reviews

  • “France Between The Wars: 1925–1940”

    Zabriskie Gallery

    At the time that the show “France Between the Wars” was at the Zabriskie Gallery, that title might better have been on the banner flying outside the International Center. The Zabriskie exhibition was a group show of nineteen photographers with a few pieces of sculpture of the period thrown in for atmosphere. With rare exceptions, the photography faded away beside the sculpture that was supposed to set it off. The blandness of the show can probably be attributed to its having been based on Charles Peignot’s magazine Photographie, which was published primarily during the ’30s. Though I have only

    Read more
  • “Marking Black”

    Bronx Museum of the Arts

    Exhibitions using a single feature as a basis for cohesion often never gain the added dimension which comes from going beyond preordained connections. “Marking Black,” is distinctively not that kind of show although all the artists represented have been brought together because of their present involvement with black.

    The thesis of curators Jeanette Ingberman and Madeleine Burnside is that just as the “black” paintings of Rauschenberg, Rothko, Stella and Reinhardt self-consciously marked the end of “modernist” painting, so the black works in the current scene have decidedly utilized the same line

    Read more
  • David Shapiro And Stephen Paul Miller

    The Kitchen

    When performance art or just plain theatre carelessly takes on social and political burdens, the results are often pretentiously disjointed, humorless, tediously self-conscious and grave—sincere but deadly—and often leave one cynical, gasping for a taste of the irreverent. This is, of course, a reaction of the earnest viewer, the one who believes that art can be a vehicle for ideas that address serious questions of world-view. But one can only defend what an artist tries to do for just so long. Naive, simple-minded sincerity is not enough, in any arena or from either side.

    A particularly modern

    Read more
  • Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, on the other hand, is consistent in style and materials. Eastern Orthodox is the style, the materials are Reynolds Wrap, Saran Wrap, florist foils, and a variety of low-budget Canal Street extras and leftovers. I overheard Schmidt explaining the secret of his excess, “I operate by the drag queen esthetic: always keep the eye moving.” He succeeds.

    Saints and Sinners is painted sky-blue and terra cotta, luminous with icons of foil, floored with linoleum from some abandoned nursery school. Lit by lightbulbs shrouded in colander-fixtures, the room would probably radiate without

    Read more
  • Ned Smyth

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    Installation art has become an imperative instead of a prerogative: it denotes the artist’s seriousness in wanting not only to make an object within a space, but to make it relate to the space. From El Lissitzky’s Proun Space and Kurt Schwjtters’ Merzbau comes the heritage of artists-who-would-be-architects—artists acutely aware that context plays a crucial part in reading content. This type of concern was cruelly dismissed by Frank Lloyd Wright as a type of “inferior desecration” (architects, well aware that no space is neutral, know who’s boss), rather than interior decoration, but would he

    Read more
  • Gisele Freund

    Sidney Janis Gallery

    While historical figures are only an invisible presence in Atget’s photographs, in Gisele Freund’s they are the subject. Three quarters of the show at Sidney Janis were portraits, and of these the most remarkable part was a group of three dozen color studies of France’s most celebrated artists and intellectuals—Gide, Malraux, Paul Eluard, Duchamp, Cocteau, de Beauvoir, Sartre, André Breton, Louis Aragon, et al.—photographed in either 1938 or 1939. Talk of France between the wars! What a flabbergasting document this set of photographs was. If I were a collector, to own any one of these portraits

    Read more
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson and “Atget’s Gardens”

    The International Center For Photography

    There were a handful of Cartier-Bresson photographs in the Zabriskie show, but somehow in that context they didn’t seem very important. Their energies were neutralized by the environment of the show. To get a more helpful perspective on what was happening in the history of photography at the moment they were made, you had to go up to ICP. For before going upstairs to the Cartier-Bresson retrospective in the main gallery there, you could go to “Atget’s Gardens” in the gallery on the first floor.

    The earliest Cartier-Bresson you were to find upstairs was made in 1929, the latest Atget in 1926 or

    Read more
  • “Annual Juried Exhibition 80”

    The Queens Museum

    The one rule for submission to this “Annual Juried Exhibition 80” was that the artists reside within the geographical boundaries of Queens County. I will now explain the significance of this to readers unfamiliar with the geography of New York. Although New York City is composed of five boroughs, there is only one main center for art and culture—Manhattan. The other boroughs, Queens being one, have traditionally suffered from various art/cultural inferiority complexes vis-à-vis Manhattan. But the situation changed some in the last decade or so. The combination of radically rising rents and

    Read more
  • Patricia Caire

    Artists Space Exhibitions

    Patricia Caire paints black silhouettes on large rectangular sheets of translucent acetate. The imagery revolves around a gun-toting hunter, an image which has concerned the young French artist since her arrival in New York a few years ago. The hunter is the star of an exciting visual drama in which silhouettes, suspended from the ceiling by metal holders, are arranged in maze-like passages to evoke an ambiguous narrative structure in which directions and light are all important. Caire is very interested in image as surface, as material, and as space. In addition to paintings, she works with

