Hans Breder is one of those figures who straddle current and historical art practice, waiting to be recognized for their distinct and influential contribution.
Breder’s best known contribution has been to “post-studio” education; he has championed video, performance, conceptual practices, photography, and even intermedia at the college level (specifically at the University of Iowa) since the 1960s. But he has also practiced it, as even this truncated little survey revealed. Anchored by two recent series of conceptual/perceptual works on paper – one playing with the avant garde of the last century by replicating and collaging examples, the other re-examining Op art through a digital lens – the survey zoomed in on several other series from the late 1960s and early ‘70s. These included most notably the “Ordered by Telephone” Plexiglas objects and the “Object/Sculpture” photos, documenting then-live performances by nude women interacting with mirrors in diverse landscapes so that their bodies become a kind of writhing, obliquely symmetric sculptural composition.
These documents pointedly retain the performative feel of the events they have recorded; clearly Breder thought of them as the next step after Yves Klein’s “living paintbrushes,” among other things allowing the performers, like dancers, more agency in the formulation of the artwork itself. This mash-up of old and new Breder hinted how lively a much larger Breder retrospective would be. (Ethan Cohen New York, 251 West 19th St., NY. www.ecfa.com) – Peter Frank