reviews

  • Mark Mennin

    Victoria Munroe Gallery

    Mark Mennin’s sculptures do not embrace the surrounding empty space in the manner of formalist abstract sculpture, in order to regain a measure of nonliteral illusionism. Rather, his static self-contained formats are developed as gridlike collages to create an almost archaeological frame of reference in which material fragments of color, surface, and image combine to recreate the illusion of abstraction and negative space.

    Anchoring his sculpture idiom within the conventions of traditional architecture and statuary, Mennin’s work addresses the critical dialogue between sculptural and pictorial

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  • Jim Nutt

    Phyllis Kind Gallery

    Ever since gaining recognition in 1966 for work included in the first of the “Hairy Who” exhibitions, Jim Nutt has shown a decided preference for painting and drawing on the smoothest available surfaces—glass, toothless brown paper, Masonite, and wood. Nutt seems to like the challenge presented by these mediums. His highly determined approach is the result of integrating a rigorous process with a highly focused attention to details of color, tone, and light. The world he depicts is one of extreme scrutiny, a place where chance and accident are virtually banished. Consequently, the taut, glowing

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  • Anton van Dalen

    Exit Art

    Anton van Dalen is a 50-year-old Dutch-born artist who emigrated to America in 1966. For the past two decades he has lived on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and made art that addresses the changes in both his own life and the neighborhood’s. Not surprisingly, as someone who moved there and addressed the place in his work long before it became either a fashionable place to live or acceptable subject matter, van Dalen has gained a certain stature among a generation of younger artists.

    This exhibition, titled “The Memory Cabinet: Paintings, Drawings, Objects 1950–1988,” was a retrospective survey

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  • Rebcecca Horn

    Marian Goodman Gallery | New York

    Rebecca Horn’s Art Circus, 1988, the largest and most complex sculpture in this show, takes us into a space where time is experienced as a new, harrowing sensation. It consists of an egg balanced between two long steel needles, and glass cones fixed to the floor of the gallery. Everything is circumscribed by a large black circle on the floor—a circus ring. One needle, attached to the ceiling, moves with excruciating slowness in a spiral motion, starting perpendicular to the floor and gradually becoming parallel to it. Watching the complete movement of the needle takes quite a few minutes—the

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  • Bruce Nauman

    Sperone Westwater

    The two pieces that comprised this exhibition demonstrated an unusual range of ideas, and were presented with intensity, zeal, and humor. The fact that one was conceived in 1970 and the other earlier this year supported this notion of agility. The larger room of the gallery was devoted to Going Around the Corner Piece, 1970, an experiment in movement, self-surveillance, and voyeurism. Nauman constructed high walls within the room to form a 20-foot-square, impenetrable box, creating a large vortex around which movement was directed. Adjacent to this box and parallel to its north plane was a

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  • Clemens Weiss

    Ronald Feldman Gallery

    Clemens Weiss’ installation showed a peculiar sensibility at work—some kind of catalytic action seems to have occurred between the critical mind and the sensual being, between private vision and ecumenical cultural language, between contemporary issues and timeless inquiries. These dialectical concerns overlapped noisily. Weiss appears to seek some union of cerebral and visceral traditions in art precisely because of the unease it generates. His iconography is neither excessively personal nor intentionally arcane; it suggests an archetypal intuition based on materials and sensations rather than

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  • François Morellet

    Bruno Facchetti Gallery

    François Morellet—a French artist born in 1926 who was in the forefront of both Minimalism and Conceptualism in his native country—is little known in the United States. Between 1953 and 1956, he produced pieces that foreshadowed with amazing precision later works by Joseph Albers, Frank Stella, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, and others. Aspects of systems art and Op art were also intuitively articulated in his work before the movements that would finally bear those names emerged. Three of the works shown here continue Morellet’s long investigation into the random placement of geometrical elements,

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  • Cy Twombly

    Vrej Bahgoomian Gallery

    Since the Abstract Expressionist era, Cy Twombly has kept the question of draftsmanship alive in his work—but with an appropriately changed, or reversed, focus. His drawings and drawinglike paintings represent not external sense objects but the state of mind that is sensing. He draws the inside of the mind as it grapples with data that seems to be coming in from outside. And he finds this mind to be like a child’s, trying to give rudimentary shape to a chaotic flow of impressions which are almost, but not quite, coagulating into concepts.

    The 15 works in this exhibition, ranging in date from 1958

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  • Alan Charlton

    Michael Klein, Inc.

