New York

Judy Pfaff

André Emmerich Gallery

Although I’ve always liked Judy Pfaff’s work, it has left me at times a little unsatisfied. Her abstract installations conjure up a Gesamtkunstwerk-like idea of the artwork as a whole and enveloping world—the painting you can walk through, the sculpture that decompresses its solidity to suck you inside it. Jackson Pollock turns up regularly in the writing on Pfaff, as if she were trying to realize in three dimensions the sense of absorption in an entire cosmos that his giant allover canvases can provide. Funnily enough, though, it is Pollock’s flat paintings that allow the greater suspension of disbelief. Spreading throughout the gallery space, Pfaff’s works seem to try to erase or replace the architecture—inevitably a losing game. Glimpsing familiar walls, ceiling, and floor behind the elements she adds, you remember that you’re still on this side of the looking glass.

Alice through the

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