new-york

Dennis Oppenheim

John Gibson Gallery

It is difficult to talk about the art of Dennis Oppenheim, to order it into a concerted body of work, for it articulates itself in ways that defy language and that resist such ideas of order as “continuity” or “oeuvre” or even “artist.” What relates an otherwise diverse practice (from earthworks to puppet performances) seems to be an imperative to do two things: one is the desire to let (what Oppenheim calls) subliminal or “root impulses,” and the forces of the material(s) used, bespeak themselves somehow; the other is the necessity, as a major contemporary artist, to render work that is intellectually articulate on concerns of the day. Such an imperative is best expressed in the word “radicality,” in the sense of both basic and advanced. (Radicality is also the title of a work in which flares were set up to spell just that word.) More often than not, the art is about a redefinition of

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