Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Profound Abstractions Four Printmakers Make Geometry Fresh Again

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Profound Abstractions Four Printmakers Make Geometry Fresh Again

Article excerpt

Because so many contemporary artists have rediscovered representation, the Art Museum's "Contemporary Prints" show looks startling fresh. Although all but one of the three artists are still alive, it has a historic feel to it. All four artists work in series, and there is power in numbers in these works.

First, consider the series of four works each by Donald Judd (1928-1994) and Ellsworth Kelly. The woodcuts by Judd, Untitled, 1991, look identical initially. All consist of a precisely ruled green rectangle crossed by evenly spaced white bars. On second glance, the bars slide: in one print they are centered two inches inside the rectangle, in another they cross through the edge on the right side, in the next they extend through on the left, in the last they break the edge on both sides.

Such a subtle difference: yet,it gets your eyes going. The shapes are so solid and weighty, they seem almost sculptural. This is Minimalism, cool, intellectual, without expressiveness or evidence of the artist's hand.

While the Kelly series, "The Mallarme Suite," 1992, the artist's gift to the museum in memory of Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., is also based upon geometry and is equally simple and bold, how different is the feeling.

Four different-colored variations on a rectangle stamp the page. The negative space is almost as important as the positive. A different corner is slashed off each shape so that none really seem rectangular. The missing bit gives each shape its own character.

They seem remorseless, moving slowly, deliberately and powerfully, like icebergs. While the Kelly prints also have a sculptural feel and lack any visible evidence of the artist's touch, they feel expressive compared to the Judd.

Sherrie Levine was born in St. Louis and spent much of her youth in the very halls where her prints now hang. Thanks to our museum and her study of art history, her works investigate the artists of the past and what constitutes "greatness," as well as originality and authenticity. She started out photographing and hand copying reproductions from books. In these pieces, she scans reproductions from books into a computer, breaking them in square areas. …

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