THE NEW YORK TIMES | Art: A Wild, but Curious End-of-Season Treat


Jackson’s Offers ‘New Media, New Forms’

Under the sober title “New Media, New Forms,” the Martha Jackson Gallery at 32 East Sixty-ninth Street has assembled a wild and wacky show, saving it for the season’s end as a kind of cherry on top of the banana split. With the cooperation of nineteen other galleries, Mrs. Jackson has put on display just about the gol’ darnedest collection of seventy-two objects you ever saw in your life. Even the elevator (the exhibition fills two floors) has a new canopy, inside, of ripped burlap with miscellaneous, disturbing objects attached.

The show is primarily neo-Dada or neo-Surrealist, according to which definition you apply to the objects of morbid wit that are either intentionally senseless and anti-art (neo-Dada) or translatable into Freudian terms to make their own kind of bizarre sense. To select one item almost at random from many:

Bruce Conner’s collage-concoction called “Spider Lady” is made of murderously ripped nylon stockings stretched agonizingly out of kilter by a garter belt in bad need of psychoanalytic treatment, plus a bicycle wheel (a popular motif nowadays) and some other odds and ends, which photographs of nude chorus beauties emerge Ondine-like from the unlovely waves.

Mr. Conner studied at Wichita University, the Kansas City Art Institute, the University of Nebraska and Brooklyn Art School, an all-American background, and he lives in halcyon San Francisco with his wife, happily I am certain. But I cannot help wondering whether Mrs. Conner does not experience moments of unease when confronted by her husband’s “Spider Lady.”

In truth, despite the Dada-Surrealist preponderance, the crowded show is filled also with other expressions of New Media, New Forms. These include one of Zoltan Kemeny’s beautiful and reasonable abstract metal reliefs (still on exhibition in a one-man show at Janis), which were a highlight of the season, as well as such familiar creations in new materials as Enrico Donati’s muted, lava-like compositions, this one a “painting” composed of steel wool, coffee grounds “and other materials.”

Dada-Surrealism Marks 72-Object Display

With such a range, it takes a bit of doing on the part of the visitor to separate items like these from the parasitic sheep and the playful goats in this big show, where, to shift metaphors, the hors d’oeuvres, the entree, and the dessert are all stirred up together in the soup and the after-dinner liqueurs. It sounds bad, “but how do you know you don’t like it if you won’t even taste it?” You may do so until June 24, and I, for one, found the flavor very curious.

A small “historical section” of “New Media, New Forms” includes as neat a Kurt Schwitters as you are likely to find, only 10 by 8 inches, and so subtly composed that it should be a rebuke to some of the practitioners in this exhibition, which, as one of it’s kind no doubt must do, includes a lot of unabashed junk and many mere arresting novelties along with a scattering of legitimate works of art.