New York

Christopher Wilmarth

Studio for the First Amendment

Since the late ’60s, Christopher Wilmarth has made the emotive potential in abstract form a major issue in his sculptures. His current works, “Gnomon’s Parade,” are no exception. Like earlier examples—“Nine Clearings for a Standing Man” comes to mind—simple geometric shapes, repeated structures and serial presentation are stressed.

Still, what separates this group from earlier fare is the more aggressive and individualistic attitudes towards the issue of emotivity.

Tall and looking very constructed, these sculptures are made of steel and glass and have bar-shaped parts which project themselves towards us like the limbs of some mysterious and monolithic personage. While easy to read, each sculpture is difficult to know perceptually, appearing to change before our eyes, depending on the viewing angle, distance and light. While the basic open 3-D structure draws us closer and closer, and finally into the piece itself, each piece still has its optimum viewing point. Once inside the structure, one quickly realizes there’s more to be learned at a respectful distance than from too much intimacy. After all, it’s at a distance that each piece’s high profile, pictorial qualities—cast shadows, reflective/refractive surfaces—are revealed.

The more intensely one experiences these sculptures, the more they make the viewer think. Finally, the encounter boils down to—are the “Gnomons” on parade, or is the viewer? Of course, the sequential installation, requiring one to parade before the pieces, marching from example to example, also creates the sensation that these are fantastic presences in total control of the encounter, a feeling heightened by our tendency to confuse “gnomons” with “gnomes.”

Ronny Cohen