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'Idea as Art'
at the Boise Art Museum, Boise, Idaho
Recommendation by Chris R. Schnoor

Over 50 years New York collector and museum befriender Werner Kramarsky has amassed a trove of contemporary art on paper that numbers in the thousands, mostly restrained, minimalist and post-minimalist abstractions, the spare, ethereal nature of which appeals to his sensibility. Kramarsky has donated 23 such works to the Boise Art Museum for an intriguing exhibit, "Idea as Art." Kramarsky’s commitment to emerging young artists is underscored by the number of unfamiliar names, though a few legends are present too. Sol LeWitt, the embodiment of "idea" art, is represented by an uncharacteristically soft-edge gouache, while Mel Bochner's unfolding sequence of straight-edge forms with pentimento erasures is a classic conceptualist doodle. But the younger generation exhibited here brings fresh air to the often stale reductivist tradition with a deft use of diverse mediums. Paul Furfaro’s dark but surprisingly translucent reed/india ink piece breathes with warm light, while Nancy Haynes’s monoprints on handmade paper register as imprints from the spirit world. Julie Mangold’s graphite on vellum works have a similar fugitive resonance. Shades of Rothko, Agnes Martin, and surrealist automatism permeate the show, which taken with the idiosyncratic nature of much of the work, lends the exhibit a less austere, more provocative air for a more approachable conceptualism.

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