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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."



"Gerald Jackson: Recent Releases II" at Wilmer Jennings,  November 27, 2020 to January 30, 2021.  Photograph by Christian Carone.

Certain exhibitions leave one with a happy feeling.  This isn't always because every picture in them is a masterpiece.  It may be because one gets the feeling that the artist had fun making the work on view: that even when he may have been fooling around, he was experimenting. And isn't experiment what modern art is supposed to be all about?


 If you want to see such a show, you need to get to "Gerald Jackson: Recent Releases, II" in Wilmer Jennings at 219 East Second Street quickly. That is because due to the pandemic I was only able to get there myself last week, and the show has only a week more to run—from Wednesday to Saturday, 11 to 6, through January 30. Read More 

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Mark Rothko, Browns and Blacks in Reds, 1957. Oil on canvas, 91 x 60 inches (231.1. x 152.4 cm). © 1998 by Kate Rothko Prizel and Christopher Rothko
& Frederic Edwin Church, Marine Sunset (The Black Sea), 1881-1882.  Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 42 inches (76.5 x 106.7 cm). Michael Altman Fine Art & Advisory Services. 
Photograph by Tom Powell Imaging, Inc. New York

 At Mnuchin on East 78th Street we have "Church & Rothko: Sublime" (through March 13).   This show combines 17 small- to medium-sized paintings by Frederic E. Church (1826-1900), the second-generation Hudson River School painter, with eight medium-sized to large paintings by Mark Rothko (1903-1970), the first-generation abstract expressionist.  From an ideological point of view, it is an interesting and provocative combination, worthy of the discussion I hope to give it. Visually, though, it is nolo contendere. Read More 

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José Clemente Orozco, Zapatistas, 1931. Oil on canvas, 45 × 55 in. (114.3 ×
139.7 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York; given anonymously. ©
2020 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SOMAAP, Mexico City. Digital
image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY



At the Whitney Museum of American Art we have "Vida Americana: Mexican  Muralists Remake American Art, 1925-1945" (through January 31, 2021).  This is a large and diverse exhibition of approximately 200 works by 60 artists from Mexico and the United States. It aims to show how that curious blend of populism and modernism that developed in Mexico in the wake of its early 20th century political revolution influenced artists in the United States in the period between 1925 and 1945.


Visually, there is a lot to like in this show, and I recommend it for that reason.  But don't go expecting any attempt to recreate the full range of U.S. art & culture in the period under discussion. Rather, we get the usual conformity to 21st century verities.

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Jules Olitski, Fair Charlotte, 1961.  Acrylic on canvas, 80 x 122 inches (203.2 x 309.9 cm). (Inv#2451).  Courtesy of Yares Art, New York.


I don't have much to say about "Jules Olitski: Color to the Core: Paintings 1960-1964" at Yares Art on Fifth Avenue (through January 30).  That is partly because I have often written about Olitski, and his enormous talents are well-known to many if not most of my readers. It is also partly because I want to post this review as early as possible in the new year, in hopes of alerting more viewers in time for them to get to the show itself.  Let nobody think I don't admire it!  Au contraire, I found it sensational, a terrific feast for the eyes and strongly recommended in fair times or foul.  Don't miss it!


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