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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."



Helen Frankenthaler, "Heart of London Map," 1972. Steel, 87 x 82 1/2 x 25  inches (221 x 209.6 x 63.5 cm.) Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.

 This column is indeed fortunate in having an overseas correspondent, David Evison, to review three shows by Helen Frankenthaler currently on view in London. Particularly this is fortunate because Evison is a sculptor, and the biggest surprise of all three shows is a sculpture by an artist far better known as a painter. Herewith Evison's report: Read More 

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In March, The Penguin Press published "Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York," a book by Alexander Nemerov.  Nemerov is the 57-year-old art history professor who teaches at Stanford, and who this past winter contributed an essay to the catalogue for the "Core" paintings of Jules Olitski at Yares (see my post of  February 10 below) Read More 

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Installation View: The Fullness of Color; December 18, 2019–August 2020
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Photo: David Heald, © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

 It's all shut up now, but "The Fullness of Color: 1960s Painting" at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is scheduled to remain on view until August 2.  And, although it has only nine paintings, four are gold-standard quality, and the five others at least offer a pretty background to those four. Read More 

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Helen Frankenthaler, Las Mayas, 1958.  Oil on canvas, 100 x 43.255 inches (254 x 109.9 cm).  Courtesy Yares  Art.   Artwork by Helen Frankenthaler © 2019 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York




 Helen Frankenthaler was a great artist and a sympathetic personality – for me, at any rate. Though we were never that close, I feel privileged to have known her.  When I met her, on the occasion of her retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Art in 1969, she was at the peak of her form and the work bowled me over.  I wish I could say the same of "Helen Frankenthaler: Selected Paintings" at Yares Art (through May 18).  Still, despite the problems inherent in putting together a show of work by an artist now eight years dead, there is much at Yares to be enjoyed and appreciated (or at least there was, when I last saw the show on March 27). Read More 

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Jacket, Darby English, "1971: A Year in the Life of Color" (University of Chicago Press)


I couldn't face all those talks at the annual conference of the College Art Association this year, but as the conference was held in Manhattan, I did mosey on down to the New York Hilton to enjoy the Smithsonian's reception for its alumni and to look at the CAA's book exhibits.   As with the art world as a whole, postmodernism and identity politics for the most part upstaged esthetics, both in the choice of subjects for books and in the way that these subjects were dealt with, but still I found a handful of tomes that interested me and that I would have bought had I a) the money b) the space to put them in and c) the time to do them justice by reading them carefully and all the way through. Read More 

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Berislav Šerbetić and Vojin Bakić. Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija. 1979–81. Petrova Gora, Croatia. Exterior view. Photo: Valentin Jeck, commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, 2016.
On August 8, I paid a call to The Museum of Modern Art. First, I skated through the current hanging of its permanent collection (ongoing). Second, I took in "Constantin Brancusi Sculpture" (through February 18, 2019). Third -- and most absorbing -- I visited "Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980" (through January 13, 2019).  Read More 
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Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), "Untitled," 1959. Oil and collage on paper, 14 x 11 inches. Signed lower center, green crayon: 3/59 \ Frankenthaler (Inv# FA849). Courtesy Freedman Art
A singularly inventive group show at Freedman Art is “Colors” (extended through August 17). The idea for it was born when the gallery’s director, Ann Freedman, visited the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA last year, to see its exhibition devoted to Sam Kootz, the pioneering art dealer. While Freedman was there, her attention was drawn to a poem entitled “Colors” by a12-year-old schoolgirl named Zoe Kusyk that had been inspired by a 1977 Larry Poons painting at the Fralin.  Read More 
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David Smith. Origins & Innovations, Hauser & Wirth New York, 22nd Street 13 November – 23 December. Foreground: "Three Circles Related" (left), and "Agricola VIII" (right). © The Estate of David Smith Courtesy The Estate of David Smith and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Genevieve Hanson
In the home stretch for the holidays, I saw five gallery exhibitions displaying a wide range of talents – most of which I liked, but also some that I didn’t. They were 1) “Painter/Printmaker: Spirit of Collaboration,” at Freedmanart (through January 20); 2) Rudolf Stingel at Gagosian on Madison Avenue (through December 22), 3) “In the Balance,” at Gallery Gaia (through December 30, open weekends 2 to 7 pm except December 24), 4) “Ardent Nature: Arshile Gorky Landscapes, 1943 – 47” at Hauser & Wirth on East 69th Street (through December 23), and 5) “David Smith: Origins & Innovations,” at Hauser & Wirth on West 22nd Street (through December 23). Read More 
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Helen Frankenthaler, Summer Insignia, 1969. Acrylic on canvas, 95 x 85.25 in. Courtesy Leslie Feely.

On the first weekend in March every year, this town goes wild with art fairs. But they are over so soon that my readers can't see what I would have been talking about, had I rushed to review them. So I take my time -- nor do I feel a compulsion to review other art fairs since (Frieze, for example). My philosophy is that most art fairs are similar -- with some exceptions, which are as easy to spot in New York in March as they would be in Miami in December or at Basel in June. Read More 

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Larry Poons, English Fields, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 110 x 87 inches. Courtesy Yares Art
I’ve long admired the booths of Yares Art Projects of Santa Fe at The Art Show in the Park Avenue Armory, so when I received the announcement for a new gallery entitled Yares Art at 745 Fifth Avenue I beat feet to get there on opening night. The inaugural show was elegantly installed in a spacious portion of the former quarters of McKee, and titled “Helen Frankenthaler + L, M, N, O, P—Louis, Motherwell, Noland, Olitski, Poons.” Its emphasis is on color-field paintings from the 1950s and the 1960s, though with some later work, and on the whole, it is a knockout (through January 15).  Read More 
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