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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."



One of the things that separates your true modernist from your postmodernist (at least when one is talking about contemporary artists and critics of the contemporary scene) is that true modernists go for the best art of the past as much as the best art of the present. The philosophy is that greatness doesn’t age or go out of style.

Your true postmodernist, on the other hand, is apt to dismiss any really good contemporary art that s/he doesn’t like as “old-fashioned,” and, when s/he is dealing with the art of the museums, there is an ever-so-slight hangover from the dadaists of World War I, who felt that museums were only repositories for “dead art,” the next thing to mausoleums, in fact. Any time a contemporary critic, on the NY Times or elsewhere, wants to cast aspersions on the Met, for example, s/he sneers at how it doesn't pay enough attention to contemporary art. Read More 
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Robert Motherwell. Personage (Autoportrait), December 9, 1943. Gouache, ink, and pasted colored paper and Japanese paper on paperboard, 103.8 x 65.9 cm. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice 76.2553.155. (c) Dedalus Foundation, Inc./ Licensed by VAGA, New York. Photo: Sergio Martucci (c) 2013 The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York
Also for your holiday pleasure, a sterling show that I can especially recommend for modernists (though postmodernists seem to like it, too) is “Robert Motherwell: Early Collages” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (through January 5). On view here are approximately 50 artworks done between 1941 and 1951; most are collages, although a selection of related drawings and other works paper are also on view.  Read More 
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Kenneth NOLAND. No End. 1961. Acrylic on canvas, 55.25 x 55.25 inches.
David Evison, the British sculptor, was passing through town last week, and the two of us went sightseeing. Among the sights we saw was a perfectly delightful exhibition at Leslie Feely, entitled “Major Formats: Frankenthaler, Noland, Olitski, Christensen, Poons & Dzubas” (on view through January 11, though the gallery will be closed on December 24, 25 & 31, also January 1, 2014).

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