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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."

 

RARELY-SEEN BOXER AT BERRY CAMPBELL

Stanley Boxer (1926-2000), Rainnights, 1973. Oil on linen, 74 x 68 in. (188 x 172.7 cm).   Courtesy Berry Campbell.

 

Though I've reviewed the paintings of Stanley Boxer (1926 – 2000) many times, mostly it has been his work from the '80s and '90s that I discussed, the pictures covered with glittering, glistering accretions of matière. Only occasionally have I glanced at let alone reviewed his work from the early 1970s, but these are the paintings now featured in "Stanley Boxer: The Ribbon Paintings (1971- 1976)" at Berry Campbell in Chelsea (through December 23).  And they form a wonderful chapter in pure painting.

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ANNUALS & PERENNIALS: THE ART SHOW 2021

Arthur B. Carles (1882-1952), Flowers in a Yellow Vase, 1922.  Oil on canvas, 35 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches (90.2 x 80 cm), Courtesy of Avery Galleries, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
 

 

In 2021 I skipped "The Armory Show."  Its ratio of annuals to perennials in recent years has been roughly 200:10 at best   -- and I consider a work "perennial" if to me it has staying power, whether it is new or old. At "The Art Show," staged by the Art Dealers Association of America at the Park Avenue Armory (and held this year for the first time in November), the ratio is more like 70:10. This makes it for me much more worthwhile. I'm afraid I'm picky, though, – so when I say I found ten booths out of seventy worthy of praise, and several  more at least worthy of mention, that signifies enthusiasm for me!

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AT YARES ART: NOLAND AT THE PEAK

Kenneth Noland (1924-2010), Fete, 1959. Magna on canvas, 69 x 68.5 inches (175.3 x 174 cm).  Courtesy of Yares Art.

 

 

At Yares Art on Fifth Avenue is a stupendous show.  It is entitled "Kenneth Noland: Context is the Key -- Paintings: 1958-1970" (through January 22, 2022).  I don't know quite what "context" Yares refers to.  Certainly the socioeconomic and political troubles of that far-off era, while they may seem trifling in retrospect, were no less dire at the time than our current evils seem today. Maybe the gallery is thinking in esthetic terms of the '60s as a period when the sun of modernism wasn't yet as nearly obscured by the clouds of anti-modernism, the way it is today. Whatever. Anyway, it's a helluva show.


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PETER BRADLEY'S ANNUS MIRABILIS AT KARMA

Peter Bradley, Scrapple From The Apple" (2021), Acrylic and glass on canvas, 85 x 84 inches (215.9 x 213.4 cm), Courtesy of the artist and Karma, New York

 

This has been what might be called a miraculous year for Peter Bradley. After decades of being nearly if not entirely ignored, his painting has been included in no fewer than three exhibitions.  One was a show of contemporary artists organized by Hilton Als, the New Yorker theater critic. Second was a tribute to the "De Luxe Show," an interracial exhibition organized by Bradley in 1971 (I reviewed this tribute on September 5).  Third (in Karma's space at 22 East Second Street, through November 13) is the one I review below.  It is a solo show of nine pictures made by Bradley over the past six years.  They range in size from medium to large and though I didn't relate equally to all of them, on the whole I'd call this an exceedingly  handsome show – a real tour de force for a man of 81.  Read More 

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FURTHER ADVISORY

White I am recuperating, I have been reading Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York, and finding it challenging.  The author, Alexander Nemerov, is a lot younger than I am, which means I am having to work to get the most out of his prose.

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ADVISORY

Still recuperatilng -- making progress -- but two shows I can recommend, sight unseen -- Peter Bradley and Kenneth Noland -- will get around to them in due time. Meanwhile, here's the basic data (on the Events page of this website).

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A NOTE TO MY READERS -- & COMMENTS FROM MY READERS.

 

I am sorry to report that I have been suffering from some sort of a stomach bug for the past week or so.  It may even have contributed to the bleakness of my report on "The Medici" last week.  As I think it unfair to continue to take out my negative emotions on helpless pictures and sculpture, I have decided to foreswear reporting on the art scene for the next few weeks – or until I have this bug of mine firmly in the rear-view mirror. Think of it as the summer vacation I never got around to taking.

 

I do have a small amount of reading matter to offer – written not by me, but by several of my readers.

 

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POLITICS AS MACGUFFIN: "THE MEDICI" AT THE MET

 

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art we have "The Medici: Portraits and Politics: 1512 -1570" (through October 11).  This is a show of Old "Masters" that tries to do the best it can for a period in Florentine art traditionally known as "Mannerism" but which the museum in its accompanying literature tries to dignify as "Renaissance."  The best reason it can make this claim is that for the most part the show steers clear of the spindly, rubbery bodies and overly cluttered compositions that distinguish Mannerism's religious, mythological and allegorical paintings, focusing instead of the relatively straightforward and mannerism-free subject of portraits

 

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IRIDESCENT CHAOS: CÉZANNE DRAWINGS AT MOMA

Paul Cézanne. Rocks Near the Château Noir (Rochers près des grottes au-dessus de Château Noir). 1895-1900. Watercolor on paper. 18 3/16 × 11 15/16″ (46.2 × 30.3 cm). Private collection

 

The extraordinarily great artist, Paul Cézanne (1839-1905), was somewhat odd in person.   The story goes that he yelled if somebody so much as brushed against him in the street.  He seems to have used drawing in black-and-white as discipline and drawing with color – including watercolor – to convey his joy at the world around him.  Both aspects of his oeuvre are on view at the Museum of Modern Art in "Cézanne Drawing" (through September 25). But with more than 250 works on paper in it, this mammoth show is perhaps best appreciated by skating as rapidly as possible through the rigor -- in order to arrive unfatigued at the pleasure. Read More 

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"THE DE LUXE SHOW"AT KARMA

"The De Luxe Show" at Karma, installation shot. Far right: picture by Robert Gordon; far left: picture by Peter Bradley.  Center: sculpture by Anthony Caro (foreground), (behind it,sculpture by James Wolfe); Back wall in center: picture by Al Loving.  Courtesy Karma, New York

Way back in 1971, 31-year-old Peter Bradley curated "The De Luxe Show." Held in a disused movie house in Houston's historically African-American Fifth Ward, it was one of the first, maybe even the first of the major racially-integrated exhibitions in the U.S.  Now two galleries are honoring its 50th anniversary with exhibitions.  The Los Angeles show is at Parker, 2441 Glendower Avenue (through September 18).  The New York show is at Karma, 188 East Second Street (through September 25).  I've only seen the Karma exhibition, but believe me folks, it's a wow. Read More 

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