new-york

Saint Clair Cemin

Massimo Audiello / Sperone Westwater

Saint Clair Cemin’s sculptures are like sphinxes or Delphic oracles; they speak only in riddles. Indeed, they are deliberately obscure, as though baiting us to guess their meaning. Part of a post-Modernist trend that might be called the “new obscurantism,” these works combine familiar materials and styles to unnamable, but peculiarly predictable expressive effect. Many of the pieces (all works 1990) are tongue-in-cheek reprises of totems with titles such as Psychology Today, Atlas, and Untitled (With Braces); all are paradoxical manipulations of familiar Modernist codes. Some seem ripe with meaning because they are constructed contradictions (e.g., Chair, with its raised white marble seat positioned between raw wood pillars is a composite or double reprise.) I think the intention is to be irksome without quite becoming absurd—to irritate and amuse while leaving the “larger” point of the

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