—escaped, physically or mentally—from urban life, and the art which reflected it. Closer to home, after Abstract Expressionism came Pop, which was perhaps an

    Read more
  • James Brooks

    Lerner-Heller Gallery

    I don’t really know why, but the last few years have seen a resurgent presence of many lesser-known Abstract Expressionist painters. Our memory of them resides in art over 20 years old, and they return with reviews of the last two decades of their work so we may catch up with them. This has made a possibly anemic art world somewhat more active, with revisionist critics busily revising standards, accountants anxious to rectify errors on the balance sheet of historical importance. It all seems rather suspicious, as if we should be exceptionally nice and sensitive to these painters because years

    Read more
  • Jeffrey Brosk

    Sculpture Now

    Jeffrey Brosk is a sculptor (and painter) with an architecture degree, so that an interdisciplinary sense to his first New York show is no surprise. This is not to say that the work is uncritical, rather that it is multivalent.

    Of the seven works, two are maquettelike and two are reliefs—models, it seems, for the three architecturelike works. But this is not the case—all the sculptures are formally and materially distinct. In an odd reversal (compelled by the strictures of cost and space) the modellike works employ the actual materials of construction, whereas the full-scale works substitute

    Read more
  • Edward Youkilis

    Acquavella Gallery

    Edward Youkilis works with a fiberglass painting base that he may, in spots, use to saturate the canvas and, in others, build up a thick, matte surface. The result is that in any one painting there are two materially contiguous surfaces, one in which color is suspended (each as to the chemistry of the pigment) and another on which it holds fast and hard. On these grounds he traces a given shape, mostly sections of a circle cut out of cardboard (one shape to each series of paintings). These are then filled in with more color, first with a sponge, then a brush.

    Superimposed, the forms read abstractly.

    Read more