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."


June 5, 2017

Tags: Francis Picabia, Cara London, Matisse

"Matisse and American Art" (left to right: Frankenthaler, Matisse, Rothko). Photo by Peter Jacobs/Courtesy of Montclair Art Museum
Once again, you catch me in my Goldilocks mode: I recently had three differently-sized (and differently oriented) art experiences. The biggest (and least attractive) was a trip to MoMA; the smallest (and considerably more attractive) took place in an East Village theater; and the middle-sized (altogether excellent) involves the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey. (more…)


December 30, 2014

Tags: Matisse

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Two Dancers (Deux danseurs), 1937-38. Stage curtain design for the ballet Rouge et Noir. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, notebook papers, pencil, and thumbtacks. 31 9/16 x 25 3/8” (80.2 x 64.5 cm). Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Dation, 1991. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Undoubtedly the biggest crowd-pleaser of the autumn is “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs” at The Museum of Modern Art (extended through February 10, 2015).

Billed as “the most extensive presentation of Matisse’s cut-outs ever mounted,” this mammoth exhibition offers about 100 unique examples of this distinctive form of expression that occupied the major part (more…)


November 18, 2013

Tags: Arthur B. Davies, Walt Kuhn, Walter Pach, Elmer McCrae, Matisse

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Blue Nude, 1907. Oil on canvas, 36 ¼ x 55 ¼ in. The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland, BMA 1950.228. © 2013 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photography by Mitro Hood.
Nobody could recreate the 1913 Armory Show as it originally existed, with approximately 1300 works of art by over 300 European and American artists. Two museums have recently tried to stage an evocation of it, in honor of its centenary, and although I liked the first show a lot, I like the second even better.

Furthermore, (more…)


January 5, 2013

Tags: Matisse

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Notre-Dame. 1914. Oil on canvas, 58 x 37 1/8 in. (147.3 x 94.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest, and the Henry Ittleson, A. Conger Goodyear, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sinclair Funds, and the Anna Erickson Levene Bequest given in memory of her husband, Dr. Phoebus Aaron Theodor Levene, 1975. (c)2012 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Another show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, even more worthy of visiting than that of George Bellows, gives us a master beloved by modernists for his sheer mastery of the art of painting, and for the enormous pleasure he has already given so many of them over the years. He is also popular with postmodernists because he is figurative enough to enjoy crowd appeal (more…)


September 1, 2012

Tags: Andy Warhol, Bernini, George Bellows, Matisse, Picasso, Alina Szap0cznikow, Sandi Slone, Carolanna Parlato, George Hofmann

Detail of "Kalila and Dimna," in Arabic. Syria? 1354. Bodleian Librarires. University of Oxford, MS. Pococke 400, fol. 75b.

In June, I was up in Connecticut, and had a delicious scone with Stacie Weiner, friend & subscriber to the print edition of FMD. She asked what big shows would be coming to New York in the autumn, so here is the beginning of a list. It’s primarily of museums, as they announce their plans earlier and in more detail, but at the end are four galleries (more…)


July 12, 2012

Tags: Renoir, Cézanne, Matisse

Room 18, east wall, The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. (c)2012 The Barnes Foundation.

“The Undignified Melodrama of the Bone of Contention” is the title of one of my favorite short stories, by Dorothy L. Sayers, but it might just as well be the title of the tumultuous history of the Barnes Foundation, which this spring opened its doors to visitors at its new home in center city Philadelphia. That history begins (more…)


July 12, 2012

Tags: Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir

View from 21st Street. The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. (March 2012). (c) Tom Crane 2012.

I blush to admit that I never responded to the mystique of the old Barnes Foundation in Merion, not at least in the way its most fervent partisans did, though naturally I greatly admired the many virtues of its memorable collection. Maybe that's because I share what Greenberg called (more…)


March 26, 2012

Tags: Matisse, Picasso

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Landscape near Collioure. 1905. Oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 21 5/8 in. (46 x 54.9 cm). Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, gift of Johannes Rump, 1928. (c) 2012 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The best museum show in town at the moment is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it’s packing in the crowds. It’s “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde,” and pays homage to four American siblings whose family fortunes were based in San Francisco, but who took up residence in Paris (more…)


February 28, 2012

Tags: Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse

Paul Cezanne (1839-1906). Man with Crossed Arms, ca. 1899, oil on canvas.

The kindest way to deal with politics in relation to the Neue Galerie is to think in terms of art-world politics, not the national (or international) kind. This became clear to me while viewing “The Ronald S. Lauder Collection: Selections from the 3rd Century BC to the 20th Century/Germany, Austria and France” at (more…)


December 1, 2011

Tags: Braque, Matisse, Newman, Kenneth Noland, Helen Frankenthaler

Georges Braque. Céret, Rooftops. 1911. Oil on canvas, 34 3/4 x 25 1/2 inches (88.5 x 65 cm). Private Collection. (c) Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris
If you can deal with the rarefied air north of 34th Street, four galleries on the Upper East Side have five big stars in good to great shows. Or at least in one case, had not have: I greatly regret not having gotten to “Georges Braque: Pioneer of Modernism,” curated by Dr. Dieter Buchhart (more…)


May 31, 2011

Tags: Caspar David Friedrich, Matisse

Henri Matisse, Striped Robe, Fruit, and Anemones, 1940. Oil on canvas. The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland, BMA 1950.258 (c)2011 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Two museum exhibitions with lady-like exteriors but either some or a lot of interior muscle are on view along upper Fifth Avenue, and well worth attending (at least, if you’re an art lover who doesn’t get the bends at being forced to rise above 34th Street). (more…)


July 21, 2010

Tags: Michael Filan, Picasso, Durer, Frederick Law Olmsted, Calvert Vaux, Matisse

The press release for “Excavations Non-Objective: Paintings by Michael Filan” was a real turnoff, illustrated as it was with reproductions of two of the sloppiest paintings I’ve seen. They looked as though the artist had simply hung his canvases on a wall, and slung paint at them, allowing it to (more…)


June 28, 2010

Tags: Oliver Johnson, Pheoris West, Richard Yarde, Fred Danziger, Picasso, Fairfield Porter, William Zorach, Marguerite Zorach, Lennart Anderson, Leland Bell, Louisa Matthiasdottir, Temma Bell, Rosemarie Beck, Philip Guston, Ed Rath, Kenneth Noland, Roy Lerner, Peter Reginato, Francine Tint, Arthur Yanoff, Jules Olitski, Matisse

On two steamy days last week, I visited five galleries, all with reasons to recommend them. First was “Images of Dance: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of Evidence Dance Company” at Peg Alston Fine Arts (through July 15). Founded in 1985 by Ronald K. Brown, (more…)