reviews

  • Lucinda Childs

    Joyce Theater

    “Decorative” was the worst possible insult to the experimental choreographers of the Judson Dance Theater in the ’60s: basics were of the essence. But surprisingly, of the three dance-by-numbers Post-Moderns—Trisha Brown, Laura Dean, and Lucinda Childs—it is the most severely reductive of the group, Childs, who has best reintroduced those theatrical elements stripped from dance by the Judson’s revolutionary agenda.

    Since her featured appearance as a performer/choreographer in Robert Wilson’s and Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach, 1976, the Gesamtkunstwerk of Minimalism, Childs has added—in a

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  • Arch Connelly

    Charles Cowles Gallery

    In these one-man shows, Arch Connelly placed his underground, nearly cultish work in the context and history of established galleries that have been receptive to art that has pioneered mannerisms of “bad taste.” Since his first shows, at Artists Space in 1980 and Fun Gallery in 1981, Connelly has been perceived as a particularly “out there” craftsman of New Wave glitz, as well as, perhaps, the heir apparent of a more entrenched high-camp style in American art. His relation to kitsch is rooted in an esthetic rebellion against the authoritarianism of “high art.” However, Connelly’s style of

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  • Jackie Winsor

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    As before, in Jackie Winsor’s 1982 exhibit at this gallery, this show inventoried five cubes and one sphere. Although the details of these shapes are quite different from those shown earlier, the preciseness of this repetition argues an intentional redundancy on Winsor’s part, an idea supported by her choice to incorporate mirrored glass. In association with the cubes, the mirrors inevitably recall Robert Morris and Donald Judd. They are more directly related to the latter’s work, yet Judd has never seemed anxious to break out of the Minimalist bind (perhaps because he never viewed it as

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  • Martin Silverman

    Willard Gallery

    In Woody Allen’s film Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), the misanthropic painter Frederick (Max von Sydow) exclaims, “Imagine the mentality that watches wrestling [on television],” implying that it is the height of degeneracy. Allen may or may not know that Pablo Picasso had such a “degenerate” mentality; he would turn off the sound and sketch the writhing bodies. So there’s something of a modem tradition for Martin Silverman to step into here with his collection of painted-bronze sumo wrestlers, not to mention the continuation of the physical-fitness theme—the divers and dancers—of his own previous

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  • “Outsiders: Art Beyond the Norms”

    Rosa Esman Gallery

    I doubt that there is any art that is beyond social norms, or unassimilable; the question is, what are the terms of its assimilation? The important point about outsider art, or the art of the insane, is that it can only be assimilated as “crazy,” that is, as pathological. To label an art “outsider” is to make it socially serviceable by showing it to mark the boundaries of the inside—the “rational.” But it does something more: it shows us, by comparison, the inside’s triviality, as well as the hidden pathology in, or disguised outsider character of, much art privileged to be inside art history.

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  • Kenzo Okada

    Marisa del Re Gallery

    Kenzo Okada (1902–1982) was an intimate, it seems, of Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko, and he supposedly affianced their sense of broad, flat plane and carefully modulated touch to a Japanese sensibility. But that is like saying he gilded a lily that was already his by birthright, for the flat, divided surfaces of these Western artists’ paintings, in which division seems like a divining rod pointing to an invisible depth, can be seen as derived from 19th-century japonisme.

    So what did Okada gain by supposedly drawing upon Newman and Rothko’s work? He seems to have recovered the sense of nature as

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  • Lucio Pozzi

    John Weber Gallery

    On a sheerly visual level—if that counts for anything these antiesthetic days—this was a stunning show Lucio Pozzi’s paintings are sufficiently ironic to avoid being emptily gorgeous, and sufficiently libidinal to avoid the authoritarian, mechanical negativism of much current ironic art. The majority of the works here were from the ’80s (3 of the 11 works were from the ’70s). To me, they cast a fresh light on the already stale issue of Post-Modernist abstraction. All are eccentrically “derivative,” not in any negative sense but in that they rearticulate a familiar abstract language idiomatically,

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  • Harold of Orange

    National Museum of the American Indian | New York

    For the past four years the Museum of the American Indian has hosted a modest but important festival of films and videos about Native Americans. The predominant genre is the sympathetic documentary, but in most cases, production crews are white. Under these circumstances, whose world vision does the documentary project? Implicated in the miasma of fear, nostalgia, and guilt by which the dominant culture incorporates different peoples, the anemic, consuming eye of the camera takes up a position that can hardly be other than anthropological, with all its underlying vampiric connotations.

    Thus

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  • Trevor Winkfield

    Edward Thorp Gallery

    Since the late ’60s, Trevor Winkfield has been gaining an intensely loyal following in certain quarters of the literary world. Among the many reasons for the artist attaining this cult status, consider the following. He founded and edited Juillard in 1968, one of the most exciting “small” magazines published in England in the late ’60s and early ’70s. After moving to the United States in the early ’70s, Winkfield translated Raymond Roussel’s Comment j’ai écrit certains de mes livres (How I wrote certain of my books, 1935). Roussel’s surrealist novels are the result of a technique of amassing

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  • Ross Bleckner

    Mary Boone Gallery | Uptown

    Ross Bleckner’s favorite color is black, in the tradition of artists fascinated by the phenomenon of light. Bleckner is best known for his re-presentations of Op art patterning; these paintings have influenced younger artists such as Peter Halley and Philip Taaffe, particularly in the way they question Modernism’s exclusivity and marginalization with notions of “major” and “minor” genre. Lately Bleckner has begun to re-present another “minor” eccentric genre, that of fin-de-siècle symbolism, or the paintings of Odilon Redon, Henri Fantin-Latour, and John Frederick Peto.

