8.1.09

AL HELD at Paul Kasmin
and the Best Quote of 2009 So Far

Al Held, Roberta's Trip, 1985, 96 x 144 inches, acrylic on canvas

The Paul Kasmin Gallery recently showed a group of magnificent Al Held paintings from the '80s. Exhibiting a steroidal elaboration of Held's trademark pictorial acrobatics, the complexity of the space and color nuance in these works is dazzling -- and overwhelming. Even more unfathomable is imagining the technical precision, the excruciatingly detailed process that must have been required to build these images. While the spirit of the work is playful to the point of celebratory, I found it hard to escape a sort of intimidating insistence of craft -- a sense that these paintings are just over-built.

In his recent video review of the show, our favorite guy on the bike and master of understatement James Kalm exclaimed, "This guy used alot of masking tape!" -- indeed.