Three projects in the spring of 1985 constituted the second annual series of exhibitions sponsored by the Mark Rothko Foundation. The series hoped to locate and expose artists working outside of the mainstream, at a later stage in their careers, working “outside of current trends, yet in innovative styles.”
A retrospective of Bert Carpenter’s work provided examples of his practice of still life painting: pictures of flowers and studio paraphernalia that congeal as erotic tableaus. The paintings’ emotional content is remote; their facture is smooth (one New York Times critic likened Carpenter’s touch to that of the earlier Pop painter, James Rosenquist), and in the accompanying statement, Carpenter refers to the structural role of the table or desk as a “stage” within the paintings, a device which distances their narrative content even further.
Charles Habutt got his start in photography while working as an associate editor for Jubilee magazine when asked to document Fidel Castro’s revolutionary government in Cuba in 1956, eventually photographing for the journals Revolución and Bohemia Libre. As his work became more politically driven, Habutt developed a conception of photography’s relationship to truth and politics that was grounded in the physical - “the lens’ chisel mark.”
Duane Zaloudek’s unusual display strategy required viewers to sit at a desk to examine his watercolors – pictures made by such austere means they at first appeared literally invisible. This device shifts the mode of spectatorship from mere “viewing” to “studying,” where the experience lies not in the simultaneous perception of all facets of the image but in the durational process of perception itself, as forms and spaces reveal themselves gradually to the attentive viewer.