HEREWITH, THEREFORE, MY BELATED REPORT
For those with iron legs, artcritical.com listed nine fairs on the biggest days -- Friday and Saturday – plus a performance at a gallery on Saturday, and (for those who have been through this ordeal before) the knowledge that the grandfather of them all, the so-called “Armory Show,” is really two shows in one, with about 140 booths on the Hudson River’s Pier 94 (the “contemporary” pier) and another 70 or so on neighboring Pier 92 (the “modern” one).
I skipped most of the ancillary shows, and spent four days visiting one ancillary show & the two biggies. On Wednesday, March 1, I went to “The Art Show,” at the Park Avenue Armory; on Thursday, March 2, I took in Pier 94 of the Armory Show; and on Friday, March 3, I visited Pier 92.
On Saturday, March 4, I cruised down to the Lower East Side and saw the “Art on Paper” show, as I have always found something worthwhile at this venue. In a way, I think it’s the most honest of the four, since I believe that few of the fairgoers attending all these shows expect to acquire major masterpieces at them.
All most of these people really want is some lightweight conversation piece, and works on paper fulfill this ambition far more naturally than any of outsized objets d’art that so many dealers like to dress up their booths with (especially the three-dimensional, pomonian objets I saw so much of on Pier 94 ).
"THE ART SHOW" AT THE PARK AVENUE ARMORY
“The Art Show” at the Park Avenue Armory is run by the ADAA (Art Dealers Association of America) and features dealers offering the art world’s equivalent to blue chip stocks. Although a number of such offerings consisted of contemporary whiz kids, the ones that appealed to me most were artists who have stood the test of time.
Other critics might even consider them conservative, the art world’s equivalent to stocks from recession-proof companies that sell soft drinks, toothpaste and toilet paper—commodities that people feel compelled to buy, even when times are bad.
Still, I found a good deal to like, not least the profusion of chairs where I could sit in comfort and take notes, and the adorable habit (new this year, I think) of offering illustrated checklists to the works on view, making my job ever so much easier!
The ADAA includes dealers from all over the U.S., but this year, only two of the booths where I saw work that I liked had been mounted by galleries from outside New York—Locks of Philadelphia and Manny Silverman of Beverly Hills.
Only a few of the Manhattan galleries which I shall mention seem to maintain regular exhibition schedules, so I have rarely if ever visited them to review shows.
Starting on this occasion with James Reinish & Associates, I found a grand display of work by artists from the stable of Edith Gregor Halpert’s ground-breaking Downtown Gallery of the 20s and 30s. Here was a sincere Eli Nadelman, a small wooden head from ca. 1912-13 without his usual cloying whimsy. Also good-looking was “Windshield” (ca. 1930-31), a gouache by Stuart Davis, and a granite pigeon (1935) by William Zorach.
Another worthwhile exhibit was that of Thomas Colville Fine Art. It consisted mostly of melodic landscapes by George Inness, but detailed, dewy green ones, not the brownish, loosely-brushed ones that he is perhaps better known for. I went especially for several Italian scenes, above all the precise & Claudean “Albano, Italy” (ca. 1872).
Meredith Ward, a Manhattan gallery that I have occasionally visited, had an excellent collection of work by abstract artists best known for their association with the American Abstract Artists in the 1930s. More of the works actually on display were done in the 1940s, but I noticed several gems from the 1930s, too, among them a “Plastic Polygon” (1936) by Charles Green Shaw, a sweet little 1935 oil on canvas by Charles Biederman, and work by Paul Kelpe & Blanche Lazzell.
Manny Silverman of Beverly Hills was celebrating the 30th anniversary of his gallery. The show included the first Norman Bluhm that I’ve liked, “Eighty-Eight” (1961), possibly because it was small as well as splashy. But hanging right next to it was a tiny (8 x 10), clean and decisive Adolph Gottlieb “burst” entitled “Labyrinth” (1955). It was so much better than the Bluhm that it simply blew the Bluhm away.