    Read more
  • Rudolph Baranik

    Lerner-Heller Gallery

    Rudolph Baranik’s new paintings, Words, deal with the relationship of writing to painting. In each large rectangular canvas—Words #1 is 70 by 55 inches—there are lines of words cramped in a register-like format which covers almost the entire upper surface not quite out to the edges; remaining areas including spaces between words are black. The words immediately draw us to the paintings. We respond to Baranik’s words on canvas in the same way as we do to words on pages, by wanting to read them, by wanting to understand them, by wanting—in other words—to get the message! Baranik is an artist who

    Read more
  • Jan Groover

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Jan Groover’s last series of photographs met with lavish acclaim. Elusive pictures, mostly of cutlery and glass and leaves, were posed in tableaux that defied visual logic, so heady were the reversals of surface and space, of object and reflection.

    Heirs to painting’s still life, they played havoc with the old convention. Classically, still life is a construct of ratios between depicted objects. (It is thus a form of representation different in premise from landscape, where the important relation is the one between the perspectival construct, or the three grounds, and the viewer.) In still life

    Read more
  • Ralph Gibson

    Castelli Graphics

    Like Groover, Ralph Gibson makes photographs that play on the uncertainty of seeing.

    For Groover the uncertainty resides in appearance; appearance as mirage of light and color. The camera, sensitive as it is to such immateriality, tells us all about appearance; it refuses to say that it is a lie. Perhaps there is nothing else; perhaps whatever else there is, is outside the provenance of seeing. If so, the camera, in seeming to deceive itself, actually undeceives us.

    For Gibson the uncertainty of seeing has to do with how what is seen is interfered with by how it is seen. That is, how the human or

    Read more
  • Liliana Porter

    Center For Inter-American Relations

    Liliana Porter has been making art directly on walls since 1971. Her mastery of this genre is strikingly revealed in Wall Piece, where she is dealing with the interconnection of memory and reality, using both content and form of images as means. Mostly representational and highly associative, the images fall into two main categories—art and time. In the first category there are, for example, what Porter has called “recycled images” like a Botticelli head and Magritte men with top coats and bowler hats, and there are images of the pyramid (an ancient form) and the cylinder and the sphere, (two

    Read more
  • “France Between The Wars: 1925–1940”

    Zabriskie Gallery

    At the time that the show “France Between the Wars” was at the Zabriskie Gallery, that title might better have been on the banner flying outside the International Center. The Zabriskie exhibition was a group show of nineteen photographers with a few pieces of sculpture of the period thrown in for atmosphere. With rare exceptions, the photography faded away beside the sculpture that was supposed to set it off. The blandness of the show can probably be attributed to its having been based on Charles Peignot’s magazine Photographie, which was published primarily during the ’30s. Though I have only

    Read more
  • Jan Groover

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Jan Groover’s last series of photographs met with lavish acclaim. Elusive pictures, mostly of cutlery and glass and leaves, were posed in tableaux that defied visual logic, so heady were the reversals of surface and space, of object and reflection.

    Heirs to painting’s still life, they played havoc with the old convention. Classically, still life is a construct of ratios between depicted objects. (It is thus a form of representation different in premise from landscape, where the important relation is the one between the perspectival construct, or the three grounds, and the viewer.) In still life

    Read more
  • Henri Cartier-Bresson and “Atget’s Gardens”

    The International Center For Photography

    There were a handful of Cartier-Bresson photographs in the Zabriskie show, but somehow in that context they didn’t seem very important. Their energies were neutralized by the environment of the show. To get a more helpful perspective on what was happening in the history of photography at the moment they were made, you had to go up to ICP. For before going upstairs to the Cartier-Bresson retrospective in the main gallery there, you could go to “Atget’s Gardens” in the gallery on the first floor.

    The earliest Cartier-Bresson you were to find upstairs was made in 1929, the latest Atget in 1926 or

    Read more
  • Liliana Porter

    Center For Inter-American Relations

    Liliana Porter has been making art directly on walls since 1971. Her mastery of this genre is strikingly revealed in Wall Piece, where she is dealing with the interconnection of memory and reality, using both content and form of images as means. Mostly representational and highly associative, the images fall into two main categories—art and time. In the first category there are, for example, what Porter has called “recycled images” like a Botticelli head and Magritte men with top coats and bowler hats, and there are images of the pyramid (an ancient form) and the cylinder and the sphere, (two

