new-york

Pat Steir

Droll/Kolbert Gallery

The title of Pat Steir’s new show is “Rembrandt’s Hairline” which clues us into the ironic side of these meditative and critical paintings about painting, and accounts, in no small way, for their fascination. In a series of four large diptychs (70 by 144 inches), Steir directs us to the 20th-century realm of the gestural, where abstract markings carry the authority of words and bear the same basic messages about art and life traditionally reserved for representational forms, like those of Rembrandt’s. The diptychs all have the same format, two equal-size canvases (70 inches square), each with a centered square framed by narrow bands. Inside the centered square there is a marking which recalls the “additive element” in Kasimir Malevich’s painting charts, and this is the key to the rest of the painting. Like Malevich’s “additive elements,” Steir’s markings are schematic signs of specific

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