new-york

A.R. Penck

Mary Boone Gallery and Martina Hamilton Gallery

The Boone exhibition is an overview of A. R. Penck’s development from 1963 to 1983; the Hamilton exhibition is of 15 prints, in various mediums, executed in Israel in 1983. What the exhibitions make clear is Penck’s consistency of purpose. From the beginning of his career he has been determined to reconcile what historically seem irreconcilable in Modern art: abstraction and the image of man. It would seem that abstraction, the Modern art par excellence, would be the self-evident method to disclose modern man. But in practice abstraction has tended toward estheticism—“pure art”—and the Modern artist’s understanding of modern man has, to say the least, been confused. At one extreme he has been presented as a troubled being, as in early Expressionist portraits (now and then “cured” by sex and nature, with sex one way of returning to nature). At the other he has been presented as he is shown

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