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The New York Times

ART IN REVIEW; Irwin Kremen

By Grace Glueck


ACA Galleries


Starting out as a self-taught collagist in the 1960’s, Irwin Kremen, at the time a professor of psychology at Duke University, later branched into painting and sculpture. The work in this show reaches back to the 1970’s, but much of it was done within the last few years.

The collages, exquisite arrangements of weathered paper or paperlike materials in subtle colors, stand out despite, or maybe because of, their small size and quiet presence. Most have no subject beyond their material content, like the elegant ”Waste Not, No. 6” (1999), a part-circle of worn brownish sandpaper that opens out at the top in a lively burst of gray matter from a wasp’s nest.

But ”A 9/11 Collage” (2001), a faded yellow field tracked helter-skelter with linear clumps of black ink, like scurrying ants, and bearing at its top an eroded strip whose barely legible lettering warns against hunting, makes eloquent reference to the disaster.

A series of crisp, Minimalist wall works, monotone painted squares or rectangles, with snippets of varicolored material arranged in a band below them, is a newer development. A particularly arresting one, of aluminum and paper, is ”Black Canto V” (2003), a black-painted square with subtle touches of white. Beneath it dance small squares and bars in black and gray.

Alas, Mr. Kremen’s sculptures, assembled mostly of rusted junk parts, lack the freshness of his other accomplishments. But at 78 he’s still on a roll.