Friday Reading: Bill Bollinger and ‘Nine at Castelli’

"Nine at Castelli," 1968. (Courtesy Castelli Gallery)

For Friday, a little pleasure reading. In his positive New York Times review of the Bill Bollinger retrospective now on view at SculptureCenter, critic Ken Johnson notes that the artist’s “return to art-world consciousness is owed in large part, if not entirely, to a remarkable essay by the sculptor Wade Saunders published in Art in America in 2000.”

Happily, Mr. Johnson has found a copy of that essay online and linked to it. It’s well worth a read, and follows Mr. Saunders’s journey in search of information about the artist, who was a promising young sculptor in the late 1960s and 1970s before falling off the art world radar and dying in obscurity.

Here’s Mr. Saunders:

Bill Bollinger’s death in May 1988 passed unremarked in the art world, and more than a decade later many who knew him still don’t know that he’s dead. In his 1970 show in the Starrett-Lehigh Building, Bollinger demonstrated that water finds its own level. But the art world doesn’t behave like water. Some artists and oeuvres never find their just level, or any level at all.

To give a sense of just how major a figure Bollinger was in the late 1960s, he showed in the seminal post-minimalist exhibition “Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form” at Kunsthalle Bern in 1969 and the Robert Morris-organized “Nine at Castelli” show at the Castelli Warehouse in Morningside Heights in 1968, alongside Bruce Nauman, Eva Hesse and Richard Serra, among others.

If you’re really looking to spend some time with Bollinger this Friday morning—you deserve it!—give Mario García Torres’s short investigative book about “Nine at Castelli” a read. Here’s Mr. Torres on the exhibition:

The show’s original form, in its aftermath, continues to change. it lives in the realm of rumor, and in Morris’s head, in a mutable state—almost as something that never came to be—just as many of the works themselves also had variable dimensions.

In other Bollinger news, Mr. Johnson notes that Algus Greenspon now has some of his later works on view.

Photo: Castelli Gallery Friday Reading: Bill Bollinger and ‘Nine at Castelli’