Unpublished, and not edited; written April/May 1978 for Art News
by Wade Saunders —
Upon receiving my unsolicited texts, Donald Goddard, the editor of Art News, invited me to his office in April 1978 and asked if there were current exhibitions I wished to review. I proposed those of Bryan Hunt and Charles Ginnever. He accepted my choices and asked me to write around 300 words on each artist. I wrote the reviews and mailed them in. Goddard contacted me and said that he liked the texts, but that Milton Esterow, the magazine’s owner and publisher, found them insufficiently “journalistic.” Goddard regretted that he could not publish them. I appreciated him making the effort to tell me what had happened. He was let go several months later.
Charles Ginnever recently showed ten small steel sculptures done over the past three years. Each sculpture is part of an edition of six, and is the maquette for a larger work. Seven have already been executed in Cor-Ten plate with dimensions ranging up over thirty feet. In issuing the pieces as editions Ginnever marks them as sculptures, not as working studies.
The sculptures verge on being programmatic but are looser and livelier. The plates are skinny near-parallelograms, seemingly modular but actually not. Each plate is bent on its shorter diagonal. The amount of bend is progressive from plate to plate within a sculpture. In each piece the most bent plate rests a long and a short side on a base plane. The other plates touch the base with only a short edge. The plates arch their way up like an armadillo’s spine. Each plate connects to the one below it at a single point—acute comer resting on obtuse corner. This joining sequence repeats throughout.
Ginnever sometimes seems unconcerned with the physical making or actual look of his pieces. Described in pictures or prose they may appear effective and clearly made. Closely examined the small pieces are neither. As noted each sculpture is welded to a flat steel base. The bases dominate the pieces without suggesting sites. They hinder the play of positive and negative volumes. Covering them with gravel, as was done in this installation, offers no solution. Welded down as they are, the plates needn’t be physically joined. In any case the joining could be done cleanly. But Ginnever welds and grinds each juncture, creating a region not belonging to either plate, a region which attenuates the planar transitions. The pieces are bland rendered at this scale, like reheated leftovers,
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