New York


Extremity of tone is one way to classify art that’s being made today: the aim often is toward high seriousness or low laughs. The moderate position in art, like the moderate in the political realm, suffers from suspicion of its compromise. Galleries felt moody this month. The atmosphere triggered grins or grimaces. Inscrutability was not an emotional property of any art on view.

Arakawa—represented by exhibitions uptown and downtown—certainly enjoys the reputation of poet-didact of the art world. Early work could be seen in relation to more recent production, his Neo-Plasticism Nouveau of the ’60s becoming the background for his later arrangements of text with painting. In Arakawa’s case, words are a textplication (text + explication) of images.

The downtown space, rented to exhibit Arakawa’s The Mechanism of Meaning work (from the title of his book co-authored with the poet Madeline H.

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