• “New Perspectives”

    Wave Hill

    The park, with its gardens, lawns, and arboretums, is the museum of nature, a monumental enclosure of value. Pleasure and education are conjoined in leisurely strolls past botanical specimens in picturesque arrangements while, in the truly successful park, various views unfold. At their best these views are both short, within the park itself, and also stretch to a wider horizon beyond the park boundaries, allowing for a sublime (one hopes) comparison of differences. New York’s Central Park is a masterpiece of this sort, with its carefully planned naturalness framed by the more obvious artifice

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  • John Chamberlain

    Dia Art Foundation

    “In what I do, constant hard work is not necessary; my drive is based on laziness. . . . I don’t mind admitting that I’m lazy because laziness is, for me, an attribute”: thus John Chamberlain on John Chamberlain, in a statement accompanying this show. It’s hard not to like a man with that kind of attitude—an attitude that allowed Chamberlain to do things that, in the ’60s and careful early ’70s, were verboten. It was a time when artists worried a lot. Certain things were not allowed—for example, paint on sculpture. Applied chroma was nothing, formalists opined, but a skin, and therefore it was

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  • Keith Sonnier

    Leo Castelli Gallery

    The hum of theology was present in Keith Sonnier’s work this spring. Two groups of sculptures were shown, the first describing a godforsaken West, the second a polytheism of the East—Hindu deities. In the gallery’s larger room stood several human-scale rectilinear constructions, of extruded aluminum finished in a mat black (and in one instance with an equally dense red). There was a tripod/anthropomorph joined to a portable radio wheezing static. There was a hard-knocks barricade of perpendiculars to which a standard pay phone was affixed. A tiny Sony color TV blinked autistically. Video and

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  • Fiona Templeton

    Art on the Beach

    For the past several summers Creative Time, Inc., has presented an installation-and-performance program on the Battery Park City landfill, a Nelson Rockefeller-era dream which will eventually house some 30,000 new downtown New Yorkers. This odd, urban, ersatz beach—acres of empty, sandy flats—is an imposing location, and some invited artists have simply marked off an area for their artwork or performance and allowed the unusual ambience to function as an atypical backdrop spicing up typical work. Other artists have been more provocative, mapping out and presenting site-specific pieces for this

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  • John Ahearn

    877 Intervale Avenue

    John Ahearn was not trained in sculpture. Schooled in painting, he switched to filmmaking; working on monster movies he became involved in designing the creatures’ faces, and also in casting his actors’ faces as an intermediate stage in the preparation of makeup. He enjoyed the process of sculpture-making more than filmmaking, and moulded his first series of public castings in the South Bronx in the prominent display window of the Fashion Moda gallery. Garish painting and bravura expressions reveal the theatricalized, carnival atmosphere of these early sessions. In time, the work fine-tuned

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  • Susan Eder

    Siegel Contemporary Art and Marian Goodman Gallery

    In many of her earlier photographic works Susan Eder plays one system of meaning off against another. This tactic has been familiar in art since Duchamp’s Ready-mades, in which the formal qualities of common objects are ironically contrasted with their mundane functions. Eder’s pieces too are humorous and heady.

    In this earlier work Eder treats natural phenomena—clouds, leaves—according to various systems of analysis and ordering. In each piece in her “Ghost Images” series of 1976–79, for example, she juxtaposes two postage-stamp-size color photographs, one of an animal, bird, or fish, and the

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  • “Primer (for Raymond Williams)”

    Artists Space Exhibitions

    Group Material’s “Primer (for Raymond Williams)” is collaborative, its intent political, its participants diverse in age, gender, and class, its setting noncommercial. This impeccable correctness could no doubt be annoying to those who implicitly worry about political art developing a hegemony, challenging pure art, however defined, to a duel from which only one will emerge alive.

    Be that as it may, it might be more useful to abandon the debate over whether collaborations like this one are propaganda rather than art and to see them in a protean relationship with other efforts analogous to that

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  • “New Work on Paper 2”

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    “New Work on Paper 2” is the second in the Museum of Modern Art’s series of exhibitions designed to investigate emerging trends in recent drawings. As a whole the series is an exemplary endeavor, permitting, through its small number of artists, a precision of focus impossible in large surveys and allowing, in the same manner, an experimental or exploratory thrust alien to the blockbuster show, which has tended to dominate the Modern’s programs. In general it fails, through the desire (evident in the expansion of the “drawing” denomination to include all works on paper) to show that drawing can

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  • “Culture Stations”

    The Urban Center

    Paris’ Metro has always been prominent among subway systems, and when the City of Paris began its renovation program, the role of “supreme station” was rapidly conferred on the Louvre stop. I’ve always found its look over Frenchified, what with the slick beiges, dramatic lighting and the photos and vitrines tastefully advertising the museum’s wares, but American public officials are confirmed in their admiration. In Spring 1981 the Urban Mass Transportation Agency awarded a $128,000 federal planning grant to New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the purpose of developing

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  • “Public Vision”

    White Columns

    Another group show spanning the sultry summer weeks, this selection of work by 12 women artists was organized by three of its members—Gretchen Bender, Nancy Dwyer, and Cindy Sherman. Their aim was to present a range of work that, though using the different media of painting, photography, and sculpture, shared a general approach and a public concern. They also wished (as expressed in a written statement) to group artists who, though having exhibited in a range of contexts, had never been placed together before. I take that to mean, placed together as women.

    I find the title somewhat stronger than

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  • “Tron”

    Tron is another in the current crop of glossy tech movies. It is a cute and flashy piece of propaganda which argues for democratized access to computer technology. This scenario places it amid the “us versus them-isms,” that never-ending litany of unbalanced dualities which results in the classic narrative-film conventions of cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, and the good and the bad.

    On the side of “good” are Alan and Lora (Bruce Boxleitner and Cindy Morgan), who are employees of a vast media conglomerate called Encom, and Flynn (the wonderfully heroic slob Jeff Bridges), a maverick whiz

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