new-york

Mark di Suvero, The Cave, 2015, steel, 13' 1 1/2“ × 14' 4” × 11'.

Mark di Suvero

Paula Cooper Gallery | 521 West 21st Street

Mark di Suvero, The Cave, 2015, steel, 13' 1 1/2“ × 14' 4” × 11'.

As the academy of art criticism developed over this past half century, a vocabulary of enthusiasm—great, masterpiece, awesome, cool, and suchlike opinion—was struck from the lexicon of permissible discourse. The fear, quite correctly, was that such descriptives served to bolster bourgeois acquisition (ever an academic bugbear) while in no way explaining the work of art or facilitating access to its experience or meaning.

Yet, the recent exhibitions of Mark di Suvero’s sculptures at Paula Cooper’s magnificent Chelsea space reset the path anew, and we can once more use such academically ostracized lingo to draw distinctions. One 2016 work—a massive section of steel tugged and teased into biomorphic play, as if it were no more than a sheet of construction paper—is “interesting” in a Matisse-cutout kind of way (this is, perhaps, unsurprising given its title:

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