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."

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).

In the main space of the gallery are hung seven of these brand-new paintings, all done this year, but a goodly selection of earlier works is tucked behind, in the further expanses of the gallery.

Among earlier works is one eye-popping coin-dot painting from 1963, “Lee’s Retreat” (orange field, pink dots).

Particularly stellar & moving is “Tantrum II” (1979), a long horizontal painting combining a diagonal pour of pale greens and purples tilting from the top at the left and down to the right, but balanced by a pour of pinks beginning high at the left and dwindling away to the right.

Another magisterial poured painting is the tall vertical “Wiseman” (1975), with its broad & commanding pink “rain” descending from top to bottom.

The main gallery, with its recent, horizontal and mostly huge paintings, furnishes the centerpiece to the show. These paintings (up to 15 feet wide) are dominated by those loose, feathery brush strokes (vaguely reminiscent of crayons) and mostly light & airy colors (such as would put Mr. Crayola to shame).

“Sudden Feral” is memorable for its shades of blue, while “Arithmetic” and “Antique” are predominantly pink.

“Momentum,” the monumental painting after which the show is named, and its neighbor, “Turned His Head,” are a medley of almost every color, but as I’m contrary to the end, I related more to “Dimension,” a smaller painting facing the entrance.

Even though it is only 9½ feet wide, the darker mauve tonalities of its underlying field set off to perfection the paler daubs of off-whites and whites sprinkled over it.