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View of “Brian O’Doherty,” 2017. From left: Meribah, 1970; Minus Yellow, 1970; Places, 1969. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

Brian O’Doherty

Simone Subal Gallery

View of “Brian O’Doherty,” 2017. From left: Meribah, 1970; Minus Yellow, 1970; Places, 1969. Photo: Phoebe d’Heurle.

Nearly twenty years after Barnett Newman’s second exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery—the now-canonical show at which he presented Vir Heroicus Sublimis, 1950–51; The Wild, 1950; and Here I, 1950, to widespread critical disdain—and only a few months after his death, the Irish artist Brian O’Doherty debuted a series of sculptures in the same space. Six feet tall and under three inches wide and thick, these works were each made from two strips of polished aluminum that had been joined together at angles to form a V- or W-shaped groove and then “framed” by strips of painted wood. On the reflective surfaces, O’Doherty had scored a series of lines that somewhat cryptically spelled out words in ogham, an ancient Irish alphabet consisting of lines that ran above, below, or through a centerline. Ogham provided O’Doherty with an elegant way to combine his interest in minimal

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