(An Appropriate Distance)


By Piri Halasz


Report from the Front

A newsletter of art criticism, art comment & occasional political comment. Estab. 1996. Published in hard copy 5-7 times a year. (For new shows, see "events;" for hard-copy rates, see "works.")


August 16, 2014

Tags: Giacomo Balla, Carlo Carrá, Luigi Rossolo, Gino Severini, Umberto Boccioni

Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (Forme uniche della continuità nello spazio), 1913 (cast 1949). Bronze, 121.3 x 88.9 x 40 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Lydia Winston Malbin, 1989 © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image Source: Art Resource, New York
Way back in February, I went to the media preview of “Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (through September 1).

This is the kind of show that I normally applaud: a lavish, clearly expensive, multimedia extravaganza of a major modern movement, with more than 360 works by more than 80 artists, architects, designers, photographers, and writers, borrowed from all over the civilized world. (more…)


August 12, 2014

Tags: Edward Avedisian, Paul Feeley, Helen Frankenthaler, David Smith

Edward Avedisian, Normal Love #1, 1963. Liquitex on canvas, 67 1/4 x 67 1/2 inches. Courtesy Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.
There was a time when the Manhattan art world was much smaller, and one movement could sweep across a large segment of it (though never commanding its entirety).

An example of this was the switch from painterly abstract expressionism to what Clement Greenberg called “post-painterly abstraction.” Though it received only a fraction of the publicity accorded pop, it was the guiding principle in (more…)


August 2, 2014

Tags: James Wolfe

James Wolfe. "Leaphorn," 2014. Powder Coated Steel, 22 x 28 x 18 inches. Courtesy the artist.
As I said in my last post, I remember James Wolfe (b. 1944) from the late 80s, when his sculptures were exhibited at André Emmerich. In 1990, when I was preparing to go out to teach at Bethany College in West Virginia, George Hofmann sent me a copy of Sculpture magazine with an article in it (more…)


July 30, 2014

"Stephen Dean: Jugglers" at Ameringer McEnery Yohe, 5 June - August 1, 2014.
First, I must make a correction before I launch into my latest discussion of shows I’ve seen. The correction concerns the phrase “zombie formalism.” From two references in the NY Times, I mistakenly assumed in the last print edition issue of FMD that this was a coinage of its senior critic, Roberta Smith, (more…)


July 13, 2014

Tags: Jean Dubuffet, Miquel Barceló, Edward Burne-Jones, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Théodore Géricault

Théodore Géricault. Three Stabled Horses Feeding, ca. 1822-23. Watercolor over graphite, 8 3/8 x 14 1/4 inches. Courtesy Jill Newhouse Gallery.
Another promenade on the Upper East Side yields me two more shows moderately worthy of a visit, and one real do-not-miss. The first two are at Acquavella and The Met, the third at Jill Newhouse, at 4 East 81st Street conveniently located just between the other two.


July 6, 2014

Tags: Clodion, Houdon

Buddha in Meditation. Southern Thailand, late 6th–mid- 7th century. First recorded at Wat Phra Boromahathat temple, Chaiya District, Surat Thani province, Thailand. Transferred to Chaiya National Museum. Year unknown. Sandstone 41 5/16 × 23 1/4 × 14 15/16 in. (105 × 59 × 38 cm) Lent by Musée National des Arts Asiatiques–Guimet, Paris (MG18891)
Three current sculpture shows have attracted my attention this summer: one at the Met, one at the Frick, and one at Freedman Art. By coincidence, they’re all on the Upper East Side, so I was able to take them in during one long day. Dealing with them in reverse chronological order, I shall offer the most recent first, the next most recent second, and the most ancient, third. (more…)


June 28, 2014

FMD is primarily about art, but every once in a long while I have something to say about politics. At the moment, the midterm elections in November 2014 occupy my mind—not every minute, but often enough so that I sometimes have trouble sleeping. In part, that’s because I read or at least browse (more…)


June 22, 2014

Tags: Susan Vecsey

Susan Vecsey. Untitled (Cool White), 2014. Oil on linen, 52" x 52". Courtesy Berry Campbell.
Berry Campbell is playing host to two solo exhibitions, companionably sharing the same space as the paintings in them alternate along the walls (through July 3).

Both artists are recent graduates (if that’s the word I want) of Spanierman Modern. They have chosen to move to the Chelsea gallery opened just last year by two (likewise) Spanierman grads, Christine Berry and Martha Campbell.

Of the two artists on view at Berry Campbell, Susan Vecsey may be more familiar to the art world at the moment, having been included in Spanierman group shows since 2009, and having had a solo exhibition there in 2010. (more…)


June 22, 2014

Tags: James Walsh

James Walsh. The Distance, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 34" x 26" Courtesy Berry Campbell.
The other show at Berry Campbell is very different (even if coloristically it harmonizes nicely with Vecsey’s work). This show is paintings by James Walsh.

Walsh belongs to a generation born nearly 20 years before Vecsey (in 1954), but he is still a generation younger than (more…)


June 14, 2014

Tags: Adolf Ziegler, Max Beckmann, Paul Klee

Paul Klee. b. 1879 d. 1940. The Angler, 1921. Watercolor, transfer drawing and ink on paper. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, John S. Newberry Collection. Digital Image © 2014 The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/ Art Resource, NY © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Suppose the Neue Galerie decided to stage an exhibition of German and Austrian Expressionism, the Bauhaus and Die Neue Sachlichkeit, and call it something like, “The Avant-Garde in Germany & Austria, 1907 to 1937.” Who would come? I might be moderately interested (although this is the kind of art that Die Neue Galerie usually shows, and they not infrequently exhibit the same works in different shows).

No doubt such a title would also attract some courageous souls who consider their tastes catholic, and would be willing to see painting & sculpture less familiar than the avant-garde French & American art of that same period. But I wouldn’t expect such a show to be mobbed.

On the other hand, suppose the museum decided to display the same art, but title it instead “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937.” Not only does this promise the heady spice of politics (which, as Ai Weiwei also knows) is of far wider interest than art—but, in addition, that magical word, “degenerate” promises all sorts of sin and evil. It is not unlike what Professor Higgins found so "irresistible" about Liza Doolittle, the fact that she was "so deliciously low, so horribly dirty!” (more…)

Selected Works

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

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