• Judith Barry

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    In most accounts of the myth of Narcissus little attention is given to the significance of Echo: she is, as it were, expelled in a breath. Condemned first by Hera (for interrupting the goddess’ spying) to repeat only the last phrase of another’s speech, she is condemned a second time by desire and Narcissus’ indifference to fade away to a distant sound—no longer a voice, even, but a listener and recorder.

    Echo, however, represents more than the absence of body or speech; she appears as an effect of a transference, as a persistent mnemonic residue. Her repetition, moreover, questions the conventions

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  • Enzo Cucchi

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

    Enzo Cucchi broke with tradition in three major ways for his exhibition this summer at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York—two of them ruptures of museum conventions (and, in one case, of this space in particular), and a third having to do with the meaning and content of the show Most obviously Cucchi discarded the Guggenheim custom of having the publicascend by elevator from the ground floor to a higher gallery and then return to the bottom via the spiraling ramp. His show was to be seen from the ground up, by ascending the incline. This could have been seen as a disruption of the public's

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  • Victor Burgin

    John Weber Gallery

    The influence of Victor Burgin’s work has rested in its quiet insistence on a rigorously critical art practice, informed by interdisciplinary cultural studies, that recognizes Modernist painting as yet another encoding of capitalism’s master narrative of egocentric individualism. Burgin’s concern is with the relation between the individual and the social, and, in “Office at Night,” 1985–86, with those “subjective” responses to an image that escape critical analysis. Drawing on Roland Barthes’ reflections on the “obtuse meaning” of affective but nonverbalizable image details, Burgin speculates

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  • Christopher Le Brun

    Sperone Westwater

    Christopher Le Brun is an unequivocal master of surface texture. He can play a painting's surface as though it were both the flute of Pan and the lyre of Apollo. He can seem to flay the surface with a deft touch, or luxuriate in it with a voluptuous one. His sensitivity and range of touch are extraordinary—meticulous yet intense, detached yet intimate. Just when one thinks he is becoming facile, a new difficulty declares itself, a fresh sense of the painting's surface as an exposed nerve or a flexed tendon. It is as though Le Brun were performing a life-or-death operation on the painting, every

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  • Mark Tansey

    Curt Marcus Gallery

    Mark Tansey is one of the most brilliant, exemplary literary painters on the scene. In his works we see the cunning of reason become visual cunning. His pictures offer almost immaculate surface lucidity and uncanny events: a car suspended upside down in the sky, Arabs and Eskimos meeting in a common desert of white. Sometimes the titles, in conjunction with the images, make a witty point. Pleasure of the Text, 1986, suggests that the semiotician studies the partsof a text the way a mechanic studies the working parts of a car. Doubting Thomas, 1986, suggests an affinity between putting one’s hand

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  • Rebecca Smith

    Mary Delahoyd

    Rebecca Smith makes intelligent little objects of wood and plywood—sometimes with found barn wood and tree wood—painted with obscure designs that are lightheartedly irrational. The works are like catchy little tunes that seem inconsequential but stay with you, implying they’ve touched some nerve, spontaneously echoed some nuance of unconscious process. I regard her work as a lively example of what can be called the new whimsicality, which seems pervasive in much art today Her works can be regarded as fanciful toys, the kind one used to hand-make before one discovered the manufactured version—before

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  • Alex Grey

    57 STUX + Haller Gallery

    Alex Grey’s paintings are an unusual amalgam of mystical obsession and scientific precision. His is an art of metaphysics, and no matter how far removed his concept of reality may be from the fringes of normal human experience, it is based on, and precisely rendered as, the results of an intensive personal investigation into the nature of man.

