New York

Jannis Kounellis

Sonnabend Gallery

These recent works by Jannis Kounellis resounded like a funeral elegy through the high places of contemporary art (the gallery, the city of New York), but also like a lament over the dead ashes of painting. The opening installation, of two black-painted canvases and two assemblages of rough wood, iron, and steel, was explicitly dedicated to New York in an inscription painted on the wall. The canvases suggested a dark horizontal through space, the metropolis in blackout, its proud verticality laid low in a disjointed deconstruction. They seemed to raise subterranean powers and to bar hope. The nostalgia for classical purity suggested by the canvases’ geometrical order was belied by the disorder and approximation of the assemblages, and this disjunction, along with the dedication to New York, created a solid image of the by-now-unclosable gap between the utopian idea of a culture of high

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