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."

ESTHETICS W/OUT POLITICS: APPLIED ART AT THE NEUE & GREY

November 9, 2017

Tags: Josef Hoffmann, Kolomon Moser, Alfred Barr, Philip Johnson

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona Chair, designed 1929. Stainless-steel and leather, 30 7/8 x 29 x 30 in. (78.5 x 74 x 76 cm). Produced by Knoll International, New York. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, gift of Trevor F. Peck, 1963.Df.1. Photograph by Denis Farley.
I can’t say why I so much prefer the fine arts to the applied arts—maybe because I’m so hipped on meaning (even in abstraction)? But if you want a maximum of esthetics with a minimum of politics this autumn, formalism is doing very well, thanks, at two Manhattan exhibitions of interior design: “Weiner Werkstätte 1903-1932: The Luxury of Beauty,” at the Neue Galerie (through January 29, 2018) and “Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr Jr. and Philip Johnson" at the Grey Art Gallery (through December 9). (more…)

POLITICS MEETS ESTHETICS: “PROOF” AT THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM

October 31, 2017

Tags: Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo

Robert Longo (American, born 1953). Untitled (Bullet Hole in Window, January 7, 2015), 2015—16. Charcoal on mounted paper, 76 x 143 in. (193 x 363.2 cm). © Robert Longo, Ståhl Collection Norrköping, Sweden. (Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac; London, Paris, Salzburg).
Am I the only person who has OD’d on politics this season? Even if you are one, too, occasionally politics and esthetics harmonize, as is (largely if not entirely) the case at The Brooklyn Museum this fall, where the show is “Proof: Francisco Goya, Sergei Eisenstein, Robert Longo” (through January 7). (more…)

THREE THAT MAKE A POINT

October 22, 2017

Tags: Sidney Tillim, Arlington Weithers, Ilya Bolotowsky

"The WPA" at the new Washburn Gallery in Chelsea (left to right: Pollock, Smith, Bolotowsky)
On view this month (and nearing the ends of their runs) are three newsworthy exhibitions that each make (or try to make) a point. They are: “ Deadeye Dick: Richard Bellamy and His Circle” at Peter Freeman, Inc. on Grand Street in SoHo (through October 28); “Liminal Space” at CCCADI on East 125th Street in Harlem (through October 26); and “The WPA” at Washburn on Tenth Avenue in Chelsea (through October 28). (more…)

JOHN HOYLAND: STUNNING VISITOR

October 4, 2017

Tags: John Hoyland

John Hoyland, "3.12.65," 1965. Acrylic on canvas, 88”x 154” (223.5 cm x 391.2 cm). No. 62228. © The John Hoyland Estate. All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Photograph by Colin Mills, courtesy of Pace Gallery.
At Pace on 57th Street is “John Hoyland: Stain Paintings, 1964-66” (through October 21). This is a stunning, brilliantly-colored show of seven mostly-monumental abstract acrylics by a British painter who died in 2011 at the age of 76, and who hasn’t had a solo exhibition in Manhattan since 1992. (more…)

STARS ALL OVER TOWN—

September 29, 2017

This autumn is a golden moment for lovers of fine modernist abstraction. There are four – count ‘em, 4 – excellent Manhattan gallery shows of stars of that persuasion currently on view. At the new Hales Project Room, we have Frank Bowling (through October 15). At Pace, we have John Hoyland (through October 21). At Paul Kasmin, we have Jules Olitski & Anthony Caro (through October 25), and at Yares, we have Larry Poons (through October 28).

I am a great fan of all five of these artists. However, since I started this website in 2010, I have written about Caro and Bowling 9 times apiece, about Poons 11 times, and about Olitski, 17 times. Therefore, I will confine my enthusiasm for all four of them to relatively modest dimensions this time around, in the interests of posting my remarks on all of them sooner rather than later. Since I have never written about Hoyland before, though, I will have more to say about him (and take a little longer to say it).