Hauser & Wirth, a gallery headquartered in Zurich but maintaining a heavy viewing schedule of “edge” at its Chelsea branch, was perhaps trying to go highbrow here with examples of Arshile Gorky’s “Nighttime, Enigma and Nostalgia” series from the 1930s. For the first time, I didn’t like Gorky. Maybe it was because of the puce-colored walls in the booth, the heavy frames or the acres of white matting…..somehow it robbed the experience of its allure….
I wasn’t expecting anything much from Sean Kelly, another edge-meister, but was mildly piqued by its show of modest, unassuming abstract paintings by Ilse d’Hollander, a Belgian woman who was born in 1968 and committed suicide at 29 in 1997. If she’d lived longer, she might have developed further.
James Goodman was displaying a mixed bag of art, including lots by people who don’t interest me that much, but hidden away I also found three neat untitled paintings: another dear little Gottlieb “burst” (1965), an energetic medium-sized Hofmann (1965), and an interesting larger Motherwell (1985) in muted colors…
Locks of Philadelphia had a four-person show, one of the four being Motherwell. Here were five small- to medium-sized examples of his work, the best being “Bull #2” (1958), an oil on paperboard , 14 x 22, mostly black with bits of brown and white over on the far right, giving a very persuasive feeling of a charging animal.
Joan Washburn has been uprooted from her long-standing gallery space on West 57th Street to make room for a high-rise and will relocate to Chelsea in the autumn. As far as she’s concerned, Donald Trump has ruined 57th Street (amen). But her display at “The Art Show” was memorable—easily the Best in Show.
On view were 19 small to medium-sized works on paper by Jackson Pollock. All but three were from the 1940s. The remaining three were from the 1950s, including the smallest (3 3/8 x 2½ inches—done on the top of an old-fashioned match box). Most of these pictures, drawn in the artist’s usual wiry, squiggly style, showed wild-looking heads or parts of bodies.
Some of the heads were human, some were animal-like, and one drawing had some bulls and a pre-Columbian idol. The largest (27 x 20) was in brown ink on blue paper and consisted of a single figure playing on what might be a musical instrument.
What a lot of weird things seem to have been floating around inside of this curious painter’s head! But the show was marvelously mounted, especially the back wall, with the large one on blue paper in the center, flanked by two smaller ones on red paper, then two smaller ones on white, and then two more smaller ones on blue.
Another very fine show was provided by Jill Newhouse. It was titled, “Under the Influence: Edouard Vuillard and the Contemporary,” but fortunately for troglodytes like me, there were only four examples of the contemporary and 29 examples of Vuillard.
The Vuillards were all small —the largest being around 9 x 12—but in a range of media: drawings, pastels, watercolors and oils. According to the checklist, 13 were done before 1900, and another half-dozen before 1920.
The subjects were varied, and looked appetizing as I whizzed through them, but I was running late so I didn’t really have a chance to pick out any favorites or jot down their names.
Five other galleries had individual offerings worth noting. Menconi + Schoelkopf had a striking early (1908) Joseph Stella charcoal study, showing three men lined up “In the Bread Line at Wood’s Run;” also a good early (ca. 1902) Everett Shinn, pastel on board showing a performer on an “Outdoor Stage, Paris.”…
Donald Morris had a Matisse charcoal of boys studying; also, three handsome small sculptures by Henri Laurens….
Jeffrey H. Loria & Co. had two sculptures worth mention: a big standing bronze figure by Rodin entitled “Meditation” (“conceived” in 1883), and a small seated lead figure by Maillol, “Maquette for Mountain” (1936-37, 1er état)….
Mary Anne Martin/Fine Art specializes in art from Mexico and Latin America. She had work by Leonora Carrington (1917-2011), a transplanted European surrealist, centering around a dizzying painting, “Temple of the Word;” also work by Gunther Gerszo (1915-2000), a Mexico-born surrealist with a Hungarian father and a career that included stints as a movie set designer.
