reviews

  • “New Video From Antarctica Volume I”

    The Kitchen

    Over the past decade video partners Kit Fitzgerald and John Sanborn have shown themselves to be exceptionally adept collaborators, providing a visual fluidity to works by other artists including Robert Ashley, Twyla Tharp, David Van Tieghem, and Peter Gordon. At the end of last year Sanborn, Fitzgerald, and Gordon formed a group called Antarctica to produce music videotapes and “dedicated to the proposition that video and music are created equal.” It’s a nice notion, one that suggests the rich genre rock videotapes could become; on most rock tapes now the video merely illustrates the song.

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  • Fiona Templeton

    The Performing Garage

    Fiona Templeton’s three programs were in every technical way as far from the scale and splendor of Foreman’s Egyptology as they could be, yet once again the proscenium arch was tightly in place, the audience secure in its space and its role. Thought/Death, 1980, the oldest of the pieces, was still the most gripping and explosive, a rare example of minimalism infused with dramatic presence. In the “Thought” section of the work Templeton stood in front of the audience for perhaps ten minutes trying to think of something to say and never managing to do so (the only word, repeated several times,

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  • April Gornik

    Edward Thorp Gallery

    The two questions that April Gornik’s paintings raise turn out to be intimately related to each other. Why schematize nature to the extent she does, and why depict scenes that are half stereotypical nearly to the point of parody, half surreal in their uniqueness? Her style flings its flat commonplace over both ordinary and extraordinary landscapes to render the transitions from one to the other seamless, in fact nonexistent, with the effect that the eerie becomes at once familiar and even more eerie. But whose eeriness is it? The routineness makes the images seem sourceless; nature is made an

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  • Joanna Pousette-Dart

    Susan Caldwell Gallery

    Both Gornik and Joanna Pousette-Dart choose styles that are a given, like picking from the Sears catalogue of modes—they take one perfunctorily so as to get on with painting. This use of anonymous, ready-made, or conformist style connects with the work of artists like Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer, whose pictures and sayings seem to have no author, only the voice of authority. In their character as axioms the phrases these artists use seem to have always existed, to have had no beginning, like proverbs (particularly in Holzer’s case). Surely this is a tactic that implicitly undermines belief

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  • David Hockney

    Andre Emmerich Gallery

    Extending the idea behind his recent large grids of Polaroid SX-70s, David Hockney now uses a small automatic camera to photograph scenes in clusters—often dozens and dozens—of overlapping shots. When he gets his pocket-sized color prints back from the lab he assembles them into large composite pictures which approximately follow some major lines of the original scene. He seems to shoot his swaths of photos quickly and without a definite plan, so the resulting collages are asymmetrical and jagged around the edges, like global maps made according to some odd system. (Composite aerial photographs

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  • Hans Haacke

    John Weber Gallery

    Hans Haacke’s recent exhibition included three disparate but internally related works. One was the two-part Hommage à Marcel Broodthaers shown last summer at Documenta 7 but here altered to play the original gilt-framed, roped-off oil painting of Ronald Reagan against a different enlarged photograph, one taken at an antinuclear rally in New York. Another was a mock monument, a replica of the Mark 12A Nuclear Warhead which apposed the slogan of the missile’s maker, General Electric, to a “capital” pediment bust of the United States President. And in the third work Haacke appended to a large

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  • Ivan Kliun

    Matignon Gallery

    This show furthered the exposure of New York audiences to the rigorous, sophisticated sensibility of Ivan Kliun, a leading member of the Russian avant-garde whose work is still relatively unknown here. Born in Kiev in 1870, he belonged chronologically to the generation of Russian Post-Impressionists and Symbolists represented respectively by Alexandre Benois and Victor Borissov-Mussatov, both of whom were also born in that year. Kliun, however, after studying art in Kiev, Moscow, and Warsaw and going through a Symbolist phase, in about 1910 chose to ally himself esthetically with the next,

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  • “Multiples By Latin American Artists”

    Franklin Furnace

    This show, curated by Fatima Bercht, offered New York audiences their first extended look at contemporary artists’ books, mail art, and other printed matter by Latin Americans. These forms of expression, free from the usual commercial pressures and constraints of the art market, have provided Latin American artists with alternative means of communication with their audiences, according to Bercht. The rise in interest in multiples in the region coincided with the increased availability of industrial printing and reproductive technology that took place in Latin America during the ’60s and ’70s;

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  • “Le Bourgeois Avant-Garde”

    The Ridiculous Theatrical Company

    For the last fifteen years Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company has sent up every imaginable target, among them such subjects as Richard Wagner (Der Ring Gott Farblonjet), Hamlet (Stage Blood), and soap opera (Love’s Tangled Web). The most recent object of Ridiculous wit is the “avant-garde,” shrewdly chosen at a time when a ’60s-based performing-arts avant-garde has achieved unprecedented and widespread public notice. Of course, artistic director Ludlam is experimental and “avant” too; his rewrite of Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, in a script of stinging wit, bad jokes, topical

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  • “Specimens Of Photomechanical Printing From The Collection Of Samuel Wagstaff”

