reviews

  • Peter Campus

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    In both the printed and the projected photographs shown here, from 1986 and ’87, Peter Campus pursues the theme of stone, “beautifully” and weirdly shaped by the sea’s touch. In the projected images the sea is missing; the eternal stone hangs, full of ineffable expressivity, like a planet suspended on a planetarium ceiling, the details of its luminous texture all the more mysterious for the vivid precision of their appearance (an effect that was intensified by the gallery installation, in which the images seemed to float on the walls of an otherwise completely darkened room). The projected images

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  • Jedd Garet

    Galerie Lelong & Co.

    Jedd Garet’s new paintings, all from 1987, are in the same realm of mock abstraction as the works of Peter Halley, Philip Taaffe, and company, but they have an edge of whimsy, wit, and delicacy that makes their irony less leaden and obtuse. Garet’s paintings are more transparently in the tradition of visionary capriccio—which is the way John Graham thought what we now call Abstract Expressionism ought to be comprehended—and more authentically an advance in the idea (and not just the manner) of abstraction.

    Garet works in a mode that might be called surreal-baroque abstract, with a touch of rococo

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  • Fritz Bultman

    Hunter College, The Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery

    Whereas Jedd Garet represents one form of the “new abstraction,” Fritz Bultman represents an important branch of the “old abstraction.” The new abstraction builds on already achieved abstract forms, often cynically, or else with a certain constructive determination and an acute sense of the absurd. Bultman’s kind of old abstraction builds on the human figure. Curated by Robert Huot, this small memorial retrospective (Bultman died in 1985) consisted of a selection of paintings, drawings, collages, and bronzes.

    The key to Bultman’s work lies in his drawings from the female nude model, in which the

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  • Mac Adams

    Farideh Cadot Gallery

    Mac Adams’ work has always expressed an impatience with the purely formal language of mainstream modernism and with the arbitrariness and self-referentiality of its esthetic decisions. Such impatience carries over to the current fashion for estheticizing the codes of commodity production where this is the sole referent to the work. In Adams’ work, though, meaning is born of the relation between things and the power invested in them by the imagination, and it is this relation that is addressed by the photographs and sculpture shown here in the exhibition “Shadows and Reflections.”

    The staging of

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  • Jürgen Partenheimer

    Lorence-Monk Gallery

    Jürgen Partenheimer is both an artist and a writer. Unlike D. H. Lawrence, who was a novelist and sometime painter, or David Smith, who was a sculptor and occasionally wrote poetry, Partenheimer devotes equal attention to writing and painting. In this regard, his work is comparable to Marcel Duchamp’s. The difference is that Partenheimer doesn’t reject art’s utopian, metaphorical capacity. His work can be described as a map of the sites where imagination, thinking, and perception overlap. At a time when many artists are following Duchamp’s example and making detached art that rejects any

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  • Robert Yarber

    Sonnabend Gallery

    Recently, there has been much critical analysis of the formal relationship between art and the mass media, particularly the movies, television, and advertising. Among the accepted theories, one suggests that the relentless bombardment of mass media results in a numbing of moral sensitivity, and that an artist who wishes to undermine this corrosive fulsomeness must employ tactics derived from the media and thus reveal the extent to which its forms control our perceptions. This very neat solipsistic argument applies to some artists whose work relates to media images, but not all. Robert Yarber is

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  • Joe Shannon

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    Joe Shannon, a figurative painter now in his mid 50s, continually strips away pretenses. Since he first began exhibiting in Washington, D.C. in 1969, a time when the “Washington School” was being trumpeted as the latest triumph in the history of art, Shannon has been an iconoclast going his own unpredictable way. He has done so by continually reinvestigating the relationship between content and style. More important, while most figurative artists of his generation were either taking stylistic cues from formalist abstraction or were being stubbornly reactive, Shannon found a way to get past both

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  • Erika Rothenberg

    P.P.O.W

    Erika Rothenberg maintains a political focus of which her paintings’ format and formal devices are a direct emanation. In Rothenberg’s recent exhibition of works from 1986 and ’87, “New! Ideas for a Better World,” the 11 paintings and an installation were all based on the marketing strategies and story-board structure of television commercials. They develop the notion of advertising infused with moral prescriptions—an idea that she first outlined in her 1983 book, Morally Superior Products—and they demonstrate, more successfully than her previous works, how advertising is inextricably linked

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  • Michael Young

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Michael Young is frequently associated with the “new” geometric abstraction, but his work diverges from that of many of his colleagues in significant ways. Unlike them, he is not involved in making “signs” for paintings, or in displaying lack of faith in the medium’s capacities. Instead, his work is awash in reveries on the possibilities of painting. His is pure painting, which takes as its object painting’s inherent properties and creates of them an esthetic world, firmly divided from its quotidian surround.

