(An Appropriate Distance)


By Piri Halasz


Report from the Front

A newsletter of art criticism, art comment & occasional political comment. Estab. 1996. Published in hard copy 5-7 times a year. (For new shows, see "events;" for hard-copy rates, see "works.")


July 13, 2014

Tags: Jean Dubuffet, Miquel Barceló, Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Théodore Géricault

Théodore Géricault. Three Stabled Horses Feeding, ca. 1822-23. Watercolor over graphite, 8 3/8 x 14 1/4 inches. Courtesy Jill Newhouse Gallery.
Another promenade on the Upper East Side yields me two more shows moderately worthy of a visit, and one real do-not-miss. The first two are at Acquavella and The Met, the third at Jill Newhouse, at 4 East 81st Street conveniently located just between the other two.


July 6, 2014

Tags: Clodion, Houdon

Buddha in Meditation. Southern Thailand, late 6th–mid- 7th century. First recorded at Wat Phra Boromahathat temple, Chaiya District, Surat Thani province, Thailand. Transferred to Chaiya National Museum. Year unknown. Sandstone 41 5/16 × 23 1/4 × 14 15/16 in. (105 × 59 × 38 cm) Lent by Musée National des Arts Asiatiques–Guimet, Paris (MG18891)
Three current sculpture shows have attracted my attention this summer: one at the Met, one at the Frick, and one at Freedman Art. By coincidence, they’re all on the Upper East Side, so I was able to take them in during one long day. Dealing with them in reverse chronological order, I shall offer the most recent first, the next most recent second, and the most ancient, third. (more…)


June 28, 2014

FMD is primarily about art, but every once in a long while I have something to say about politics. At the moment, the midterm elections in November 2014 occupy my mind—not every minute, but often enough so that I sometimes have trouble sleeping. In part, that’s because I read or at least browse (more…)


June 22, 2014

Tags: Susan Vecsey

Susan Vecsey. Untitled (Cool White), 2014. Oil on linen, 52" x 52". Courtesy Berry Campbell.
Berry Campbell is playing host to two solo exhibitions, companionably sharing the same space as the paintings in them alternate along the walls (through July 3).

Both artists are recent graduates (if that’s the word I want) of Spanierman Modern. They have chosen to move to the Chelsea gallery opened just last year by two (likewise) Spanierman grads, Christine Berry and Martha Campbell.

Of the two artists on view at Berry Campbell, Susan Vecsey may be more familiar to the art world at the moment, having been included in Spanierman group shows since 2009, and having had a solo exhibition there in 2010. (more…)


June 22, 2014

Tags: James Walsh

James Walsh. The Distance, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 34" x 26" Courtesy Berry Campbell.
The other show at Berry Campbell is very different (even if coloristically it harmonizes nicely with Vecsey’s work). This show is paintings by James Walsh.

Walsh belongs to a generation born nearly 20 years before Vecsey (in 1954), but he is still a generation younger than (more…)


June 14, 2014

Tags: Adolf Ziegler, Max Beckmann, Paul Klee

Paul Klee. b. 1879 d. 1940. The Angler, 1921. Watercolor, transfer drawing and ink on paper. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, John S. Newberry Collection. Digital Image © 2014 The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/ Art Resource, NY © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Suppose the Neue Galerie decided to stage an exhibition of German and Austrian Expressionism, the Bauhaus and Die Neue Sachlichkeit, and call it something like, “The Avant-Garde in Germany & Austria, 1907 to 1937.” Who would come? I might be moderately interested (although this is the kind of art that Die Neue Galerie usually shows, and they not infrequently exhibit the same works in different shows).

No doubt such a title would also attract some courageous souls who consider their tastes catholic, and would be willing to see painting & sculpture less familiar than the avant-garde French & American art of that same period. But I wouldn’t expect such a show to be mobbed.

On the other hand, suppose the museum decided to display the same art, but title it instead “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937.” Not only does this promise the heady spice of politics (which, as Ai Weiwei also knows) is of far wider interest than art—but, in addition, that magical word, “degenerate” promises all sorts of sin and evil. It is not unlike what Professor Higgins found so "irresistible" about Liza Doolittle, the fact that she was "so deliciously low, so horribly dirty!” (more…)


June 7, 2014

Tags: Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957). Second panel of the triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995. Lambda print 75 3/8 x 70 7/8 in. (191.5 x 180 cm). Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio. (c) Ai Weiwei.
Once upon a time, there was a little Chinese boy named Ai Weiwei. He grew up to become what the NY Times has said “might be the world’s most famous living artist,” and is currently the subject of “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” a mammoth exhibition currently at the Brooklyn Museum (more…)


June 2, 2014

Tags: Frank Bowling

Frank Bowling (b. 1936). "Foroseabouquet." 2013. Acrylic on canvas, 35 x 70 inches Courtesy Spanierman Modern
Despite the fact that Frank Bowling is now 78, and subject to the sorts of frailty that many & maybe most seniors fall heir to, he is still going strong. This could be seen at his latest show, “Frank Bowling, O.B. E., RA, at Eighty,” at Spanierman Modern (run extended through June 12). (more…)


May 24, 2014

Tags: Fran Kornfeld, Amalia Piccinini, Audrey Anastasi, TomKeough, Anders Knutsson, Scott Bennett

Tom Keough. Blizzard. 2013. Oil on canvas, 20 x 20 inches. Photo Courtesy Tabla Rasa.
For some time now, I’ve been citing the title of “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,” a famous short story. It’s by the first Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938), a writer from Asheville, North Carolina who came to the Big Apple and in 1929 won fame for “Look Homeward, Angel,” a coming-of-age novel with a less than flattering portrait of his home town. (more…)


April 28, 2014

Tags: Cara London

Cara London. Lazy Dog. 2014. Monotype, 19 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.
Continuing my forays into territories that I couldn’t deal with in cold weather, I went to Flemington, New Jersey, to see a show at SOMI Fine Art, a co-operative gallery housed in a former pottery factory. It currently has six artist-partners, and all have at least some work on view all of the time. (more…)

Selected Works

A journalist tells how she developed a radical theory of abstract painting through varied experience.
The go-go mini-guide telling where ‘60s swingers hung out, and how they went about swinging.

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