reviews

  • Edward Allington

    Diane Brown Gallery

    The title of one of Edward Allington’s new assemblages is Aphrodite Debased Again, 1986—de-based, that is; 139 detached. Ours is an age of fragmentation partly because we are a nomadic 140 culture that takes along on each of its moves whatever is not nailed down. We are tenants rather than owners of our time. Art made of recycled components serves the new international cultural exchange well; like furniture, it is le meuble, “movable,” that which can be detached from its context and rearranged. The portability and adaptability of scavenged objects and images satisfy the contradictory instincts

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  • Robert Motherwell

    Knoedler & Company

    That Robert Motherwell is a master of the sure touch, of the precisely right configuration, has been confirmed once again by his new works. Motherwell continues to dare to use black more emphatically than any other painter, in fact as a kind of visual blackmail. Not mere islands but whole continents of shapes are abandoned to this freebooter, and the viewer is coerced into paying tribute. As the achromatic pigment we hate to love, black offers zero stimulus to the retina, achieving perceptibility only through contact with adjoining colors; in effect held for ransom, these colors appear tantalizingly

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  • Maria Scotti

    Ruth Siegel Gallery

    Maria Scotti’s paintings are more correctly drawings. Her sketches of classical nudes and other familiar passages from art history compete on the same canvas with her transcriptions of drawings by her sister’s child. Both sets of images are borrowed, yet Scotti seems to own the more sophisticated images, drawn with a delicate line that travels from an unbroken, unerring, Picasso-esque contour to one that repeats itself nervously, either to depict movement (as in a walking cat) or the artist’s changes of heart. In contrast to this elegant thoroughbred line, which is by turns skittish and certain,

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  • Pablo Picasso

    Pace/MacGill Gallery

    “Later he used to say quite often, paper lasts quite as well as paint and after all if it ages together why not, and he said, further, after all, later, no one will see the picture, they will see the legend of the picture, the legend that the picture has created, then it makes no difference if the picture lasts or does not last. Later they will restore it, a picture lives by its legend and not by anything else.” The discovery of so many “lost” sketchbooks by Pablo Picasso only confirms that what he told Gertrude Stein about masterpieces applies equally well to the reputations of the people who

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  • Rosalyn Drexler

    Grey Art Gallery

    According to the show catalogue, Rosalyn Drexler’s original career as a painter occupied no more than a few years during the ’60s; by the end of that decade, her energies were concentrated on her performances as novelist and playwright—with a brief appearance as a wrestler—resulting in the persona with which we are most familiar.

    Drexler’s retrospective exhibition, “Intimate Emotions,” forces us into some ironic art-historical contortions. What does not fail to arrest our attention is the work’s confrontation with marginality, and what this may say about the place of women artists at that time;

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  • Group Material

    New Museum

    Group Material’s strength lies in its “alternative” curatorial role; concerned with the nonelitist, sociopolitical responsibilities of art, and particularly sensitive to context and audience, it has operated as often “on the street” as in the more conventional exhibition space, bringing together artists of different cultural backgrounds who may not otherwise be very visible. Its current, traveling installation took shape from an invitation to over a hundred artists to submit an image 12 inches square that, altogether, would express the diversity of contemporary imagery and seek a common ground

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  • James Rosenquist

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    It is customary to think of James Rosenquist as the most surrealistic of the Pop artists, but if thats so, I think the surrealism is a veneer on something more drastic: his inability to make the surreal (unconscious, metaphoric, secretly essential) connection between the blatantly given, metonymically disparate elements in his paintings. Yes, there are the usual sexual tricks, what with a decades-long hang-up on castration, visible as early as Vestigial Appendage, 1962. Appendages dangle in Fahrenheit 1982, 1982, where phallic fountain pen nib and female fingernail become one, in a minor

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  • Cy Twombly

    Hirschl & Adler Modern

    This was Cy Twombly seen at his most extroverted, but, as always, with a touch of the reclusive. The familiar scrawl, with its mix of unconscious touch and conscious script, still exists as the sediment of memory, however panoramic it may become. John Graham once said, “The great mystery is: where ends the stroke and where begins the caress?” In Twombly the mystery is that the caress can never be more than a stroke: one can print "Ovid,” but the poet is dead, and one can’t bring him back with the flick of a pencil. One can make poetry out of death, out of one’s musings and jottings to oneself

