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."

SUMMER AT THE STUDIO MUSEUM: RICHARD HUNT, ALMA THOMAS, JORDAN CASTEEL

August 26, 2016

Tags: Richard Hunt, Alma Thomas, Jordan Casteel

Installation view: Jordan Casteel at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Photo by Adam Reich.
I don’t why, but I seem to visit the Studio Museum in Harlem in summer more often than at any other season. Last year, it was the excellent show of Stanley Whitney that propelled me northwards. This year, it was Nadine Witkin, daughter of the illustrious Isaac Witkin, who reported on Facebook that (more…)

SUMMER ABSTRACTS: MO & POMO

August 18, 2016

Tags: Joyce Weinstein, Eva Lundsager

Joyce Weinstein, Winter Country Fields and Sky, 2015. Oil and mixed media on linen, 18 x 36 in. (45.7 x 91.4 cm). WEI-00010. Courtesy Berry Campbell, New York.
During the steam heat of a Manhattan August, not much goes on in the art world. But two abstract painters are keeping alive some longstanding contrasts between modernism and postmodernism, in “Joyce Weinstein: Recent Paintings” at Berry Campbell and “Eva Lundsager: Other Night Other Light” at Van Doren Waxter (both shows through August 26). (more…)

THE STEEL BENEATH THE SILK: WATTEAU’S SOLDIERS AT THE FRICK

August 11, 2016

Tags: Watteau

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721). Three Views of a Soldier, One from Behind, ca. 1713–15. Red chalk, with black ink framing, 6 ¾ × 8 5/8 inches. Musée du Louvre, Paris (RF 51752). Photo: © RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, NY
Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) is best known as the painter of mysterious theater folk and ethereal parables of silken dalliance called fêtes galantes. But this exquisite little exhibition of his work at The Frick Collection depicts more warlike subjects – and reveals the steel beneath his silk in more ways than one. (more…)

AN EARLY AMERICAN SWINGER: STUART DAVIS AT THE WHITNEY

August 3, 2016

Tags: Stuart Davis

Stuart Davis (1892-1964), Place Pasdeloup, 1928. Oil on canvas, 36 3/8 x 29 inches (92.4 x 73.7 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, 31.170 (c) Estate of Stuart Davis/ Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.
I am probably the wrong person to review “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” at the Whitney Museum of American Art (through September 25). To be sure, I’d agree with other critics that it’s a cheerful, brightly-colored exhibition of approximately 100 examples of this fine All-American artist’s mature late Synthetic Cubist style. (more…)

“CITY OF THE SOUL” AT THE MORGAN: A NEW KIND OF ROMANCE

July 27, 2016

Tags: Turner, Ingres, Corot, Louis-Jean Desprez, Bartolomeo Pinelli, Rembrandt

Bartolomeo Pinelli (1781-1835), Carnival Scene, 1816. Pen and black ink, and watercolor over graphite. Roberta J. M. Olson and Alexander B.V. Johnson. Photography by Janny Chiu.
You didn’t have to shout to get me to the media preview of “City of the Soul: Rome and the Romantics” at the Morgan Library and Museum (through September 11). I adore anything Romantic, but this show wasn’t what I expected—which is not to say that, once I understood how the Morgan defines “Romantic,” I didn’t like it -- a lot. (more…)

MAGYAR TECHNOLOGY: MOHOLY-NAGY AT THE GUGGENHEIM

July 20, 2016

Tags: László Moholy-Nagy

László Moholy-Nagy, A 19, 1927. Oil and graphite on canvas, 80 x 95.5 cm. Hattula Moholy-Nagy, Ann Arbor, MI. © 2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
I wanted to review “Moholy-Nagy: Future Present” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (through September 7) because the subject was a Hungarian (I’m half-Hungarian). The Guggenheim clearly wanted the show because the artist was gung-ho for technology, exploring every which way to make art (like all pomonians, it values process over product). We were both wrong. (more…)

SUMMERTIME IN CHELSEA

July 14, 2016

Tags: Hofmann, Bo Bartlett, Darby Bannard

Walter Darby Bannard, Green Grip #2, 1964-1965. Acrylic on canvas, 66 3/4 x 63 inches. Courtesy Berry Campbell.
Ameringer McEnery Yohe has a small show of 30s and early 40s Hans Hofmann in its back gallery, and a large show of recent work by Bo Bartlett, a 60-year-old allegorical realist, in its front two galleries (both shows through August 12). Berry Campbell is devoting its entire exhibition space to “Summer Selections” (through July 22). All three exhibitions are not without interest—but if I am rushing into print with this review (only a day after my last post), it’s primarily to tell my readers about the Berry Campbell show before it closes. (more…)

“A STRANGE NEW BEAUTY:” DEGAS & THE MONOTYPE AT MOMA

July 13, 2016

Tags: Degas

Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917). Three Women in a Brothel, Seen from Behind (Trois filles assises de dos), c. 1877–79. Pastel over monotype on paper. 6 5/16 x 8 7/16 in. (16.1 x 21.4 cm). Musée Picasso, Paris.
There were four giants of impression, four historic heroes who banded together to display their work at the first impressionist exhibition in 1874, and withstood the barbs of more conventional observers to create a new and historic style. They were Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir & Edgar Degas. (more…)

VIVE LA DÉCADENCE! “PERGAMON” AT THE MET

July 7, 2016

Tags: Phidias

The Akropolis of Pergamon. By Friedrich (von) Thiersch, 1882. Pen and ink with watercolor on canvas, H. 78 in. (198 cm), W. 11 ft. 53/4 in. (350 cm). Antikensammlung, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (Graph 91). Image: © SMB / Antikensammlung.
I can’t remember when and where I was first introduced to Hellenistic sculpture, but almost in the same breath, I was told that it was decadent, following as it did the archaic of the 6th century BC and the classic of the 5th. (more…)

KENWORTH WILLIAM MOFFETT, 1934 - 2016

June 30, 2016

Tags: Kenworth Moffett

Ken Moffett – curator extraordinaire, museum director, art critic, art historian and most importantly, dear friend to many artists – died on June 21 at the age of 81, at his home in Stamford Connecticut. The cause of death was pneumonia compounded by complications from the heart surgery he underwent last November. He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Horvath Moffett; his daughter, Kathryn (Kay) Moffett; his son-in-law, Neil Parker; and his granddaughter, Matilda Moffett Parker. (more…)