William Wiley

Frumkin Gallery

Like Schneemann’s, William Wiley’s pieces, for all their humor, are muffled in a disappointment with or disbelief in art. This is true of every artist who distrusts form (and all good ones, especially good formalists, do to some extent), but in Wiley one senses that the tastelessness that so outrages his critics (the thing that makes him at once vital and tiresome) is the manifestation of a feeling that nothing matters, rather than of simple iconoclasm. Thus we have the divided intellect fighting it out between ingenuous brilliance and brilliant stupidity, while the weary, shackled body ignores them in cumbersome, self-destructive ennui: in Bones, Dunce, and Gentleman, 1982, two stainless steel columns are linked like Siamese twins; one wears a dunce cap, one a top hat; between them, on the floor, in traction, sits a black skeleton clutching a pack of Camels.

What’s interesting is how

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