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."

DUBUFFET & POONS AT LORETTA HOWARD: A MATTER OF MATTER

January 14, 2017

Tags: Jean Dubuffet, Larry Poons

"Jean Dubuffet & Larry Poons: Material Topographies" at Loretta Howard. Photo by John Small, courtesy Loretta Howard Gallery.
Two great exponents of what the French call “matter painting” are currently holding forth in Chelsea. The show is “Jean Dubuffet & Larry Poons: Material Topographies” and it’s at Loretta Howard (through February 18). This show is great fun. (more…)

CARO—EARLY & LATE AT MITCHELL-INNES

January 8, 2017

Tags: Anthony Caro

ANTHONY CARO. first drawings last sculptures. Installation view at Mitchell Innes & Nash, 2016. Photo: Adam Reich.
For their first exhibition of Sir Anthony Caro since his death in October 2013, his longtime New York gallery, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, has chosen to focus not just on his last work, but on the remarkable consistency that unites this last work with some of his earliest (through February 4). (more…)

Mexican Modernism & Populism: "Paint the Revolution" at the Philadelphia Museum

December 29, 2016

Tags: Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Frida Kahlo, Rufino Tamayo

Diego Rivera, Dance in Tehuantepec, 1928. Oil on canvas, 6 feet 6-3/8 inches x 63-3/4 inches (199 x 162 cm). Private Collection. © Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Folks, if you want a grand way to spend New Year’s, may I recommend you go to see “Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950,” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This gargantuan exhibition of hundreds of easel paintings, watercolors, murals, photographs, and graphics grandly demonstrates how a radical, though not highly-industrialized, society in the first half of the 20th century managed to unite two movements often seen as antitheses—modernism and populism. The museum is open on New Year’s Day, and this show will end its run there on January 8 (you can still see it from February to April at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City).. (more…)

A BOOK! A BOOK!

December 17, 2016

Tags: Peter Hide

It is my pleasure to report on the publication of a 178-page book, Peter Hide: A Sculptor’s Life, new from Hagios Press, an independent publisher in Regina, Saskatchewan that has also published work by Terry Fenton. As I contributed an essay to this book, and helped to edit several others, I can’t very well review it. I shall merely tell my readers that (more…)

RENAISSANCE & REFORMATION: MEMLING, LUTHER (AND CRANACH) AT THE MORGAN

December 10, 2016

Conrad Meit, Adam and Eve statues, Wittenberg, ca. 1510. Foundation Schloss Friedenstein, Gotha.
Two of the most momentous developments in modern European history occurred less than a century apart. The 15th century saw the efflorescence of the Renaissance, in Italy and Northern Europe, especially the Low Countries—while Northern Europe, especially Germany, Switzerland and England experienced the profound upheaval of the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th century. Currently, The Morgan Library & Museum is hosting two excellent exhibitions, one for each of these two momentous moments—and both with Teutonic pedigrees. Whether we’re talking about Hans Memling or Lucas Cranach the Elder & Martin Luther, we’re talking about figures born in what is today Germany. (more…)

A STUDY IN CONTRASTS: CHAOS & VOYEURISM

December 2, 2016

Group of Celadon Figurines. Three Kingdoms period, Wu kingdom (222–280). Glazed porcelain; various dimensions, from 5 3/8 to 7 5/8 in. Unearthed in 2006 from the Wu tomb at Shangfang in Jiangning, Jiangsu. Collection of the Nanjing Municipal Museum.
Two venerable uptown venues have recently moved downtown (which seems to be the “happening” neighborhood in Manhattan today). At the China Institute Gallery, we have very ancient art, while at the International Center of Photography Museum, we have very contemporary. And in other respects, my visits to these two institutions offered contrasts, too.

(more…)

EYE-CATCHING NEW SHOW PLACE: YARES ART ARRIVES

November 19, 2016

Tags: Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Larry Poons, Jules Olitski

Larry Poons, English Fields, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 110 x 87 inches. Courtesy Yares Art
I’ve long admired the booths of Yares Art Projects of Santa Fe at The Art Show in the Park Avenue Armory, so when I received the announcement for a new gallery entitled Yares Art at 745 Fifth Avenue I beat feet to get there on opening night. The inaugural show was elegantly installed in a spacious portion of the former quarters of McKee, and titled “Helen Frankenthaler + L, M, N, O, P—Louis, Motherwell, Noland, Olitski, Poons.” Its emphasis is on color-field paintings from the 1950s and the 1960s, though with some later work, and on the whole, it is a knockout (through January 15). (more…)

"JERUSALEM" AT THE MET: MOST SUMPTUOUS SHOW IN TOWN

November 12, 2016

Section of a Qur’an Syria, the Jazira, or Egypt, 13th century. Opaque watercolor, gold, and ink on paper; 274 folios 20 × 13¼ in. (50.8 × 33.7 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fletcher Fund, 1924 (24.146.1). Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
“Relevance!” joyfully caroled Thomas Campbell¸ director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at the media preview for his museum’s latest super-spectacular, “Jerusalem: 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven” (through January 8). Adjectives I prefer for this show: sumptuous, luxurious, moving, memorable – but you get the idea. Even if you aren’t political, this is a show to see. (more…)

AN UNAVOIDABLE POLITICAL DISPATCH

November 4, 2016

Tags: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump

Clement Greenberg, in later life, rarely discussed politics -- but he had political opinions, and they were to the left of center (some people called him a liberal, but he defined himself to me as a "socialist."). Artists also have political opinions, though only occasionally do these opinions successfully surface (Goya’s “Third of May” and Picasso’s “Guernica,” being two notable examples of "message art" that also succeed as art).

I don’t let artists' politics influence whether I will write about them. And my own segments on politics (which don’t appear that often) are separated from my artistic segments. But -- after this upsetting campaign---I need to get some thoughts about the candidates into print before Election Day. (more…)

WALTER DARBY BANNARD (1934-2016): HE TOUCHED A LOT OF LIVES

November 1, 2016

Tags: Darby Bannard

Walter Darby Bannard, The Windwards (13-1B), 2013. Acrylic on canvas, 49 1/2 x 54 inches. Courtesy Berry Campbell
When word broke on Facebook on October 2 that Walter Darby Bannard had died, I received more than the ordinary number of worried or consolatory emails. This was proof, if I needed any, that he was widely known and loved, not only for his fine painting but also for his teaching, for his role as dauntless defender of modernism in print, and for simply being a very nice guy. (more…)