    Visually, Grey’s quasi-textbook illustrations seem disturbingly inappropriate for anything that would be considered expressive or inspirational in painting. Despite the largely intuitive nature of his work, the nearly academic style of his presentation is

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  • Norman Bluhm

    Washburn Gallery

    Norman Bluhm is undoubtedly one of the most underrated artists of his generation. Shortly before this exhibition opened—Bluhm’s first solo show in New York in more than a decade—an exhibition of Kenneth Noland’s work closed. It was one of those timely coincidences worth pointing out. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that a large part of the art world was busy celebrating the rigidly formalist (formulaic?) work of Noland (born 1924) for being radical, innovative, and chic, while deriding or ignoring Bluhm (born 1920) for being derivative. Now, more than 25 years after Noland first exhibited his

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  • Jonathan Lasker

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    Jonathan Lasker is neither an appropriator nor the latest “phenomenon” to carve out the correct mannerist niche. Instead of enlisting in today's fashionable herd, he has evolved an independent stance. More importantly he is one of the strongest young artists currently working in an abstract mode, with an admirable mastery of what at first glance appears to be a limited vocabulary of abstract marks, puzzlelike shapes, and linear webs. However, the longer one looks at his paintings—and they do reward patience—the more conscious one becomes of the range of possibilities the artist has achieved with

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  • Al Taylor

    Alfred Kren Gallery

    Wall works, constructions that stake out a deliberately ambiguous territory between painting and sculpture, seem to be a mostly mannered genre these days, perhaps because of a virulent cultural conservatism which is impatient with cross-genre problems, or because of a simple exhaustion of interest after the heady days of the ’60s and ’70s, when such objects presented so many new possibilities. But Al Taylor’s exhibition demonstrated just how much remains to be explored in this hybrid area. Far from realigning themselves with their respective genres or retreating from conceptual confusion into

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  • Alex Katz

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    It used to be, back in the ’50s, that the body language of Alex Katz’s painted figures bespoke an expectation of loss. Very still, their stillness in fact exaggerated by their half-buried, faltering outlines, their arms would often hang limply at their sides, hands empty, redundant, as in Frank O’Hara, 1959–60, and Paul Taylor, 1959. The Double Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg, 1959, shows the artist seated, one hand thrust between his legs, in the classic “barrier signal” pose described by Desmond Morris as metaphorically protective of the genitals.

    By the early ’60s the loss has occurred. Hands

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  • Bryan Hunt

    Blum Helman Gallery

    Most of us don’t resent the making of a buck if the atmosphere isn’t polluted or people are not killed, maimed, made hungry or destitute thereby So it isn’t that one objects to Bryan Hunt’s show of maquettes on that score. However, it is surely indicative of Hunt’s prematurity in inflating what are working sketches into salable objects that the limestone bases are so much larger and weightier than the diminutive bronze models they support. (About the unfortunate associations provoked by the oversized nuts inserted between model and base, a considerate silence is best.)

    Bryan Hunt seems to have

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  • John Armleder

    John Gibson Gallery

    In Samuel Beckett’s Murphy (1938),the eponymous hero ties himself to a teak rocking chair with seven scarves, which, unlike the seven veils of the dance, keep revelation private. He rocks himself into an alpha state, the achievement of which is signaled by his tumbling, chair and all, onto the floor. Like Murphy, John Armleder has seemed determined to get rid of the body through solipsistic contemplation; and he has used furniture as a means to this end. An Armleder drawing from 1979 offers a schematic chair in silhouette, with the circle on its seat containing another silhouetted chair; both

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  • Ricardo Regazzoni

    Richard Green Gallery

    Although the one is traditionally considered a decorative element and the other its functional support, art and architecture have always had a rather more complex, and problematic, relationship. Since the early ’60s the classical divisions that once separated the two have become blurred, mainly due to the rigid formalism of Minimalist art, and to the large-scale environmental and site-specific installation pieces it has given rise to—in short, the kind of art that is frequently described as architectonic, or conforming to the rules set by architecture. A fresh and appealing commentary on this

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  • “Transforming the American Garden: 12 New Landscape Designs”

    Urban Center

    Organized by Michael R. Van Valkenburgh and sponsored by the Architectural League of New York, this touring exhibition presents proposals by 12 landscape architects. Van Valkenburgh’s premise is that the garden is to the landscape designer what the private home is to the architect, and that it is a concise area of inquiry to encourage speculation, to confirm personal philosophies, and to examine the sources and directions of contemporary design. Conceptual moments, extracted from design practice, are important exercises, but they too often float in isolation, only marginally informing commissioned

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