reviews

  • Robert Barry

    Leo Castelli Gallery

    What happens when a de-materialist decides to go materialist? In the case of Robert Barry, fireworks! He executed a large (125 by 1963/4 inches) untitled painting in flat red latex directly on the side wall of the gallery’s inner office, a semi-public space. While relating in type to traditional mural painting and in size to really big paintings done by the really big boys in the ’50s and ’60s in sensibility, this work is clearly at home with the conceptual/dematerialized fare for which Barry is justly celebrated. In fact, Barry succeeds both in conceptualizing and dematerializing the form of

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  • Charles Biederman

    Borgenicht Gallery

    This retrospective is the first one-person show which American artist Charles Biederman has had in New York in a number of years. Although Biederman spent some time here in the ’30s, he has preferred to live in a place called Red Wing, Minnesota, since 1942. Still, he has never been isolated, having acquired a considerable European following over the years. In England, he is regarded by artists like Victor Pasmore, Kenneth and Mary Martin, Gillian Wise, and Anthony Hill as a primary influence on them, and they share the important Constructivist tendency in post-World War II British art. In 1969,

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  • Alfred Hitchcock

    8th Street Playhouse

    The comically brief 3-D or stereo movie cycle was launched in late 1952 and peaked that summer. The craze was long over by the time Alfred Hitchcock finished his stereoscopic opus, Dial M For Murder, 1954, and the film was released flat. Belatedly, the original version has premiered at a lower Manhattan revival theater as part of a pre-holographic, film-as-installation 3D retrospective.

    Taken from a hit Broadway play, Dial M is a genteel thriller. Ex-Wimbledon champion Ray Milland decides to do away with Grace Kelly, his wealthy, unfaithful wife, and blackmails an old schoolmate, Anthony Dawson,

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  • Ken Jacobs

    Collective for Living Cinema

    Ken Jacobs has worked in 3-D in one form or another (film, slide projection, shadow play) for over a decade. His current project, The Impossible, involves the stereo transformation of a 1905 chase film, Tom, Tom, the Piper’s Son (the source for his 1969 “structural” feature as well). The Impossible’s first two chapters used phased double projections and polaroid glasses to simulate volume and depth; the two new chapters employ a technique derived from the Swiss “binocular” artist Alphons Schilling that induces a glasses-free 3-D through the rapid oscillation of two slightly differing images.

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  • Alex Katz

    Marlborough Gallery | New York

    Donald Kuspit has already noted the “doppelgängers” in the recent work of Alex Katz, seeing them as “a way of suggesting a tentative opposition where there seems only unified image.” The opposition may be “tentative” because, finally, Katz believes, strangely for such a secularist, in an almost mystical oneness. There are not only twins in Katz’ paintings; all his characters look like siblings, members of the family Stonewaller. This and their famous flattened-out quality make it clear that Katz is rejecting what Robbe-Grillet calls “the myth of depth.” Art, he says, is all surface. (Why else

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  • Jo Baer and Bruce Robbins

    112 Workshop

    Established in the ’60s and ’70s as a Minimalist of great formal rigor, Jo Baer has gone from hard-edged to organic, from contained and carefully graduated color to scumbled hue, from four-inch thick stretchers to unstretched canvas hung from cardboard tubes. “To change one’s habits has the smell of death,” goes a Portuguese proverb, but for Baer “style is the dress of thought,” and she has merely put a new one over her own body of ideas.

    Carter Ratcliff, writing about Baer’s work in Artforum in 1972, remarked on two concerns that have remained constant: “doubleness” and “the equation of what is

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  • Peter Blume

    Terry Dintenfass Gallery

    Peter Blume’s style might be healthier for a little change. It’s hard to keep the word “corny” out of a discussion of some of his productions. Perhaps the most difficult thing for an artist to know is when going against the current is brave and useful and when it is only blind. Blume’s work has looked the same since 1940, a phlegmatic, flatfooted realism that manages to make the mural in a 1969 homage to the artists who restored flood-damaged Florence look like a WPA project. Do any artists wear smocks anymore? These do. It’s amazing that they left their berets at home. Recollection of the Flood

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  • Beverly Naidus

    Franklin Furnace

    Beverly Naidus’ Apply Within—a simultaneously casual and elaborate installation about alienation, bureaucracy and illusion—was in the window of Franklin Furnace in March. A simulated room, curling fake wood contact tape on the walls, held two straight chairs facing out and a sign reading Please Be Seated. The window glass was haphazardly spotted with scrawled notices like those found on lower Broadway and in other small manufacturing areas: We Have What You Want; Opportunity Knocks; Fringe Benefits; Paid Vacations; Make the Future Happen; Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs; College Graduates Welcome.

    When one

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  • Vito Acconci

    The Kitchen and Sonnabend Gallery

    Three works by Vito Acconci at the Kitchen are accompanied by a puzzling press release. “Until recently,” it reads, “Acconci’s installations have been built into a space, developing from the particular characteristics of that space. Currently, the installations are more like vehicles passing through a space and stopped by that space, or like devices that can be hooked onto a space.” In these terms, then, it seems that the “cultural space”—one of a sequence of inflections of a neutral concept—is being directed towards transition. Movable Floor is a room covered with immovable roller skates. Four

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  • Robert Morris

    Sonnabend Gallery

    The poster for Robert Morris’ Labyrinths—Voice—Blind Time in 1974 showed the artist stripped to the waist, in helmet and dark glasses, shackled at wrists and neck. Pushed to the breaking point, machismo, individualism in excelsis, seemed compromised by the forces it encapsulated, sadism defined by an equal and opposite masochism, with the result that the artist and his artwork, equated temporarily, were oiled and masked (recurrent Morris motifs) and sealed off absolutely as sheer narcissism demanded a willing loss of identity. He seemed to be saying that/these days, when Prometheus buys his own