FIRST, THE BIRTHDAY BOY: POONS

September 29, 2017

Tags: Larry Poons

Larry Poons (b. 1937). Dimension, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 64 x 114 inches. Courtesy Yares Art.
On October 1, Larry Poons will be celebrating his 80th birthday. It doesn’t seem possible somehow. When I saw him at the opening of “Larry Poons: Momentum” (through October 28) at Yares on Fifth Avenue, he looked just as wiry and energetic as ever.

His latest paintings, too, bespoke an-ever youthful enthusiasm, as well as his hallmark medley of bright, mellifluous colors in delicately brushy configurations suggestive of floral motifs (I’m not the first to be reminded by this latest style of his of the lily-pads of Monet). (more…)

SECOND, THE OCTOGENARIAN: BOWLING

September 29, 2017

Tags: Frank Bowling

Frank Bowling, Metropolitanblooms, 1982. Acrylic on canvas, 35 1/8 x 26 5/8 inches. Courtesy Hales Project Room.
Having arrived on this planet the year before Poons did, Frank Bowling is now comfortably ensconced among the ranks of the octogenarians. He too continues to paint away as busily as ever in his London studio, but for its inaugural exhibition, the pocket-sized Hales Project Room on Delancey Street opted to offer to American viewers six modestly scaled Bowling acrylics on canvas executed in the late 70s and early 80s, when the artist was working a London studio measuring just 12 x 14 feet.

The show as a whole is called “Frank Bowling: Metropolitanbloooms” (through October 15). (more…)

THIRD, CLIMAX TO AN EVOLUTION: CARO & OLITSKI

September 29, 2017

Tags: Anthony Caro, Jules Olitski

Installation view of "Caro & Olitski: 1965-1968, Painted Sculptures and the Bennington Sprays," Paul Kasmin Gallery, 515 West 27th Street, through October 25. Photo by: Christopher Stach/Paul Kasmin Gallery.
Paul Kasmin, son of the Englishman John (aka “Kas”), is nothing if not ambitious. According to the Wikipedia “stub” dedicated to his gallery, he opened first in SoHo in 1989, but really only in the last few years has he become a major player in Chelsea, with three venues & a stimulating mix of historic & contemporary artists.

This fall, all three of his venues opened the season with what can be read as a progression tracing the history of modernism in America, and thereby hopefully serving to nail down color-field painting and sculpture as its logical apogee. (more…)

TWO AT THE MET: CRISTÓBAL DE VILLALPANDO & THE AVANT-GARDE IN RE WORLD WAR I

September 20, 2017

Tags: Cristóbal de Villalpando, C.R.W. Nevinson

Cristóbal de Villalpando (ca. 1649–1714), Moses and the Brazen Serpent and the Transfiguration of Jesus, 1683. Oil on canvas. Col. Propiedad de la Nación Mexicana. Secretaría de Cultura. Dirección General de Sitios y Monumentos del Patrimonio Cultural. Acervo de la Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepción. Puebla, Mexico.
As the summer season wound its way towards Labor Day, I visited two moderately interesting shows at The Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Cristóbal de Villalpando: Mexican Painter of the Baroque” (through October 15), and “World War I and the Visual Arts” (through January 7). (more…)

PLEASURABLE POLLOCK PRINTS & AVEDON PHOTOS AT THE GUILD HALL IN EAST HAMPTON

September 16, 2017

Tags: Pollock, Richard Avedon

Jackson Pollock, Untitled, CR1082 (P19) c. 1944-45. Printed in 1967. Engraving and drypoint on white Italia paper. Edition 11/50. Sheet: 19 13/16 x 27 ¼ inches. Courtesy Washburn Gallery, New York, and The Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
Still catching up on summer highlights, I gave you two shows for which I abandoned the Big Apple on August 19, “Jackson Pollock: The Graphic Works,” and “Avedon’s America” both at the Guild Hall in East Hampton (and both through October 9). Although the second show reminded me of my middle-brow childhood, and the first, of my (somewhat more) high-brow adulthood, both furnished a wealth of pleasure. (more…)