    The real change in Bleckner’s

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  • Miklos Pogany

    Victoria Munroe Gallery

    Miklos Pogany had already earned a Ph.D. in comparative literature when, in his late twenties, he devoted himself to art. Within a short time he had not only mastered the monotype medium but had made it an integral aspect of his approach to his subject matter. In this regard Pogany’s relationship to monotype bears comparison to Jasper Johns’ use of encaustic; for each, a particular medium serves as the key to a highly charged, psychologically reflexive process.

    This exhibition of 20 recent works, all 1985, displayed the wide range of Pogany’s accomplishments in the monotype medium. Common to all

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  • Gina Gilmour

    Vanderwoude Tananbaum Gallery

    In a season that has found the art world openly searching for what many these days are calling authentic expression, this show was a bona fide bonanza. It spotlighted the talents of Gina Gilmour, a New York artist with a decided flair for metaphorical statement. Since 1981, the style of representation she has developed has allowed her to treat the most elemental themes of life with refreshing conviction, and not the usual dose of pretentious bombast. A mark of this conviction is woven into the very fabric of the “Rescue Paintings,” 1985, the series featured in this exhibition. It is present in

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  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Perhaps more than any other architect since Andrea Palladio, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886–1969) has suffered the indignities of inferior imitation. Appropriated Mies has become confused with the genuine Mies, and as a result he is alternately revered for his brilliance and blamed for the prosaicness of the modern cityscape. With impeccable thoroughness, curator Arthur Drexler assembled a body of Mies’ work that was historically accountable and surprisingly fresh. This exhibition, which marked the centennial of Mies’ birthdate, presents a marvelous opportunity—not for canonization, but for a

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  • Paul Rudolph

    Max Protetch

    The career of architect Paul Rudolph has spanned well over 35 years. Rudolph’s work is a testimony to the knotty relationship of architecture, politics, and criticism. His early work was promising, but he became the fallen angel of architecture in the ’60s with the construction of his Brutalist building for the Yale School of Art and Architecture (1958–62), which was defaced by outraged students who found Rudolph’s concept tyrannical and the building uninhabitable. After the Yale debacle Rudolph became a somewhat problematic presence in architecture, and few of his subsequent projects were

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  • Antonio Sant’Elia

    Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

    Antonio Sant’Elia (1898–1916) was 28 years old and at the cusp of his creative potential when he was killed in World War I. Fueled by the tragic circumstances of his premature death, his promise as a leader in 20th-century architecture could easily be inflated to mythological proportions: hope for a viable contemporary architecture is rekindled in the ashes of unrealized possibilities. There is a great optimistic instinct at work in an exhibition such as this one.

    Sant’Elia’s abundant and compressed body of work is both aspiring and triumphant, and unflinchingly oriented toward the future. With

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  • Futura 2000

    Semaphore

    Here, Futura 2000 showed 12 paintings that were all very similar in type. In each, brightly colored circles cover the ground in an allover pattern of almost equal density everywhere. According to the gallery handout, these circles were to represent gears, planets, time, and musical notation, or an “X ray [of] the mainspring of the cosmos.” Such cosmic intentions went well enough with the sublime Abstract Expressionist “allover” styles of thirty years ago, but Futura 2000’s post-Abstract Expressionist doodlings are too lightweight, too plainly decorative and predictable, to convincingly convey

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  • Roberto Juarez

    Robert Miller Gallery

    Most of Roberto Juarez’s large, lushly painted abstractions of vegetative abundance evoke an earthy fertility. Some, with which Juarez seems to have been more intimately connected, also project a more profound sense of fecundity, and the artist’s robust assurance in his own creative—and procreative—powers. These vital compositions appear to have emerged from what Lewis Hyde has called the “gifted state,” in which “the imagination has the power to assemble the elements of our experience into coherent, lively wholes: Juarez’s pictures especially recall Hyde’s syntheses because Hyde views the

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  • Jan Fabre

    The Kitchen

    “When the will does the work of the imagination, the result is rhetoric,” concluded William Butler Yeats. So much was so willfully wrongheaded about Jan Fabre’s The Power of Theatrical Madness, a much-heralded example of European avant-garde theater, that it’s hard to know how to begin analyzing this mass of didactic bombast parading as vision. One might begin with the overall air of smug self-importance. From its title, through four and a half hours of pretentious action, to its ludicrous finale, in which a nude woman was spanked while shouting out that very title (thus adding it to the list

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  • John Kelly and Huck Snyder

    Limbo Theatre

    Performance art’s attack on theater has often been an all-out war of concept versus drama. In the “that’s entertainment” mood of the ’80s, some performance artists have reached a separate peace with drama to produce performances with conceptual content and go-for-broke theatrics. Diary of a Somnambulist, 1986, a collaborative performance and exhibition by performer john Kelly and painter Huck Snyder, is one of the most fully realized performances to emerge from this detente Constructed from a catalogue of appropriated expressionist attitudes and images arrayed in dialectical patterns, Diary of

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  • David Gilhooly

    Joseph Chowning Gallery

    David Gilhooly has made dramatic changes in his work in the past year and a half. Gilhooly made his name as a ceramics artist, but he was no mere fashioner of pots and ashtrays. He produced everything from trompe l’oeil replicas of confections and vegetables to massive tableaux of figures from classical and his own personal mythology, in which frogs serve as surrogates for humans and deities. The Canadian critic Gary Michael Dault has aptly characterized Gilhooly’s frog cosmologies as Menippean satires, referring to the literary form invented in the third century BC by the Cynic Menippus. Menippus

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