joshua neustein texts
by Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe

The same acknowledgment of sculp-ture's recent precedence seems to be basic to the work of Joshua Neustein. Neustein's drawings respond directly to the situational emphasis of late Minimal-ism. His work relies on an awareness that we recognize as drawing that which is gray, not printed, and made out of paper. Our coterminality with an experi-ence of drawing becomes, in Neustein's work, co-presence with a thing or group of things. Fragility, readily identifiable as a potential property of line, becomes a function of a torn edge rather than a mark in a conceptualized space. Neu-stein's use of sprayed lacquer - which means that there are nowhere marks resultant from something's having been dragged across the surface - reinforces this relocation of the drawing's space. Which is what Neustein's involved with. The space of a Neustein drawing isn't a space located "in" a piece of paper, but a real space read as the space of drawing because of the conventional - institu-tional - vocabulary it employs.

The apparent impermanence of his drawings - pieces of paper pinned to the wall - declares their occupation of real space while it also reminds one that drawing and sculpture have in com-mon a responsiveness to both architec-tural and pictorial space. The only reser-vation I have about Neustein's work has to do with his insistence on a carefully maintained frontality. Although this may be obligatory at this point in Neustein's explication of drawing's conventionality, it indicates an association with an atti-tude to pictorialism that's still committed to a shallow - modernist - space.

That commitment, in its adherence to acknowledgment of physicality through pictorial convention, rather than the other way around, seems questionable at the moment for reasons that have already been discussed here. But it isn't the most important aspect of Neustein's work, which is concerned with a far more comprehensive exploration of the material basis of institutional language. It's a pity that his work will get over-looked because of his habitual absence from New York.

Jeremy Gilbert Rolfe is an artist and art critic and regular contributor to Artforum and October Magazine. Artforum, April 1974.