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Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. Published in hard copy 2-4 times a year. New shows: "events;" hard copy rates & how to support the online edition: "works."

 

"EXQUISITE POOP"

Alexis Duque, "Infamous City" 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 15 x 20 in.
Normally, I’m not wild about illustration, but one current exhibition deals with it entertainingly. The show is “Exquisite Poop: Blind Reproduction: A surrealist art and writing game,” at a gathering of the tribes (through April 29). Despite its seemingly scatological title, it’s a most stimulating exhibition, organized by  Read More 
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THE HAPPY ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST

Hans Hofmann. Black Diamond. 1961. Oil on canvas, 60 x 52 inches (152.4 x 132 cm). Courtesy Ameringer-McEnery-Yohe.
Bursting with the tonic energy of spring, we have “Hans Hofmann: Art Like Life is Real,” at Ameringer-McEnery-Yohe in Chelsea (through April 21). Since 1983, I’ve seen many Hofmann shows at galleries representing his estate, this one & also its predecessor, André Emmerich. Rarely have these been more than low-key attempts to unload Hofmann’s semi-representational paintings of the 1930s, or minor works on paper, but this time -- hallelujah! --- we have a real live paintings show, occupying the main space of the gallery and not its little vermiform appendix gallery behind the receptionist’s desk.  Read More 
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A REMARKABLE FAMILY

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  Read More 
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"CONTEMPORARY" AND "MODERN"

Jules Olitski. Called Upon, circa 1983-84. Acrylic on canvas, 100 1/2 x 111 inches. Courtesy of Babcock Galleries, New York
At this time of year, the Big Apple goes edge-happy. We must needs admire the latest frou-frou in a) the Whitney Biennial; b) the New Museum’s rival triennial (this year called “The Ungovernables”); and c) The Armory Show, with d) its marginally more traditional accompaniment of “The Art Show,” staged by the Art Dealers Association of America in the Park Avenue Armory, and  Read More 
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TWO STARS

Jack Bush. June Lilac. 1972. Acrylic on canvas, 74 1/2 x 64 3/8 inches. Private Collection. Image courtesy Freedman Art
Two stars are currently in exhibitions in Manhattan. One such show is “Jack Bush: New York Visit” at Freedman Art (through April 28). The other is “Anthony Caro: New Small Bronzes,” at Mitchell-Innes & Nash (uptown branch; through April 5). The Bush exhibition is the more ambitious, with 14 medium- to large-scale acrylics on canvas, dating from 1961 to 1976. But the Caro is not without its charms, consisting as it does of 8 striking small sculptures, all done  Read More 
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THE RENAISSANCE PORTRAIT

Desiderio da Settignano (Settignano, ca. 1430-1464, Florence). Bust of a Young Woman (Mariettta di Lorenzo Strozzi?). Ca. 1462. Marble. H. 20 5/8 in. Skulpturensammlung und Museum fuer Byzantinische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Politics played a role in portraiture during the Renaissance, with women often immortalized as part of the marriage ceremony, especially when it signified the union of two ducal or wealthy houses. Potentates like the Medici commissioned portraits to consolidate & publicize their power, but fortunately all these politics are between six & seven hundred years old, and–as politics doesn’t wear as well as art–they are mostly forgotten, no matter how hard pomonian art historians try to revive them. What’s survived is the art, as seen in Read More 
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