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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."



Carrie Mae Weems. Untitled (Woman and daughter with makeup) (from Kitchen Table Series), 1990. Gelatin silver print, 27 1/4 x 27 1/4 inches (69.2 x 69.2 cm). Collection of Eric and Liz Lefkofsky, promised gift to The Art Institute of Chicago. © Carrie Mae Weems. Photo: © The Art Institute of Chicago.

Upon the basis of my experience of the photographs of LaToya Ruby Frazier at the Brooklyn Museum last June, I was looking forward to “Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (through May 14).

After all, Frazier had studied with Weems, and  Read More 
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Edward Steichen, Paul Robeson (as Brutus Jones, in The Emperor Jones, for Vanity Fair), 1933. Gelatin silver print, mounted on board, 9 15/16 x 8 in. (25.2 x 20.3 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art; gift of Richard & Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander, 2012.240.
Continuing my tour of photography exhibitions this season, I next took in a show of work by Edward Steichen (1879-1973). Born the same year that Charles Marville died, Steichen practiced his peacetime calling in three phases, each phase directed toward progressively wider audiences.

Steichen was a native of the tiny European duchy of Luxembourg; he came to  Read More 
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Charles Marville, Lamppost, Entrance to the École des Beaux-Arts, ca. 1870. Albumen silver print from glass negative. Collection W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg
I often wonder why I am so much drawn to photography these days. I guess it is because I do like representation, and I see so little contemporary painted representation that has the freshness of the best photography—though what I consider fresh & the best photography might strike the average contemporary camera buff as laughably quaint.

For instance, I liked  Read More 
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Walter Darby Bannard. Dragon Water, 1977. Acrylic on c on canvas, 65 x 65 in. (165.1 x 165.1 cm.). Photo courtesy Berry Campbell, New York NY
Walter Darby Bannard is a hedonist, and proud of it. He believes that the role of art is to give pleasure. It’s not meant to be an intellectual exercise, or political propaganda, or even an illustration of something that it’s not (though he has plenty of room in his lexicon for representational painters, past and present, whose work pleasures the eye, regardless of what else it may or may not do). Read More 
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