New York

Willie Cole

Brooke Alexander

“Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it” was Jasper Johns’ characteristically poker-faced suggestion to young artists. If Willie Cole has taken this advice, he has also taken it to another level, fusing formal repetition with a critique of the repetitious drudgery that has too often remained the province of African-Americans since their forced immigration here almost four hundred years ago.

In these terms, the best works in the show are the 12 ironing boards Cole has seared with a variety of irons and leaned against the gallery wall. Entitled “Domestic Shield I-XII,” 1992, this series possesses an elegance of means that recalls an efficient, incisive solution to a problem in theoretical physics. A large part of the pleasure of such solutions stems from their simplicity. The patterns left by the hot irons work several transformations simultaneously. Most immediately,

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