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Square Roots 

Bruce Nauman, Carl Andre, Melissa Kretschmer

Wednesday, Feb 27 2008

Marrying high-concept New York minimalism to aw-shucks Northern California funk, Bruce Nauman introduced a kind of slacker enigma into the art discourse some 40 years ago that has pervaded almost everything since. Nauman's videos were among his most influential works, but — like all those jumpy, grainy, terribly long black-and-white reel-to-reel 1-inchers from the late '60s — rarely get seen nowadays. The films he made concurrently don't screen that much more often. So it's not just a treat, it's a revelation (or re-revelation) to see these knowingly, spectacularly dopey displays of meditative noodling — walking funny, scraping on a violin as fast as possible, playing a free-form two-ball handball against the studio wall — screened continuously in installational formats that treat them as almost static images. And it's a special pleasure to see all four Art Make-Up films — Nauman daubing himself all white, pink, green or black — projected simultaneously on the walls of a dedicated room. Kim Light/Lightbox, 2656 S. La Cienega Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru March 1. (310) 559-1111.

Bruce Nauman, Still Art Make-Up (1967-'68)

Carl Andre, one of the high-dudgeon New York Minimalists Nauman was riffing on, is still doing his high-dudgeon thing, and to undiminished effect. The master of the metal plate has formulated 14 arrangements of 16-inch squares made of coruscated but glistening zinc, tucking each into a corner or against a wall so as to unify floors and walls and articulate the gallery's architecture with a subtlety that approaches a whisper. Upstairs, Melissa Kretschmer works overtly with the Mondrianesque aesthetic and sensuous response to materials that undergird Andre's visual formulas. Kretschmer's compositions hang on the wall, where they engage in dynamic interplays of vertical and horizontal, light and dark, rough and smooth, symmetric and asymmetric. Kretschmer delights most, however, in tone and texture, fusing wood, paper, and vellum around and under translucent or opaque swaths of beeswax. The well-reasoned, well-worked results are austerely sexy. Ace Gallery Beverly Hills, 9430 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru March 1. (310) 858-9090.

click to enlarge Bruce Nauman, Still Art Make-Up (1967-'68)
  • Bruce Nauman, Still Art Make-Up (1967-'68)

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