New York

Bruce Conner

Susan Inglett Gallery

In early 1962, Bruce Conner decamped to Mexico, intending, he recalled, to “live cheaply and hide in the mountains when the bomb dropped.” His survivalist outing lasted less than a year. A nuclear attack never came, and the artist had trouble not only selling his work but making it: The junk from which he conjured his assemblages wasn’t cast off as readily in Oaxaca it had been in San Francisco. Conner’s sense of privation comes across in DESIGN FOR A NEW ART MUSEUM, 1962, one of eight early works that comprised a small recent exhibition. A morass of wispy pencil lines, some of which fall just short of describing natural forms, spill from a thinly sketched box. Complete representational ambiguity—no anchors or space or scale—this is a museum without a collection, one never to be built.

The significance of Conner’s Mexican sabbatical has perhaps been overstated—it was one among many abrupt

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