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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."

 

COOL PAINTING FOR HOT DAYS: "HARD-EDGED" AT UPSILON

Larry Zox (left) and Willard Boepple (right) in "Hard-Edged: Geometric Abstraction" ot Upsilon

 
 

In the middle of a hot-hot summer, we have a whole show of cool, cool pictures (both in a literal sense, meaning with the shapes within them mostly carefully-and dispassionately defined, and in a slang sense, that is to say "hip," "with-it" or "the cat's meow" in the slang of other eras). This modestly-scaled but nonetheless ambitious show of 20 paintings by 10 artists is called "Hard-Edged: Geometric Abstraction" and it's at the newest branch of the newish Upsilon Gallery, the branch at 23 East 67th Street (through August13).  

 

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ART & CRITICISM: MILTON AVERY IN NY & LONDON

Milton Avery (1885-1965), Birds over sea, 1957.  Oil on canvas, 56 x 42 in. (142.2 x 106.7 cm.), Photo Credit: Adam Reich courtesy of Yares Art. Copyright: (c) 2022 The Milton Avery Trust/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
 

 

This is a big season for the semi-abstract American painter Milton Avery (1885-1965).  For nearly a year a retrospective with almost 70 of his works has been taking a far-flung route, from the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas last fall to the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut last winter and opening last week as "Milton Avery: American Colourist" at the Royal Academy of Art in London (where it stays until October 16). Here in New York, Yares Art is celebrating its half-century relationship with the artist's estate by "Milton Avery: Fifty Paintings/Fifty Years" (through July 30). Creating not one but two  museum-quality shows might tax the powers of most artists, but all things considered Avery's powers are more than equal to the task. Read More 

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GROWLY POSTMODERNISM: WINSLOW HOMER AT THE MET

Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910), The Veteran in a New Field, 1865. Oil on canvas. 24 1/8
x 38 1/8in. (61.3 x 96.8cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton
de Groot (1876-1967), 1967 (67.187.131). Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

 

My problem is that I came in on Winslow Homer (1836-1910) when the sun of modernism still shined.  My guide was Barbara Novak, and her widely-admired "American Painting of the Nineteenth Century" (1969). But if anybody wants a primer on how postmodernist clouds have rolled in over the artistic landscape, they have only to compare her treatment of Homer with the current retrospective "Winslow Homer:  Crosscurrents" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (through July 31).

 

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COLOR-FIELD IN THE HAMPTONS

I should be writing about Winslow Homer at the Met, and I'll get to it soon, but meanwhile I can't resist announcing another possible viewing pleasure, the summer show of "Leslie Feely: Hamptons," now on view through August 7, Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 5 pm. This is not a review.  It is only an announcement.   However, I can't get out to Long Island at present, and this show is said to have work by Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Helen Frankenthaler, Larry Poons, Friedel Dzubas, Robert Motherwell, and many others – so much of it that the gallery had to find a small house to display it all  (see photo).  This house is located in Wainscott at 372 Montauk Highway – for more information and/or a map, email Dakota Sica, Feely's loyal lieutenant, at dakota@lesliefeely.com  or call (917) 288-8120.

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DARBY BANNARD'S ANNUS MIRABILIS: "SEE FIRST, NAME LATER" AT BERRY-CAMPBELL

Walter Darby Bannard (1934 - 2016), "Glass Mountain Fireball," 1975. Alkyd resin on canvas, 49 5/8 x 35 3/4 in. (126 x 90.8 cm), © Estate of Walter Darby Bannard. Courtesy Berry Campbell, New York

Here I am, back in the land of the living. Still not sure whether or not I'll be able to maintain my previous pace, but meanwhile here's a review of the current & frankly beautiful show at Berry Campbell – which is "Walter Darby Bannard: See First, Name Later: Paintings 1972-1976" (through July 1).

