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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."



Mark Rothko (1903–1970), Composition, 1941-42, oil on canvas, 28 1/2" x 24 1/2", signed; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

One historical show I related to – indeed, strongly related – was "Globalism Pops Back Into View: The Rise of Abstract Expressionism," at Michael Rosenfeld (closed January 25). 


This gallery has two specialties, abstract expressionism and African-American art.  By focusing on ab-ex in the early 1940s, before the movement went totally abstract, this show was also able to include a number of distinguished African-American artists who not even by the 1950s  had gone totally abstract, but who created some powerful paintings nevertheless.  In this context, everybody looks perfectly grand. Read More 

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Norman Lewis, Title unknown, 1953. Oil and metallic paint on canvas, 41 1/2 x 71 in. Collection of the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey © Estate of Norman W. Lewis; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.
One nice thing about my hometown is its central location – one can go north to see art, or one can go south, so that’s what I’ve done – north to see The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and south to Philadelphia, to look in on a thunderous Titian at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and more importantly to linger over the full-dress Norman Lewis retrospective at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

As I am listing these shows more or less in order of their closing dates, I shall deal first with my southern journey & second, with my northern one. Read More 
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Installation view of From the Margins: Lee Krasner/Norman Lewis, 1945-52. (c) The Jewish Museum, New York. Photo by: David Heald. 2nd from left: "Twilight Sounds;" 4th from left: "Stop and Go;" 5th from left, "Black and White Squares No. 1;" 1st from right: "Magenta Haze."
At The Jewish Museum, we have “From the Margins: Lee Krasner / Norman Lewis, 1945-1952” (through February 1). The implication of this title is that these two artists have been unfairly marginalized in the critical dialog surrounding abstract expressionism because one artist was a woman and the other was of African descent. (Here we go again – that old devil Clement Greenberg was a racist & a sexist, and Harold Rosenberg must – for once – have been just as bad.) Read More 
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