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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."

 

AL LOVING

Al Loving, James, 1989. Mixed media on paper collage, 32 x 87 inches. Courtesy of the Estate of Al Loving and Garth Greenan.
Pleasure of a more recent vintage awaited me on my next trip to Chelsea. The source is the latest show of Alvin D. Loving (1935-2005), better known as Al Loving, and occupying the handsome new space of Garth Greenan on ground level at 545 West 20th Street. There are only eight pieces of work in “Al Loving: Space, Time, Light” (through December 21), but they come from between 1977 and 1993, which is perhaps my favorite period in this gifted artist’s long career. Read More 
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WALTON FORD, WALTER DARBY BANNARD

Walter Darby Bannard, Peru, 1971. Alkyd resin on canvas, 51 x 55 inches. Courtesy Berry Campbell.
This time, my destination in Chelsea was “Walter Darby Bannard: Paintings from 1969-1975” at Berry Campbell (through December 21), but on the way I stopped in to see “Walton Ford: Barbary” at the handsome new “flagship” gallery of Paul Kasmin at 509 West 27th Street (through December 22). Read More 
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MORRIS LOUIS

Morris Louis (1912-1962), Twined Columns II, 1960. Magna on canvas, 102.52 x 140 inches (260.4 x 355.6 cm. Inv#3180. Courtesy of Yares Art.
Moving on up from Chelsea to midtown we come to Yares Art on Fifth Avenue, and a truly lovely exhibition of fifteen (count ‘em, 15) classic color-field paintings entitled “Morris Louis: Spectrum.” This show will be on through January 12, 2019, though if you plan to visit it between Christmas and New Year’s, you will need to call the gallery, as they had not yet decided which days during that period they would be open when I visited the show). Read More 
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FINALLY, “THE JOY OF COLOR” & JULES OLITSKI

Installation shot, "Jules Olitski 60's Sprays" (left, Fourth Hoyo; right, Fourth Caliph). Courtesy Leslie Feely

For some reason, the top color-field painters of the 1960s (and even a little bit later) seem to be “in” this season in the Manhattan art world, or at least accepted as members in good standing of the ‘60s crowd (as opposed to being ostracized because Clement Greenberg admired them, and although few if indeed any of the younger artists most directly descended from them are deriving the slightest benefit from this new climate).

I say this not only because of the many solo shows I’ve so far reviewed this fall, nor even because of the exquisite mini-show of “Jules Olitski: 60’s Sprays” currently at Leslie Feely but most of all because of three group shows that include some of the artists I most admire and have been or will be mounted in unfamiliar big-league venues.

In this category I would first place “The Joy of Color” at Mnuchin on East 78th Street (closing December 8), second, “Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera,” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (opening December 17), and “Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s,” at the Whitney Museum of American Art (due in March).  Read More 

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PERSONALITY V. TALENT (CHAPTER TWO)

Andy Warhol (1928–1987), Self-Portrait, 1964. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen, 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.6 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago; gift of Edlis/Neeson Collection, 2015.126 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York.
My second example of the triumph of personality as opposed to the gift for making great paintings is holding forth with appropriate fanfare at the Whitney Museum of American Art. It is “Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again,” and it is billed as the first Warhol retrospective organized in the U.S. since the one at MoMA in 1989. It will be playing at the Whitney through March 31, 1919; then at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, May 18 through September 2, 1919, and the Art Institute of Chicago, October 20, 1919 through January 26, 2020. But you really should have seen the media preview in New York. That was a show in itself! Read More 
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PERSONALITY V. TALENT (CHAPTER ONE)

Marc Chagall, Double Portrait with Wine Glass, 1917–18, oil on canvas. Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, gift of the artist, 1949. Artwork © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris; image provided by CNAC/MNAM/Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Art Resource, New York.
The older I get, the more convinced I am that to achieve success in the art world one needs not only visual talent, but the “right” personality. In fact, sometimes the “right” personality (variously defined) trumps the greater visual talents of others. In Manhattan this fall, we have two major museum exhibitions demonstrating the truth of my maxim. The first I shall deal with here and now. It’s the solidly conceived, abundantly documented and handsomely mounted “Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918-1922,” at The Jewish Museum (through January 6, 2019). Read More 
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SOCIAL REALISM FROM CHICAGO: CHARLES WHITE

Charles White (1918–1979), I Been Rebuked & I Been Scorned (Solid as a Rock), 1954. Wolff crayon and charcoal on Anjac illustration board, 43 1/2" x 27 1/4", signed; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.
Seemingly from birth, Charles W. White (1918-1979) possessed extraordinary gifts as a draftsman, and a correspondingly great future as an artist. But as an African-American child growing up in lower-class Southside Chicago, he would also face problems in realizing his ambitions. That he managed so triumphantly to do so – not only as a draftsman but also as a muralist, painter and lithographer, is the subject of two shows in Manhattan: “Charles White: A Retrospective,” at the Museum of Modern Art (through January 13, 2019), and “Truth and Beauty: Charles White and His Circle,” at Michael Rosenfeld in Chelsea (through November 10). Read More 
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"ANN WALSH: COLORS" AT SAM & ADELE GOLDEN

It is not my custom to review shows I haven’t seen, but I feel moved to say a few words about “Ann Walsh: Colors,” at the Sam & Adele Golden Gallery in New Berlin, New York (through March 15, 2019). That is because although I haven’t seen this particular show, I have seen a lot of Walsh’s work in her basement studio in Greenwich Village over the years. The result is that when I look at the photographs in the handsome catalogue, I feel I am among old friends. Read More 
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DELACROIX IN THE AGE OF DUCHAMP

Eugène Delacroix, (French, 1798–1863), Young Tiger Playing with Its Mother, 1830. Oil on canvas, 130 x 195 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée du Louvre) / Franck Raux
Was Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) a young radical? An old radical? Or was he merely another ambitious member of the 19th century French art-world Establishment following tamely in the footsteps of Ingres? Attempting to deal with these issues is “Delacroix,” the sprawling and lovely retrospective that has come to The Metropolitan Museum of Art after its inaugural run at The Louvre earlier this year (and here in New York through January 6).

Alas, instead of answering these questions, the show shies away from them-- primarily through its accompanying literature, but also (even if necessary) through its choice of work to display. Read More 
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AN EFFLORESCENCE OF ABSTRACTS (in four parts)

Possibly because it’s September, we are being treated to a spate of fine abstraction, including shows by Larry Poons, Anne Truitt, Frank Bowling & Ed Clark. Since a) I couldn’t decide which of these following four exhibitions were most deserving of illustration and b) I have already written about these four excellent artists before, I am going to give my readers four relatively abbreviated descriptions of these creations in the following posts. My hope is that, in getting my thoughts online at least two weeks before the first of these shows goes down, I will enable my readers to get to them by themselves, and witness the wonders I describe for themselves. Read More 
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