 

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FOREVER FRESH: KANDINSKY AT THE GUGGENHEIM

Vasily Kandinsky, Black Lines (Schwarze Linien), December 1913. Oil on canvas, 51 3/8 x 51 5/8 inches (130.5 x 131.1 cm). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection, By gift 37.241

 

Nowadays when you say Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, everybody thinks of Frank Lloyd Wright's wedding cake design.  But before then, it was the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, in which Peggy Guggenheim's Uncle Sol indulged the passion of his principal advisor, the Baroness Hilla Von Rebay and her sometime boyfriend, Rudolf Bauer, for the art of Vasily Kandinsky (1866-1944).  In all, the Guggenheim today owns 67 paintings by that Russian-born master, plus several hundred of his works on paper. And it has put approximately 80 of his paintings, watercolors, and woodcuts, as well as a selection of his illustrated books, on long-term display in the upper reaches of its rotunda.  The show is called "Vasily Kandinsky: Around the Circle" and it offers a signal opportunity to reacquaint oneself with this most original and memorable Older Master (through September 5, 2022). Read More 

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"INTIMATE, CONSIDERED:" WOMEN'S ABSTRACTS AT THE WHITNEY

Installation view of Labyrinth of Forms: Women and Abstraction, 1930-1950 (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 9, 2021-March 2022). From left to right, top to bottom: Esphyr Slobodkina, Untitled, 1937; Marie Kennedy, Untitled, 1937; Alice Trumbull Mason, Untitled, 1937; Rosalind Bengelsdorf, Untitled, 1937; Agnes Lyall, Untitled, 1937; Gertrude Greene, Untitled, 1937; Ray Kaiser, Untitled, 1937. Photograph by Ron Amstutz
 

 

Particularly after visiting MoMA's show of Sophie Taeuber-Arp, I approached another show of women's abstracts at the Whitney Museum of American Art with caution.  Please don't let it be another overblown attempt to imitate masculine theater, I prayed to myself.  But I needn't have worried: taste and discretion rule triumphant at the Whitney's ingratiating period effort, "Labyrinths of Forms: Women and Abstraction, 1930-1950" (through March 13).  It is a most entertaining show. Read More 

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DISTAFF DADA: TAEUBER-ARP AT MOMA

Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Vertical-Horizontal Composition. 1916. Colored pencil, gouache, and pencil on paper. 9 7/16 x 7 3/4" (23.9 x 19.6 cm). Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin. Photo Alex Delfanne

 

"I do hope this show isn't all textiles," I groaned before going to the Museum of Modern Art to see "Sophie Taeuber-Arp: Living Abstraction" (through March 12). I said this because I am more into fine arts than applied arts. But it turns out that Sophie Taeuber-Arp (1889 – 1943) was really much better as an interior designer than she was as a fine artist, so the best of the applied arts in this huge and unwieldy show are for the most part the best thing about it.

 

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A HELLUVA TOWN AT THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887–1986), Study for "Brooklyn Bridge", 1949. Charcoal and black and white chalk on paper. Promised gift of Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld, Scenes of New York City. © 2021 Georgia O'Keeffe Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York

 

In the immortal words of Comden & Green, "New York, New York, it's a helluva town." The city is currently being celebrated at The New-York Historical Society by "Scenes of New York City: The Elie and Sarah Hirschfeld Collection" (through February 27).  This munificent gift to The Society features 130 works by more than 100 artists. All these works are in traditional media: paintings, drawings, prints, other works on paper and sculpture. Read More 

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AT THE MET, MORE ABOUT SURREALISM THAN YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW

Koga Harue (Kurume, Japan 1895–1933 Tokyo), Umi (The Sea), 1929. Oil on canvas, 51 3/16 × 64 in. (130 × 162.5 cm). The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo

 

 

At The Metropolitan Museum of Art we have "Surrealism beyond Borders" (through January 30).   This mammoth exhibition, with work from 45 countries in all six inhabited continents, has nearly 300 items in it. God forbid anybody should say that surrealism – as defined by André Breton -- not only started in Paris in 1924, but also reached its acme there in the later 1930s. The good people who put together this show proceed instead on the assumption that surrealism went on for eight decades and could be defined all over the world and in all sorts of ways.  Read More 

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