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  • Dennis Oppenheim

    Sonnabend Gallery

    In 1978 Dennis Oppenheim made a videotape called Whipping into Shape in which he strode around what looked like a Barry Le Va distributional piece swearing at the wooden elements and lashing them with a bullwhip, until he realized finally that he, not the wood, was being punished. As imaginary slave-driver he was prepared to flog even dead wood in his passion for identity, structure, “truth,” “connections”—the metaphors changed as the tape continued. Oppenheim, as usual, was intent on cathartic activity so melodramatic that it can resemble explosion or exorcism. Only a return to the Sublime of

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  • Lucio Pozzi

    John Weber Gallery

    For one who holds to terms like artist and style, the work of Lucio Pozzi is hard to consume. This is intended: Pozzi uses many many forms, all equally, in order to confound our sense of relative value. The question is, what criteria is offered instead?

    In the show one came upon cartoons, pointillist watercolors, constructivist wood pieces, modernist paintings, paintings with photographs, etc. I say “pointillist” and “constructivist” impressionistically: here they are not terms to be reinscribed (nor, thank God, happy quotes that make for bland synthesis). “I don’t mix incompatibles,” Pozzi says,

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  • Mary Miss

    Max Protetch

    There are three new structures by Mary Miss, all scaled to the gallery and all termed “Falsework.” The show also includes much information in the form of reference—notes, preparatory drawings, and photographs of work built elsewhere.

    None of the “False works” are single structures. Falsework: Screen consists of three wood platforms set on the floor ten feet or so in front of a wood screen; behind the screen is a boxlike form on stilts. The structure looks familiar, yet, as it is open to any address and is bare of any marks, it is hard to say quite what it is or what its sources may be. Here one

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  • Sarah Charlesworth

    Tony Shafrazi Gallery

    When Andy Warhol in the ’60s used newspaper images, documentations of destruction and disaster, one was wholly conscious of their media origins; often they were either pictures of familiar historic moments, or they appeared along with that bold-faced, instantaneous alarm-signal, the newspaper headline. Warhol may have made the peculiar genre of newspaper disaster reporting “art,” but in his work its identity as media remained intact. “Media” remained the source of interest and material for contemplation as phenomena.

    When Sarah Charlesworth in her latest series, “Stills,” isolates disaster images

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  • Laurie Anderson

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    After Freud it may sometimes seem that a man dreams primarily so that his dreams may be interpreted; objects and events in dreams exist or happen only symbolically, to be decoded into needs and desires. Laurie Anderson’s “dreams” in the installation Dark Dogs, American Dreams subvert such a rudimentary appropriation of Freud, their context and “meaning” skewed, premised on an elaborate pun. If the “dark dogs” part of her piece offers tribute to Freud, then the “American Dreams” part also pays homage to Horatio Alger and media contributions to (or transformations of) that vision. Finally, however,

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  • Ernest Trova

    The Pace Gallery | 508 W 25th Street

    The protagonists in Ernest Trova’s “Falling Man Series” were highly polished metal mannequins moving resignedly through a programmed journey into oblivion. In the new “Poet/Table Figure Series,” the protagonists have assumed a radically different form though they act out a similar theme. Like the image of the “falling man,” the small pocky sheet metal silhouettes in this new series (which have been welded singly or paired inside various architectural stage settings), are likewise caught in an artificial, delimiting system. The major difference between the two series lies in the gestural, spatial

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  • Peter Saari

    O.K. Harris Gallery

    How can we resist the temptation to reach into the past, into that overflowing well of artifacts and ideas, when it offers itself for plunder like an over-anxious lover? Few artists, today, seem willing or able to refrain; they fill their works with as many historical references as they can carry. They appear to be concerned with the countless allusions which materialize when diverse visual attitudes are melded together. Going against the grain of this current fascination for images which embrace the doctrines of cross-cultural, a-temporal eclecticism, Peter Saari has reached into the unchaste

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  • Mimi Smith

    55 Mercer Gallery

    It seems to be standard practice in our technological culture to perceive politics and daily life as separate and unrelated aspects of society, and thus to abstract large social issues from the effect they have on personal existence. But I’ve noticed that since the advent of the women’s movement, thanks to feminist research in this direction, more and more people have recognized that such a schism is unrealistic, and have begun to explore—through artistic and other means—the ways in which public policies and private lives are interconnected. The artist Mimi Smith is one such person; these

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  • William Mortensen

    Daniel Wolf Gallery

    It seems almost as if I’m mouthing a cliché when I say that, since the ’60s, there has been a progressive blurring of the boundaries between once separate art media and between art forms and popular imagery. Although artists have been working in the interfaces between various media consistently for almost two decades their efforts have only recently begun to affect the policies and attitudes of curators, critics and historians, who are now looking to explore this wholistic genre and even setting up situations in which interactions between media can take place. As two recent shows attest, these

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  • “Frames”

    Hunter Gallery

    Whereas Mortensen was a still photographer who incorporated the resources and methods of filmmakers into his imagery, the thirteen artists on view in the “Frames” show are filmmakers who were asked by director Dorothy Zeidman to exhibit static, two-dimensional objects that relate to their film work. “At the very center of the film medium and the cinematic apparatus there is the frame,” Zeidman wrote in the press release. “The ‘motion’ of motion pictures is an illusion, based on a progression of still pictures or frames changed so rapidly that objects or people appear to move.” The works on view

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