Back in the 1970s, when impoverished, downtrodden New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy, gallerist Julian Pretto would contact building owners and ask if he could curate exhibitions in their vacant Soho and Tribeca storefronts. Pretto convinced landlords that his exhibitions would bring people to the neighborhoods, raise the profile of their buildings, and help them gain permanent tenants. Eventually Pretto had several permanent galleries on the edges of Soho where his programs featured emerging and established artists, as well as guest curators like Jeffrey Deitch and Rosalind Krauss.
At Minus Space, gallery director and artist Matthew Deleget and painter John Zinsser have organized a fantastic show of the Minimalism, Post-Minimalism, Conceptual Art, hard-edge, monochrome, pattern, and gestural abstraction that Pretto championed.
All of the work on display was either exhibited at Pretto’s galleries, or produced in the same time period. Like Raphael Rubinstein’s “Reinventing Abstraction,” this exhibition draws attention to a group of NYC painters who are often overlooked in the official accounts of the 1980s and 1990s. Pretto’s exhibitions favored artists who were interested in the image/object dialectic and a warmer, less mechanized brand of minimal abstraction than the serial and industrial projects of artists like Donald Judd and Sol Lewitt. The artists selected for this show made objects by hand, and, unlike the artists in “Reinventing Abstraction,” used little (if any) recognizable imagery, injecting subtle emotional content through materiality and the artmaking process. In this regard, while the work here is anything but casual, it nonetheless has a strong relationship to contemporary Casualism.
Among the many outstanding pieces in the show are Stephen Rosenthal’s stretched square of raw canvas, with its delicate, truncated brushstrokes; a bold yellow panel by Marcia Hafif; Suzan Frecon’s gouache study on paper; Farrell Brickhouse’s jagged horizontal beam; Lucio Pozzi‘s double box painting; and Stephen Westfall’s pale yellow lattice.
This is the show’s last week, so make sure to stop by and experience the Julian Pretto aesthetic before it goes back in the box.
Suzan Frecon, Melissa Kretschmer, Merrill Wagner
Gary Lang, Steven Steinman, Stephen Rosenthal, Roberta Allen, Phil Sims
Cris Gianakos, Carl Andre, Peter Downsbrough, Marcia Hafif, Antonella Piemontese
Betsy Kaufman, Lucio Pozzi, Stephen Antonakos
Artists include Rene Pierre Allain, Roberta Allen, Taka Amano, Carl Andre, Stephen Antonakos, Robert Barry, Tom Brazelton, Farrell Brickhouse, Rosemarie Castoro, Peter Downsbrough, Kathy Drasher, Gail Fitzgerald, Suzan Frecon, Cris Gianakos, Christian Haub, Nancy Haynes, Marcia Hafif, Betsy Kaufman, Melissa Kretschmer, Gary Lang, Ellen Lanyon, Christopher Lea, Julian Lethbridge, Daniel Levine, Sol Lewitt, Tom Martinelli, Gregory Montreuil, Olivier Mosset, Mary Obering, Antonella Piemontese, Donald Powley, Lucio Pozzi, Daniel Reynolds, Stephen Rosenthal, DM Simons, Phil Sims, Cary Smith, Steven Steinman, Li Trincere, Ted Victoria, Merrill Wagner, Oliver Wasow, Stephen Westfall, Robert Yasuda, John Zinsser & others
Image at top: Installation view "Julian Pretto" at Minus Space, Stephen Westfall, Cary Smith, Christian Haub.
"Julian Pretto Gallery," orgainzed in collaboration with artist John Zinsser. Minus Space, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY. Through October 25, 2013.