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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."



Philip Gerstein, "After the Humans," 2016. Acrylic and mixed media on wood panel, 30 x 20 in.
I am overcome with remorse. Weeks ago, I saw “Philip Gerstein: Sacred Asymmetry” at The Painting Center in Chelsea and liked it a lot. It showed a great deal of care and consideration and was decidedly touching, not least because it marked a radical departure from Gerstein’s last show, which was gestural and even a bit slapdash. Yet here I am, only now reviewing it on its last day! Shame on me! I did have personal reasons for this lateness that I won’t bore you with, but it was also because I had other shows in Chelsea that I wanted to see & mention, too—namely those featuring Maja Lisa Engelhardt at Elizabeth Harris (through December 23), Hassel Smith at Washburn (through December 22), and Neil Williams in “Friends with Pop” at Dean Borghi Fine Art (through November 30). All had their virtues, but I thought Gerstein’s show stood up very well by comparison with any or all of them. Read More 
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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Barcelona Chair, designed 1929. Stainless-steel and leather, 30 7/8 x 29 x 30 in. (78.5 x 74 x 76 cm). Produced by Knoll International, New York. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection, gift of Trevor F. Peck, 1963.Df.1. Photograph by Denis Farley.
I can’t say why I so much prefer the fine arts to the applied arts—maybe because I’m so hipped on meaning (even in abstraction)? But if you want a maximum of esthetics with a minimum of politics this autumn, formalism is doing very well, thanks, at two Manhattan exhibitions of interior design: “Weiner Werkstätte 1903-1932: The Luxury of Beauty,” at the Neue Galerie (through January 29, 2018) and “Partners in Design: Alfred H. Barr Jr. and Philip Johnson" at the Grey Art Gallery (through December 9). Read More 
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