“Alphabet paintings” is the right name for these enormous, iconic billboards of hard-edged abstraction—seven of them here at Cheim & Read, all made between 1961 and 1967—not because graphically they’re more or less loosely based on letters of the Roman alphabet, but because they function like letters of the alphabet. Each canvas is the product of enormous, drawn-out labor—Held evolved them through multiple shapes and compositions, building up so many layers of paint that little imperfections became knuckle-sized bumps—but the composition reads as a single form in a single glance. Every separate element—the flat, clean color, the glistening sharp edges—is reduced to a part that can do nothing but support or disrupt the total function. And this applies in time, too, so that the expansive matte maroon field of Upside Down Triangle (1966), which otherwise might encompass the universe, is corralled by the addition of that titular triangle in the middle—nothing is over till it’s over. But when it is over, nothing matters except the way it ends.
Cheim & Read gallery in Chelsea now represents Irish-born painter and printmaker Sean Scully, according to Adam Sheffer, a partner at the gallery. Mr. Scully, who is best known for his large abstract canvases filled with brushy recentangles, approached Cheim & Read last year to propose showing there. He was previously represented by Galerie Lelong, which last presented a solo show of his work in 2009.
FOR THE TEXAN collaborative team of Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher, the camera obscura has been displaced as a metaphor by a surveillance-state Moebius strip. Everything is exposed for peering at, but there is no outside from which to peer in. Their new installation Trailer, currently biding its time in Derek Eller Gallery, consists of five ceiling-mounted projectors throwing five blank, digitally pixelated rectangles, each tinted a different color, onto or beside five groups of 17 wall-mounted plywood boxes, six power strips, and innumerable wires, caps, circuits and LED lights. The wires, whose elegant parallels and polite crossings bring to mind a schematic subway map, lead up the walls and across the ceiling to a secret control room in the back.
Artists, bargain hunters, charity supporters and cross-dressers packed into Cheim & Read gallery in Chelsea last Friday for “Postcards from the Edge,” a Visual AIDS fundraiser that featured more than 1,500 artist-decorated postcards at 85 bucks a pop. The postcards crammed the gallery’s two main rooms and at one point, the place was so packed that a passerby accidentally knocked a three-dimensional piece off the wall—a photograph with a bending transparency over it so that it appeared the penis with two hands wrapped around it was coming at you.