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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."



I've meant to offer an updating of the political situation since I last commented upon it, but been distracted because I've been helping the U.S. government conduct its decennial census. This is an at least equally worthy and (in its way) fascinating endeavor, but exhausting & time-consuming. However, a number of art and/or literature news items, in New York and elsewhere, demand brief exposure, so here they are:


The only gallery exhibition that I’ve seen recently was that of Miljan Suknović at the Union Gallery in Tribeca (through June 5). I’ve been following this painter’s work since he was in a group show of work by students at the Art Students League, and he’s a lot younger than most of the artists I often describe as “younger” (though I’ve mislaid my notes in which I jotted down his birth year, so I can’t be more specific). At any rate, he comes from what is now Serbia and has studied in Italy and Germany as well as the U.S., but has yet to settle down into a single style. The works I last saw by him (at the Serbian Consulate) were geometric abstractions, stripe paintings. This exhibition is poured paintings, with long, narrow, brightly-colored strips of acrylic streaming both horizontally and vertically from one side of the canvas to the other. The field upon which the images are painted is usually cool colors (blues, greens), while the warmer colors (reds, yellows, sometimes whites) make up the superimposed image. Sometimes this works very nicely; sometimes, it doesn’t. Worst of the lot is No. 3 on the checklist, which looks like a bedspread, much too all-cover, too regular. No. 4, on the other hand, is a classic composition, with 2 differentiated sets of forms, side by side, and lots of field showing. No. 1 is also strong, with varied but even paint application, combined with an especially good color sense (the image combines maroon, bright blue, white & pink, with touches of yellow). Another good painting is No. 8, mostly horizontal pours – similar to No. 3 but better, more measured. Best in the show is No. 6, elegant in its simplicity, not overdone, canny use of restraint, real design here. The gallery, by the way, looks as galleries in SoHo used to look in the 70s, before gentrification set in, with long flights of beaten-up wooden steps leading to up was obviously only recently an industrial loft.

Two shows that I have had highly recommended to me are both at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and were recommended to me by people who are exceptionally well-situated to judge. The first of the two that I heard about is “Picasso in The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” consisting of 300 paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics and prints from the Met’s permanent collection (through August 1). It was recommended to me by a younger art-lover friend of mine who, the last time we went to look at art together, was more interested in gallery work by younger artists. This must really be a terrific show if it could lure him north of Chelsea (he called it “phenomenal”). The second show that I heard about (although it opened before the Picasso) is “The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry” (through June 13). This famous and exceptionally beautiful manuscript, created in the first decade of the 15th century by three of the greatest illuminators of Europe for one of its greatest patrons, is also in the permanent collection of the Met. Normally, it is displayed at the Cloisters, but in its bound form, so you can see only two pages at a time. At present, however, the manuscript has been unbound so that a facsimile edition can be created and published, so the exhibition features all of the 172 illuminations at one time. This never-to-be repeated opportunity was raved about by a friend of mine with a background in museum administration and a doctorate in late medieval art. If anybody should be able to judge a great show from this period, it’s her (or should I be saying, she?).


My book, “A Memoir of Creativity” has won a PRIZE! It placed first in the category of “Writing/Publishing” for the “IPPY” awards. This annual competition is sponsored by The Independent Publisher, an online magazine that chronicles the doings of independent publishers. “Independent publishers” is a very elastic term, but seems to mean everybody from big university presses like Yale through assorted small independents to even self-published books, like mine. About 4,000 books were submitted in all, and the awards are given in 70 or 80 categories, including detective stories, romances, poetry, etc, etc. They include silver & bronze medals for 2nd and 3rd prizes as well as gold medals for 1st, so it should be a dandy party when I go next week to collect my gold medal – along with everybody else -- on the first night of Book Expo America.


In Manhattan: at Hollis Taggart, “Theodoros Stamos: A Communion with Nature” (through June 19)…. “Anne Truitt: Sculpture, 1962-2004,” at Matthew Marks (22nd Street branch) (through June 26)… In the Thannhauser Gallery of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, “Kenneth Noland, 1924-2010: A Tribute,” a mini-show consisting of four seminal works, from the Guggenheim’s holdings and those of private collections (May 21 – June 20). … Mitchell, Innes & Nash recently announced that they now represent the Noland Estate. Their first solo exhibition of its work will take place in 2011…

In London, “C. Morey de Morand: Rewired,” hard-edged abstract paintings, at Poussin (through June 26)….Frank Bowling will be participating in the Pinta Art Show of Latin American art at Earl’s Court (June 3-6), and also in the Royal Academy’s “Summer Exhibition” (June to mid-August)…

In San Francisco, Gallery Sam is exhibiting paintings by Roy Lerner at the San Francisco Fine Art Fair in the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center (May 20 – May 23).

In North Adams, MA, “Mixed Media” at Brill includes work by Arthur Yanoff, Jon Isherwood, Roy Volkmann, Abby Reiser, Nava Grunfeld, Reiko Fujinami and others (through July 31).

In Boca Raton, Elaine Baker is exhibiting “Stanley Boxer: Paintings” (through May 29), concurrent with “Rememberingstanleyboxer” at the Boca Raton Museum of Art (through June 13)... ((c)Copyright 2010 by Piri Halasz)
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