    Read more
  • Gisele Freund

    Sidney Janis Gallery

    While historical figures are only an invisible presence in Atget’s photographs, in Gisele Freund’s they are the subject. Three quarters of the show at Sidney Janis were portraits, and of these the most remarkable part was a group of three dozen color studies of France’s most celebrated artists and intellectuals—Gide, Malraux, Paul Eluard, Duchamp, Cocteau, de Beauvoir, Sartre, André Breton, Louis Aragon, et al.—photographed in either 1938 or 1939. Talk of France between the wars! What a flabbergasting document this set of photographs was. If I were a collector, to own any one of these portraits

    Read more
  • Patricia Caire

    Artists Space Exhibitions

    Patricia Caire paints black silhouettes on large rectangular sheets of translucent acetate. The imagery revolves around a gun-toting hunter, an image which has concerned the young French artist since her arrival in New York a few years ago. The hunter is the star of an exciting visual drama in which silhouettes, suspended from the ceiling by metal holders, are arranged in maze-like passages to evoke an ambiguous narrative structure in which directions and light are all important. Caire is very interested in image as surface, as material, and as space. In addition to paintings, she works with

    Read more
  • Ned Smyth

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    Installation art has become an imperative instead of a prerogative: it denotes the artist’s seriousness in wanting not only to make an object within a space, but to make it relate to the space. From El Lissitzky’s Proun Space and Kurt Schwjtters’ Merzbau comes the heritage of artists-who-would-be-architects—artists acutely aware that context plays a crucial part in reading content. This type of concern was cruelly dismissed by Frank Lloyd Wright as a type of “inferior desecration” (architects, well aware that no space is neutral, know who’s boss), rather than interior decoration, but would he

    Read more
  • Rudolph Baranik

    Lerner-Heller Gallery

    Rudolph Baranik’s new paintings, Words, deal with the relationship of writing to painting. In each large rectangular canvas—Words #1 is 70 by 55 inches—there are lines of words cramped in a register-like format which covers almost the entire upper surface not quite out to the edges; remaining areas including spaces between words are black. The words immediately draw us to the paintings. We respond to Baranik’s words on canvas in the same way as we do to words on pages, by wanting to read them, by wanting to understand them, by wanting—in other words—to get the message! Baranik is an artist who

    Read more
  • Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, on the other hand, is consistent in style and materials. Eastern Orthodox is the style, the materials are Reynolds Wrap, Saran Wrap, florist foils, and a variety of low-budget Canal Street extras and leftovers. I overheard Schmidt explaining the secret of his excess, “I operate by the drag queen esthetic: always keep the eye moving.” He succeeds.

    Saints and Sinners is painted sky-blue and terra cotta, luminous with icons of foil, floored with linoleum from some abandoned nursery school. Lit by lightbulbs shrouded in colander-fixtures, the room would probably radiate without

    Read more
  • David Shapiro And Stephen Paul Miller

    The Kitchen

    When performance art or just plain theatre carelessly takes on social and political burdens, the results are often pretentiously disjointed, humorless, tediously self-conscious and grave—sincere but deadly—and often leave one cynical, gasping for a taste of the irreverent. This is, of course, a reaction of the earnest viewer, the one who believes that art can be a vehicle for ideas that address serious questions of world-view. But one can only defend what an artist tries to do for just so long. Naive, simple-minded sincerity is not enough, in any arena or from either side.

    A particularly modern

    Read more
  • Ralph Gibson

    Castelli Graphics

    Like Groover, Ralph Gibson makes photographs that play on the uncertainty of seeing.

    For Groover the uncertainty resides in appearance; appearance as mirage of light and color. The camera, sensitive as it is to such immateriality, tells us all about appearance; it refuses to say that it is a lie. Perhaps there is nothing else; perhaps whatever else there is, is outside the provenance of seeing. If so, the camera, in seeming to deceive itself, actually undeceives us.

    For Gibson the uncertainty of seeing has to do with how what is seen is interfered with by how it is seen. That is, how the human or

    Read more
  • “Marking Black”

    Bronx Museum of the Arts

    Exhibitions using a single feature as a basis for cohesion often never gain the added dimension which comes from going beyond preordained connections. “Marking Black,” is distinctively not that kind of show although all the artists represented have been brought together because of their present involvement with black.

    The thesis of curators Jeanette Ingberman and Madeleine Burnside is that just as the “black” paintings of Rauschenberg, Rothko, Stella and Reinhardt self-consciously marked the end of “modernist” painting, so the black works in the current scene have decidedly utilized the same line

    Read more
  • “Annual Juried Exhibition 80”

    The Queens Museum

    The one rule for submission to this “Annual Juried Exhibition 80” was that the artists reside within the geographical boundaries of Queens County. I will now explain the significance of this to readers unfamiliar with the geography of New York. Although New York City is composed of five boroughs, there is only one main center for art and culture—Manhattan. The other boroughs, Queens being one, have traditionally suffered from various art/cultural inferiority complexes vis-à-vis Manhattan. But the situation changed some in the last decade or so. The combination of radically rising rents and

    Read more