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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."



Pablo Picasso, "Head of a woman (Fernande)," Horta de Ebro, summer, 1909. Conté crayon and charcoal on wove paper, 62.8 x 48 cm.  Musée national Picasso-Paris, Pablo Picasso Gift in Lieu, 1979, MP 642. Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée national Picasso-Paris)/Art Resource, NY, Matthieu Rabeau © 2020 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The NY Times has also tried to fill its columns with book reviews of current exhibition catalogues.  But the two I've seen (in its May 22 issue), don't in my opinion measure up to the one I've chosen. The Times evidently felt obligated to review the catalogue for the Gerhard Richter show at the Met's Breuer annex (a space now to be taken over by the Frick), plus a Jean-Michel Basquiat show at the MFA Boston.  I decided to leave the fashion-conscious East Coast and head inland to the Cleveland Museum of Art, which knows a true giant when it sees one. It had scheduled a mammoth show of "Picasso and Paper" for May, postponed its opening to September -- and now (alas!) has been forced to postpone its opening indefinitely as European restrictions on travel to and from our plague-ridden republic have made it impossible to bring the show from the U.K. at the present time.. 


Earlier this year (before the lockdown began) this same show opened at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and they still have a virtual tour of it online but for reasons I shall be discussing in the course of this review,I found the large and elegant Picasso catalogue more illuminating and am herewith spending most of this review discussing it (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 2020; 325 pp., 376 illus.)  What a joy it is!


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Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Chair. Cannes, 1961. Painted sheet metal, 45 1/2 × 45 1/16 × 35 1/16 in. (115.5 × 114.5 × 89 cm). Musée national Picasso–Paris © 2015 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
“As Gertrude Stein might say, and perhaps she has, for today one picks things out of the air and she may though I cannot say she has or has not: Now we have Picasso and now that we have Picasso what are we going to do about Picasso now we have him?” Read More 
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Georges Braque, Mandolin and Fruit Dish. Paris, early 1909. Oil on canvas, 15 1/8 × 18 1/8 in. / 38.4 × 46 cm. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Promised Gift from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Not even The Metropolitan Museum of Art has within my memory received a gift as generous as the promised gift that is presently displayed there as “Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection” (through February 16, 2015). And it’s not just the size of the gift that makes it so generous, although it's a whale of a lot of art.  Read More 
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Pablo Picasso. Head of a Woman: Right Profile (Marie-Thérèse) Tête de femme. profil droit [Marie-Thérèse}. Boisgeloup, July 19, 1934. Oil and charcoal on canvas, 64.8 x 49.5 cm. Collection of Aaron I. Fleischman. (c) 2012 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York. Photo: Courtesy Gagosian Gallery
As the fourth (& last) installment of my social notes from all over, I give you the two last media previews that I attended during that first star-studded week in October.


As I said before, I didn’t know about the media preview for “WWII & NYC” at The New York Historical Society Read More 
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Detail of "Kalila and Dimna," in Arabic. Syria? 1354. Bodleian Librarires. University of Oxford, MS. Pococke 400, fol. 75b.

In June, I was up in Connecticut, and had a delicious scone with Stacie Weiner, friend & subscriber to the print edition of FMD. She asked what big shows would be coming to New York in the autumn, so here is the beginning of a list. It’s primarily of museums, as they announce their plans earlier and in more detail, but at the end are four galleries  Read More 
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Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Landscape near Collioure. 1905. Oil on canvas, 18 1/8 x 21 5/8 in. (46 x 54.9 cm). Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, gift of Johannes Rump, 1928. (c) 2012 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
The best museum show in town at the moment is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it’s packing in the crowds. It’s “The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde,” and pays homage to four American siblings whose family fortunes were based in San Francisco, but who took up residence in Paris  Read More 
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Paul Cezanne (1839-1906). Man with Crossed Arms, ca. 1899, oil on canvas.

The kindest way to deal with politics in relation to the Neue Galerie is to think in terms of art-world politics, not the national (or international) kind. This became clear to me while viewing “The Ronald S. Lauder Collection: Selections from the 3rd Century BC to the 20th Century/Germany, Austria and France” at  Read More 
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Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Bust of a Woman, Paris, spring 1909. Gouache on paper, 25 x 19 inches. Private Collection (c)2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
I urge you to run and see a practically perfect show: “Picasso’s Drawings, 1890-1921: Reinventing Tradition,” at The Frick Collection (through January 8; then at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, February 5 through May 6). This show, of more than sixty drawings (in pencil, ink, watercolor, gouache, pastel and chalk)  Read More 
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“To see the world through rose-colored glasses” doesn’t necessarily have to do with spectrums or palettes. Rather, it suggests a desire to look upon the bright side, and 3 current shows typify this outlook, in different ways.

At Peg Alston Fine Arts, we have “Oliver Johnson: Jazz Series, Paintings & Drawings”  Read More 
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Politics; Fascist Art; Ab Ex at MoMA

FIRST, THE BAD NEWS..... At the moment, I am finding it hard to buckle down and deal with October’s art news. That is because I am distracted by the horrible political setback that I fully expect the nation to receive in the November midterm elections. All the odds-makers are betting that the Republicans  Read More 
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