    With so much cute, brainy, like-minded art around these days I’ve found myself using the following guideline to help screen shows: if an artist’s work can be described adequately in a sentence, it probably leaves something to be desired. Alan Charlton’s sentence would go something like this: he’s the guy who does those rows of narrow gray panels. That could be my review, albeit filled out with background material (he’s youngish and British), reference points (Donald Judd, Tim Ebner, Brice Marden), and an idiosyncratic turn of phrase or two (“My first thought upon entering the gallery was that

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  • Rodney Ripps

    Marisa Del Re Gallery

    Rodney Ripps has come a long way, from what I once called (in these pages) his “cosmetic transcendentalism” to transcendentalism pure and simple. He has clarified his work to make the sublimity—the infinite import—of nature transparent. No doubt 19th-century transcendentalism can only have a troubled, compromised existence in 20th-century America, when the nature that once seemed this country’s greatest blessing has become tainted—cursed—by exploitation. We live in its ruins, preserving fragments of it against the day when our indifference to it, often disguised as sentimentalization, will

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  • Dotty Attie

    P.P.O.W

    Dotty Attie continues to make antipatriarchal work, using a combination of image fragments drawn from the works of well-known male artists and texts she has invented. Attie’s work has a contrived, sinister look, the latter deriving more from the texts than the image fragments, although the subtle incoherence generated by each work’s sequence of panels helps it along. Masters, 1988, epitomizes Attie’s ambition. We see George Stubbs, Ingres, Eakins, Caravaggio, and Vermeer, each in a small, cropped facial portrait that forces the boundaries of the six-by-six-inch format. Scale is effectively used

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  • Nachume Miller

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Nachume Miller’s development has followed a complicated, difficult path from allegorical representational art, heavily figural and usually depicting interior (studio) space, to allegorical abstract art, oriented toward landscape. The connecting psychic thread is the continued introversion, and the connecting technical thread is Miller’s gesture. Initially thick and labored, it emerges with a vehement, amazingly fresh fluidity as a highly serviceable, flexible instrument for conveying a sense of ceaseless dynamic tension. Miller’s dramatic landscape invariably consists of whorls/whirlpools, which

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  • Harvey Quaytman

    David McKee Gallery

    By itself, the cross at the center of Harvey Quaytman’s recent compositions implies solidity and geometric order. But the cross sits in front of what seems at first to be an unstable interweave of forms. On closer examination, though, this apparently shifting scenario turns out to be fairly consistent: behind each cross is a single tall rectangle, which is flush with the left edge of the canvas. Wedded in this way, cross and rectangle sit before a more or less uniform background, most often white or black. The square format of Quaytman’s canvases further emphasize the play between stability and

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  • Nicholas Nixon

    Zabriskie Gallery; Museum of Modern Art

    Nicholas Nixon’s pictures from the late ’70s and early ’80s display an astonishing command of composition. In a typical shot, as many as half a dozen people, most often seen on porches or in backyards, are arranged in taut, subtly balanced groupings full of dramatic and formal meanings; the images bear the seeming inevitability of well-told tales. These pictures share the supple grace of the best street photography, as represented by the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand. But because Nixon used a cumbersome 8-by-10 inch apparatus rather than a compact 35-mm. camera,

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  • Arnold Newman

    Sidney Janis Gallery

    Arnold Newman is best known for his masterful photographs portraying prominent scientists and artists. In these works, Newman treats his subjects like still lifes, carefully framing them in an intricate web of their working environs. In one quintessential portrait of Piet Mondrian the artist stands like a black vertical column inside the stark De Stijl environment of his New York studio. His black suit echoes the verticals in the surrounding architecture of door jambs, window panes, and monochrome squares that float upon the white-washed walls. Newman melds subject and environment so well that

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  • Rona Pondick

    SculptureCenter

    In the opening lines of Georges Bataille’s unnerving essay “The Solar Anus,” he writes, “It is clear that the world is purely parodic, that each thing seen is the parody of another, or is the same thing in deceptive form.” To illustrate his notion of parody, he draws a parallel between the sun and darkness, the mind and anus, describing the intellect as “an erotic force, up from the ape’s provocative anus to the erect human’s head and brain.” Bataille’s “parody” applies, in structure as well as conception, to Rona Pondick’s unsettling installation, Beds. In a sequence of three rooms which recede

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  • Perry Hoberman

    Postmasters

    In his recent show of horizontal Plexiglas lightboxes, Perry Hoberman used state-of-the-art computer technology to create an effect that, ironically, is closely associated with the 1950s—namely, that of 3-D, stereoscopic imagery. Hoberman first takes pictures from advertising and film stills, then processes them with computer-graphics programs (some devised by the artist himself) and finally prints them onto transparencies with a color ink-jet plotter. These techniques enable him not only to make stereoscopic pictures, but to colorize, solarize, distort, and otherwise manipulate the image.

