Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. Published in hard copy 5-7 times a year. New shows: "events;" hard-copy rates & how to support the online edition: "works."

VAN DYCK AT THE FRICK: MASTER PORTRAITIST

May 22, 2016

Tags: Van Dyck

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641). Charles I and Henrietta Maria Holding a Laurel Wreath, 1632. Oil on canvas. Arcibiskupský zámek a zahrady v Kroměříži, Kroměříž.
At The Frick Collection, though you may have to hustle before it closes, is “Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture” (through June 5). For those with eyes unblinkered by Duchampianism, this 17th century maestro offers a thoroughly admirable object lesson in how to please one’s contemporaries while also pleasuring generations to come. (more…)

THE MET AND THE MEDIA

May 17, 2016

Tags: Nasreen Mohamedi, Titian

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio), (Italian, ca. 1485/90?–1576), The Flaying of Marsyas, probably 1570s. Oil on canvas, 86 5⁄8 × 80 1⁄4 in. (220 × 204 cm). Archdiocese Olomouc, Archiepiscopal Palace, Picture Gallery, Kromĕříž.
On May 22, The Metropolitan Museum of Art made Page One of the New York Times, contrasted negatively with the Museum of Modern Art. To understand this placement, the truth of the story, and the extent to which it propagated the situation described, one must know something about how the Times treats art in general.

(more…)

POLITICS: THE OUTLOOK

May 2, 2016

Tags: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump

On April 19, I voted in the New York State primary. This, I learned four days later, was my one chance to materially affect the outcome of the 2106 race to the White House.

What happened four days later? Well, I attended a very interesting “Women in Media Conference” at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. (more…)

WARRINGTON COLESCOTT, WISCONSIN ORIGINAL

April 25, 2016

Tags: Warrington Colescott

Warrington Colescott, Death in Venice - Dark Gondola, 1971. Etching and aquatint, 16” x 12."
On my way out to see Rich Timperio's winter extravaganza at Sideshow, I paused at Figureworks on North 6th Street in Williamsburg. Via email, this gallery had informed me that it was staging “Warrington Colescott: Death in Venice” (closed, alas, on the day I saw it, February 28).

I’d been curious about this artist (more…)

6 SOLOS—2 SPECIOUS, 1 STATELY, 3 WHIMSICAL

April 19, 2016

Tags: Carrie Moyer, Landon Metz, Tai-Shan Schierenberg, Gaston Lachaise, Theodore Roszak, Hedda Sterns

Hedda Sterne, Machine Motor Light Blue, 1951. Oil on linen, 39 x 31 3/4 inches (99.1 x 80.6 cm). "Hedda Sterne" lower right on reverse, HS 134. © The Hedda Sterne Foundation, Inc. / Licensed by ARS, New York, NY.
On recent strolls through Chelsea & environs, I saw six shows, featuring three living artists (Carrie Moyer, Landon Metz & Tai-Shan Schierenberg), and three dead ones (Gaston Lachaise, Theodore Roszak, & Hedda Sterne). By a twist of fate, all the shows by the living artists have closed, while you can still get to those of the dead ones. Something here about how life may end, but art goes on… (more…)

BULLETIN FOR NEW YORKERS

April 19, 2016

It's primary day in New York. Don't forget to vote, my fellow New Yorkers -- regardless of your preference! Polls open in the Big Apple till 9 pm.

VIGÉE LE BRUN AT THE MET: MUST I?

April 13, 2016

Tags: Elisabeth Louise Vigée Lebrun

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, Paris 1755–1842 Paris). Marie Antoinette with a Rose, 1783. Oil on canvas, 46 x 35 in. (116.8 x 88.9 cm), Lynda and Stuart Resnick.
In its seemingly unrelenting search to come up with the “relevant,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art is giving us “Vigée Lebrun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France” (through May 15). This is the first retrospective in modern times of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Lebrun (1755-1842), billed as “France’s last great royal portraitist,” and not so coincidentally, a woman (more…)

POLLOCK AT MOMA: THE BEST SHOW IN NEW YORK

March 31, 2016

Tags: Pollock

Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956). Gothic. 1944. Oil on canvas, 7’ 5/8” x 56” (215.5 x 142.1 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Bequest of Lee Krasner, 1984. © 2016 Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Maybe it’s because I’m so old-fashioned, or maybe it’s because I just know quality when I see it, but anyway for me, the best show in New York right now is “Jackson Pollock: A Collection Survey, 1934 – 1954” at the Museum of Modern Art (through May 1). (more…)

WORLD’S LARGEST ABSTRACT PAINTING: BY DZUBAS

March 24, 2016

Tags: Friedel Dzubas

Friedel Dzubas, (Apocalypsis Cum Figuras, A. D. 1975), Crossing, 1975. Magna acrylic on primed (gesso) cotton duck canvas, No. 10, 149 x 675 inches (375 x 1714.5 cm). Photo courtesy Bill Fertik.
Tower 49, that jolly lobby gallery located in a sleek and shiny Skidmore, Owings & Merrill building at 12 East 49th Street, has come up with another winning exhibition. This one is “Big Redux: Friedel Dzubas “Mural Paintings,” curated by our newest Dzubas expert, Patricia Lewy, and starring her truly great rediscovery, the nearly 60-foot long mural commissioned in 1975 by Lewis P. Cabot for the Shawmut National Bank in Boston, but hidden away in storage since 1991. (more…)

LEWIS & CLARK…FIRST, LEWIS

March 19, 2016

Tags: Norman Lewis, Titian

Norman Lewis, Title unknown, 1953. Oil and metallic paint on canvas, 41 1/2 x 71 in. Collection of the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.
One nice thing about my hometown is its central location – one can go north to see art, or one can go south, so that’s what I’ve done – north to see The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and south to Philadelphia, to look in on a thunderous Titian at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and more importantly to linger over the full-dress Norman Lewis retrospective at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

As I am listing these shows more or less in order of their closing dates, I shall deal first with my southern journey & second, with my northern one. (more…)