Saturday, April 23, 2005

FS/LS: The Good and the Not-So Good in Chelsea

New Work by Frank Stella @ Paul Kasmin, Lucas Samaras @ Pace MacGill

Frank is still working space. Like many artists of his generation, Stella emerged from under the shadow of de Kooning. In fact, Frank once had a reproduction of 'the king’s' work taped to the wall of his studio to remind him of “what not to do”. And of course, Stella’s early black and white paintings were the anti-de Kooning: an antidote to miles of second-rate, second generation re-treads of the masterful meanderings of Willem I. (Stella’s early work prefigured so much that lesser talents have made entire careers out of their implications; Sol Lewitt, for one).
Since 1975 and the “Painted Bird” series first seen at MoMA in that year, Stella has displayed a knack for creating sculptural work which to my eye appear to be like 3-D recreations and ruminations inspired by master Will. It seems that the ambiguous and open-ended gesture-based abstraction was impossible for Frank to resist forever so Frank finally gave in to the power of the small postcard taped to his wall so many years ago.
Some of Stella’s work fails in the same way that de Kooning did on numerous occasions: too much Sturm and Drang without a solid core; this is the price of risk. I’m sure that there are as many Stella “misses” as discarded de Kooning drawings. All of this is old news yet few people regard Stella as “hot” in the over-heated tulip-crazed frenzy of Chelsea.
I have long been a FS fan and if you haven’t read his “Working Space” yet, it’s an education in itself.
As for this show, it’s a stunner, even better than his show at Paul Kasmin last year. My personal favorite involves an open-ended “Buckyball” intertwined with various other free-form sinuous curves.

PAUL KASMIN GALLERY New Work by FRANK STELLA from April 2 – May 14, 2005.
293 Tenth Avenue
New York, NY 10001

Lucas Samaras @ Pace MacGill, Chelsea

"LS? Who is LS?" I wondered aloud as I entered the gallery yesterday in Chelsea, ducking out of the cold rain. Oh, yeah. Good ol' Lucas Samaras, the irascible, unpredictable, irreverent and just-plain 'in-your-face fun where you’d least expect it' artist. As you walk in and you see all of these people sitting at computer work stations not unlike any cubicle farm dot-com hell from the recent past. As it turns out, LS has created some dozens of iMovies and umpteen Iphotos for your viewing pleasure.
Now don’t get me wrong I have great admiration, respect and genuine awe of much that LS has created over the decades, especially his fabric paintings but as someone involved in new media, this is “a little too little, a little too late.” All of the ho-hum Photoshoped self-portraits are such old news that it is a little embarrassing to sift through them; this is “art of this century” by someone from last century.
Other voices, to the contrary.

Lucas Samaras :: PhotoFlicks and PhotoFictions
Pace / MacGill
534 West 25th Street

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