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."

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

December 10, 2016

Lucas Cranach, Katrina von Bora, Wittenberg, 1529. 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…)

SOCIAL (& ESTHETIC) NOTES FROM ALL OVER

October 26, 2016

Tags: Darby Bannard, Friedel Dzubas, Kenworth Moffett, David Crum, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Kim Uchiyama, Gerald Jackson

Gerald Jackson, A Blue and Green Painting, 2015. Acrylic and pastel on canvas, 30 by 24 each. Photo courtesy of Kim Uchiyama.
This has been a more than ordinarily social autumn season for me. True, two of the six occasions that I’ll be covering in this post were tinged with melancholy, but all were reminders that art – and life itself – go on.

First, on October 13, I attended the opening of “Walter Darby Bannard: Recent Paintings” (more…)

AB-EX AT THE R.A.

October 15, 2016

Tags: David Smith

David Smith Courtyard at the Royal Academy. Photo © David Parry, Royal Academy of Arts
David Evison, the British sculptor, has attended “Abstract Expressionism," the mammoth exhibition focusing primarily on the first generation of American abstract expressionists, at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. It was curated by David Anfam, independent scholar, and Edith Devaney, of the R.A., and will be on through January 2, 2017. Evison attended with Jennifer Durrant, the British painter who is an RA herself, so they were able to get into the show before the general public. Here is his somewhat staccato, breathless report, with only minor emendations by myself--PH. (more…)

CELEBRATING SAITO

October 6, 2016

Tags: Kikuo Saito

Kikuo Saito, Green Broom, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, 80 1/2 x 51 3/4 inches.
This is not a good year for modernism. But life is short and art is long. Kikuo Saito, who died last February at 76, is being honored by two exhibitions. At Leslie Feely in Manhattan is “Kikuo Saito: “The Final Years” (through October 14) and at Sam & Adele Golden in New Berlin, NY is “Kikuo Saito: Color and Drawing” (through March 24, 2017). (more…)

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: POUSETTE-DART AT PACE

September 29, 2016

Tags: Richard Pousette-Dart, Irene Monat Stern

Richard Pousette-Dart, Yellow Amorphous, 1950. Oil on canvas 45-1/2" x 92" (115.6 cm x 233.7 cm). Photograph by Kerry Ryan McFate, Courtesy of Pace Gallery. © 2016 Estate of Richard Pousette–Dart / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Well, I thought I knew all about Richard Pousette-Dart (1916-1992). But it turns out that the only parts of his career that had stuck in my mind were its beginnings (in the early 1940s) and its long-lived end (onward from the 1960s). Thus “Richard Pousette-Dart: The Centennial” at Pace (its 57th Street space) came as a welcome surprise to me for its inclusion of several stimulating & unfamiliar paintings from the 1950s (through October 15). (more…)