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…)