A Spin Painting at I-20 Gallery

Walter Robinson’s “Intrigues and Innumerable Jealousies,” 1985. (Courtesy the artist and I-20)

Back in the mid 1980s, Walter Robinson, the editor of Artnet magazine, made spin paintings using a machine he built from materials he purchased at Canal Street hardware stores. This was a few years before Damien Hirst’s spin works. Walking through Chelsea the other day we were thrilled to see that a three-foot-square Robinson spin from 1985 is on view at the I-20 gallery on West 23rd Street. It’s called Intrigues and Innumerable Jealousies, and is part of “Data Trash,” a group show curated by Chris Dorland.

When we profiled Mr. Robinson back in January, he told us a little bit about how he began making those first spins, which are outsize versions of the paintings he’d made along the boardwalk in Ocean City, N.J., as a child:

“You want to make abstract paintings, but it’s so difficult because you can’t think of anything that seems original,” Mr. Robinson told us. “Suddenly the idea of using this machine, which everyone knows about, frees you totally. It’s like this postmodern epiphany. You don’t have to worry about being original.”

Mr. Robinson grew more animated, “Instead of using it to say that I don’t give a fuck about the art world—like Damien Hirst is doing—I ended up using it as a tool.”

Indeed, they’re quite a bit more interesting than Mr. Hirst’s! What they lack in pure flash and glamour they make up for with their handmade, hard-won intensity—it’s like someone dropped an atom bomb on a Kenneth Noland.

“Data Trash,” which also features work by Josh Kline, Lizzi Bougatsos, Marlene McCarty and others is up through July 14. Don’t miss it!

A Spin Painting at I-20 Gallery