3/06/10 9:40 PM
The art history of minimalism and post-minimalism is a funny thing. Not funny ha ha but funny strange. What to do with work that registers not at all in reproduction, but which is so challenging to see in person today? Experimental work like Eva Hesse’s has in many cases changed so radically in its material composition as to be almost unrecognizable in its current form. Hefty, threatening work like Richard Serra’s needs to be experienced in person if it is to be felt at all. One solution, which seems to be that proposed by Nicole Langille, is to make work in the present that revisits the work of these and other related artists. Fortunately Langille does not do this literally; instead she makes drawings, sculptures and installations that reference, sometimes subtly, sometimes not, work by Hesse and Serra, as well as James Lee Byars, Richard Tuttle and Robert Irwin. At least, that’s who I recognized. None of these artists are actually called out by name in Langille’s work, and anyone who doesn’t know their recent art history backwards and forwards would even get the references. But this doesn’t necessarily even matter. The work of these historical artists was vanguard the first time round, and much of it is precious and lovely this second time, under Langille’s care.