Joe Zucker: Paul Kasmin Gallery and Nolan/Eckman Gallery

By Kuspit, Donald | Artforum International, April 2006 | Go to article overview

Joe Zucker: Paul Kasmin Gallery and Nolan/Eckman Gallery


Kuspit, Donald, Artforum International


At first glance, the "Open Storage" series from 2005, that Joe Zucker exhibited recently at Paul Kasmin Gallery and the "Container Ships" series from 2004-2005 shown concurrently at Nolan/Eckman Gallery both seem to display the verve that has marked the course of a lengthy career, but one show bears the impression out more satisfactorily than the other.

The works in both groups are geometrically structured, though the pictorial scales on which they depend are macro and micro, respectively. In the former series, Zucker "stores" everyday objects by rendering them as life-size illustrational outlines contained by square or rectangular, lidded, framelike boxes. Each depiction (apart from one incongruous representation of a volcano) is pseudopersonalized by the titular qualifier "my," in acknowledgement of its origin in the artist's studio, but remains fundamentally generic, banal. The images are made from thin strips of wood affixed to canvases to create shallow reliefs and might be characterized as quasi-found objects in that they thus employ the same material from which their subjects--chairs, stools, and tables--are made. Most of the canvases are painted entirely in brown tones, although in Volcano in Crate, 2005, the browns are accompanied by planes of blue and gray, suggesting a simple stylized landscape. There are traces of Zucker's hand in all the works, but none are exactly painterly--they're more like faint gestures toward expressivity that the artist deploys to underscore the essentially mechanical nature of his constructions.

All the works in the "Open Storage" series are diptychs: Each panel that depicts an object is paired with a slightly larger monochrome (the box's lid), an ironically "purist" foil. …

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