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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."

 

BEYOND ANARCHY: FÉLIX FÉNÉON AT MOMA

Paul Signac. Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones, and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890. 1890. Oil on canvas. 29 x 36 1/2″ (73.5 x 92.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. David Rockefeller, 1991. Photo by Paige Knight. © 2019 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris




 

In 21st century America, "anarchists" is a term used by Donald Trump to attack left-leaning, often poor and especially African-American people in cities who demonstrate against him.  But in late 19th century France, the term might be a compliment: even middle-class and even affluent white people could be anarchists.   One such was Félix Fénéon (1861-1944), subject of a meandering but ultimately highly enjoyable exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art called "Félix Fénéon: The Anarchist and the Avant-Garde—From Signac to Matisse and Beyond" (through January 2, 2021).The nicest part of it is that we get the politics (anarchism) over with relatively early in the show, and focus far more on the esthetics (avant-garde). Read More 

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CONTEXT RUN WILD FOR SEURAT AT THE MET

Georges Seurat (French, Paris 1859-1891 Paris). Trombonist. 1887–88. Conté crayon with white chalk on paper, 12 1/4 x 9 3/8 in. (31.1 x 23.8 cm). Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Henry P. McIlhenny Collection in memory of Frances P. McIlhenny, 1986.
Hercules Segers had nothing on Georges Seurat (1859-1891) when it comes to the magic of mystery, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the darkling splendor of his great painting, “La Parade” (1888), centerpiece of an absorbing and often enjoyable, but sometimes infuriating exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art called “Seurat’s Circus Sideshow” (through May 29). Read More 
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