    Young’s recent exhibition for the museum’s “Projects” series was conceived as an

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  • Robert Irwin

    Wave Hill

    Of the many public art projects conceived and/or executed during the last ten years, Robert Irwin has created some of the best. His exhibition at Wave Hill, organized by Jean Feinberg, marked the first time that he has made an outdoor sculpture in New York. Here in this public garden and cultural center on a 28-acre site overlooking the Hudson River north of Manhattan, Irwin constructed three installations—two of them (WAVE HILL WOOD and WAVE HILL GREEN) on the grounds, and one (DOOR LIGHT WINDOW) in Glyndor House, which serves as the administrative center and exhibition space for this facility.

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  • Alice Aycock

    Public Art Fund | Doris C. Freedman Plaza

    The first image I ever saw of Alice Aycock’s work was of a small, low building on a Pennsylvania hilltop (Low Building with Dirt Roof, 1973). It was consummately organic, dealing with house form and culture, the body and enclosure, vernacular building and landscape. Aycock was often neatly and accurately described as an environmental artist back then. In the past 14 years, her work has gone through dramatic transformations as her interests have shifted from the relationship of art and environment to more metaphysical issues. In Aycock’s recent work, the notion of environment has expanded to

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  • Trisha Brown

    City Center

    As one of the original members of the radical Judson Dance Theater in the early ’60s, Trisha Brown has always been a thinking choreographer who puts movement in the service of structural ideas. Accumulation with Talking Plus Watermotor, 1978, was a solo dance that stressed the relationship between movement and structure with a spontaneous monologue describing the development of the movements of the dance while she performed them, in a constantly changing interactive process. Her latest work—titled, with her characteristic wit, Newark (the New Jersey city, pronounced “new work,” with the accent

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  • J. S. G. Boggs

    Jeffrey Neale Gallery

    Conceptual art has the potential of working as a mental stimulant in two contrary ways. There is the sort of conceptual expression that is a cryptic gesture, rich in meaning and equivocal in reading. There is also an emphatically less subtle idea art that is conceived and executed as a critically bold and pointed reflection of the culturally accepted norm. The tactics of J. S. G. Boggs’ art certainly belong to the latter of these two modes of conceptualism. While we might miss in Boggs the lyrical ambiguity of the first mode, his work is appealing in its keen ideological clarity and precision

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  • Mark Mothersbaugh

    Psychedelic Solution Gallery

    There is a peculiar strain of media-inspired art today, often overlooked and generally misunderstood as some funky latter-day offshoot of Pop art. A new generation of image makers has been producing its own ultimate vernacular of our disposable popular culture that is a good deal less tame than Pop and subsequent fine-art hybrids of kitsch Americana. Experimenting with various art forms for over a decade now, Mark Mothersbaugh has struck the raw nerve of our accelerating media frenzy and reorganized the patterns of psychic disruption that it engenders. His recent retina-zapping show of silkscreen

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  • Tina Potter

    R. C. Erpf Gallery

    Photography can be used as an abstract medium only with difficulty. Its primary purpose has been to reveal detail, to provide a surfeit of information about the scene it depicts. The illusion that photographs offer an objective picture of reality is based on just this overwhelming ocean of data that it offers. Photographers who want to emphasize the pictorial qualities of the medium—chiaroscuro, texture, abstract form—have to find ways to suppress its unflagging tendency to depict specific and recognizable scenes, and by the same token to forestall the tendency on the part of viewers to read

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  • Sally Gall

    Lieberman & Saul Gallery

    Given the almost suffocating omnipresence of photography, it’s hardly surprising that the rhetorical structures of the medium have become as familiar as they have. Anybody who watches television or goes to the movies learns to distinguish the meaning of certain croppings or camera angles with an enormous, though often unconsciously exercised, sophistication. Only a very narrow range of expressive formal devices is acceptable, however, when photography performs the societal task of defining and reporting on reality. Other technical traits that are equally inherent to photography—at least in some

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  • Leonardo Cremonini

    Claude Bernard Gallery

    Many writers—including Alberto Moravia, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, and Stephen Spender—have been intrigued by the work of Leonardo Cremonini. The source of his appeal, particularly to those of a philosophical bent, lies in the poetic urgency of his imagery. Although the figures and objects in Cremonini’s paintings are always recognizable, they are often in disconcerting juxtapositions and seem to inhabit eerily empty spaces that suggest unearthly, self-contained worlds. This is especially true of his large canvases such as The End of the Party, 1984–85, The Last Games of Summer, 1984–85, The

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