New York

Joel Shapiro

PaceWildenstein 22

There may be no work of art without a “balancing center,” as Rudolf Arnheim has written, but the elegance of Joel Shapiro’s new sculptures lies in their lack thereof. These constructivist balancing acts indeed convey a lack of balance—and the precariousness of all balance. In a number of works, rectangular fragments of varying lengths, densities, and textures shoot off in all directions, dispersing randomly in space with the thrust of Futurist vectors. Each piece seems like an intricate engineering feat, at once free-spirited and carefully planned. One might even say that these works are about decentering: In one sculpture from 2002, a vertical axis—which could be regarded as a device of weight or coherence—is divided against itself into two, with a cluster of smaller oblongs tucked between.

There is an air of great at-oddsness about these sculptures, a sense that they’re about to tear

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