New York Times: Two Interesting Talents Make Debut

As the art season draws to a close this month, two interesting new talents — both women — are making their debut in New York with solo exhibitions: Kay Kurt at the Kornblee Gallery, 58 East 79th Street, and Pat Lipsky at the Emmerich Gallery, 41 East 57th Street. Both are painters with strongly defined styles. Both bring impressive technical gifts to their work and both leave an impression of large ambitions and clearly thought-out positions on questions of style and pictorial method.

Miss Kurt is a representational painter — a “super realist” of sorts — who favors a specific imagery: candy. Last summer she was represented in the big pop art exhibition in London with an oversize painting of a box of chocolates. In her current exhibition at the Kornblee Gallery, she has turned to those small, translucent jelly candies made in the shape of animals that are, apparently, still abundantly available in Germany. She treats this motif as if it were the stuff of which monuments are made, and, in the process transforms the banal into — well, what?

As Miss Kurt renders these candy animals, they are given the dimensions of a heroic sculpture. Their translucency is brilliantly exaggerated by a flawless technique. Set against a solid black field, with a hard-edge silhouette, the candy animal looks at times like a souvenir of an ancient civilization. The banal has been made, if not exactly heroic, at least ambiguous. These paints are certainly impressive as technical feats of illustration, I don’t think they really attain the level of fantasy to which they seem to aspire, yet they boast an element of expression that cannot be completely reduced to the illustrational. In painting so coldly reasoned, I miss an essential element — some trace of intellectual complexity or irrational obsession. Still, this is an interesting debut.

Miss Lipsky is a painter of a very different sort. She is an abstractionist of the color-field persuasion, and like other painters who work in this style, she paints large pictures that depend on a high degree of technical control for the realization of a very restricted formal idea.

Whereas other color abstractionists have concentrated — at least lately — on hard-edge, straight-lined, symmetrical, and often geometrical forms, Miss Lipsky reintroduces the drip, splatter and smear of abstract expressionism for notably anti-expressionist purposes. For she uses the splatter-edged form almost as if it were a tidy geometrical shape, placing it as a single motif on an otherwise “empty” canvas.

Inevitably, one is reminded of other painters in looking at Miss Lipsky’s work. Specifically, her color seems to owe something to Paul Jenkins, and the general feel of her method suggests the earlier pictures of Helen Frankenthaler. But the real sources here are Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Miss Lipsky has gone back to Pollock and Rothko for the “content” of her art while deriving her “form” from the color abstractionists who succeeded them.

Despite these sources and associations, however, she establishes a very clear pictorial identity Of her own. Her pictures are very handsome, and it will be interesting to see how she develops what is already a bold pictorial intelligence.

Hilton Kramer
New York Times
June 13, 1970