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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."



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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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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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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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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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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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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Ed Clark, Elevation, 1992. Acrylic on canvas, 114 x 150 inches (289.6 x 381 cm). Courtesy Mnuchin Gallery, New York. Artwork © Ed Clark. Photography Tom Powel Imaging.
With a birth date of May 6, 1926, New Orleans-born, Paris-educated Ed Clark doesn’t get around that much anymore. However, Mnuchin on East 78th Street has taken over the task of promulgating his talents with “Ed Clark: A Survey” (through October 20). This handsome group consists of 20 medium-sized to very large abstract paintings dating from the last half-century -- plus a touching little and very representational self-portrait from 1947-49.  Read More 
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Frank Bowling, Elder Sun Benjamin, 2018. Acrylic and mixed media on collaged canvas, 119.29h x 203.54w in. (303h x 517w cm.) Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Hales Gallery, London. © 2018 Frank Bowling.
With a birthdate of February 26, 1934, Guyana-born, London-based Frank Bowling finds it harder to get around than it used to be, but he still made it to the opening of “Frank Bowling: Make It New” at Alexander Gray Associates (through October 13). And all his American fans (including myself) were very glad to see him.  Read More 
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Installation view from "Anne Truitt Paintings", Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, September 14 – October 27, 2018. Image courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery. Photography: Aaron Wax. ©Estate of Anne Truitt / The Bridgeman Art Library / Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.
Anne Truitt (1921-2004) is no longer with us, but her art most assuredly lives on. She is best known for her remarkably pure but nonetheless sinewy tall narrow sculptures, like square columns. Now that she is gone, this is the second Truitt paintings show that Matthew Marks (which represents the estate) has put on. I liked the first okay, but this one is much, much better—in fact, like socko.  Read More 
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Larry Poons (b. 1937). Rain of Terror, 1977. Acrylic on canvas, 111 1/2 x 108 inches (283.2 x 274.3cm). (Inv# 2953). Courtesy Yares Art.
At the tender age of 81, Larry Poons keeps on having so many shows that I have difficulty keeping up with him. But the last solo exhibition of his that I reviewed – exactly a year ago, and also at Yares Art– placed the emphasis on his recent paintings, and allotted only a smaller and less conspicuous space to the earlier ones. This time the shoe is on the other foot.
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