(An Appropriate Distance)


FROM THE MAYOR'S DOORSTEP

By Piri Halasz

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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."

FRIEDEL DZUBAS: A TALE OF TWO GALLERIES

April 26, 2015

Tags: Friedel Dzubas

Friedel Dzubas, Chenango, 1973. Acrylic (Magna) on canvas, 46 x 172 inches. Courtesy Loretta Howard Gallery.
Sometimes an artist is too big for one gallery. Take Friedel Dzubas, currently featured at Loretta Howard in Chelsea and Elkon on the Upper East Side. Each exhibition offers a different aspect of Dzubas—and both fit right into their neighborhoods.

In a nutshell, Chelsea values process, while the Upper East Side digs serenity. Dzubas, though he died in 1994, was – and remains – able to excel in both. (more…)

HAPPY MARRIAGE: BANNARD AT BERRY CAMPBELL

April 15, 2015

Tags: Darby Bannard

Walter Darby Bannard, Yellow Rose #1, 1963. Alkyd Resin on canvas, 66 3/4 x 62 3/4 inches. Courtesy Berry Campbell Gallery.
I have two problems with the semantics surrounding the exhibition I am about to review. I have no problems whatsoever with the exhibition itself, which is a model marriage between modernism and minimalism, a true beauty.

The show I allude to, of course, is “Walter Darby Bannard: Minimal Color Field Paintings 1958-1965,” at Berry Campbell (through April 18). (more…)

"THE FOREVER NOW" & "HOW DARE WE CRITICIZE?"

April 9, 2015

Tags: Mark Grotjahn

Mark Grotjahn. Untitled (Circus No. 1 Face 44.18). 2012. Oil on cardboard mounted on linen. 8’ 5 1/2” × 72 1/2” (257.8 × 184.2 cm). Collection Donald B. Marron, New York. Courtesy Mark Grotjahn. Copyright Mark Grotjahn. Photo: Douglas M. Parker Studio
Ever since they did their best to lay the ghost of that wicked old formalist art historian, Heinrich Wölfflin, back around 1970, a great many younger art historians have tried oh-so-hard to put the art they discuss into a politico-socioeconomic context. I, by contrast, think art history should be put in a context, or contexts— not only a politico-socioeconomic one but more importantly an artistic one.

Therefore I am bracketing my (two-part) report on the 103rd annual conference of the College Art Association (held from February 11 to February 14, 2015) with at least two major art shows, one that I saw for the first time before the conference, and one that I saw just after. (more…)

TWO FOR THE CRAZE (PART I: SIMILARITIES)

March 22, 2015

Tags: Jason Karolak, Dee Solin

Jason Karolak, "Untitled (P-1437), 2014. Oil on linen, 20 x 17 inches, JK10177. Courtesy McKenzie Fine Art, NY.
On January 23, Holland Cotter sniffed in The New York Times at “the current craze for abstraction.” He dissed it again on February 27, suggesting that his readers might be fed up with “brain-dead abstraction.”

To me (& most of my friends), the idea of a “craze for abstraction” comes under the heading of NEWS, since The Paper of Record devotes most of its coverage of contemporary art to (more…)

TWO FOR THE CRAZE (PART II: DIFFERENCES)

March 22, 2015

Tags: Jason Karolak, Dee Solin

Dee Solin, "Cosmic Night," 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 64 x 70 inches. Photo courtesy the artist.
Before I go into the differences between the exhibitions of Jason Karolak and Dee Solin, let me set the stage.

Both artists had been new, or relatively new to me. I’d seen some paintings by Solin in the past few years, but had no broad knowledge of her work.

Still less did I know Karolak. (more…)

ELEGANCE AT THE MORGAN: PIRANESI AT PAESTUM

March 11, 2015

Tags: Giovanni Battista Piranesi

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, View of the Temple of Neptune, Looking South-West (study for plate X of the Différentes vue de Pesto), ca. 1777-78. Pen and brown ink and wash over black chalk, and red chalk,heightened with white on pape. Courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane's Museum, London
For the benefit of any of my readers who may not be hard-core modernists, the Morgan Library & Museum at present is devoting most of its exhibition space to literature, politics, and the more buzzy sorts of the contemporary. If you want more details, I am sure you can find them at the Morgan's excellent website.

However, for the benefit of those benighted few who (more…)

REDISCOVERING (OR INVENTING) LEFTISM IN THE 1930S: “THE LEFT FRONT” AT THE GREY GALLERY

March 5, 2015

Alexander Stavenitz, Unemployed, 1930. Aquatint and carborundum, 15 1/2 x 10 in. Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, 1993.14
As most of my readers know , I'm interested in politics & write about them occasionally, but mostly, I like to keep them & my esthetics in separate postings (among other reasons, because not all readers who share my esthetic orientation also share my political one). Occasionally, however, I feel the need to comment on an exhibition whose presentation of political "history" doesn't square with my own experience of the history in question (readers who don't share my political orientation are advised to skip this posting).

The show under discussion is “The Left Front: Radical Art in the ‘Red Decade,’ 1929-1040,” at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery (through April 4). I got the press release for this show, glanced at it and put it toward the tail end of my priorities, but then a friend called to my attention (more…)

“HENRY'S SHOW" AT PAUL KASMIN: THEN & NOW

February 25, 2015

"The New York School, 1969." Left to right: Motherwell, Smith, Frankenthaler. Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery.
The big mid-winter show at Paul Kasmin is entitled, “The New York School, 1969: Henry Geldzahler at the Metropolitan Museum of Art” (through March 14).

As curated by Stewart Waltzer, it aims to recreate the excitement aroused in the fall of 1969 by “New York Painting and Sculpture 1940 – 1970.” (more…)

FRANCINE TINT AT WALTER WICKISER: EXCITING EXPERIMENTATION

February 17, 2015

Tags: Francine Tint

Francine Tint. Conjurer, 2011. Acrylic on canvas, 48" x 107". Courtesy Walter Wickiser Gallery.
At Walter Wickiser in Chelsea we have “Francine Tint: Echo and Shadow” (through February 25). Technically, this is only half of a two-person show, but Tint’s 14 paintings -- ranging in size from small to large, and all pure abstractions-- occupy the large central space in this gallery and the larger front one of its two side spaces. (more…)

ADVANCE PROMO

February 15, 2015

For the past week, I have been attending the annual conference of the College Art Association (to which I have belonged since my first year in graduate school). It was an exciting experience, but also an upsetting one -- not least because for the first time in all those years, I spoke from the audience to dispute a couple of statements by one of the speakers up on the dais. (more…)

Selected Works

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

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