reviews

  • Richard Hambleton

    Alexander F. Milliken Gallery

    I’ve tended to like Richard Hambleton’s street works when I’ve encountered them around town. His life-sized photo silhouettes picturing the artist in an insouciant attitude of repose were pasted on construction walls and vacant buildings uptown; the images were silly and trendy and right for where they happened to be. More recently Hambleton’s painted black shadow figures bloomed all over Soho and points east. Executed so that a halo of splatter lent an expressionistic non-edge to the figure, Hambleton’s shadows were a little creepier than their photo precedents. Their positioning tended to

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  • Carl Apfelschnitt

    Olsen Gallery

    There are inevitably periods in history when glamour becomes a kind of weapon of oppression, when the materialization of luxe becomes politically questionable. And there is, in Carl Apfelschnitt’s paintings, such a will to glamour and such an urge for luxe that I found them giving me the same sinking feeling I had when I saw Nancy Reagan smiling out at me from the cover of Interview wearing her “Christmas Red Adolfo.” In its monumental preciousness, in its refusal to connect with the realities of the world in which it exists, in its nabobery lifted to unnecessary heights of refinement, the work

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  • Ed McGowin

    Lolas-Jackson Gallery

    “Inscape” is the term Ed McGowin uses to describe his brand of visual story-telling. The term encompasses both his three-dimensional sculptures and his two-dimensional wall reliefs. The sculptures, such as the artist’s monument to William Faulkner in Mississippi, are a strange marriage of architecture and stage design whereby neo-Modernist structures are punctuated by windows and/or peepholes looking into sets which tellingly elaborate on a subject (the Faulkner piece is a tableau meditation on As I Lay Dying). The wall reliefs are brilliantly orchestrated explosions of right-angled fragments,

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  • “Two Titled”

    New Museum

    “Two Titled” was the moniker for a twin bill of performance playlets, Bissie at the Baths and Counter Angel, presented by the Los Angeles group, Pop-Up Productions. Each was a monologue for a female writer/performer in a life-size setting modeled after the pop-up scenery of children’s books; the cartoonlike qualities of these environments with figures unavoidably also referred to Red Grooms and Roy Lichtenstein. The Pop-Up versions successfully straddled the sculpture/set fence, being quirky and detailed enough to be interesting in themselves, and theatrically specific enough to work as performance

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  • Louisa Chase

    Robert Miller Gallery

    Louisa Chase’s recent paintings and drawings deal in the visual politics of seeing and feeling. In romantic picture-making of Chase’s type success is clearly a matter of image—what is important is the power of the image to persuade as sentiment and provoke as emotion, rather than any question of technique or color. At issue here, then, are not only the contents but the compositions.

    Landscape is the major theme in this group of works, although in canvases such as Storm, 1981, certain motifs (a floating hand, for example) recall the artist’s involvement with figurative subjects in the “Lives of

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  • D. Jack Solomon

    Pam Adler Gallery

    D. Jack Solomon continues to center his droll pictorial fantasies around animals. Where the jungle and the zoo were the major themes in his last show, in 1980, cats now provide the main motif. In fact, the artist says the starting point for these pieces was the idea of a “cat coming in from the side.” This idea is rendered with inventive formal variations in these ambiguous narrative drawings and constructions.

    Certain devices in the drawings, with their frames within the frame, decorated margins, and plays on spatial and volumetric illusionism, display an interest in traditional Persian miniatures,

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  • Jimmy De Sana

    Bonlow Gallery And Stefanotti Gallery

    We all have to deal with conflicting pressures from time to time. Sometimes we go one way, sometimes another, but usually it is good to resist for a while, to allow ourselves the time to make a considered decision. Jimmy De Sana should definitely have resisted the pressure to paint, at least until he had a better idea of what it was all about. I know everyone is doing it these days, but that is a lame excuse. To succumb to that pressure, and to make the succumbing interesting to anybody else, one must have some idea of what such a surrender might mean, what it might accomplish. De Sana betrays

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  • Marcus Leatherdale

    The Clocktower

    We might say that Marcus Leatherdale’s problem, like Jimmy De Sana’s, is that he has allowed fashionable concerns to direct his work as an artist. But to say this is to turn a generously blind eye to useful distinctions. It is true that the press release for this show claims that Leatherdale’s photographs transcend fashion and ascend to the realm of art, but that is simply wishful thinking. They are nothing but fashion, and rather tired, overfamiliar-looking fashion at that.