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  • Oskar Schlemmer

    IBM Gallery

    One can only hope that in fifty years the figures created by today’s artists will look as resonant and intriguing as Oskar Schlemmer’s figures do today They are remarkable in the way they reconcile divergent impulses. At once robotic and tragic, they are both tossed about in an infinite space and performers in a modern theater. That’s the trick: to rearticulate the tragic isolation of the figure in cosmic space, yet to reaffirm its continuity by placing it on the stage of a future world. Fallen Figure with Column, 1928–29, seems to say it all. Each compositional element combines chaos and order,

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  • Jack Goldstein

    Josh Baer Gallery

    Jack Goldstein is a painter of nature in the age of space exploration. From his early performance and film work to his later photorealistic scenes à la Scientific American, Goldstein’s theme has been the eminent domain of nature and science over society One of the seminal figures in the movement toward a slick, conceptual, media-based art in the early ’80s, he emerges today as a vital connection between the sarcastic kitsch of media appropriation and the new minimal abstraction that is now eliciting such attention. Goldstein’s importance, however, is not as a master conceptualist or technician,

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  • Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    The relation between conceptual art and painting remains an uncertain marriage. It was in defiance of their rigid separation by the cultural status quo that Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid first sullied their “pure” idea art with the sensual, and therefore more marketable, trappings of painting. It’s now been long enough since this collaborative duo returned to the academic style in which they were trained, a gesture at once sentimental and satiric, that the irony one expected to find in their most recent show stemmed in part from the eclipse of their conceptual status, the ease with which

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  • Tadeusz Myslowski

    Carpenter + Hochman

    One word too seldom heard in cultural circles these days can serve to introduce this show of recent paintings by Tadeusz Myslowski, a Polish-born artist who has lived in New York since 1970. That word is “serious”—serious as in well considered, resolute, and significant, all of which his work is. And while many artists claim it, Myslowski actually has succeeded in pushing abstraction forward into a new representational frontier, where form is truly content.

    His means are paradoxically complex in their purity. In all of the works a single form—a black cross, a motif favored by Myslowski for the

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  • Yolanda Shashaty

    Sragow Gallery

    There are now two main camps of art, each of which is diametrically opposed to the other’s esthetic value system. As a case in point, the recent landscape paintings of Yolanda Shashaty are in attitude as distant from the kind of cool and calculated fare coming down the appropriative pike as they could be. Their mode of address is forthright, not littered with historical non sequiturs, and their inflection is more pre-Modem than Post-Modem. Paintings such as Passage, Cathedral, and Venetian, all 1985, speak in the here and now not about the art-historical past, and Shashaty’s chosen manner of

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  • Keiko Bonk

    Piezo Electric Gallery

    Keiko Bonk was born in Hawaii. She attended college there, in California, and finally in New York. The colleges can be read as stopping points on a journey to the Lower East Side, where she has been performing and exhibiting regularly since 1983. Typically Bonk’s earlier paintings depicted young lovers (alone or in pairs) against backdrops of volcanoes, jungles, moonlit rivers, or fire. The iconography was pure soap-opera cliché, while the colors were MTV lurid and the content syrupy and one-dimensional. The paintings’ minimal charm resided in their pose of innocence and overt romanticism. The

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  • “Modern Objects: A New Dawn”

    Baskerville + Watson

    Rather than sublating the artwork within social and economic concerns, “Modern Objects” isolated esthetics pure and simple—design, that is, without the designs it has upon us. Organized by R. M. Fischer (who curated its 1983 predecessor), the show included works by eight artists, and three surfboards.

