H.C. Westermann, 30 Dust Pans, 1972, various woods, galvanized sheet metal, and brass, 46 x 45 x 32 3/4".

H.C. Westermann

New Museum

People often complain, and they’re probably right, that there are two kinds of art: the kind the art world likes and the kind everyone else likes. To appreciate the former, you have to know something about art history; the latter holds an immediate, broad appeal that doesn’t depend on specialized knowledge. Although he has his fans in the art world, H.C. Westermann sits primarily in the latter category.

This Westermann retrospective—his first in twenty-two years—collects most of the artist’s major pieces as well as many surprises. The density of the exhibition and the immediate presence of the work is almost shocking, particularly in light of the spareness of Minimalism and its ubiquitous heirs and the slickness of recent highly produced art. Indeed, Westermann’s contempt for the European art world and the mainstream New York avant-garde is just one trait that marks him as an honorary

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