Reuben Kadish – Survey: 1935-1985: (Artists’ Choice Museum, 349 West Broadway, near Spring Street): The Artists’ Choice Museum’s last show, at least at its present location, is a miniretrospective of the work of Reuben Kadish. Kadish’s career, outlined in the catalogue by Judd Tully, the curator of the show, is fascinating. He was an apprentice to the Mexican muralist David Siqueiros and painted a mural in Mexico with Philip Guston. During World War II, Kadish worked with the Army Artist Unit to document wartime life. The work he made while serving in India demonstrates his responsiveness to social injustice and to the styles of the Mexican muralists and German Expressionism.
The exhibition consists primarily of the terra-cotta and bronze sculptures that Kadish has been doing since the mid-50’s. The sculpture is Expressionist. It is knobby, bent and swollen and filled with references to prehistoric and ancient art and myth. The work is notable for its passion. What it lacks is the kind of involvement with pressing sculptural issues that could have enabled the passion to be sustained.
The most convincing works are the recent monotypes and heads, both of which more or less depend upon a single burst of inspiration. The monotypes are of animals and hybrid beasts. The large heads, reminiscent of Jean Dubuffet and tribal art, have a certain inevitability that comes in part from their brutishness, their unredeemable physicality. Whether the eyes are open or closed, they do not see. The heads have a sculptural weight that many of the other works, despite their weighty subject matter, do not have. (Through Feb. 22.)