• NASA Photographs

    Light Gallery

    A gallery show of photographs made in space and on the moon will inevitably incite all the usual arguments about whether a work of art can be made by a non-artist or a machine. The slipperiest thing about reviewing NASA’s pictures, though, is not the fact that they were made for technical and documentary purposes, but that what they show is so exotic and extraordinary, and without a counterpart in most of the earth’s art. Gene Thornton has commented on these photographs disapprovingly, implying that there was something devious about them since, although they purported to be documentary, they

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  • Robert Zakanitch

    Robert Miller Gallery

    Robert Zakanitch makes very enticing paintings of flower and plant patterns in pale colors. His designs, if not actually taken from old chintz or wallpaper patterns, look as though they might have been. Usually he makes triptychs, one pattern covering the two end panels, a different one in the middle, so that this central one is emphasized by framing. The central panels also tend to have bolder, bigger patterns, and contrastier and brighter colors. Why these central panels are being emphasized, though, is not explained by their patterns. More dramatic though they might be, they contain nothing

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  • “Grids”

    Pace | 32 East 57th Street

    Might as well say it right off, so there’s no question about it: a lot of the objects in “Grids” are very beautiful and totally satisfying as art. What I have to say in no way reflects upon the individual me is of any single piece. The problem for me is that the show seems to want to be taken as more than a collection of nice things. One really nice thing was Frank Stella’s metallic doughnut hexagon; I’m certainly glad I had the opportunity to see it, but what has it got to do with grids? And, ultimately, what hasn’t it got to do with them?

    The catalogue for the show includes an essay by Rosalind

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  • Robert Ryman

    Sidney Janis Gallery

    After seeing Robert Ryman’s new painting I wanted to find one word that would explain how I felt about them.

    I found a quotation in a catalogue of his paintings: “Basically, my work has to do with just making visual art, something that excites me, that excites me personally, then I feel, if that happens, if I feel good about it, that maybe someone else will. If it doesn’t work out that way for me, then I feel it’s a failure.”

    The new paintings did not excite me, personally. Am I to conclude that Ryman must consider them failures (assuming that he ever discovers that I feel this way)?

    I wonder how

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  • William Bailey

    Robert Schoelkopf Gallery

    It’s not what William Bailey paints that identifies him with an artist like Ryman, but how he thinks. The “how” is pretty much the same, so that both have this attraction to large blank spaces that should clue a viewer in as to exactly how this thinking materializes into a visual principle. Bailey paints—and has been painting for a long time—quietly subdued, somewhat stuffy, formal arrangements of pottery on a shelf, with occasional eggs. The color range strikes me as too limited and safe—as safe as all white—earth tones with a pinch of blue and yellow. Nothing upsetting here, nothing to suggest

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  • Denise Green

    Max Protetch Gallery

    Denise Green works with two interlocking but easily separable aspects of Jasper Johns’ early work: flat or flattened, silhouetted, sign-like subjects combined with graphic and painterly looseness. Green cordons off a little territory of her own, employing a verbal humor tied to punning, making her work more available to discussion than most “New Image” painting, and a little closer to Johns than one might wish. My little bit of pseudo-art-historical precedent-setting and influence-peddling hardly constitutes a justification or idea about the art; I just don’t find this kind of art so new or

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  • Robert Mangold

    John Weber Gallery

    In his new paintings Robert Mangold has altered the outside shape of the canvas as a whole, destroying the perfect rectangle in favor of a distorted perimeter. Each painting is composed of two canvases side by side, the line between them functioning as a formal drawn line. An “X” is penciled in from upper to lower boundaries, carefully off-center, just missing the central line at the crossing. These two ideas at once displace the recognizable shape of the canvases—Mangold plays with the ambiguity of his defined forms, purposely avoiding the expected division or shape. So far these are familiar

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  • Frank Stella

    Leo Castelli Gallery

    Surprisingly or not, Frank Stella provided the most direct contrast to Minimal leanings. His new works are an overwhelming circus of materials. Never mind the meaning of his bizarre new direction, or the impulse behind the radical profusion of elements—Stella has left refinement so far behind as to render it forever dead. The new works cross almost every line there is, between painting and sculpture, assemblage and montage, hard-edge, color field and punk. Perhaps he just enjoys wreaking havoc with critical definitions.

    Hints of his intentions have surfaced before. Works from 1976, featuring

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  • Nam June Paik

    Global Village

    Nam June Paik’s newest videotape offers the possibility of a completely new trend in entertainment. Shown to a capacity crowd, the audience of devoted fans must have been prepared for anything the master had to offer, from the most outlandishly abstract patternings to full-blown conceptualizing. What they got was an amazingly enjoyable piece of work. Despite all its radical cutting and split-screen effects, They Can’t Lick Stamps in China was funny, enticing and provocative.

    Paik used several theatrical premises to introduce themes and gimmicks. His collaborator (and art writer) Gregory Battcock

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  • R.M. Fischer


    There may be a reason why rational men parade around at parties with lampshades on their heads. If there is, R.M. Fischer is the one who knows the meaning behind this seemingly meaningless act. Fischer’s lamp objects have an eerie feeling of the same transformation reversed—lamps parading as people. Each one in his installation has a personality all its own; the pseudo-fantasy of L.A. Lamp, the demure prettiness of Dinner Lamp, the furtive hunch of Street Lamp.

    But personality is only part of the problem Fischer confronts with his humanoid beacons. Served Up takes its title from a four-part

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  • David Hockney

    Andre Emmerich Gallery

    David Hockney’s “Paper Pools” continue a theme that has been at the center of his work for a long time—the swimming pool, or its rippling, glistening water. The pools convey the luxuriance, sensuality and mystery that Hockney’s work generally exudes, and they also stand metaphorically as a way in which people construct their own paradise. In Hockney’s pools, people float between something primal and something extremely civilized. Some say that his pools are explicit sexual symbols as well, but I am not sure what this means; it seems to me to trivialize the pools by defining them too closely.


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  • Matta

    Jackson/Lolas Gallery

    Of all the major styles that appeared for the first time in the 20th century, the most enduring has been Surrealism. While early Cubism and Abstract Expressionism may claim the grandest modern gestures, more artists have made Surrealistic works more persistently, and in the widest range of media, for what is now more than fifty years. The fact that Surrealism stands at the intersection of so many of the preoccupations of modern life may have something to do with this. It is as disjunctive, it wrenches reality as powerfully, as any of the abstract modes, while remaining as scrupulous about the

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  • Postcard-size Art

    P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

    “Postcard-Size Art,” which was organized by Gigi Franklin, is a well-traveled group show that is enormous in volume—it contains over 740 works, all of them minute. I recognized the names of fairly few artists, though there are occasional famous ones: Harry Callahan, who contributed the small 1947 portrait of his wife, Eleanor, that is on the cover of his Aperture collection, is probably the best known. Neither Sol LeWitt, Lucas Samaras nor Bill Zulpo-Dane submitted work, which is too bad, since these artists were among the first contemporary workers to produce a great deal of small-size imagery,

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