February 12th, 2014

This is the largest overview yet mounted in New York of the tender, Minimally inclined art of Jan Schoonhoven (1914-1994), a Dutch artist who emerged in the postwar period and by the early 1960s was making white-on-white wall reliefs of shallow grids. Built from paper, cardboard and wood painted white, these grids dominate the show, their units square or rectangular, their perpendicular divisions thick or thin. Invariably enriched by the play of light — especially when their interior planes are slanted — they achieve both a quietly stunning variety and a sense of timelessness through utmost simplicity.

Mr. Schoonhoven belonged to the Zero Group of European avant-gardists and was included in the Guggenheim Museum’s recent survey “Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s.” But he lacked the anarchic DNA that propelled many of his fellow Zeroes. His work was handmade; his geometries were full of personal vagaries and quite different from the machined perfection of, say, Sol LeWitt, another artist prone to white grids. Even when he made reliefs using tightly stacked pieces of raw corrugated cardboard, Mr. Schoonhoven’s work has a tidy, miniaturist look. Unsurprisingly, “Motel,” a relief-like painting from 1956 and the earliest piece here, uses cardboard to create linear traceries that suggest Paul Klee…

Roberta Smith in NYT Arts Beat

Link to the full article here / Link to NYT Art & Design here

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