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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."



FMD is primarily about art, but every once in a long while I have something to say about politics. At the moment, the midterm elections in November 2014 occupy my mind—not every minute, but often enough so that I sometimes have trouble sleeping. In part, that’s because I read or at least browse  Read More 
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Susan Vecsey. Untitled (Cool White), 2014. Oil on linen, 52" x 52". Courtesy Berry Campbell.
Berry Campbell is playing host to two solo exhibitions, companionably sharing the same space as the paintings in them alternate along the walls (through July 3).

Both artists are recent graduates (if that’s the word I want) of Spanierman Modern. They have chosen to move to the Chelsea gallery opened just last year by two (likewise) Spanierman grads, Christine Berry and Martha Campbell.

Of the two artists on view at Berry Campbell, Susan Vecsey may be more familiar to the art world at the moment, having been included in Spanierman group shows since 2009, and having had a solo exhibition there in 2010. Read More 
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James Walsh. The Distance, 2010. Acrylic on canvas, 34" x 26" Courtesy Berry Campbell.
The other show at Berry Campbell is very different (even if coloristically it harmonizes nicely with Vecsey’s work). This show is paintings by James Walsh.

Walsh belongs to a generation born nearly 20 years before Vecsey (in 1954), but he is still a generation younger than  Read More 
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Paul Klee. b. 1879 d. 1940. The Angler, 1921. Watercolor, transfer drawing and ink on paper. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, John S. Newberry Collection. Digital Image © 2014 The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/ Art Resource, NY © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Suppose the Neue Galerie decided to stage an exhibition of German and Austrian Expressionism, the Bauhaus and Die Neue Sachlichkeit, and call it something like, “The Avant-Garde in Germany & Austria, 1907 to 1937.” Who would come? I might be moderately interested (although this is the kind of art that Die Neue Galerie usually shows, and they not infrequently exhibit the same works in different shows).

No doubt such a title would also attract some courageous souls who consider their tastes catholic, and would be willing to see painting & sculpture less familiar than the avant-garde French & American art of that same period. But I wouldn’t expect such a show to be mobbed.

On the other hand, suppose the museum decided to display the same art, but title it instead “Degenerate Art: The Attack on Modern Art in Nazi Germany, 1937.” Not only does this promise the heady spice of politics (which, as Ai Weiwei also knows) is of far wider interest than art—but, in addition, that magical word, “degenerate” promises all sorts of sin and evil. It is not unlike what Professor Higgins found so "irresistible" about Liza Doolittle, the fact that she was "so deliciously low, so horribly dirty!”  Read More 
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Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957). Second panel of the triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995. Lambda print 75 3/8 x 70 7/8 in. (191.5 x 180 cm). Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio. (c) Ai Weiwei.
Once upon a time, there was a little Chinese boy named Ai Weiwei. He grew up to become what the NY Times has said “might be the world’s most famous living artist,” and is currently the subject of “Ai Weiwei: According to What?” a mammoth exhibition currently at the Brooklyn Museum Read More 
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Frank Bowling (b. 1936). "Foroseabouquet." 2013. Acrylic on canvas, 35 x 70 inches Courtesy Spanierman Modern
Despite the fact that Frank Bowling is now 78, and subject to the sorts of frailty that many & maybe most seniors fall heir to, he is still going strong. This could be seen at his latest show, “Frank Bowling, O.B. E., RA, at Eighty,” at Spanierman Modern (run extended through June 12).  Read More 
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