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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."

 

WHAT’S UP AT THE MODERN? YES, THE MODERN

Berislav Šerbetić and Vojin Bakić. Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija. 1979–81. Petrova Gora, Croatia. Exterior view. Photo: Valentin Jeck, commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, 2016.
On August 8, I paid a call to The Museum of Modern Art. First, I skated through the current hanging of its permanent collection (ongoing). Second, I took in "Constantin Brancusi Sculpture" (through February 18, 2019). Third -- and most absorbing -- I visited "Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980" (through January 13, 2019).  Read More 
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“COLORS” AT FREEDMAN ART

Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), "Untitled," 1959. Oil and collage on paper, 14 x 11 inches. Signed lower center, green crayon: 3/59 \ Frankenthaler (Inv# FA849). Courtesy Freedman Art
A singularly inventive group show at Freedman Art is “Colors” (extended through August 17). The idea for it was born when the gallery’s director, Ann Freedman, visited the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA last year, to see its exhibition devoted to Sam Kootz, the pioneering art dealer. While Freedman was there, her attention was drawn to a poem entitled “Colors” by a12-year-old schoolgirl named Zoe Kusyk that had been inspired by a 1977 Larry Poons painting at the Fralin.  Read More 
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FIVE FOR THE HOLIDAYS

David Smith. Origins & Innovations, Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street 13 November – 23 December. Foreground: "Three Circles Related" (left), and "Agricola VIII" (right). © The Estate of David Smith Courtesy The Estate of David Smith and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Genevieve Hanson
In the home stretch for the holidays, I saw five gallery exhibitions displaying a wide range of talents – most of which I liked, but also some that I didn’t. They were 1) “Painter/Printmaker: Spirit of Collaboration,” at Freedmanart (through January 20); 2) Rudolf Stingel at Gagosian on Madison Avenue (through December 22), 3) “In the Balance,” at Gallery Gaia (through December 30, open weekends 2 to 7 pm except December 24), 4) “Ardent Nature: Arshile Gorky Landscapes, 1943 – 47” at Hauser & Wirth on East 69th Street (through December 23), and 5) “David Smith: Origins & Innovations,” at Hauser & Wirth on West 22nd Street (through December 23). Read More 
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EYE-CATCHING NEW SHOW PLACE: YARES ART ARRIVES

Larry Poons, English Fields, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 110 x 87 inches. Courtesy Yares Art
I’ve long admired the booths of Yares Art Projects of Santa Fe at The Art Show in the Park Avenue Armory, so when I received the announcement for a new gallery entitled Yares Art at 745 Fifth Avenue I beat feet to get there on opening night. The inaugural show was elegantly installed in a spacious portion of the former quarters of McKee, and titled “Helen Frankenthaler + L, M, N, O, P—Louis, Motherwell, Noland, Olitski, Poons.” Its emphasis is on color-field paintings from the 1950s and the 1960s, though with some later work, and on the whole, it is a knockout (through January 15).  Read More 
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SOCIAL (& ESTHETIC) NOTES FROM ALL OVER

Gerald Jackson, A Blue and Green Painting, 2015. Acrylic and pastel on canvas, 30 by 24 each. Photo courtesy of Kim Uchiyama.
This has been a more than ordinarily social autumn season for me. True, two of the six occasions that I’ll be covering in this post were tinged with melancholy, but all were reminders that art – and life itself – go on.

First, on October 13, I attended the opening of “Walter Darby Bannard: Recent Paintings”  Read More 
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TWO UNFORGETTABLES

Morris Louis, Tet, 1958. Acrylic resin (Magna) on canvas, 94 1/8 x 152 1/8 in. (239.1 x 386.4 cm.) Collection Whitney Museum, New York, NY, courtesy Mnuchin Gallery. Digital image (c) Whitney Museum of Art, NY (c) 2014 Maryland College Institute of Art (MICA). Rights administered by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, All Rights Reserved
Two unforgettables are currently in their last week of exposure on the Upper East Side, Helen Frankenthaler at Gagosian & Morris Louis at Mnuchin. If you haven't already seen these splendid shows, make a point of getting there--this is painting as painting should be (and so rarely is).

Peter Schjeldahl, in the New Yorker, was  Read More 
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A MAJOR WAVE, BACK WHEN....

Edward Avedisian, Normal Love #1, 1963. Liquitex on canvas, 67 1/4 x 67 1/2 inches. Courtesy Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.
There was a time when the Manhattan art world was much smaller, and one movement could sweep across a large segment of it (though never commanding its entirety).

An example of this was the switch from painterly abstract expressionism to what Clement Greenberg called “post-painterly abstraction.” Though it received only a fraction of the publicity accorded pop, it was the guiding principle in  Read More 
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BLOSSOMING (PART ONE)

Dan Christensen (1942-2007). "O," 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 108 x 144 inches. Photo courtesy Spanierman Modern.
Spring may be late this year, but indoors in Manhattan, modernism is blossoming. Besides the recent shows of Poons and Bannard, we now have those of Helen Frankenthaler, Dan Christensen, & Kenneth Noland. The show of Jules Olitski at Paul Kasmin piggy-backs on another Kasmin show, so I’ll discuss it in a separate posting.  Read More 
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AN INTERLUDE WITH SOME CATALOGS

Franz Kline. "Ninth Avenue Elevated RR Station at Christopher Street," 1940-41. Oil on board, 16 x 22 inches. Private Collection. (c) 2012 The Franz Kline Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Not infrequently exhibition catalogs come my way. Here are four that I found of more than ordinary interest. The first three are of single artists: Noland, Frankenthaler & Kline. The third is a group show: Jens Jensen, David Evison, & John Griefen. The first three are of interest to me because of their attempts to find imagery in abstraction; the fourth is simply a handsome tribute of its own.  Read More 
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FABULOUS FRANKENTHALER

Helen Frankenthaler. Eden. 1956. Oil on unsized, unprimed canvas. 103 x 117 inches (261.6 x 297.2 cm). (c) 2013 Estate of Helen Frankenthaler/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery. Photography by Robert McKeever

“Painted on 21st Street: Helen Frankenthaler from 1950 to 1959,” as curated by John Elderfield for Gagosian (closed April 13) was the largest, most ambitious and greatest gallery show of this season. Indeed, I cannot think of another in recent seasons to equal it. In a word, I loved it.  Read More 
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