Stepping into the big second-floor gallery space of the Whitney Museum, one can see twelve years of Joel Shapiro’s work, spanning the decade of the Seventies and edging into the Eighties.[1] Look in one direction (toward the beginning of his career), there are tiny pieces sparely spread on the floor. Insofar as they are images, they suggest austere toys. On the walls, even more sparingly distributed, other tiny objects are shelved and bracketed. Look in the other direction (toward his present work), there are more small pieces on the floor, but weightier now; more shelved and bracketed pieces, too, not much larger physically than some of their earlier counterparts but visually more assertive. The dominating pieces at this end of the gallery, however, are nearly life-sized figures. At first glance (requiring later correction), they look as the Cubi...


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