(An Appropriate Distance)


FROM THE MAYOR'S DOORSTEP

By Piri Halasz

Tags

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."

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…)

EXTRAVAGANZA IN WILLIAMSBURG

February 10, 2015

........Sideshow Nation III ..........
AMAZING COINCIDENCE DEPARTMENT

Imagine my surprise when I picked up the Weekend Arts II section of the NY Times for January 23 and saw on its front page the huge photograph of a lofty gallery with many, many mostly small- to medium-sized pictures decorating its walls from floor to ceiling (the top ones “skied," in the nomenclature of the Royal Academy of London). At last, I thought, the Times has decided (more…)

ONTOGENY AT THE GUGGENHEIM

January 21, 2015

Tags: Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde

V. S. Gaitonde, Untitled, 1977. Oil on canvas, 70 x 40 inches (177.8 x 101.6 cm). Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai. © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York. Photo: Anil Rane.
Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, runs the old recapitulation theory – meaning that the history of the individual recapitulates the history of the genus or species. While no longer favored in discussions of biology, it continues to find applications in other fields ranging from anthropology to music criticism.

It’s remarkably applicable to the life story of Vasudeo Santu Gaitonde (1924-2001), the Indian abstractionist whose serenely lovely mini-retrospective (of 45 paintings and works on paper) is currently on view in one level of the carefully delineated space of the annex at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (through February 14).

Gaitonde’s modestly-scaled abstractions are quite unlike any of the works that I normally recommend, not least because the paint in the best of them is spread almost as thinly as air. But I like to think that my readers are not so narrow-minded that they automatically tune out when confronted by art that doesn't resemble what they already know. (more…)

THE MANY FACES OF HORTENSE

January 14, 2015

Tags: Cézanne

Paul Cézanne (French, Aix-en-Provence 1839–1906 Aix-en-Provence). Madame Cézanne (Hortense Fiquet, 1850–1922) in the Conservatory, 1891. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 28 3/4 in. (92.1 x 73 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, 1960.
At first I wasn’t eager to see “Madame Cézanne” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (through March 15). I revere the Master of Aix-en-Provence as nearly a deity, but it’s his landscapes (especially the latest ones) that really set my nerve ends quivering.

Next on my list of most-favorite Cézannes are the still lifes (especially the simplest ones). Last come the figure studies, especially the portraits--which, when you see them individually, all appear very similar.

Add to that the fact that this show consists of 24 oils, 17 pages of drawings and three watercolors, all portraits of the same person—and I began to fear for my faith. (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.

Quick Links