    There has always been an interesting interplay between art and fashion, each stealing and modifying ideas that originally

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  • Sculpture Garden

    Ward’s Island

    Ward’s Island, in addition to being home of the Manhattan Psychiatric Center, is where a population of homeless men hang their hats, and it is a grim, ugly, dramatic mess of a place. A de Chirico– style metaphysical mood pervades it, a mood supplied by the huge, viaduct-shaped, concrete ramp of the Triboro Bridge, which slices into the island’s eastern shore at an almost inconceivably nasty angle (with traffic creating the music of ten thousand buzzards); given focus by the mute, monolithic buildings; and given meaning by the isolate human figures wandering down paths—many with a perpetual,

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  • “Northern Visions,” Bard Breivik, Olle Kaks, Lars Englund

    Bonlow Gallery

    Museums can clearly be bought—by fashion designers and nations. Valentino at the Met, and Britain, Italy, and now the Scandinavian countries at the Guggenheim. Are times so hard that governments must consistently be called upon to pick up the tab? Is it that, at a time when the credit of both nations and art seems overextended—when the one-world idea is blocked by the stagnant idea of the nation and when most artists have nothing to tell us about except their careers—each needs the other for support? Two weak planks make one strong board, as the proverb says, so maybe two pretensions equal one

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  • “New American Museums”

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    This is an informative, tonic, and crucial exhibition dealing with what is as important as art itself—the setting for art. The plans for seven museums in progress were displayed: Cesar Pelli’s gallery expansion and residential tower of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes; Shin’enKan, to be built at a still undetermined site by Bruce Goff; the extension of the Portland (Maine) Museum of Art, designed by Henry N. Cobb of I. M. Pei’s firm; Richard Meier’s High Museum of Art in Atlanta; the west wing of the Virginia Museum of Fine

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  • Aaron Siskind

    Midtown Y Gallery

    In the late ’30s the Feature Group of the Photo League, a New York photography organization which would be hounded out of existence during the McCarthy era, produced a series of documentary projects about the city. The most extensive of these was “Harlem Document,” produced in 1938–40 with the help of black sociologist Michael Carter, who also wrote the text for the finished version. “Harlem Document” was exhibited at various locations around New York; a book was prepared, but never published. An exhibition that attempted to reconstruct this original “Harlem Document” (or what remains of

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  • “After De Stijl”

    Prakapas Gallery

    In the late ’20s and early ’30s a remarkable group of photographers from throughout Europe lived and worked in Holland, drawn both by its political neutrality and its thriving art scene. These immigrants—who included László Moholy-Nagy, Paul Citroen, Erwin Blumenfeld, Erich Salomon, and Germaine Krull—combined with local photographers and artists such as Piet Zwart, Cas Oorthuys, Paul Schuitema, and others to form an exceptionally fertile photographic milieu. Central to this surprising concurrence of artists were the various strains of Modernism (especially Constructivism) the arrivals brought

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  • Sarah Charlesworth

    Olsen Gallery

    In three of the four pieces here, Sarah Charlesworth continues her literal deconstruction of photographs. In each large work she cuts up a photographic reproduction lifted from the ocean of anonymous illustration photographs in books, then rephotographs some or all of the resulting fragments in approximately the same relationship they had in the original, but separated and floating against a black background. Blown up to a commanding three by five feet, and with transparent colored gels applied to some sections, Charlesworth’s constructions take on an implacable sheen and presence.

    By gearing

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