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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."



Willem de Kooning, "Woman," c. 1950.  Graphite and wax crayon on paperboard, double sided, 13 1/8 x 10 inches (33 x 25 cm).  Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.  © 2021 The Willem de Kooning Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


I don't know when I saw a neat, lovingly precise pencil drawing of Elaine de Kooning created ca. 1940-41 by Willem de Kooning.  Was it 1968, when one such drawing was reproduced in the catalogue to MoMA's de Kooning retrospective of that year? Or has it – or another like it -- been displayed more recently? 


Anyway, I hoped to re-view it, and/or see other drawings of women like it, when I visited "Willem de Kooning Drawings" at Matthew Marks (through June 26).  I didn't see it, or anything like it, but two later drawings of women led me to award de Kooning a title that he might not have liked, but that his postmodernist fans should appreciate: "Step-Dad of Pop" Read More 

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Willem de Kooning. Untitled (Still Life with Eggs and Potato Masher), 1928-1929. Oil and sand on canvas, 18 x 24 inches. (c) Estate of Willem de Kooning, Courtesy of Forum Gallery, New York.
Following CAA, the next avalanche of art-world “news” to descend onto Manhattan was the art fairs that took place between March 4 & 8. The two original and most conspicuous were The Armory Show, on Piers 92 & 94 in the Hudson River, and The Art Show, at the Park Avenue Armory, but there were about ten others.

Together, these dozen offered more than 700 booths—of dealers from all over the world, plus  Read More 
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"Nostalgia (For a While It Was Good to Have Been the Word 'Man')". Poem by Peter Viereck. Etchings by Esteban Vicente. Courtesy Woodward Gallery.
Over the winter, I also got around to a handful of gallery shows that I'd been notified about, and found something -- though not necessarily an awful lot ---to recommend them. One was the relatively new gallery of Bernard Jacobson, the Brit who also has a London gallery. So far, its New York outpost has concerned itself largely with British artists who don’t do an awful lot for me, but this winter’s group show, “Discursive Abstraction” (closed February 25) had several pieces which,  Read More 
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Willem de Kooning (American, born The Netherlands, 1904-1997). Painting. Enamel and oil on canvas. 42 5/8 x 56 1/8" (108.3 x 142.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase, 1948. (c)2011 The Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
I don’t know what it is, but the reverential tone of the reviews greeting “de Kooning: A Retrospective” at the Museum of Modern Art may be what brings out the iconoclast in me. This mammoth exhibition, curated by John Elderfield, assembles nearly 200 paintings, drawings & sculptures from museums  Read More 
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