• Clyfford Still

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    In the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind there is a character who’s a bit luny. After an “encounter” with a U.F.O., he begins to lose track of the things of this world. In his distraction he antagonizes the people he works for so much that they fire him. He doesn’t care. He is ready to sever relations with anyone who won’t follow where his visions lead. Those visions are of a shape which he cannot quite make out at first. He sees it everywhere—in squiggles of shaving cream, in the folds of a pillow, in the windmills of his mind. One morning when he is trapped between the phone call saying

    Read more
  • Joseph Beuys, Gary Burnley

    Ronald Feldman Fine Arts/Artists Space

    Drawing the line between sculpture and painting is not as easy as it was 20 years ago when the operative definition was, “Sculpture is what you back into when you’re trying to get a different perspective on a painting.” Likewise, the distinction between object and anti-object art, abstract and representational categories today are so slippery that at one moment everything’s everything, at the next, nothing is anything.

    So How Does JOSEPH BEUYS fit into all of this? Asideshow to his Guggenheim Retrospective, “Aus Berlin: Neues vom Kojoten” (“From Berlin: News of the Coyote”), at Feldman’s consisted

    Read more
  • Christopher Knowles

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    In this season when galleries are showing bring-it-home-with-you art, packaged in form and price for gift-giving, a difficult and unmarketable show is welcome, but the work of CHRISTOPHER KNOWLES at Holly Solomon brings with it greater moral difficulties than esthetic ones. The mythology surrounding Knowles is all too well documented: an autistic child, Knowles’ “creative genius” was hailed by avant-garde artists (in particular playwright and director, Robert Wilson); he has been used in their work ever since. One begins to wonder whether the commercialization of an individual is not worse than

    Read more
  • Andy Warhol, Charles Luce, Meredith Monk

    Whitney Museum of American Art/Elise Meyer Gallery/La Mama

    There are two possible reviews of WARHOL’s portraits. This is the first: Warhol is a satirist attempting to purge the United States by means of a critique of the forces which both sustain it and bring it low. The ’70s portraits allow him to examine interconnections between money, power and fame. Sitters are shown in their worst possible light. Much of the interest lies in the extent to which the artist supports or opposes their own ideas of themselves.

    This is the second, represented by Robert Rosenblum in his catalogue essay: In making an equivalent to 19th century society painting Warhol has

    Read more
  • John Torreano, Erica Lennard, and “Mind Set: An Ongoing Involvement with the Rational Tradition”

    Droll/Kolbert Gallery/Sonnabend/John Weber Gallery

    “Cosmetic Transcendentalism” is a term that Donald Kuspit used in the October Artforum to describe the work of Rodney Ripps, Lynda Benglis, and the artist under review here, JOHN TORREANO. To Kuspit such work comprises a new “luxury art” that “accept(s) the fact that in today’s world art and entertainment are one, that modernist self-criticality and theatricality converge, and that the attempt of either side to repress the other only leads to the decisive infiltration of the one by the other.” Our task is to comprehend the “dialectic”: to see how “these artists’ self-conscious use of ‘luxurious’

    Read more
  • Lucas Samaras, Barbara Schwartz, Alain Kirili

    Pace Gallery/Willard Gallery/Sonnabend

    Much is said about LUCAS SAMARAS’ “Reconstructions” as being a prophetic challenge to the ideologies of modernist painting in the ’70s. Thread and fabric do brazenly take the place of brush and paint on the canvas, but when viewing Samaras’ latest slew of materials and patterns, I question his allegedly ripping “attack” on modernist painting. Carter Ratcliff calls these conglomerations “violent” indictments of modern painting. Kim Levin writes in the catalogue for the show that they are glaring “reconstructions of modern art objects precisely at the moment that modernism has become untenable.”

    Read more