    Grolier Club

    This exhibition of specimens of photomechanical printing was not the first in this country in recent times; several years ago the Marcuse Pfeiffer Gallery mounted a show of process reproductions. But that show was neither historical nor representative. It was conceived rather as a gesture and an experiment, since the photographic market was dealing in what were actually reproductions of photographs without taking much critical or theoretical recognition of the fact. The Wagstaff exhibition, in outline at least, was a historical survey of most of the known photomechanical processes since 1840,

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  • Tehching Hsieh And Linda Montano

    While we stand open mouthed at performance spectacles by such artists as Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass, a continuing artwork in Lower Manhattan makes most contemporary art ideas look small indeed. With very little fanfare and no endowments, two artists have tied themselves together for a year. The statement that defines the piece reads: “We, LINDA MONTANO and TEHCHING HSIEH, plan to do a one year performance. We will stay together for one year and never be alone. We will be in the same room at the same time when we are inside. We will be tied together at the waist with an 8 foot rope. We will

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  • Henry Moore

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art

    Henry Moore’s career in effect began with two drawings, Woman Reading, ca. 1926, and The Artist’s Mother, 1927. Both figures have the same fullness of being, yet there is nothing complacent about them; the intentness of the one, the tough stare of the other, are signs of power. Abstracted, they become Moore’s archetypal maternal female, a dream goddess elaborated through a variety of elegant materials and formal innovations yet intact in her primordiality and inevitability. The domesticity of the drawings is worth noting; a kind of benign insularity is conveyed, not without its inner tensions,

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  • Georg Baselitz

    Sonnabend Gallery

    The staging was superb: one imposing figure in the entry room, three heads in the back room. All are wood sculptures marked by paint slashes, saw cuts, and chisel marks, all seemingly made by the same saber. These “marks of dignity and honor” become character traits; neo-primitivism is made into the ultimate psychological sophistication. The figures are at once vitally abstract and like a map of the unconscious. They are a masterful mix of force and meticulous detail, their harshness mitigated by a sense of precise observation of inner life. The look is one of Expressionist arbitrariness, of

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  • Gianni Dessì

    Salvatore Ala

    It’s perhaps best to understand Gianni Dessì’s expressionism by way of that of the Germans, not to make invidious comparisons but to realize the softer, more tenuous character of the Italian version. One feels as if one is dealing with national traits; if stroke conveys tempo, there is certainly a different sense of time in Dessì’s painting than in, let’s say, that of Baselitz. He achieves nothing harsh, nothing really aggressive, even when he tears the center out of a painting—to create a collage effect, but also as if to symbolize entry into an inner world. And his work is almost always

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  • Donna Dennis

    Holly Solomon Gallery

    The two large sculptures in this show, Subway with Silver Girders and Skowhegan Stairway, gain by Donna Dennis’ willingness to increase the overall scale and internal complexities of her work. Skowhegan Stairway is a reprise of the country-architecture theme that runs through her oeuvre in counterpoint with the bits of cityscape. In it she seems to have subtracted a skewed section of a two-story frame house from its surrounds so that the stairwell, a conduit rather than a room, forms the central interior space. An outside doorway, partially canopied, makes an entryway from the white wooden

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  • Joel Shapiro

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    The poignant ambivalence between a very stark kind of representationalism and a more formal, if no less awkward, abstraction evident in all of Joel Shapiro’s mature work has never been better or more accurately articulated than in these five recent sculptures. He forces the stick figure through a rich variety of allusive combinations, comparable in its imagination to the transformations he devised for a compressed house form in the ’70s. If the house could be thought to embody and exploit the architectural analogues inherent in much Minimalist sculpture, the stick figure seems an equally adept

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  • Richard Foreman

    Public Theater

    These are hard times for experimental theater and performance, what with NEA cuts, the dissolution of longstanding groups, and a tendency to jump the Modernist ship through the appropriation of accepted entertainment modes such as Broadway and cabaret. Richard Foreman’s early work was relentlessly phenomenological, experimental, uneventful; over the last ten years, however, he has gone by stages from Modernist minimalism to post-Modernist Romanticism, until today he no longer regards himself as an avant-gardist but as a classical, text-centered playwright. Yet Foreman can no more forget Modernism

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  • The Draughtsman’s Contract

    After taking out the eyes and ripping off the shirt of a picaresque artistic hero, a band of aristocratic gentlemen proceed to murder him while haughtily asking the question, “What is a man without foresight and property?” The answer, aptly illustrated by their victim’s swift demise, is, of course, “nothing.” This final scene from Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtsman’s Contract suggests one reading of the film’s meanderingly intelligent and erratically economic narrative, which cleverly entertains a suite of themes ranging from the primacy of property and power, to the encapsulation of the libidinal

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  • Kenneth Shorr

    Nancy Lurie Gallery

    Kenneth Shorr has a strong sense of the artist’s obligation to speak out against oppression, whether it lurks among political dictators or tyrants of medical science, and an even more powerful voice as a playwright, director, and performer. Chief targets of his visual tirades are acknowledged evils like the Bomb and the Holocaust (Schorr takes the latter as his historical model of the paradigmatic atrocity). More demonstrator than diagnostician, Shorr sifts through preexisting photographic material from the ’50s and rifles texts for quotations to provide the legitimization and intellectual

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