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THE ART GALLERIES

Venice

April 04, 1986|KRISTINE McKENNA

A press release regarding the current exhibition at New City Editions explains that "while most Richard Serra installation drawings are more or less designed for a specific architectural setting, the three works on exhibition are appropriate to a number of different sites." This is the art worlds' quaint way of letting you know that, yes, it is possible for you to purchase a splinter of the true cross.

Work by Serra is as sternly chastising as a religious relic. Recently in the news because of a brouhaha that erupted around a massive sculpture he installed outside a Manhattan federal building, Serra will never be accused of suffering an overabundance of joie de vivre . His severely minimal work, which favors blusteringly macho shapes and materials (steel in particular), is as strict and tough as a drill sergeant.

This installation consists of three thin metal sheets that have been coated with a black tar-like substance called paintstick and affixed flat to the wall. One sheet has been cut into the shape of a square and looks like an opening into a dark tunnel. A second large square is tilted and tucked into one of the room's corner seams, while the third component is a long horizontal strip. This lofty work glares at the very idea of immediate gratification; consequently, we assume it must have integrity and be good for us. (New City Editions, 525 Venezia Ave., to April 19.)

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