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  • Tony Fitzpatrick

    Todd Capp Gallery

    This rogues’ portrait gallery stars dozens of infamous American killers, such as Richard Speck, Fred Cowan, Ed Gein, Susan Atkins, Dick Hickock, and John Wayne Gacy. The art is as gruesome as one might expect, but not in the way one might anticipate. Fitzpatrick invokes the degenerate power, brooding violence and despair, and litter of life’s broken and beaten casualties. He casts their tormented condition in a strangely sympathetic light. What makes the images so vital and arresting is the tone of true, unprejudiced compassion. Instead of looking down from a culturally superior perch, Fitzpatrick

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  • Leigh Palmer

    Sherry French Gallery

    Leigh Palmer is among the best of the current crop of talented American realists at giving a vivid sense of place. As much about a specific mood and special moment as some particular locale, the scenes described in his recent paintings offer the viewer vistas for steady contemplation. Palmer, who lives and works near Plymouth, Massachusetts, creates work that provides a subtle commentary on the relationship between society and nature in the towns and small communities of New England. Concentrating on corners of rooms, he depicts parts of the house that afford views onto nature. The paintings

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  • Robert Seaver

    Leslie Cecil Gallery

    In this series of untitled still lifes, Robert Seaver displays a profound understanding of the expressive power of things. Working in pastel, a medium known for its rich physical properties, Seaver builds dense and dynamic surfaces and succeeds in bringing out, with enticing results, the palpable dimension of forms. The objects that interest Seaver are representative of the artist’s own wide-ranging esthetic tastes, which span the fields of fine and decorative arts. Some objects, such as the 18th-century French silver coffeepot that figures prominently in one composition, are encoded with

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  • AIDS Alive

    Continental Insurance Atrium

    To watch the People With AIDS Theater Workshop is to see two dramas unfolding, because AIDS Alive is all pretend and yet it isn’t. Each actor is a Person With AIDS (PWA) who signifies a Person With AIDS, who’s really caught in the circumstance he’s pretending to be caught in. For these performers we don’t suspend our disbelief; they are not Hamlets who walk away once the curtain falls. Knowing this creates the show’s drama and meaning.

    This relentlessly upbeat revue skates along with the energy of Andy Hardy announcing,“Have we got a show for you.” AIDS Alive is old-fashioned story theater—breezy,

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  • Heat

    The Kitchen

    Heat was a mixture of dance, music, and poetry presented by a consortium of performing ensembles: Urban Bush Women, a group of dancers directed by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; the Dirty Tones Band, led by composer Craig Harris; and Thought Music, a performance group consisting of codirector Laurie Carlos, Jessica Hagedorn, and Robbie McCauley. The piece proposed an examination of various metaphoric aspects of heat—burgeoning sexuality, rage, desire, tropical atmospherics—in terms of an equally multifarious conceptual agenda: black, feminist, politically radical. In this two-hour, polymorphous mélange,

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  • Noel Vietor, Mike Berg

    56, Bleecker Gallery

    Noel Vietor's projections on textured canvases recall planetarium projections—one is overwhelmed by the sheer magnificence of nature's scope, and so relies on the translation of planetary images to a more accessible scale in order to make nature a kind of theater. But Vietor's suite of moderately scaled projection pieces are not as entrancing as planetarium projections; they tease the viewer with an unrealized promise of spectacular effects. The darkened gallery setup connotes a theater or fun house, wherein darkness acts as a framework for isolated dramatic moments. But the relatively small

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  • Eberhard Bosslet

    John Gibson Gallery

    Eberhard Bosslet brings a consistency of vision to a wide variety of formats. Besides his site-specific installations in exhibition spaces (such as his floor-to-ceiling steel-pipe construction in a stairwell at Documenta 8) and his outdoor projects in the Canary Islands (in which he defined the jagged contours of ruins with paint), Bosslet also creates architectonic paintings and sculptures that share many of the same concerns as his site-specific projects. Bosslet’s recent sculptures on display here are made from old file cabinets, which the artist transforms with an almost sadistic mastery (

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  • Susan Leopold

    John Weber Gallery

    At first glance Susan Leopold's installation seemed poised between artsy Minimalism and a Times Square peepshow. Eleven monochromatically painted wooden boxes were fastened to the wall, each fitted with one or more wide-angle lenses through which one could view minutely detailed architectural scenes. Unlike such “voyeuristic” works as Duchamp's Etant donnés. . ., 1946–66, or, more recently, Aimee Rankin's installations, Leopold withholds sexual or overtly macabre frissons; her scenes are devoid of obvious action, drama, or characters. Instead they seem like documentary evidence, preserved as

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