New York

Christian Eckart

Rubinspangle Gallery

Resuscitated most recently through the auspices of appropriation and “neo-geo,” abstract painting is indelibly stamped with ambiguity and irony. Though the formalist idiom just won’t die, the legacy of its freighted history is a widespread ambivalence concerning its contemporary meaning. Among the several “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” approaches to formalism, we find a lot of symptomatic hair-splitting: painters who purport to make paintings that aren’t real paintings; artists who make paintings but claim they aren’t painters; and painters who make paintings but incorporate perverse twists that function as built-in escape clauses. Such works reserve the option of existing either as straightforward formalism, sans the send-up of Modernist esthetics, or as elegant pastiches presumably intended to further a critique of Modernist conventions. One suspects that many members of

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. Please sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW and save up to 65% off the newsstand price for full online access to this issue and our archive.

Order the PRINT EDITION of the September 1991 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.