New York

“Critical Perspectives”

P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center

This exhibition had a lot of élan. The question is what existed beyond the exciting novelty of it all, beyond the aura of “hot flow” Edit deAk wrote of in her curatorial essay. Eight critics wrote such essays, making claims for the works they chose: do the works live up to the claims? We have Linda Burn-ham’s California art of “self-indulgence,” Ronny Cohen’s “Energism,” Edit deAk’s charisma room, John Howell’s artists who use “visual art forms [to] reflect and expand upon their individual performance activities,” Thomas Lawson’s muffled melodramas, Joseph Masheck’s neo-formalism, Peter Plagens’ revivalist abstraction, and Marcia Tucker’s violence room. There is a good deal of unwitting nostalgia in these selections, and a confirmation—with the limited exceptions of Masheck’s and to a lesser extent Plagens’ sections—of the new mindlessness in art, in rebellion against the intellectuality

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