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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."

 

MODEST BUT LIKEABLE: CLEVE GRAY AT WAHLSTEDT

Installation shot, "Cleve Gray: Paintings on Paper" at Anders Wahlstedt Fine Art, November 19, 2020 - January 16, 2021.  Left to right: "Jerusalem III," "Roman Wall (Blue)," and "Conjunction II."  Copyright Anders Walhstedt Fine Art.

 

I've wanted to write about Cleve Gray (1918-2004) for some time.  Every so often, I've seen a terrific painting by him in a group show, but whatever solo exhibitions of his paintings that I may have seen at Loretta Howard in the past few years just didn't do it for me. At long last, though, a Gray show has come along that I can heartily recommend.  True, it contains only 17 smaller and less ambitious works, but many and maybe most of them are of high quality.

 

Called "Cleve Gray: Paintings on Paper," this show is now on view at Anders Wahlstedt Fine Art(through January 16, 2021, and including Dec. 29 through 31). This gallery  specializes in works on paper, and is now located at 521 West 26th Street, in the space formerly occupied by Loretta Howard. Howard herself continues to do business online, and in her capacity as representing the Gray estate, is co-sponsor for this show. Read More 

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BEYOND ANARCHY: FÉLIX FÉNÉON AT MOMA

Paul Signac. Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones, and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890. 1890. Oil on canvas. 29 x 36 1/2″ (73.5 x 92.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David Rockefeller, 1991. Photo by Paige Knight. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




 

In 21st century America, "anarchists" is a term used by Donald Trump to attack left-leaning, often poor and especially African-American people in cities who demonstrate against him.  But in late 19th century France, the term might be a compliment: even middle-class and even affluent white people could be anarchists.   One such was Félix Fénéon (1861-1944), subject of a meandering but ultimately highly enjoyable exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art called "Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde—From Signac to Matisse and Beyond" (through January 2, 2021).The nicest part of it is that we get the politics (anarchism) over with relatively early in the show, and focus far more on the esthetics (avant-garde). Read More 

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SOOTHING, CALMING: BLACK & WHITE MATISSE AT KASMIN

Henri Matisse. Masque au petit nez (Mask with Small Nose), 1948. Aquatint on paper. Sheet: 25 1/2 x 19 3/4 inches (64.8 x 50.2 cm).  Image: 17 x 15 5/8 inches (43.2 x 34.6 cm). (c)2020 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Kasmin Gallery.

 

In our current troubling and depressing time, I'm so glad that Kasmin has mounted "Henri Matisse: Matisse in Black and White" (through December 19).This is a modest, non-commercial show of only 23 black-and-white paintings, drawings, and prints, together with 1 color print, 2 small black sculptures and three bound volumes, but it still serves admirably to remind us all over again of just why we love Matisse. Read More 

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ANNE TRUITT AT MATTHEW MARKS: ONE HAND CLAPPING

Installation view of Anne Truitt: Sound at Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, November 12 – December 19, 2020. Credit: ©annetruitt.org/Bridgeman Images/Matthew Marks Gallery
 

A totally lovely if strangely Spartan show is "Anne Truitt: Sound" at Matthew Marks (through December 19).   Resolutely minimal – as Truitt always was – this show consists of 14 works on paper, each about 20 inches square and created in 2003, the year before her death at the age of 83.  In addition, there are two smaller sculptures dating from 1999. All are from the estate, which the gallery represents, and this is the first time they have been shown. Although late work by even the best artists can be problematic, the "Sound" series in particular – the paper works – are authentically light and airy: they could have been created by the artist in her prime. Read More 

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TWO MORE CATALOGUES: ONE PRACTICAL, ONE LYRIC

Exhibition catalogue cover, "The Color of Seasons: Nature and Abstraction in the Paintings of Carolyn Newberger and Philip Gerstein"

I have two more exhibition catalogues to report on. The first, with an essay by Jeffrey Katzin, accompanied the show of Kenneth Noland entitled "Noland: Flares."  This show was held during the spring and summer of 2020 at Pace in New York (I reviewed it at that time). The second catalogue is entitled "The Color of Seasons: Nature and Abstraction in the Paintings of Carolyn Newberger and Philip Gerstein." This catalogue was intended to accompany a show of two somewhat younger artists that was to be held at Galatea in Boston from April 1 to 26, 2020, but was cancelled due to the pandemic. This catalogue includes an opening statement signed by the two artists jointly, essays by each, plus a third essay by Brian George. Read More 

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