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Report from the Front

Art criticism, sometimes with context, occasional politics. New shows: "events;" how to support the online edition: "works."



Paul Cezanne (1839-1906). Man with Crossed Arms, ca. 1899, oil on canvas.

The kindest way to deal with politics in relation to the Neue Galerie is to think in terms of art-world politics, not the national (or international) kind. This became clear to me while viewing “The Ronald S. Lauder Collection: Selections from the 3rd Century BC to the 20th Century/Germany, Austria and France” at  Read More 
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The Radical Camera

Rosalie Gwathmey, Untitled (Sunday Dress), ca. 1945, gelatin silver print. Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, Photo League Collection, Museum purchase with funds provided by Elizabeth M. Ross, the Derby Fund, John S. and Catherine Chapin Kobacker, and the Friends of the Photo League. (c) Estate of Rosalie Gwathmey/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Yet another entry into the art-as-politics sweepstakes this season is “The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936 – 1951.” The Photo League was a group of young, mostly Jewish, mostly leftish, often first-generation American and all indefatigable photographers who chronicled life in New York and on occasion, elsewhere, in the Depression and on through and after World War II, until they were blacklisted by Attorney General Tom Clark in 1947 and ran out of juice, closing their doors forever in 1951. Their lively exhibition of nearly 150 vintage photographs is at the Jewish Museum (through March 25). Read More 
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The Lovers, dated Tuesday, 8 Shawwal A. H. 1039/May 21, 1630 A.D. Artist: Riza-yi 'Abbasi (ca. 1565-1635). Iran, Isfahan. Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper. Painting: 6-7/8 x 4-3/8 in. (17.5 x 11.1 cm). Page: 7 1-8 x 4 3/4 in. (18.1 x 11.9 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Francis M. Weld Gift, 1950 (50.164). Image (c) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
I can’t help but be aware of how the attention we pay to the culture of the Middle East has increased since 9/11. This aspect of political correctness is, of course, an outgrowth of the attention paid to other ethnic groups, but spiced with the sauce of rebellion against one’s own government, which can be (although it isn’t necessarily) another form of adolescent rebellion against one’s parents, and as such a staple ingredient of dada. If I were a couple of generations younger, I’d be half-Iranian instead of half-Hungarian. Back in 1930, when my radically-inclined WASP mother was husband-hunting, Hungarians were the most outrageous: clever, totally outside the WASP class system, and subtly barbarian, being as they were descended from Attila the Hun.  Read More 
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The political situation changes so quickly that whatever I say today might be ancient history by tomorrow. For instance, right up until the beginning of February, both Republicans and Democrats were screaming about the need to put more people to work–with the Republicans promising that all private business needed in order to ensure  Read More 
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James Walsh. Trill. 2009. Acrylic on panel, 11 1/8 x 10 in. Collection of Spanierman Gallery.
Noodling around the galleries, I’ve picked up five situations worth mention. I say “situations” rather than “exhibitions” because in some cases, it was only the work of a single artist that stood out in a group show. Such was the case with Francine Tint, whose acrylic on canvas, “Cybelle 11”, was the  Read More 
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Stanley Boxer. Capturestheheartland. 1991. Oil and mixed media on canvas, 40 x 46 inches. Collection of Spanierman Modern.
Two old friends, or perhaps “professional acquaintances” would be less presumptuous, are having exhibitions in Manhattan at present. At Loretta Howard, you may see “Tim Scott in the 60s and 70s” (through February 25). I first met this gifted British sculptor back around 1970, when I was living in London and trying to write a novel.  Read More 
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