Slights of Hand

Robischon salutes three generations of New York School artists.

The first pieces that come into view are a pair of large prints from 1985, "Patience" and "Tujunga Blacktop." Each is almost entirely composed of a fairly unified black field. The fields go nearly to the margins of the papers, but their shape has been distorted. The resulting forms seem to lean into or out of the two-dimensional plane of the prints. The effect is similar to that seen in Serra's sculptures. Both prints are color paint stick and silkscreen on paper. The black fields in both are printed in the same complicated multi-toned hue and so dark they seem to suck in the light from around them.

The other Serra prints date from the late 1990s. In several, he uses circular or oval shapes. In "Foul Bite," a color etching from 1996, a flattened oval is placed across the center of the paper. The uneven and trailing line Serra uses is not too different from the kind of line Motherwell employed, and with a print like "Foul Bite," we can readily see why the gallery put the superficially disparate artists together.

The third show, which highlights the work of Judy Pfaff, consists of pieces culled from the highly acclaimed exhibit, held at Robischon's last fall, devoted to Pfaff's recent three-dimensional drawings. They are multimedia drawings that include an array of non-art materials, including leaves preserved in acrylic resin. The densely composed drawings are crammed with elements; only on closer examination does their Oriental theme become apparent. Found Asian images from magazines are used liberally, as are calligraphy stamps. And for good measure, Pfaff has used Chinese red as the predominant color.

"Untitled," by Robert Motherwell, acrylic on paper and Mylar.
"Untitled," by Robert Motherwell, acrylic on paper and Mylar.
"Foul Bite," by Richard Serra, etching.
"Foul Bite," by Richard Serra, etching.


Through March 3, 303-298-7788
Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street

Pfaff's compositions fill every part of her drawings, going right up to the edges. Appropriately, the drawings have been framed by the artist herself, who extends her compositions out onto the moldings by painting with pigments and metal leaf.

In "Untitled," one of two monumental drawings, she has used oil stick, encaustic acrylic resin, ink and acrylic paint on photos adhered to rice paper. As if this weren't enough, she has also burned and scorched parts of the drawing. "Chrysanthemum," the other monumental drawing here, is also spectacular; the flower of the title has been abstractly reinforced by the composition itself, which includes flowers and flower-like forms.

In a way, it could be argued that Motherwell's gestural approach led to Serra's alternate -- though also strangely gestural -- approach. And the same is true of the Pfaffs. In fact, Pfaff was the student of a minimalist comrade of Serra's, Al Held, and she responded to his less-is-more philosophy by rejoining it with her own more-is-more technique. By combining the three artists, Robischon has represented three distinct phases of the New York School.

If only the gallery had thrown in some Warhols, it would have told pretty much the whole story of American art since the Second World War.

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