    What is a “modern object”? For Jeffrey Deitch, author of the accompanying essay-cum-brochure, it is a nigh-religious icon, an emblem of the boundless optimism and unquenchable aspirations that characterized the Modern period’s ideology of progress. Only now, he suggests, in an age weakened by

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  • Lynne Cohen

    49th Parallel

    There’s always some more-or-less odd element in the rooms Lynne Cohen photographs. Sometimes these elements are strikingly unusual; for example, in Classroom in a mortuary school, n.d., huge disembodied models of an ear, lips, and a nose hang high on a wood-paneled wall. More often. Cohen photographs things that we might take for granted—stuffed animal heads on the wall above a stairwell, rows of photos of the leaders of an Elks lodge, samples of fake-brick paneling on the wall of a contractor’s showroom. But by depicting these scenes in a cool, deadpan style—evenly lit, in black and white prints

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  • Rosalind Solomon

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    This show was subtitled “Ritual,” and most of the photographs in it were of weddings, burials, and other ceremonies in Latin America and India. Despite this, the point of Rosalind Solomon’s pictures is neither documentary nor anthropological. Solomon usually provides only the barest of wall labels to identify the events she depicts, and the few pictures shown here covered such a wide range of rituals that no analysis of any one of them was offered by the way they were grouped. In her photographs Solomon seems to want to propose something about rituals in general, or about the function of rituals

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  • Ken McMullen, Zina

    Film Forum 1

    In Ken McMullen’s Ghostdance, 1983, Leonie Mellinger and the late Pascal Ogier wandered around aimlessly but gorgeously, searching for ghosts and hearing voices. One of the voices they heard and heeded was that of Jacques Derrida, philosopher of international renown. In McMullen’s Zina, 1985, we once again watch a ravishingly beautiful woman wander around, entranced by the real and hallucinated voice of another bastion of greatness, her daddy Leon Trotsky (played by Philip Madoc). Zina Bronstein (Domiziana Giordano) is in a bad state, alternately blurting and pouting, blond tendrils framing her

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  • Peter Eisenman

    John Nichols Gallery

    Seeing an exhibition of Peter Eisenman’s models and drawings on Plexiglas is unlike looking at the work of any other practicing architect. The work itself and the accompanying texts are difficult, and so original, so private, that they seem unintended for public viewing. Yet Eisenman reaches out insistently, absorbing new information and thought generated in fields as diverse as psychology, literature, linguistics, and theology His work represents an area of architectural investigation that is abstract, restless, visionary, and, finally, revisionary, a conceptualization of process that is a

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  • “From Here to Eternity”

    Artists Space Exhibitions

    There is a desperation in architecture now to find more all-encompassing and original themes, an anxious climate that places a particular burden on the architectural exhibition as forum. In view of this, “From Here to Eternity” handled its particular mission with unusual restraint and intelligence. Without proclamation or manifesto, the 11 architects (or design collaborators) chosen by curator Valerie Smith came down on the side of exploring architectural issues (theory) rather than confirming architectural values (practice). If there was a certain dissociation from immediate world concerns

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  • Matthew Maguire, The Memory Theatre of Giulio Camillo

    Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage

    After two seasons as an ad hoc exhibition hall, the Anchorage’s neomedieval atmosphere, created by its 55-foot-high arched ceilings and dank air, was put to effective use by a site-specific performance, The Memory Theatre of Giulio Camillo, sponsored by Creative Time, Inc. This mixed-media theatrical collage, written and directed by Matthew Maguire, of the Creation Production Company, a collaborative performance group with a special interest in theater and architecture, had a past as checkered as the Anchorage’s (originally intended as a warehouse for gold, it was used to store tires for city

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  • Martha Clarke, Vienna Lusthaus

    The Public Theater

    The Lusthaus was a “pleasure pavilion” in turn-of-the-century Vienna’s Prater Park, a libidinous DMZ where primal passions and Hapsburg manners swirled in a Victorian cultural waltz that we now recognize as a seminal source for our own age of discontent. Like the Museum of Modern Art’s “Vienna 1900” show, Martha Clarke and company’s performance was partly inspired by the “Vienna: Dream and Reality” exhibition put on in Vienna last winter. Clarke’s Vienna Lusthaus is a performance complement to the Modern’s scaled-down version of that larger exhibition. Both Clarke and the museum have assembled

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