reviews

  • Julian Schnabel

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    Julian Schnabel is pursuing his sentimental education further into an area that might be called the miscegenated sublime. He is a Jew with a crush on Catholicism, a New York schoolboy with a crush on Europe. He is an academician whose academy is made up of potentially any major precedent, immediate or remote. Cimabue, Théodore Géricault, Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Michael Tracy, and Robert Motherwell in particular were some of the many cameo presences sniffed or glimpsed in this show, but, as has been clear for some time now, Schnabel’s “cast” is as mutable as it is

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  • Jim Dow

    Robert Friedus Gallery

    In his earlier work Jim Dow photographed various forms of vernacular architecture, including county courthouses, interiors of bars and poolhalls, soccer stadiums in England, and minor-league baseball parks. Dow was pursuing the sort of photographic archaeological investigation of folk culture practiced by Walker Evans and a slew of followers. In this now-familiar approach typical but heavily connoted artifacts and scenes of contemporary life are presented in as neutral a fashion as possible, with the photographer typically using a large-format camera and great depth of field. Seldom is work of

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  • Jonathan Santlofer

    Pam Adler Gallery

    Jonathan Santlofer produces some of the most aggressive paintings around. At the source of the strong impact made by each of the single panels and diptychs here is the supercharged relationship between the shaped edges and the illusionistic planar images. Surging sensations of colored space in movement and depth characterize these curvy, lushly painted pictorial forms.

    The paintings range in size from Breaking, 1982, which measures 21 1/4 by 20 inches, to the large diptychs like Duet II, 1982, which measures 82 by 79 inches. In the larger works the expansive qualities inherent in Santlofer’s

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  • Helen Oji

    Monique Knowlton

    Helen Oji is fully involved in the current trend toward personalized visualizations, whether of formal issues like colored space or representational issues like the human figure. She first came to the general attention of the New York art world in 1980; the recent works develop the structural and thematic potential inherent in the examples from that period in intriguing ways.

    Space Shuttle, 1982, strongly recalls work such as Flight, 1980, but the newer piece is the bolder creation. Oji continues to use her mixed-media combination of acrylic: rhoplex, and glitter, and the unique shape—the

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  • Keith Milow

    Annina Nosei Gallery

    At least since Van Gogh, there’s been a paradox in our reading of the piling up of paint. The thicker the surface, the less it seems to count as surface; the more strictly physical the surface seems—the less it carries the burden of representational use—the more susceptible it seems to being read as an expressive sign, the victim of our projections. Painting long ago became a suggestive tabula rasa, a textual vacuum filled by the audience’s expectations of profound meaning. It is as if calling attention to the surface for its own sake signaled the collapse of its power as a signifier,

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  • Bill Komoski

    Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

    With Milow one has a sense of fresh snow on an old trail; with Bill Komoski the snow has turned to slush. There’s the same expressive swirl in Komoski (the swirl is clearly in this season—a sort of modified expressionist spill, controlled to the point of swagger); and I’d almost swear that certain strategies in the deployment of paint, from marshaling the strokes like lines of force in a military battle diagram to using them to despoil (or unpack, depending on how you want to see it) a scene, were also the same in Komoski and Milow. But Komoski is an arrogant virtuoso, drawing with dapper

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  • Max Weber

    Jewish Museum and Forum Gallery

    The problem of Max Weber is the problem of the Jewish artist, the problem, as the Jewish Museum’s catalogue tells us, of an artist from a devout Orthodox Jewish household that—no doubt partially on iconoclastic grounds—proscribed art. Clement Greenberg, in his brief but brilliant essay on Franz Kafka, puts the problem this way: “But might not all art, ‘prosaic’ as well as ‘poetic,’ begin to appear falsifying to the Jew who looked closely enough? And when did a Jew ever come to terms with art without falsifying himself somehow? Does not art always make one forget what is literally

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  • Jörg Immendorff

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Of all the German painters arriving on these shores, Jörg Immendorff is perhaps the most difficult for Americans to comprehend. The German cultural references are unfamiliar and certainly less pressing to us than to a German audience, the handling seems relatively klutzy after our tutelage in the slicknesses of high abstraction and photo-generated or formalistic realism, and the imagery and figuration are executed with a playful, childlike, almost whimsical casualness which is altogether alien to our expectation of media-derived, rhetorically transparent imagery. Also, for us, political art is

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  • Rebecca Howland

    ABC No Rio

    Rebecca Howland’s Brainwash, a big, ugly, confused, and confusing Rube Goldberg of a sculpture, is a provocative paradigm for a moral, municipally scaled artwork. Howland is attempting a complex ecological and political narrative using a traditional municipal ornament, the public fountain; her fountain, however, is no panacea for parched urban wayfarers. Too opinionated to relax into being an oasis, Brainwash delineates and challenges the symbiotic relationship of energy plunder and, pun intended, power.

