1.08.2008

On the Geometric Trail in Chelsea

There was a wealth of geometric expression in Manhattan last month. I photographed some of it. Then I went to Miami for the fairs and spent the subsequent two weeks blogging about them. I was prepared to let this New York report go--one has only so much time, after all--but in reviewing the images, I realized the work was too interesting to ignore. I made time. If you don’t go to New York regularly, I suppose it doesn’t make all that much difference when you see these shows en blog; and if you did see the shows, well think of this post as a bit of 2007 déjà vu all over again.

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Bridget Riley: Recent Paintings and Gouaches
at Pace Wildenstein
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Of course you know Riley’s work. She shot to fame in the 60s with eye-blazingly, undulatingly graphic paintings that practically created the genre of Op Art. She’s mellowed. The colors are Monet-esque and the geometry is larger, more sinuous than searing. As you would expect at this gallery, the work was big--but it was an invitation to see, not a challenge. A catalog is available. Click gallery website for more info.
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Above: The central gallery at Pace Wildenstein. The work on the right is painted directly onto the wall. The painting visible through the doorway to the far gallery orients you to the installation below
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Gail Gregg: Recent Paintings
at Luise Ross
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Gregg has taken the lowly packing carton and turned it into geometric abstraction. Her symmetric shapes, reminiscent of totemic images, are from flayed carboard boxes, carton dividers, cup holders—the stuff of our throwaway culture—all coated with wax. Some works hang as relief sculptures; others are laid onto a wax ground. Technically these latter are more assemblage than painting, but painting embraces everything these days, and Gregg is a painter with a great sense of compostion and color.

You can see more at the gallery's website and at www.gailgregg.com

Installation view of Gail Gregg's show at Luise Ross

Below, a work from the show

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Polished and Pressed: Bill Thompson and Peter Weber
at Thatcher Projects
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First I liked the title, with its suggestion of neatness and order. Then I liked the work: relief sculptures that played shiny against matte, rounded edges against sharp, crease against smooth. Thompson has the polished work: geometric wall sculptures carved from urethane, many of which glisten with layers of, I’m guessing, automotive-type paint. Weber has the pressed work: felt objects that have been folded and formed into geometric order, like weave patterns under a microscope. See more at the gallery's website.
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Polished and Pressed at Thatcher Projects: Bill Thompson, above, and Peter Weber, below
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The Geometry of Seeing: Elaine Lustig Cohen
at Pavel Zoubok Gallery

Although I knew of Cohen’s work, I hadn’t realized the breadth of it. Thanks to the show at Pavel Zoubok and the impressive catalog with it, I saw a range of Cohen's work in this 40-year retrospective. Painter, collagist, sculptor and graphic designer, she has worked within a hard-edge idiom that has traversed fluidly within her various modes of expression. See more on the gallery's website.

A second part of this exhibition was held at the Julie Saul Gallery. I didn't get there, but you can visit the website to see more work.

The Geometry of Seeing: Elaine Lustic Cohen at Pavel Zoubok Gallery. This view looks into the gallery from the entry

Below, a view behind the desk

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Alberto Burri at Mitchell-Innes and Nash through January 19

When you hear arte povera, you think Merz or Kounellis. Burri? Who knew? The exhibition is a 40-year-plus survey of the artist, who died in 1996. The work is varied but the constants are the materials--commonplace stuff like plastic, Celotex wallboard, burlap, clay--and a geometric sensibility that threads its way through the material and the years. Not surprisingly, Rauschenberg cited Burri as an influence. Read more and see additional images at the gallery website.



Above: Alberto Burri installation view

Below: Oil and gold leaf on Celotex--a little ricca with the povera



Next post: The geometric trail continues below Houston

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I really loved this post and the next. Thanks so much.

I saw a bunch of Burri in Venice at that Artempo show. Totally knocked me out.
Eva

Joanne Mattera said...

Thanks, Eva.

Burri was a revelation for me. I suspect the work must have really made a splash in the 60s. Now,of course it's tame--and some of the ideas are dated--but the geometric compositions were compelling. And, there was a truck load of geometry in New York in December!

By the way, I never commented on this blog about "The Geometry of Hope," a wonderful show of Latin American Abstraction at NYU, which was up for much of the fall. I touched on it briefly for Two Artists Talking (http://twoartiststalking.blogspot.com/2007/10/geometry-of-hope.html) but even that was just a scratch.

Bottom line: There's too much to see, let alone write about, in the allotted blog time.

Kate said...

So pleased you've sited the Burri, Joanne. What a great find. I quietly bumped into it one afternoon and was (silently) dazzled. The geometry and materials are indeed compelling -- I loved the color.

-Kate