Posted inArt

Patrick Strzelec’s Sculptures Are in the Middle of an Improbable Thought

In drawing, a line need not become a contour or an image. In sculpture, this resistance to becoming is harder to pull off. For all their insistence on pure abstraction, Donald Judd makes boxes and Richard Serra makes steel fortresses. The problem is that this kind of sculpture smacks of signature shapes and branding, an efficient form of production.

It is a problem that Patrick Strzelec, who is having his first show at Gary Snyder Gallery (June 20–July 26, 2013), which is his first in New York in more than a decade, both addresses and exposes by having no two sculptures look alike.

Posted inArt

George Sugarman’s Unrecognized Greatness

I am tired of critics characterizing George Sugarman (1912–1999) — whose work was either overlooked or marginalized during his lifetime — as an idiosyncratic sculptor. By labeling him in this way, they are able to suggest that the neglect was partially his own doing, and to imply that he wasn’t interested in formal issues thought to be integral to sculpture, and which had been explored by his innovative forebears: Constantin Brancusi, Julio Gonzalez, Alberto Giacometti and David Smith. If those are the measures of idiosyncrasy, then he clearly wasn’t that at all. In fact, the opposite seems more true to me — he was at the center of things, but hardly anyone dared to notice.

Posted inArt

Out of the Box: Al Loving’s Great Achievement

Al Loving (1935–2005) was born in Detroit and studied art at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the University of Michigan. Like many art students then and now, he kept up with what was going on in New York through art magazines. In 1968, when he moved to New York City, he was fully versed in the hard-edged abstraction and shaped canvases of Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland.

Posted inArt

What Happens When Painting Is No Longer A Gateway?

If anyone wants an indication of the ever-widening chasm between the art world and the museums, look no further than the career of Ralph Humphrey (1932 – 1990), a painter whose works calls into question every marker of progress brought to bear on art. The current exhibition at Gary Snyder—his first New York show in fourteen years—brought to mind the refrain that has been repeated since the artist died, not yet sixty, more than twenty years ago: a museum really ought to do his retrospective.

Posted inArt

The Soulful Insolence of Sven Lukin

I have been a Sven Lukin fan since 1970, when I first saw “Untitled” (1969) in one of the concourses running under the Empire State Plaza in Albany. Made for, and located in, a long recessed area — and playfully hovering between flatness and volume, the pictorial and the sculptural — Lukin’s “Untitled,” a three-dimensional, green, orange and blue squiggle, is over 11 feet high and nearly 120 feet long.

Like someone practicing penmanship, “Untitled” begins as a series of tightly compressed vertical folds — think u’s and n’s — that rise and fall, suddenly run along the floor, undulate once, and then extend straight along the floor again until it rises up again; it wants to stretch to its full length, which, as the recessed area makes clear, it can never do. Despite its physical imprisonment, “Untitled” is as irrepressible as a rubber snake.

Posted inArt

Some Things I Know About This Artist

Max Gimblett was born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1935. From 1962 to 1964, while living in Canada, he worked as a potter, an experience that has influenced his relationship to materials and process. In 1965, he moved to San Francisco, and began studying painting at the San Francisco Art Institute, and became friends with Phil Sims. It took Gimblett a decade to hit his stride.