NewYorkArtWorld ® -

Robert Mangold: Column Paintings

at Pace Wildenstein Gallery

by Curt Barnes

Scroll down to read Review

a lyricism of powerful, intertwining curves

© Robert Mangold
Reviews Index - Art Reviews - Magazine - Themes
Art Review — NewYorkArtWorld ®

Column Painting 6, 2003
acrylic and black pencil on canvas
11' 1-1/8" x 2' 7-5/8"

The Pace/Wildenstein show of Robert Mangold's "column paintings" demonstrates how much the individual works enhance one another when seen together. I had seen others of this series before, separately or in pairs, and they were easy to dismiss as handsome and decorative, in a willowy sort of way, but not particularly compelling. Together, the sinuous multiple rhythms he achieves with his overlapping patterns of reverse curves provide mutual contrast and variation as the eye moves from one to the other. (This is a problem I have with much monocromaticist work as well: often the exhibition itself becomes the multipaneled work I want to savor). With these Mangolds, the different curve complexes have greater effect collectively, the sensation of kinetic movement gets reinforced and overtakes what otherwise can initially seem bland and shallow.

Their ostensible simplicity and decorativeness--they're all painted in strong single colors--can leave one unprepared for the conceptual elegance apparent on closer examination. For each series of double-reverse curves is revealed to have been plotted out on a separate grid, each made up of sections mirroring the one adjacent with faithful geometric exactitude. The proportions and size of the quadrants provide the main variable. The pencilled grids themselves form a subtext, another level of layered imagery at the same time that they help to flatten out and deny illusionism to the curves. The paint is applied in a sparing way that also emphasizes the canvas's planarity. (Mangold calls these paintings "columns" but certainly insists on their flatness in his methods).

Column Painting 11, 2003
acrylic and black pencil on canvas
12' 1/4" x 2' "

. . . the sensation of kinetic movement . . .

Column Painting 9, 2003
acrylic and black pencil on canvas
12' 1/4" x 2'

With many a minimalist--Sol Lewitt comes to mind--the application of logical systems had frequently shortchanged the sense of visual completeness or cogency of the work, so that one wondered whether the artist felt the sacrifice or simply didnąt know any better. At least here, Mangold manifestly cares too much for the energies and visual dynamics of composition ever to sacrifice them to wholly mechanical logic; indeed, his work of the past few years, involving outlined ovals and face-like shapes, saw a return to more conventional pictorial composition. With this series he has moved on to a genre both simpler in means and richer in interrelationships, providing multiple examples of how rigorous geometric progressions can--against expectations--create a lyricism of powerful, intertwining curves. Their sinuous continuties can easily be seen as the sum of the discrete sections that formed them; their kinetic grace can be seen, alternatively, as the sum of multilayered static geometries. Seen still another way, the gestalt images contain the record and method of their facture, in an ingenious transparency of process

Our youth-worshipping culture assumes interesting new twists in art must come from the young. But these works are all the more gratifying for putting the lie to that assumption: Mangold has re-invented himself and created a modestly--but firmly--innovative series in the seemingly rejuvenated realm of formal abstraction.

by Curt Barnes © 2004

Column Painting 16, 2004
acrylic and black pencil on canvas
10' 1/4" x 2' 4"

The Mangold exhibition was held at the PaceWildenstein gallery in Chelsea.

Artists - Magazine - Art Review Listings

Art Review -

Click on ORDER FORM for Inquiries - PAYMENT OPTIONS for Art Purchase.

All artwork is copyright of the respective owner or artist. All other material © 2014 New York Art World ®. All Rights Reserved.

NewYorkArtWorld ® - Back to Top