To conclude: Galerie Étienne had its usual learned display of German and Austrian Expressionists, but what grabbed me most was a winter snow scene by Grandma Moses. Otto Kallir, founder of the gallery, gave this self-taught old lady her first solo exhibition back in 1940, and she became famous—even in the 21st century, at least one of her paintings has sold at auction for seven figures.
The painting at “The Art Show” was a little wobbly, but then I looked at the date – and at Grandma's dates. She was born in 1860 and died in 1961. The painting was done in 1960. Not bad for a 100-year-old!
NOW TO “THE ARMORY SHOW”: PIER 94
As indicated above, Pier 94 of “The Armory Show” had roughly twice as many booths as Pier 92. Officially, Pier 94 was supposed to be for “contemporary” art and Pier 92,for “modern”—the assumption being, I suppose, that “contemporary” was more likely to mean postmodernist or recently-created art and “modern” more likely to mean “historical” art made in (or supposedly characteristic of) the past.
On the other hand, earlier art was not unknown on Pier 94, likewise recently-made art on Pier 92. Maybe the real distinction was between art striving to achieve that elusive quality of “newness,” and art in search of that still more elusive quantity, “quality.”
The displays themselves – even though the galleries mounting them came from all over the world -- demonstrated conclusively how rare are both qualities.
(Unless otherwise noted, all the galleries I shall mention are again based in New York.)
Both piers had special sections at their westernmost points with a group of booths evidently chosen to counter the widely-held notion that the smaller fairs elsewhere are more “en avant” than the Armory Show and more hip to newer, smaller galleries and lesser-known artists.
On Pier 92, the wall text of its “Focus” section promised “new or rarely seen work by today’s most relevant and compelling artists,” while the “Presents” section on Pier 94 promised “young galleries no more than ten years old,” with “recent art from emerging artists.”
True, the “Presents” section included one faintly interesting, cloudy, unstretched “Sea Painting” done in 2015 by a British abstract/conceptual painter named Jessica Warboys in the booth of Gaudel de Stampa of Paris. This painting would have looked better if it had been cropped about a foot across the top.
As for “Focus,” everything in its displays was desperately familiar, especially the show with an all-white canvas in it. This "novelty” has whiskers on it – not only because Robert Rauschenberg was doing it in 1950, but because Robert Ryman has made a whole career out of it and also because a whole French play has been written about an all-white canvas (it was also successfully produced in London and New York)
Under such circumstances, the only critic who might think that an all-white canvas is radically new must be under 30 and/or with little or no art-historical background.
As for the rest, I took a lot of notes but find, on re-reading them, that very few summon up visual memories of what I actually saw.
Paul Kasmin had a big booth, right near the entrance, with latter-day semi-dada sculpture by a 75-year-old French conceptualist named Bernard Vernet, and a painting full of clumps of bright paint looking as though they had been shot from a gun. This was by Bosco Sodi, born in Mexico City in 1970, based in New York and (as even the junior critic from the NY Times who reviewed this show noticed) hot stuff these days, with paintings in more than one booth.
I liked far better a large watercolor/gouache/ink on paper by Walton Ford, titled “Pacific Theater” (2015) and depicting a World War II battle panorama in the ornate style of a 17th century map. Ford, it turns out, is almost a hometown boy, born in 1960 in suburban Larchmont NY and apparently quite well known for his wildlife studies, often of extinct animals.
I also spent a while in the booths of two New York photography dealers Edwynn Houk & Howard Greenberg. True, Greenberg was overly stocked with the obligatory Diane Arbus, but he also had a classically simple, unaffected Richard Avedon from 1949, showing an African-American woman on a Harlem street.