    Howland’s fountain begins and ends with incredible resistance, almost as if its very shape

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  • Gina Wendkos

    Studio 54

    Up through her performance of Blue Blood at P.S.1 last spring, Gina Wendkos was doing primarily installations of living sculpture involving ever-increasing numbers of people and filling ever greater amounts of time. Story lines were not forthcoming and pacing was jettisoned in favor of an antistructure that spread out over time rather than rising to a climax. Insofar as the performances tended to be public events rather than self-referred theatricals, the format was perfect. (Cast a cold eye on life, on death/Pedestrian, pass by.) One encountered Wendkos’ productions in Washington Square, on

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  • Stephen Mueller

    Annina Nosei Gallery

    First scenario: Stephen Mueller’s paintings are a reactionary reprise of lyrical abstraction, beautiful but enervated; glamour under glass, they are sustained by an exhaustive battery of cosmetics and prostheses (stain, impasto, hachure, scumbling, scribble) detached from conceptual or emotional moorings to become free-floating, painterly items, an inventory of stock. A wan attempt to keep up with fashion (two suggestions of Jedd Garet-like figures) seems sadly foolish and ill advised.

    Second scenario: Mueller’s paintings are an act of protective coloration in the service of extended life. Hidden

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  • Steve Keister

    Blum-Helman Gallery

    From Georges de la Tour's incandescent figures to Dan Flavin's burlesques, artists have attended to the conundrum of emanating light. Steve Keister, too—witness the way he dims his installation space by blinkering the spots and training them exclusively on the painted interiors of his sculptures. The result is a seemingly sourceless beaming of light; the works appear to glow from within, but there is no trace of a controlling mechanism inside, Glamorama, for example, is a mannequin filled with light that enters through a hole in the top of the head which one has to stand on tiptoe to see.

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  • Venturi, Rauch, and Scott Brown

    Max Protetch

    Given the frequency with which architects have been exhibiting in art galleries, this show of projects by Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown is long over due. The theoretical primacy of Robert Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966) and Learning from Las Vegas (coauthored with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour, 1972); the firm's seminal effect on the development of Postmodernism in architecture, now descended (by its partners' own admission) into furbelows of historical quotation and chromatic slush; and the scope of the architects' influence as a whole, argue persuasively

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  • Cindy Sherman

    Metro Pictures

    Only a few words are due on Cindy Sherman's recent show—words elicited as much by the general response and typecasting of her work as by anything. It is barely a year since Sherman first exhibited her large, emphatic color prints depicting extreme psychological or emotional states. These were the images that produced storms of opinions, deluges of writing, and that somehow managed to overshadow her earlier, more modest and (perhaps) more mysterious black and white works. They established a “norm,” a characteristic Sherman “look ” against which other work might be judged—an odd event

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  • Joel Shapiro

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    The career of Joel Shapiro can be seen to encapsulate two histories, his own and that of post-1970 art, for it coincides with and summarizes many of the issues central to the period. As Roberta Smith writes in the catalogue of this show, it is a highly “representative” career, one which registers with barometric efficacy the demise of Minimalism, the schismatic questions posed by mid-'70s art, and the channelling of the latter, largely under the aegis of psychology and representation, into the art of the current period. This retrospective of 40 sculptures and 16 drawings, organized by the Whitney

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  • Keith Haring

    Tony Shafrazi Gallery

    A new mythology is possible in the Space Age. where we will again have heroes and villains, as regards intentions towards this planet. I feel that the future of writing is in Space, not Time.

    —William S. Burroughs

    Keith Haring's creatures, human and not, are basically units, quanta in a pictographic language. After his radiant baby and barking dog images appeared all over the city, Haring began to evolve more complex compositions, scenes with tiers of massed, animated outline figures brandishing, grappling, metamorphosing. Human and animal figures and alien epiphanies joined with snakes who,

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