new-york

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 mural painting here. He does this, first of all, by printing some words in a ghostlike and, compared to the large surface, relatively tiny script.

Now, knowing who Barry is, we are willing to read the words. But since he is being true to the old modernist notion of “let’s make it demanding,” the

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