Most arresting was a group photograph of the “New York Psychoanalytic Society” (1994) by Frédéric Brenner (b. 1959), a French photographer known for his studies of Jewish communities around the world. This photograph shows 14 men and women grouped with a Freudian couch, bookshelves, file cabinets and not one but two statues of Sigmund Freud.
Houk was showing a large photograph by the very popular Vik Muniz of a tapestry of Picasso’s “The Dream.” Clever but too tricksy for me. I much prefer the Muniz mosaics of typical Upper East Siders so generously decorating the 72nd Street Station of the new Second Avenue subway.
They are better than the sparser contributions of staid portraits by Chuck Close at the 86th Street Station, and far, far better than the pathetic blue-and-white excuse for abstract paintings masquerading as conceptualism by Sarah Sze at the 96th Street Station.
But to return to Pier 94. To give you an idea of the large, “newsy” objects and presentations staged by various artists & their galleries apparently to attract attention (as opposed to serious buyers), I shall include
1) the huge minimalistic gray rectangular object entitled “Drifter” and created to mysteriously float in space by an “artist collective” called Studio Drift for Pace;
2) the long, large Oldenburgian stuffed object by Sterling Ruby entitled “Candle” and lying on the floor of Sprüth Magers of Berlin;
3) “Republic” attributed to the late Ian Hamilton Finlay and displayed by Victoria Miró of London-- consisting of a row of large, old-fashioned watering cans lined up alternating with children’s wooden drums & drumsticks—all effectively blocking entry to the booth;
4) literally smoking art, created by Glen Kaino for Kavi Gupta of Chicago: a pile of wooden black bars with cryptic lettering on them, stacked around two gold-headed stick figures seemingly being burned at the stake; and
5) an “art vending machine” created by the conceptualist Sadaharu Horio for Axel Vervoordt of Antwerp. It had customers lined up to pay $1 apiece for small & singularly smeary, inept abstracts.
À propos of this last: can anybody doubt the ongoing appeal of abstraction as our most radical art form? Even conceptualists want to make it.
After all these wonders, it may seem very narrow-minded of me to return to the few more things in this whole display that I really liked, but among them I would cite
a) the splendid abstraction by the pioneering Ed Clark at Jack Tilton, “New Orleans Series #2” (2012);
b) the large, moody & more than moderately attractive “Untitled (Boy with Goose)” by Enrique Martinez Celaya, a 52-year-old Cuban-born American, at Jack Shainman; and
c) the airy landscapes of mountains, snow and waterfalls by Ohio-born Keith Mayerson at Marlborough Contemporary. What a relief it was to come across work that (I suppose) was meant to be pleasurable!
A final fillip to Pier 94 came as one was just about to exit to Pier 92. Practically under the steep and rickety stairway that connects the two piers, and nestling near one of the overpriced food-and-drink bars, was the booth of Bernard Jacobson, of both London and New York.
Considering the modernity of his offerings, he really belonged more in Pier 92 than Pier 94, but I suppose he decided that this transitional location would be more beneficial, and certainly his booth was crowded every time I was there.
The art on view was roughly ½ Motherwell, ¼ Sam Francis, and ¼ other artists. For me, the real pleasure was all the Motherwells. Two good-sized ones, “Beside the Sea No. 3” (1962) and “The Great Wall of China No. 4” (1971), were given the prominent display they deserved, but if possible, I was even more taken by the four little ones that were hidden away in an alcove, and that I only discovered my second time around.
ON TO PIER 92….
Though Pier 92 had only half as many booths as Pier 94, it also included a higher percentage of booths with art that I really wanted to see. That said, there were a few galleries that I’d looked forward to, but was disappointed by, and an awful lot with only a few works or only one work deserving of mention here.
That was the case, for example, with the first big gallery that I encountered, Marlborough. Its space was dominated by many terminally cute manikins by Tom Otterness, but around the edges were a couple of small constructions by Red Grooms, “New York Traffic” and “Construction Worker on Ladder.”
