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Al Held at Robert Miller
Some may say that digital imagery, computer graphics and the Internet inform Al Held's grandiose new paintings. It is more likely, however, that it was Al Held who influenced the look of much computer graphics. Throughout the 1970s and early '80s, before computer games were common, and ages before the Web was a household fixture, the New York artist, now 72, experimented with illusionistic spaces made of hard-edge overlapping planes, densely packed geometric forms and vibrant colors that presaged the digital era. A number of critics saw Held's work as an experiment in the fourth dimension because his illusionistic compositions of infinite, architectonic spaces rendered with multiple perspectives could not be taken in all at a glance.
In the resplendent works in his recent show at Robert Miller, titled "Unfolding," the element of time remains a crucial component. Patterns of squares and diamond shapes, cubes, spheres, cones and rings produce dizzying sensations of movement in the paintings that seem to shift or change as one scans various areas of the canvas.
The showstopper here is Aperture IV, a sprawling mural (180 by 240 in.) made of innumerable facets of unmodulated color that dominates the gallery. A brilliant yellow-white light seems to emanate from a circular area at the center of the composition -- the opening suggested by the title. The aperture seems to allow light into the space, illuminating floating checkerboard walls and spinning globes in the background. But one is never certain as to what is foreground or background, up or down.
Eagle Rock II is an even more disorienting picture. The undulating space of the composition recalls a topological experiment. This work, and a number of others on view, may be among the best of Held's long and distinguished career.
Al Held, "Unfolding," Oct. 21-Nov. 25, at Robert Miller, 524 West 26 Street, 10001.