Luckily for me, "XV,"
and fellow visitors, I restrained myself. But that the work brought
out a sense of movement and joy is no bad thing. Mr. di Suvero clearly
has ambitions in this direction. The second sculpture in the show, a
1990 work called "Hopesoup," is actually a mobile. While no
one would claim Calderesque whimsicality for it, fun is nonetheless
the order of the day. Its industrial components defy their own clunkiness
with graceful, balletic movements. If "XV" nods in the direction
of the heavy-duty idealism of the Russian Constructivists, "Hopesoup"
allows a light-hearted skepticism about the pretentions of the machine
age: It is more Léger's "Ballet Mecanique" than Tatlin's
"Monument to the Third International."
On a label that lists assistants
who helped in this installation, a name popped out: Ivana Mestrovic.
Inquiry confirmed her as the granddaughter of Ivan Mestrovic, who at
the time of the birth of his nation was fêted worldwide as Yugoslavia's
Michelangelo. His carvings are rather fabulous, but his reputation has
gone the way of his homeland. What will history do with Mr. di Suvero's?
The septuagenarian is rightly
held in high esteem as one of the more substantial heirs of Calder and
David Smith. But steering his aesthetic course between whimsy and brutalism
(the raw and the cooked), he seems hemmed in by his most notable peers,
Richard Serra and Anthony Caro. To me Mr. di Suvero is always too sculptural
to compete with Mr. Serra in minimal bravura and not sculptural enough
to genuinely surprise and intrigue like Mr. Caro.
Inherent in Mr. di Suvero's
constructed forms is a nostalgia for industrialism and the avant-gardes
that it spawned. And despite the energy and accomplishment of his works,
it is hard not to detect in them a corresponding hint of weary displacement.
carpet, metal coffee table, 4 butterfly lamps, chandelier, various green
plastic things, aluminum/tar flashing, oil and acrylic paint, green
extension cord, 56 z 64 x 45 inches
Courtesy Gorney Bravin + Lee
In her relentless quest
for prefabricated forms and synthetic colors, the art world's scavenger
supreme, Jessica Stockholder, has found a new, hitherto untapped source:
other people's art.
Her latest exhibition crams a salon hang of 42 works by contemporaries
into a studiedly eclectic gallery corner. The viewer can savor the selection
in the comfort of rescued retro furniture, and browse magazines if they
The artists taking part are
presumably good friends with enough of a sense of humor to allow their
creations to take their chances amidst the visual riot of Ms. Stockholder's
installation. She is a deft hand at picking out colors and textures
that howl. But appropriating artworks is a logical development for her,
and it is not such a surprise that artists as prominent as Mel Bochner
(her colleague at Yale, where she leads graduate sculpture), Barry Le
Va, James Hyde, David Reed, and Elizabeth Murray should play along.
For at the end of the day, Ms. Stockholder is actually no iconoclast
She raids the depths of kitsch
for her source materials and is determined to break down boundaries
between art and life. But unlike her forebears in this tradition - from
the pioneers of Dada through Rauschenberg and Oldenburg to contemporary
masters of the abject like Mike Kelley - Ms. Stockholder has an aesthetic
free of anger or the need to denigrate. On the contrary, she has a Midas
While she generally keeps
found stuff intact, she chooses and arranges it so as to shed the commercial
and industrial "anti-patina." There is no implicit social
critique: She is as pure a formalist as she is impure a dadaist.
Despite her nominal status
as a sculptor, and her protean output as an installation artist, Ms.
Stockholder has the heart of a painter. She takes brush and paint to
her surfaces, delighting in the gruesome painterliness of oils smeared
against bathroom mats or carpeting. Her whole palette, as an appropriator,
is surface-oriented, having more to do with color and texture than volume
Her connection of art and
life has the optimism of the romantics, with pop culture taking the
place once occupied by nature. Goethe could intuit that products of
the imagination were an order of nature, subject to its laws of growth;
Ms. Stockholder tests the commonalities of class art and crass non-art
but leaves each party's honor intact. The artworks retain their aura,
while somehow her use of even the tackiest chandelier or garish moulded
plastic refrains from patronizing its intended consumers.
Jeff Gauntt Past
Tense, Future Tense 2003
acrylic on wood, 12 x 8 feet;
cover, November 13, 2003: We Watch the Skies 2003
acrylic on wood, 5 x 10 feet
courtesy Brent Sikkema New York
Jeff Gauntt's second exhibition at Brent Sikkema confirms him as a force
of nature and artifice combined. After seeing his show a few times I
still couldn't decide if he has the insouciance of an outsider or the
canny of a fully clued-in art-world apparatchik.
With exhilarating craft,
Mr. Gauntt carves dreamlike, folkloristic tableaux in wood, and colors
them in a trippy nursery palette. Trees, tree houses, birds, and branches
abound, with roots fiddling their way through compartmentalized subterranean
and submarine realms. The imagery is odd but undistressingly so, a kind
of low-octane surrealism. Carving and coloring alike are precious, delicate,
Mr. Gauntt constructs an elaborate kindergarten for the eye. It's hard
to know what the eye is supposed to do when it gets there, but the journey