I first discovered Grooms way back in the 1960s, and featured his “Ruckus Chicago” in Time. After all of these years, he still manages to gently amuse me.
Hales, the London gallery that I visited on my trip to the UK, had a pop-oriented row of gilded aluminum busts by Thomas J. Price, and three large and dynamic vintage abstract paintings by Frank Bowling.
These three were “Potarovines” (1983), “Cybele’s Yellow Door” (1983), and “Tina’s Choice” (1980). I especially responded to the last-named, with its tall, narrow, undulating forms in rhythmic blues, dusty roses and blacks.
In quite another vein, I also liked the very verist “Central Park” (2008), by a Korean artist named Oh Chi-Gyun. The gallery showing it was Arario, based in Korea but with a recent branch in Chelsea. Turns out the artist, too, once studied in Brooklyn...
The booth of Mayoral from Barcelona had deep blue walls and a legend, “The Trajectory of Dreams.” I could have done without its big Calder and all its late works by Dalí & Miró, but I also saw a couple of simply grand small pictures by Miró from the 1930s, and a deft Miró from the 40s as well….
I found another deft little 1960 Miró in the space allotted to Bologna’s Galleria d’Arte Maggiore, though again I didn’t care for the rest of its show.
Crane Kalman of London had brought along a passel of Americans, presumably for American buyers, but the only work in this booth that I really liked was a white-and-beige Ben Nicholson, entitled “Nov 1960 (Anne).”
Similar story with Hollis Taggart: the only painting that I might have wanted on my walls would have been the unambitious but trim & well-done Pousette-Dart.
Galeria Marc Domènech from Barcelona combined mini-shows of somberly-colored paintings and works on paper by two Latino artists: the Uruguayan innovator, Joaquín Torres-Garcia (1874-1974) and a Spanish painter from the next generation who obviously admired him a lot, Joan Hernández Pijuan (1931-2005).
Can’t say I went big for the latter, but the former has long intrigued me, and the selection here was provocative, with figurative work, abstract work, and work in that elusive in-between area that perhaps only Torres-Garcia could navigate so well.
Michael Rosenfeld was one of the few galleries where I found several works that I wanted to remember. For openers, it included a pretty good & large Gottlieb “pictograph,” entitled “Hidden Image” (1950).
Attracting lots of attention was one of the ten or so portraits that Beauford Delaney made of his good friend, James Baldwin (a number of others are already in museums). This one was called “Dark Rapture (James Baldwin)” (1941), and showed the writer as a full-length nude in a landscape setting.
Another rarity was “Toy in the Sun” (1951) by William Baziotes, one of the original abstract expressionists, who died at the age of only 50 in 1963. This painting offered typically biomorphic pale blue shapes, swimming on a field of chartreuse.
Finally, my eye was drawn to an early totemic Rothko, “Composition” (1941-42), with two bird-like heads facing each other….
Leslie Feely was another gallery where I found lots to like. Several works on view—the Friedel Dzubas, the small Anthony Caro, and the late Jules Olitski -- I had already seen in her group show at the gallery, so they are described in more detail in another recent post.
In addition, though, two even larger color-field paintings commanded the back wall of the booth. One was “Interlinear” (1973), by Kenneth Noland, an impressive large diamond-shaped canvas with a plaid pattern of stripes on it. Maybe it wasn’t the best picture Noland ever painted, but it was far, far better than any of the several other Nolands I saw on Pier 92.
Even more startling and moving was a large Helen Frankenthaler from a peak period, “Summer Insignia” (1969). Breathtakingly simple, its majestic central composition combined just three colors in bold upward sweeps: a narrow yellow vertical to the left, a medium-sized green vertical in the center, and a broader blue vertical on the right.
Again, although I spotted two other Frankenthalers elsewhere on Pier 92, they were both of later date and, while not to be sneezed at, didn’t measure up to this one -- which I'd nominate as the star of the whole "Armory Show."
