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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."

 

RED-HOT, ICY BLUE: BLUEMNER AT MENCONI + SCHOELKOPF

Oscar Bluemner (1867-1938), Moonlight Fantasy, 1930. Signed with conjoined letters at lower left: BLŰMNER; inscribed, dated and signed on the backing with framing notes: Catalogue #15/ 28 ½ x 38 ½ /Gouache painting on panel/1930/ #234/Moon Light Fantasy/Oscar F. Bluemner /Casein varnish on paper mounted on board 30 ¾ x 22 ½ inches (78.1 x57.1 cm) (11138)

I really liked the display at The Art Show this year of Oscar Bluemner's work by Menconi + Schoelkopf. But, like last year's show by this same gallery of John Marin, it turns out that The Art Show booth was only a smaller prelude to a much larger show of Bluemner's work held after The Art Show closed and back at the gallery's headquarters on the Upper East Side. So I held my fire until I could see the larger gallery show, and found a delicious entertainment that I can highly recommend.

 

Titled "Bluemner and the Critics,"it' s on through December 17 and has a catalogue by Roberta Smith Favis – who is not to be confused with the New York Times critic of nearly the same name, but is instead a longtime professor at Stetson University in Florida, and first curator of the fabulous Bluemner collection given to Stetson by the artist's daughter Vera Kouba. Read More 

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FAMILIAR BUT STILL ADMIRABLE: STANLEY WHITNEY AT LISSON

Stanley Whitney, "Twenty Twenty," 2020. Oil on linen, 243.8 x 304.8 x 3.8 cm. (96 x 120 x 1 1/2 in.). Courtesy Lisson Gallery

 

Well, and so Stanley Whitney is still with us.  When I walked by Lisson (on my way to Berry Campbell, further along West 24th Street), I glanced through Lisson's big windows and spied within "Stanley Whitney: Twenty Twenty" (through December 18).  According to the online installation shot accompanying my first review of Whitney's work – discussing his show at Team in 2012 – neither the colors nor the compositions of his larger and more prepossessing paintings have changed that much in the past nine years.   But hey, they look great – in fact, so terrific that I couldn't resist walking right into Lisson to examine them in more detail. Read More 

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RARELY-SEEN BOXER AT BERRY CAMPBELL

Stanley Boxer (1926-2000), Rainnights, 1973. Oil on linen, 74 x 68 in. (188 x 172.7 cm).   Courtesy Berry Campbell.

 

Though I've reviewed the paintings of Stanley Boxer (1926 – 2000) many times, mostly it has been his work from the '80s and '90s that I discussed, the pictures covered with glittering, glistering accretions of matière. Only occasionally have I glanced at let alone reviewed his work from the early 1970s, but these are the paintings now featured in "Stanley Boxer: The Ribbon Paintings (1971- 1976)" at Berry Campbell in Chelsea (through December 23).  And they form a wonderful chapter in pure painting.

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ANNUALS & PERENNIALS: THE ART SHOW 2021

Arthur B. Carles (1882-1952), Flowers in a Yellow Vase, 1922.  Oil on canvas, 35 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches (90.2 x 80 cm), Courtesy of Avery Galleries, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
 

 

In 2021 I skipped "The Armory Show."  Its ratio of annuals to perennials in recent years has been roughly 200:10 at best   -- and I consider a work "perennial" if to me it has staying power, whether it is new or old. At "The Art Show," staged by the Art Dealers Association of America at the Park Avenue Armory (and held this year for the first time in November), the ratio is more like 70:10. This makes it for me much more worthwhile. I'm afraid I'm picky, though, – so when I say I found ten booths out of seventy worthy of praise, and several  more at least worthy of mention, that signifies enthusiasm for me!

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AT YARES ART: NOLAND AT THE PEAK

Kenneth Noland (1924-2010), Fete, 1959. Magna on canvas, 69 x 68.5 inches (175.3 x 174 cm).  Courtesy of Yares Art.

 

 

At Yares Art on Fifth Avenue is a stupendous show.  It is entitled "Kenneth Noland: Context is the Key -- Paintings: 1958-1970" (through January 22, 2022).  I don't know quite what "context" Yares refers to.  Certainly the socioeconomic and political troubles of that far-off era, while they may seem trifling in retrospect, were no less dire at the time than our current evils seem today. Maybe the gallery is thinking in esthetic terms of the '60s as a period when the sun of modernism wasn't yet as nearly obscured by the clouds of anti-modernism, the way it is today. Whatever. Anyway, it's a helluva show.


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PETER BRADLEY'S ANNUS MIRABILIS AT KARMA

Peter Bradley, Scrapple From The Apple" (2021), Acrylic and glass on canvas, 85 x 84 inches (215.9 x 213.4 cm), Courtesy of the artist and Karma, New York

 

This has been what might be called a miraculous year for Peter Bradley. After decades of being nearly if not entirely ignored, his painting has been included in no fewer than three exhibitions.  One was a show of contemporary artists organized by Hilton Als, the New Yorker theater critic. Second was a tribute to the "De Luxe Show," an interracial exhibition organized by Bradley in 1971 (I reviewed this tribute on September 5).  Third (in Karma's space at 22 East Second Street, through November 13) is the one I review below.  It is a solo show of nine pictures made by Bradley over the past six years.  They range in size from medium to large and though I didn't relate equally to all of them, on the whole I'd call this an exceedingly  handsome show – a real tour de force for a man of 81.  Read More 

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FURTHER ADVISORY

White I am recuperating, I have been reading Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York, and finding it challenging.  The author, Alexander Nemerov, is a lot younger than I am, which means I am having to work to get the most out of his prose.

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ADVISORY

Still recuperatilng -- making progress -- but two shows I can recommend, sight unseen -- Peter Bradley and Kenneth Noland -- will get around to them in due time. Meanwhile, here's the basic data (on the Events page of this website).

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A NOTE TO MY READERS -- & COMMENTS FROM MY READERS.

 

I am sorry to report that I have been suffering from some sort of a stomach bug for the past week or so.  It may even have contributed to the bleakness of my report on "The Medici" last week.  As I think it unfair to continue to take out my negative emotions on helpless pictures and sculpture, I have decided to foreswear reporting on the art scene for the next few weeks – or until I have this bug of mine firmly in the rear-view mirror. Think of it as the summer vacation I never got around to taking.

 

I do have a small amount of reading matter to offer – written not by me, but by several of my readers.

 

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POLITICS AS MACGUFFIN: "THE MEDICI" AT THE MET

 

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art we have "The Medici: Portraits and Politics: 1512 -1570" (through October 11).  This is a show of Old "Masters" that tries to do the best it can for a period in Florentine art traditionally known as "Mannerism" but which the museum in its accompanying literature tries to dignify as "Renaissance."  The best reason it can make this claim is that for the most part the show steers clear of the spindly, rubbery bodies and overly cluttered compositions that distinguish Mannerism's religious, mythological and allegorical paintings, focusing instead of the relatively straightforward and mannerism-free subject of portraits

 

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