print

The New York Times

May 6, 2010
ART IN REVIEW

Lucio Fontana, Robert Beck and Donald Moffett

Roberta Smith

That the New York gallery world may be entering the phase of the ostentatious “project space” is signaled by the narrow, beautifully restored Victorian house on East 64th Street that Marianne Boesky has rented for exhibitions that juxtapose older art with work by artists she represents. Obviously, this may further sales, but the endeavor has benefits, like the chance to see more of the Argentine-born Italian modernist Lucio Fontana, and in a setting that is itself worth a visit.
Outstanding among the Fontanas are two works from 1960 that consist of raw linen whose constellations of punctures, varying in diameter, have the prancing energy of Miró. Also good, and less familiar, is a 1961 canvas roughly slathered with a diagonal downpour of green and brown paint and completed with a single, clean, vertical cut. The vigorous paint is especially aggressive. No wonder later Fontanas, with clean cuts in clean, monochrome fields, often look overly elegant and inert, like the three examples here.
“Range” is a 1997 collaboration between the Conceptualist Robert Beck and the painter Donald Moffett; it combines Mr. Beck’s preoccupation with mysterious crimes and Mr. Moffett’s interest in painting as abstraction, decoration and material fact. Mr. Beck gave Mr. Moffett a pad of drawing paper through which he had fired a .22-caliber bullet. Mr. Moffett took each of the pad’s 20 sheets and its back and front covers and encircled each gunpowder-ringed bullet hole with a delicate, tattoolike symmetrical motif, variously floral or geometric, made of graphite, ink and fudge.
Poignantly beautiful, if a little precious, the results contrast male and female, hunting and cooking, destruction and creation, death and commemoration. They commune with and hold their own against the Fontanas surprisingly well.

 

The signature of the artist changed from Robert Beck to Robert Buck in 2008.