Kunstverein in Hamburg

A lot of the work in “Formalismus: Moderne Kunst, heute” (Formalism: Modern Art Today) seemed unfinished but in a perfectly justified way. Wade Guyton’s ripped canvases with large rectangular spots look spontaneous but are, in fact, calculated computer prints. Sergej Jensen’s linen-and-cotton works seem unmacho, even shy, abstract, and totally lacking in content, but the shapes have exact points of reference––to German politics, for example. Rather than signal a return to purified ideas of painting and sculpture, the imperfect appearance and precise, self-conscious shabbiness found in many of the contributions by the twenty-four mostly German, British, and American artists indicated what was really at stake: a reexamination of the basic ideas of modernism in light of the very contemporary cognizance that every detail of presentation and production is already contaminated by specific

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