A third gallery that had more than a few highlights (at any rate, if you like German Expressionism) was Ludorf of Düsseldorf. Their examples of Kirchner & Nolde on paper were better than anything that the Galerie Saint-Étienne had had to offer at "The Art Show."
In addition Ludorf had work from the Munich branch of the movement: a dulcet little abstract Jawlensky, “Variation – Rêve d’Or” (1918) and picturesque (if late) small cityscape by Gabriele Münter, “Vorstadt mit Barokkirche” (1934).
I also absolutely adored a colored drawing on a postcard by Erich Heckel, showing a nude female reclining with a small black dog at her feet, “Liegender Weiblicher akt mit Hund” (ca. 1911).
Hackett/Mill of San Francisco had a number of interesting though not necessarily great pieces, including one of those later Frankenthalers and a small comic “burst” by Gottlieb, entitled “Asterisk on Brown” (1967). This picture had a yellow asterisk down below the round red “sun” and the scratchy black “earth.”
The most distinctive painting on display here may have been the small crisp oil portrait of Richard Diebenkorn by his friend, David Park, dated ca. 1950 and just a plain simple & direct head shot, no pretense or formality.
But there was also lukewarm work by Alex Katz & Sam Francis, both of whom seem to be current favorites, and turned up in booth after booth – as did paintings on mirrors by Michelangelo Pistoletto, an aged Italian conceptualist who used to be le dernier cri in the 60s.
Also briefly noted: a lovely squiggly & hotly-colored Hofmann, “White Relief” (1952) at Hill, from Detroit and Birmingham, MI;
“David Hockney: From Etching to I-Pad," at London’s Lyndsey Ingram (early etchings & lithographs sometimes sparking; late color I-Pad drawings, flaccid);
A pair of pendant portraits in an abbreviated version of the Renaissance manner from the 1940s by John Graham, at Allan Stone;
An interesting Anthony Caro “Table Piece CCCCXXV” (1977-79) at Vivian Horan Fine Art;
And a striking Hofmann with diagonal shapes & severe color contrasts, entitled “Magenta, Yellow and Black” (1950) at Simon Capstick-Dale, along with many mini-works by a weird mix of ab-ex, minimal and pop artists.
THIRD & LAST FAIR: ART ON PAPER
“Art on Paper” was located on Pier 36 of the East River, way downtown and a long way from anywhere. But – as indicated above – it was relaxed and unpretentious, the sort of show that appeals to “young collectors.”
On the whole, too, the crowd was young (or younger). As checking your coat cost $3, a lot of people (myself included) chose to keep our coats on our backs, nor did I line up for the $3.50 coffee, since once again they had no decaf.
Once again, they also had a big spectacular piece at the entrance. This year, it consisted of three 17-foot-high hanging white lacy box shapes. Called “The Fates,” this piece was the handiwork of Tahiti Pehrson and commissioned by Art at Viacom in 2016 as part of a far larger installation at Viacom’s Times Square offices.
Among the more normal-sized art and booths, I bypassed the lush & decadently-colored photography, noisy video, ugly cartoons, overdone installations & other types of popular art that I had already seen on Pier 94.
I was happy to see a booth for Forum again. Although its regular gallery space has moved, and is now at 475 Park Avenue, it continues to mount exhibitions.
At the Forum booth, I was as always captivated by its samples of art from classic bygones: John Graham, Raphael Soyer & Gorky – though I also liked two of their living realists: Alan Feltus (b. 1943), and Linden Frederick (b. 1953)….
Felt much the same at Kraushaar, becoming fond of a 1903 portrait etching by John Sloan, and a tiny but monumental collage by Anne Ryan, “Untitled (#478)” – grays, tans, mixed textures and an oval in a rectangle, and dated 1948-54 (as are all of her works – nobody knows exactly when she made any of them).
Also I liked the pale “Portrait Watercolor” (ca. 1980) at this gallery by John Heliker….
