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."

MONUMENTAL, MAGNIFICENT "AGE OF EMPIRES" AT THE MET

June 24, 2017

Rhinoceros. Western Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 9), 2nd century B.C. Gilt bronze, rhinoceros 7¾ x 3¼ x 3⅞ in. (19.8 x 8.4 x 9.8 cm). Excavated in 2010, tomb no. 1 (Liu Fei, prince of Jiangdu, d. 129 B.C.), Dayunshan, Xuyi, Jiangsu Province. Nanjing Museum. Photo: Courtesy Nanjing Museum.
Anybody who knows anything about me knows that I’m passionate about the Han Dynasty, so it goes almost without saying that I am delighted with the latest show of it at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, entitled “Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 BC – A. D. 220)” (through July 16). (more…)

EMOTION AMID TRANQUILITY: GREECE ON FIFTH AVENUE

June 14, 2017

Installation view of "A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC – 200 AD" at the Onassis Cultural Center New York. Photo by Joseph Coscia, Jr.
Recently, the New York Times ran a long article in its Sunday Style section on how anxiety is so widespread these days that it’s a social phenomenon as opposed to a merely psychological one. But you’d never guess it from the wonderful tranquility that reigns at the Onassis Cultural Center, despite the fact that its current show is titled, “A World of Emotions: Ancient Greece, 700 BC – 200 AD” (through June 24). (more…)

THE MARCH ART FAIRS (BELATEDLY)

June 10, 2017

Tags: Helen Frankenthler

Helen Frankenthaler, Summer Insignia, 1969. Acrylic on canvas, 95 x 85.25 in. Courtesy Leslie Feely.
On the first weekend in March every year, this town goes wild with art fairs. But they are over so soon that my readers can't see what I would have been talking about, had I rushed to review them. So I take my time -- nor do I feel a compulsion to review other art fairs since (Frieze, for example). My philosophy is that most art fairs are similar -- with some exceptions, which are as easy to spot in New York in March as they would be in Miami in December or at Basel in June. (more…)

MOMA, TNC & MATISSE GOING VIRAL IN MONTCLAIR

June 5, 2017

Tags: Francis Picabia, Cara London, Matisse

"Matisse and American Art" (left to right: Frankenthaler, Matisse, Rothko). Photo by Peter Jacobs/Courtesy of Montclair Art Museum
Once again, you catch me in my Goldilocks mode: I recently had three differently-sized (and differently oriented) art experiences. The biggest (and least attractive) was a trip to MoMA; the smallest (and considerably more attractive) took place in an East Village theater; and the middle-sized (altogether excellent) involves the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey. (more…)

THE WHITNEY BIENNIAL: TWO GOOD PLUS TWO HALF GOOD ARTISTS

June 1, 2017

Tags: Carrie Moyer, Shara Hughes, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Aliza Nisenbaum

Aliza Nisenbaum (b. 1977), La Talaverita, Sunday Morning NY Times, 2016. Oil on linen, 68 x 88 in. (172.7 x 223.5 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy T293 Gallery, Rome and Mary Mary, Glasgow.
Over the years, I have learned the hard way not to expect too much from the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art (which will be with us until June 11). Nor have my expectations ever been far wide of the mark. This time around, though, things were slightly different... (more…)

JOHN GRIEFEN AT GALERIE BORN BERLIN

May 29, 2017

Tags: John Griefen

A review by David Evison

Ken Noland once said to me when talking about younger painters, "They are not coming up with anything new ". John Griefen is not exactly younger generation, but he certainly is coming up with something new. And this is made clear and beyond doubt with his plexiglass paintings at Galerie Born Berlin (until 10 June). (more…)

A TALE OF TWO BOROUGHS

May 25, 2017

Tags: Dana Gordon, William Gropper, Fran Kornfeld, Willard Boepple, Eleanor Steinadler, Hofmann, Miró

Joan Miró, "Femmes au bord du lac à la surface irisée par le passage d’un cygne (Women at the Edge of the Lake Made Iridescent by the Passage of a Swan)," Palma de Mallorca, May 14, 1941. Gouache and oil wash on paper, 18 1/8 x 15 inches (46 x 38 cm). Private Collection. © 2017 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.
I suffer from anti-snob snobbery. I fight it as some shows & venues have good art despite being chic. Brooklyn additionally irks me because our mayor, Bill de Blasio, boasts of being a Brooklynite and wouldn’t move into Gracie Mansion, the mayor’s elegant official residence in Manhattan, for donkey’s years. Here, however, I will report on five Brooklyn shows and two in Manhattan. What do they prove? We shall see. (more…)

CONTEXT RUN WILD FOR SEURAT AT THE MET

May 18, 2017

Tags: Seurat

Georges Seurat (French, Paris 1859-1891 Paris). Trombonist. 1887–88. Conté crayon with white chalk on paper, 12 1/4 x 9 3/8 in. (31.1 x 23.8 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986.
Hercules Segers had nothing on Georges Seurat (1859-1891) when it comes to the magic of mystery, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the darkling splendor of his great painting, “La Parade” (1888), centerpiece of an absorbing and often enjoyable, but sometimes infuriating exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art called “Seurat’s Circus Sideshow” (through May 29). (more…)

THREE WITH BRIO

May 13, 2017

Tags: Catherine Perehudoff, Friedel Dzubas, Larry Zox

Larry Zox (1937-2006), Cordova Diamond Drill, 1967. Acrylic on canvas, 66 x 48 inches. Courtesy Berry Campbell.
There are so many lively shows around that some go by even before I can write about them—case in point being ”Catherine Perehudoff: Paintings” at Artifact (closed April 23). But a couple of other goodies remain open for your viewing pleasure: “Friedel Dzubas: Sketches” at Leslie Feely Fine Art (through June 30) and “Larry Zox” at Berry Campbell (through May 26). (more…)

JAWLENSKY AT THE NEUE: RUSSIAN EXPRESSIONISM

May 11, 2017

Tags: Jawlensky

Alexei Jawlensky, Byzantine Woman (Bright Lips), 1913. Oil on board. Centre Pompidou. Musée National d'Art Moderne / Centre de création industrielle, Donation de M. Robert Haas en 1982. © CNAC/MNAM/Dist. RMN-Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY.
Fortunately, there is nothing dim or subtle about the best work of the Russian-born German Expressionist “Alexei Jawlensky,” whose most entertaining retrospective of some 75 paintings is currently gracing the Neue Galerie (through May 29). His boldly simplified and vigorously-colored style made him a worthy friend of -- and rival to -- Wassily Kandinsky in the early years of the 20th century, though even before the onset of World War I, they had begun to go their separate ways. (more…)