new-york

Dennis Oppenheim

John Gibson Gallery; Willoughby Sharp Gallery

Dennis Oppenheim’s work of the last 20 years has been played out through the nexus of Conceptualism, Earthworks, and Body art, as if willfully evading any demarcation of territory. His career since the late ’60s has been a series of about-faces, disavowals, repetitions, and abrupt forays into unknown regions. As Stuart Morgan observed almost a decade ago, “His art does not exhaust themes, explore materials or engage in formal experimentation for its own sake . . . there is change in his career, but no `development’; at any moment he may double back to something he abandoned ten years before.” So it seems in these two shows, as Oppenheim forsakes the fantastical “desiring machines” of the early ’80s and returns, albeit obliquely, to the fascination with natural processes and forces that characterizes his earliest works.

The crowded, cacophonous installation at John Gibson Gallery must be

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