Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gallery Visit: Ameringer: Judy Pfaff

Judy Pfaff's Frio
I went to Chelsea last week to see the Judy Pfaff show at the Ameringer Gallery on West 22 Street, inspired by Roberta Smith's review in the New York Times. The show, "Five Decades," featured several of her amazing wall-size (sometimes room-size) exhuberant explosions of wiggley wire, bits of painted wood, paper lanterns, tin cans, all suspended in the air by meticulous construction that made the giant sculptures seem to be miraculous assemblages that appear weightless. Pfaff has always been one of my favorite sculptors. I marvel at the way she pulls dozens of tiny disparate elements together in one powerful work.

Pictured here is "Frio, from her 1984 Badlands Series. It is one of my favorites. Using a minimalist's palette of white, black and some in-between grays, Pfaff creates a stark, formalist work, that suggests the romance and poetry of birch trees, the woods, a metaphor for nature itself.

Judy Pfaff (1946) is an American sculptor who hit her stride in the 1970's along with artists Lynda Benglis, Gordon Matta-Clark and Richard Tuttle. She is a minimalist but without the constraints of minimalism and conceptual art. Her work ventures toward site-specific installations and large expansive pieces that are permanently attached to a wall. Pfaff received a BFA from Washington University and an MFA from Yale University. She has received many awards among them the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. Mac Arthur Foundation award. Pfaff work is included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

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