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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."



Willard Boepple, Three monoprints from "Lefts (E, H, and J)," (2014). Screenprints, 15 1/2 x 13 inches. Courtesy Equity Gallery.



One of two group shows that I saw and enjoyed on the Lower East Side was "The Secret Garden: Redux of a Year's Exhibitions at 1GAP Gallery, Brooklyn," at the Equity Gallery on Broome Street (closed August 14). This show was guest-curated by  David Cohen, editor of artcritical.com. On display were modestly-scaled samples of work by ten artists whom Cohen, in another guest-curatorial stint, had previously honored with far greater exposure over the past year in three consecutive exhibitions at the spacious 1GAP Gallery in One Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn. Read More 

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Philip Gerstein, "Spring Forward" (2014).  Oil stick and acrylic on birchwood panel, 24 x 24 inches. Courtesy Lichtundfire.



The second group  show I saw and enjoyed on the Lower East Side was "In Full Bloom" at Lichtundfire on Rivington Street (through August 20).  This is an exhibition that as its press release says, "addresses the depiction of floral motifs, plant life, vegetation and the rich landscape of a season indicative of growth and bloom." Read More 

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Installation view at Frick Madison of Veronese's "Choice Between Virtue and Vice," and "Wisdom and Strength" and Francesco da Sangallo's St. John Baptizing, The Frick Collection, New York. Photo: Joseph Coscia Jr., 2021


If you ask me, the best show in New York is "The Frick Reframed." This is the name that The Frick Collection has given to the rehanging of its matchless collection of Old Masters in the Marcel Breuer building originally built for the Whitney Museum.  This collection will be there for two years while the Frick's own building undergoes extensive renovations.  But don't wait for two years to give yourselves a treat. Read More 

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"London's New Scene: Art and Culture in the 1960s," by Lisa Tickner (published in London in 2020 by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, distributed in the U.S. by Yale University Press)


This year, as always, the College Art Association held a Book & Trade Fair during its annual conference in February – but of course this year it was all different, i.e. everything was virtual.   Convention "goers" simply paid their entrance fees and zoomed into the book-and-trade-fair display at the CAA website on their computers. Companies with products to sell to artists and art historians set up separate "booths" and displayed their wares – or at least (in the case of artists' materials suppliers, like Golden Artist Colors) mainly reminded convention "goers" of their existence. Read More 

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El Greco, Christ Driving the Money-Changers From the Temple, ca. 1570, Minneapolis Institute of Art


Ever since Marcel Duchamp mounted a bicycle wheel on a chair, and voiced his famous pronouncement that anything is art if an artist says it is, many (and in recent years, almost all) critics have followed tamely in his wake. So have galleries, museums, auction houses, and collectors – to say nothing of other artists, who in recent years have charmed in-groupers and bemused most of the larger public with every sort of "art" from pickled sharks to shattered antique vases, and from bananas festooned with duct tape to self-destructing pictures. Can the moment possibly have arrived when at least one small but prominent team of critics is willing to say hold, enough? Read More 

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Installation view of Fotoclubismo: Brazilian Modernist Photography, 1946–1964, on view May 8, 2021 through September 26, 2021. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: Jonathan Muzikar


Borrowing a title from Ernest Hemingway, I want to call your attention to a most attractive show at the Museum of Modern Art.  As installed in one large, airy, clean, neat and well-lit gallery, it celebrates a group of talented amateurs in "Fotoclubismo: Brazilian Modernist Photography, 1946 – 1964" (through September 26).


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Alice Neel. American, Merion Square, Pennsylvania 1900–1984 New York, Linda Nochlin and Daisy, 1973. Oil on canvas, 55 7/8 × 44 in. (141.9 × 111.8 cm), Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Seth K. Sweetser Fund

Like the Morgan, with its David Hockney show, The Metropolitan Museum of Art knows that the surest way to pack in crowds – even in a pandemic – is to give them representational images of "contemporary" people in a "contemporary" style.  Thus we have "Alice Neel: People Come First" within its hallowed halls (through August 1).  When I visited it (on April 8) the line stretched from the elevators nearest Fifth Avenue to Galleries 999, on the west side of the building.  Nor will this be the end of Neel's exposure: the show is scheduled for the Guggenheim Bilbao (September 17 to January 23, 2022) AND the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (March 12, 2022 to July 10, 2022. Michelangelo, eat your heart out! Read More 

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Installation view, 'David Smith. Follow My Path,' Hauser & Wirth New York, 69th Street, 2021. Courtesy the Estate of David Smith and Hauser & Wirth. © 2021 The Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photo: Thomas Barratt
Shown: "The Hero"and "Study for 'The Hero'"


"David Smith: Follow My Path" is the name of the latest look at that master sculptor, currently at the East 69th Street branch of Hauser & Wirth (through July 31). Taking its name from a lecture that Smith (1906-1965) gave at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1962, it turns out to be a learning experience for the viewer, much as it must have been for the artist himself. Read More 

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Frank Bowling (b.1934), Flogging the Dead Donkey, 2020. Acrylic and acrylic gel on canvas with marouflage, 102.5 x 185.5 x 5 cm.(40 3/8 x 73 x 2 in). (c)Frank Bowling, Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Photo Thomas Barratt


The last time this column looked at the art of Frank Bowling, this prodigious painter, was on June 29, 2019, when David Evison, the British sculptor, reviewed his memorable retrospective at Tate/Britain.  Since that time, Queen Elizabeth has knighted him, and as "Sir Frank" he has graduated from the relative obscurity of the Hales gallery to the big leagues of Hauser & Wirth.  


His new gallery is honoring him with two shows -- both titled "Frank Bowling – London/New York."  The London one is at its Savile Row space and closes on July 31, while the New York one is at its Chelsea space and closes on July 30.


I only review shows that I can see, so I must confine my remarks to the New York show. However, I am delighted to be able to welcome to this website a review of Bowling's London show by Evison..


Herewith is the report from Evison on the London show of Bowling:


"Hauser & Wirth is situated on the ground floor of a new Savile Row building and has direct access from the street.  On entering, one is confronted by a 9 ft. x 6 ft. painting and the desk is situated to the right of it.  Hung high above it is a medium sized painting which is a masterpiece.  It is called, "Flogging the Dead Donkey." Read More 

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"Frank Bowling: London/New York," Hauser & Wirth New York 22nd Street, 2021 (c)Frank Bowling, Photo:Thomas Barratt. "Texas Louise" at right.

Herewith my own review of Bowling's New York show -- which I seem to have liked less than Evison liked the London show --at least until I started to take it picture by picture.


I started out feeling that this  was not my favorite Bowling show.  The man's a great painter, but his work in this case has been "edited" in a way that makes him appear less rather than more great. At any rate, that's my opinion, though admittedly it's only an opinion and I'm sure I'm in the minority (as usual).  Read More 

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