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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."



Jackson Pollock, Untitled, 1074 (P14), c. 1944, printed 1967.  Engraving and drypoint on white Italia paper, ed. 11/50.  Sheet: 20 1/6 x 13 13/16 in.   Image: 11 7/8 x 10 in.


I am happy to report that at Washburn in Chelsea you may see seven engravings and drypoint and six screen prints by Jackson Pollock.  The show is entitled "Jackson Pollock: The Graphic Works" and its run has been extended through March 9.


This is essentially the same show of Pollock graphics that premiered at the Guild Hall in East Hampton over the summer of 2017 and that I reviewed then.


However, if you didn't get to see that show (and even if you did), you will enjoy these elegant little works.  It is also worth noting that the big show "Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera" at the Met begins with a display that combines Pollock's huge painting "Autumn Rhythm" with a bunch of drawings and argues (however tenuously) that Pollock is really all about drawing -- which as we all know is the next thing to prints.

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Us, Them and A Fly on the Wall



[Every once in a long while, I find it impossible to focus on the art scene, and feel the need to talk about politics. This is such an occasion.  I offer it in the hope that it won't offend either my more liberal or my more conservative art-loving readers.]


Page One headline of the New York Times, Sunday January 6: "In Retreat. Populism Hardens its Us-vs.-Them Attack on Liberals."  Page One for the Times's "Week in Review" (same day) has a similar headline: "The People vs. Donald J. Trump," above an op-ed column by David Leonhardt. Read More 

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Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, Leiden 1606–1669 Amsterdam). Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, 1653. Oil on canvas, 56 1/2 x 53 3/4 in. (143.5 x 136.5 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, special contributions and funds given or bequeathed by friends of the Museum, 1961 (61.198)


It's no secret that 17th century Dutch painting is one of the glories of art history, nor are those New Yorkers who care about it unaware that The Metropolitan Museum of Art  has an excellent collection of it – excellent in both quality and quantity.  For some time now most of these paintings have been out of sight due to renovations of its gallery space.  Now the the Met is staging "In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at the Met,"  which is, in fact, only a rehanging of 65 works in its permanent collection (through October 4, 2020). Read More 

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Ronnie Landfield, Lady Grey, 1971.  Acrylic on canvas, 90 x 52 1/2 inches.



Maybe some of my readers have never heard of The Art Students League of New York, founded in 1875, but it's that rare institution where teachers teach and students learn -- all without enrollling in courses, taking exams and receiving degrees.  Such a setup seems to suit artists  fine, so over the years, the League has attracted a remarkable body of teachers & students  Many of these were included in three recent shows that I truly wish I had gotten around to writing about while they were still up. Read More 

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Franz Marc (1880–1916), The Yellow Cow, 1911. Oil on canvas. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection.  



"Mac and Mark" is the sacrilegious way I refer to two excellent painters associated with German Expressionism, Franz Marc (1880-1916) and August Macke (1887-1914). Together with Wassily Kandinsky, Gabrielle Münter, and other German and émigré artists based in & around Munich, these two Germans formed the group that exhibited in 1911 and 1912 under the name of Der Blaue Reiter, and published Der Blaue Reiter Almanac in 1912.  Both Marc and Macke – good friends with each other -- were killed in action during World War I, so to commemorate these promising careers cut short by forces beyond their control, the Neue Galerie is staging a highly colorful and engaging show, "Franz Marc and August Macke: 1909-1914"  (through January 21). Read More 

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Khachkar. Lori Berd, 12th–13th century. Basalt. 72 × 383⁄4 × 9 in. (182.9 × 98.4 × 22.9 cm). History Museum of Armenia, Yerevan Photo: Hrair Hawk Khatcherian and Lilit Khachatryan.

First the Virgin Mary, at the Frick. Now a cross, the symbol of the Crucifixion, to illustrate my review of "Armenia!" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (through January 13). But can I help it if art made way back in the Middle Ages still has the mysterious power to enchant us, and if the art which has survived since then is mostly religious?

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Larry Poons in "The Price of Everything"

One major topic of gossip these past few months in the little sub-community of the art world that I inhabit has been the 98-minute documentary entitled "The Price of Everything." The main reason we are interested is that for all practical purposes, its hero is our own Larry Poons, who has thus emerged at the unlikely age of 81 as a movie star. But the film has other attractions as well.

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Petrus Christus, The Virgin and Child with St. Barbara and Jan Vos (also known as "The Exeter Virgin"), ca. 1450. Oil on panel, 7 5/8 × 5 ½ inches. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemäldegalerie

What could be more appropriate for the Christmas season than an image of the Virgin and Child? And here is The Frick Collection, giving us not one but two fine versions of that subject, in "The Charterhouse of Bruges: Jan Van Eyck, Petrus Christus and Jan Vos" (though January 13).

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Installation shot, "Jules Olitski 60's Sprays" (left, Fourth Hoyo; right, Fourth Caliph). Courtesy Leslie Feely

For some reason, the top color-field painters of the 1960s (and even a little bit later) seem to be “in” this season in the Manhattan art world, or at least accepted as members in good standing of the ‘60s crowd (as opposed to being ostracized because Clement Greenberg admired them, and although few if indeed any of the younger artists most directly descended from them are deriving the slightest benefit from this new climate).

I say this not only because of the many solo shows I’ve so far reviewed this fall, nor even because of the exquisite mini-show of “Jules Olitski: 60’s Sprays” currently at Leslie Feely but most of all because of three group shows that include some of the artists I most admire and have been or will be mounted in unfamiliar big-league venues.

In this category I would first place “The Joy of Color” at Mnuchin on East 78th Street (closing December 8), second, “Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera,” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (opening December 17), and “Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s,” at the Whitney Museum of American Art (due in March).  Read More 

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Morris Louis (1912-1962), Twined Columns II, 1960. Magna on canvas, 102.52 x 140 inches (260.4 x 355.6 cm. Inv#3180. Courtesy of Yares Art.
Moving on up from Chelsea to midtown we come to Yares Art on Fifth Avenue, and a truly lovely exhibition of fifteen (count ‘em, 15) classic color-field paintings entitled “Morris Louis: Spectrum.” This show will be on through January 12, 2019, though if you plan to visit it between Christmas and New Year’s, you will need to call the gallery, as they had not yet decided which days during that period they would be open when I visited the show). Read More 
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