Catherine de Zegher, former director of the Drawing Center, continues the fine work she did there with this light-as-air, largely sculptural group show.
As ever, her mix of artists holds surprises, and her goal is clear: to redefine materially what drawing is.
Actually, the earliest piece, Richard Tuttle's "Untitled," from 1972, once helped to redefine what art itself is. It is made of 12 small nails hammered into a gallery wall and connected by lengths of wire. That's it. At first you see nothing; then, there it is. Move a few feet away, and it's gone. Call it a sculpture, a drawing, a perceptual intervention; in a world cluttered with unavoidable things, it is a bracing act of material and spiritual economy.
In fact, the whole first half of this show is almost extravagantly understated. The Belgian artist Joelle Tuerlinckx balances slender, paint-flecked sticks and scraps of ribbon on see-through bases. Karel Malich's suspended wire mobiles from the 1970's swoop and twist like transparent clouds. The openwork weavings in cable and steel by the marvelous Venezuelan artist Gego (1912-1994) work their magic both in midair and on the wall.
Gego is high on my list of important historical figures overdue for a New York survey. Her art finds an ideal complement here in work by the young Indian artist Ranjani Shettar. Ms. Shettar has just one piece here, but, deservedly, it is given a room of its own. A long, weblike curtain made from threads and pellets of colored wax, it gradually spirals inward, its color changing from dark green to light green to yellow. Titled "Vasanta (Spring/Transition)," it couldn't be lovelier. (Ms. Shettar also has a solo show at Talwar Gallery.)
The second part of the show, in the south gallery, is darker and denser. If Mr. Tuttle set the tone in the first half, Eva Hesse sets it here, with a 1966 black wall sculpture that seems to extrude a long section of black rubber hosing that descends to the floor. Monika Grzymala, a young artist based in Germany, picks up on this abject linearity and turns it into an environment made entirely of black tape.
Covering two walls and wrapping around a pillar, the results suggest a walk-in explosion. And the same effect is distilled in Julie Mehretu's painting "Covenant," with its Leonardo-like firestorm filling cosmic space. Done in black ink and acrylic, Ms. Mehretu's piece really is close to being a drawing in the conventional sense, though in the context Ms. de Zegher has created, it is also one more example of how varied, malleable and radical a thing convention can be.