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Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. Published in hard copy 2-4 times a year. New shows: "events;" hard copy rates & how to support the online edition: "works."



"Elie Nadelman: Significant Form," at Paul Kasmin, November 7-December 21, 2019. Installation shot.  © The Estate of Elie Nadelman. Photography by Diego Flores.


On those occasions when I've seen sculpture by Elie Nadelman in the past, I've found its pointy-toed ladies and pin-headed men a little too cute for me.  However, I have great respect for the taste of David Evison, the sculptor, and on a recent whirlwind visit to New York, he made a point of checking out "Elie Nadelman: Significant Form" at Paul Kasmin in Chelsea (through December 21). I therefore high-tailed it downtown to see what there was to see. Read More 

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It has come to my attention that a conceptual artist named Maurizio Cattelan exhibited a banana fastened to a wall with duct tape at this year's Miami Basel, and that it speedily became the cynosure of all eyes.  Also that The New York Times was so fascinated by this situation that it devoted not one but two full-length stories to it.  One of these stories, by Jason Farago, made the home page of the online edition of the Times, and garnered 724 comments as a result.   


Two of these comments were mine.  The first, very brief one was to regret that Farago was fixating on the Cattelan and ignoring the good art that so I understand was also on display at Miami Basel.  The second, rather longer, was a "reply" to a "reply" by C. Jama Adams, who was questioning my definition of good art, and whom I took to be a young female artist since there was a plug for that artist's next and apparently very pop-art oriented work of art at the end.   


However, there is a limit to how long a "comment" in the Times can be, and though I used my allotted space all up, I feel I didn't say everything that needed to be said – not least, about the complex and not entirely negative relationship between esthetics and mainstream journalism.


This, I think, is a subject better dealt with in an independent column such as this one, rather than in the "comments" department of the Times itself, so that is what I propose to do.   My working title (with apologies to Sigmund Freud):" "Bananas, Duct Tape and Their Relation to The New York Times."


However, this is only an advance promo, as there are two exhibitions of art in Manhattan galleries that I would like to cover before they go down: Elie Nadelman at Paul Kasmin and Larry Zox at Berry-Campbell.  As they are both going down before Christmas, I need to review them while people can still get to see them, and my disquisition on bananas & duct tape will therefore have to wait….

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Larry Poons (b. 1937), One Inch Less Wild, 2001.  Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 78.5 x 111 inches (199.4 x 281.9 cm). (Inv# 3940). Courtesy Yares Art.



At Yares Art, we have "Larry Poons: First Thought, Best Thought – The Particle Paintings (1996-2002)" (through December 21).  This is not the first time I have reviewed Poons's work from this period, but I liked it a little better than I did the last time I saw it – in a show at Salander O'Reilly in February 2001.  It's cheerful, colorful and – to borrow a word from Ken Johnson, the critic from the New York Times who liked that show a lot—it's playful.  Read More 

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Dan Christensen, Pollux, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 102 x 74 inches.  Courtesy Berry Campbell.



The first third-generation abstract expressionist I wrote about was Dan Christensen (1942-2007). This happened in May 1969, when I was still working for Time, and the story featured the "spray paintings" he was making and exhibiting at that moment.  Recently, I was able to revisit that past at Berry Campbell, when it staged "Dan Christensen: Early Spray Paintings (1967-69)" (closed November 9).  Though this wasn't the first time I'd seen these paintings over the intervening years, I continue to admire them.  Read More 

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Friedel Dzubas, Nova, 1979.  Magna on canvas, 51 x 115 inches, 129.5 x 292.1 cm.  Courtesy Yares Art.




Gradually, I am getting back into circulation – but so late into the autumn that I have a lot of catching up to do.  Not least among the shows I have managed to see and very much enjoyed was "Friedel Dzubas: Affective Color" at Yares Art (closed November 2). Read More 

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Installation shot, John Adams Griefen at Galerie Born Berlin, 2019.  Top: "Dawson Dawn."  Lower left: "Paradise."  Lower right: "Copper Rose"  All 2018.  Photo by David Evison.



(I am delighted to welcome our roving correspondent, David Evison, back to (An Appropriate Distance) From the Mayor's Doorstep.  His review this time is of the latest show of John Adams Griefen at the Galerie Born Berlin  -- through October 26).



Griefen has for many years made paintings which should not be photographed because he shows us that  they are for eyesight alone. Of course we need reproductions, be it to promote, sell or to remind. But look at "Hotspur" (2019) in this exhibition! Its bright crimson is  Read More 

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As some readers of this column may already have deduced, it is on an extended summer hiatus. This hiatus was only briefly interrupted when Piri Halasz gave a talk for the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in East Hampton on August 18. The talk seems to have gone over well (as nearly as she could tell).


On her way to the talk, she was able to stop off at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, and see "Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown" (through October 27).  She couldn't have done it without the aid of the invaluable Katie Crum, who took her around the entire show in a wheelchair.  Big thanks to Katie!  Particularly since the entire show is a treat for the eyes.  The first five of the 31 paintings on display were done in 1950-51, when Frankenthaler was still attending Hans Hofmann's art school and learning her trade, but the remaining 26 exemplify an absolutely peak period in her long and distinguished career, the late 1950s on through the 1960s. This was when she was just transitioning from her frenziedly energetic & vital Dionysian period to her more serene, detached and harmonious Apollonian one.   Piri is so glad she saw this marvelous show, and urges everybody who wants a truly beautiful and moving esthetic experience to go and see it for themselves-- all three roomy galleries of it!  


Piri is now clearing the decks for her expected knee surgery on August 26.  She doesn't know how long her rehab will take, but still plans to be back on the job again whenever in the autumn she feels entirely comfortable patrolling those hard grey pavements of New York

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William Perehudoff (1918 - 2013), AC-87-85, 1987. Acrylic on canvas, 55 5/8 x 53 7/8 in. (141.3 x 136.8 cm). © Perehudoff Artwork. Courtesy Berry Campbell Gallery, New York



Berry Campbell has so many interesting exhibitions that I have to ration my visits there.  However, this show was a standout.  Covering nearly four decades in the career of one of Canada's most illustrious painters, it was entitled, "William Perehudoff: Architect of Color" (closed May 24). Read More 

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Frank Bowling
Tate Britain, 31 May – 26 August 2019

Ziff 1974. Acrylic paint on canvas. 2010 x 1460 mm.Private collection, London. Courtesy of Jessica McCormack. © Frank Bowling. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019


FMD is indeed fortunate to have a review of "Frank Bowling," the massive retrospective at Tate Britain (through August 26).  It was written by David Evison, the British sculptor, whose most recent exhibition has just closed in Beijing. Read More 

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I am so sorry to have to report that John McLean, the British painter, has died at the age of 80 from the Parkinson's disease that he had suffered from for years.  Read More 

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