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."

DAZZLING SOV-FOTO AT THE JEWISH MUSEUM

December 25, 2015

Tags: Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, Sergei Eisenstein

Georgy Petrusov, Skier, early 1930s. Gelatin silver print. Collection of Alex Lachmann. Artwork © Georgy Petrusov, courtesy of Alex Lachmann Collection.
If there’s anything harder than putting a positive spin on a seedbed for fascism, it’s putting a positive spin on what Ronald Reaganin 1983 called the “evil empire” -- the Communist Soviet Union. However, the Jewish Museum has brilliantly managed such a spin with its nakedly beautiful exhibition, “The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography, Early Soviet Film” (through February 7). (more…)

TOO PERFECT? ANDREA DEL SARTO AT THE FRICK & THE MET

December 24, 2015

Tags: Andrea del Sarto

Andrea del Sarto (1486–1530) Study of a Bearded Man in Profile, ca. 1526–27. Black chalk, possibly with gray wash, 8 9/16 x 7 1/8 inches. Galleria degli Uffizi, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe, Florence. By permission of the Ministero dei beni e delle attività culturali e del turismo.
Around 1510, it was tough for a painter to make it to the top of the Central Italian art heap. Consider the competition: Raphael, Leonardo & Michelangelo. In this time, Andrea del Sarto (1486-1530) was sometimes ranked as Number 4. How he might have achieved that rank (if not precisely what he achieved) forms the substance of two related and absorbing current Manhattan museum exhibitions. (more…)

LAST TWO WEEKS! AMAZING “KONGO” AT THE MET

December 20, 2015

Master of the Boma-Vonde Region, Power Figure: Seated Female Nursing Child (Nkisi) Kongo peoples; Yombe group, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, or Cabinda, Angola, 19th–early 20th century Wood, metal, kaolin, glass H. 111⁄8 in. (28.3 cm), W. 41⁄4 in. (10.8 cm), D. 41⁄4 in. (10.8 cm) Steven Kossak, The Kronos Collections, New York Photo: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art
At The Metropolitan Museum of Art is “Kongo: Power and Majesty,” an exhibition of 119 works by Central African artists from between the 15th and 20th centuries. This handsome show may give viewers the chance to see African work they have not seen before--but they'll have to hurry, as it closes on January 3, 2016. (more…)

“BERLIN METROPOLIS: 1918-1933” AT THE NEUE GALERIE: NV

December 12, 2015

Tags: George Grosz, Ludwig Meidner, Christian Schad, Hannah Höch, Mies van der Rohe, Max Beckmann

Ludwig Meidner (1884-1966). I and the City, 1913. Oil on canvas, Private Collection.
When I worked on Time, editors who weren’t satisfied with stories that writers had written would order up “new versions,” known as “NVs.” Over the years, I have been exposed to several art-museum versions of Germany and/or Berlin during the Weimar Republic. The latest – and cheeriest – of these NVs is “Berlin Metropolis: 1918-1933” at the Neue Galerie (through January 4, 2016). (more…)

FOR YOUR (MOSTLY ABSTRACT) HOLIDAY VIEWING PLEASURE

December 6, 2015

Tags: Motherwell, Jules Olitski, Sara Genn, Joshua Avery Webster, Larry Zox, Thordis Adalsteinsdottir

Robert Motherwell: Elegy to the Spanish Republic at Dominique Lévy, New York (November 4, 2015 – January 9, 2016). Photo by Tom Powel Imaging. Courtesy of Dominique Lévy, New York/London
Rejoicing last week in the emptiness in New York galleries with nearly everybody at Miami Basel, and working my way downtown, I saw four exhibitions that I can heartily recommend for your solstice holiday pleasure: 1) Motherwell at Dominique Lévy; 2) Jules Olitski at Leslie Feely; 3) Sara Genn & Joshua Avery Webster at Voltz Clarke; and 4) Larry Zox & Thordis Adalsteinsdottir at 57 Stux + Haller. (more…)

PEREHUDOFF AT BERRY CAMPBELL: BREAKING THE BARRIER

December 2, 2015

Tags: William Perehudoff

William Perehudoff, AC-84-88, 1984. Acrylic on canvas, 50 7/8 x 93 inches. Courtesy Berry Campbell.

The 49th Parallel too often functions like an invisible sound barrier: few Canadian artists have been able to become well-known in the U.S. But the splendid Saskatchewan painter William Perehudoff has been posthumously making himself into one of those happy few—first, two years ago, and second, now. (more…)