A third gallery where I sometimes find old art that I like is ACA. This time what I liked is perhaps best described as “middle-aged” art. I was turned on by three very small abstract mixed-media collages by (of all people) John Chamberlain, part of his “View from the Cockpit Series “ (1976).
Also on my hit list at this gallery were small pretty abstract watercolor landscapes by 92-year-old Richard Mayhew, titled “Mendocino Series #4” and “Mendocino Series #1” (2015); finally, there was “Cat” (2004), one of the slapstick/slapdash acrylics contributed by Richard Hambleton, born in 1954 and sometimes referred to as “the godfather of street art.”
The main reason I go to Art on Paper, however, is Gallery Sam (headquartered in Berkeley). So far it has not disappointed me, but this time, its resident Svengali, Evan Morganstein, outdid himself.
Outside the booth, on the wall next to its entrance, was a smashing mini-show of 5 amazing small paintings by Francine Tint – all acrylics on paper but framed with narrow bands of natural wood, which lent them body. Three were horizontals, two were verticals, and all were so good that I found it hard to choose among them.
Technically the most perfect was “Over a Grain of Sand” (2016), chartreuse on forest green, but the most haunting was “”Life in Elsewhere” (n.d.) with an elusive palette of khaki and aqua on silvery grays.
I don’t ask indelicate questions about how well anything is selling, but I did hear that one Italian impresario was so impressed that he was giving Tint a show of her own in Matera, a town in Italy that dates back to the Stone Age. Some people there still live in caves, but the tourists are now discovering it.
Inside the Gallery Sam booth, the eye was first greeted with three paintings by Roy Lerner and four by Annell Livingston.
Livingston, a Santa Fe artist, makes colorful geometric abstractions that verge on the minimal; she admires Agnes Martin.
Lerner’s three far more freely-worked paintings on paper, mounted on canvas, employed a quantity of color schemes and approaches; this tells me he’s been experimenting, and I am for that. All three were recent and admirable; they were called “Moonshine,” “Muted Thunder,” and “Sweet Sweet Inspiration.” Most successful was “Muted Thunder,” with aqua framing elements surrounding a paler field.
Richard Timperio had five cheerfully colored pictures, tacked to the wall. Two were composed around ovals, one emphasized diagonals and the shape in the last reminded me of an Al Capp shmoo (does anybody besides me remember “L’il Abner?”). Best was “Diamond Blue” (2015), so-named even though its dominant color was red.
Other artists present included Om Prakash, Louise P. Sloane, Joel Perlman, Art Guerra, Karl Zerbe & Burgoyne Diller. ….
Everything at Gallery Sam is abstract, because Morganstein is committed to abstraction. As he sees it, representational art gives up 90 percent of what it has to give at once, but abstract art keeps right on giving.
Walking back from Gallery Sam, I made one last discovery: Ronin, a Manhattan gallery that in addition to Asian contemporary art, claims the “largest collection of Japanese prints in the U.S.”
Certainly the selection of Japanese ukiyo-e, or wood block prints, that it had on view at this art fair was remarkable. My favorite was “Whirlpool at Naruto” (ca. 1850) by Hiroshige, a quiet nocturne of pale blue sky, blue and gray waves, white foam and three vertical brown strips in the corners, to provide a place for the lettering.
Also eye-catching were “The Moon and the Helm of the Boat,” by Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) and “Courtesan Wakaume from the Tamaya in Edomachi 1-chome” by Utamaro (1753-1806).
Additionally on display were a scroll painting and a black-and-white drawing by Horiyoshi III, who was born in 1946. He is still alive, and really a tattoo artist: one and maybe more of his designs on display were actually designs for full body tattoos.
According to David T. Libertson, the president of Ronin, in centuries past the famous artists who made the wood-block designs relied upon tattoo artists to carve them into the actual wood blocks. Therefore he considers it only right to include a tattoo artist among his stable of wood-block prints.