New York

Donald Lipski

Germans Van Eck Gallery

Donald Lipski called this ambitious, multiple-piece installation “Building Steam.” The title, according to the brief statement in the catalogue accompanying the show, refers to James Watt’s invention of the steam engine in the 18th century, “inaugurating the Industrial Age which is now drawing to a close.” But the phrase also clues us into the compression and release of the artist’s creative energy as the source of the fascination of the 62 works here, which filled two rooms. The display was a daring tour de force examination of the materialized spirit of 20th-century consumer culture.

Lipski’s strategy is to take everyday things and transform them by context and various assemblagist techniques into “art.” It belongs to the venerable line of provocative attitudes to the object in the thinking of Lautréamont, Duchamp, and the Surrealists. Still, the total impression of Lipski’s work is

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