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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."





As some readers of this column may already have deduced, it is on an extended summer hiatus. This hiatus was only briefly interrupted when Piri Halasz gave a talk for the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center in East Hampton on August 18. The talk seems to have gone over well (as nearly as she could tell).


On her way to the talk, she was able to stop off at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, and see "Abstract Climates: Helen Frankenthaler in Provincetown" (through October 27).  She couldn't have done it without the aid of the invaluable Katie Crum, who took her around the entire show in a wheelchair.  Big thanks to Katie!  Particularly since the entire show is a treat for the eyes.  The first five of the 31 paintings on display were done in 1950-51, when Frankenthaler was still attending Hans Hofmann's art school and learning her trade, but the remaining 26 exemplify an absolutely peak period in her long and distinguished career, the late 1950s on through the 1960s. This was when she was just transitioning from her frenziedly energetic & vital Dionysian period to her more serene, detached and harmonious Apollonian one.   Piri is so glad she saw this marvelous show, and urges everybody who wants a truly beautiful and moving esthetic experience to go and see it for themselves-- all three roomy galleries of it!  


Piri is now clearing the decks for her expected knee surgery on August 26.  She doesn't know how long her rehab will take, but still plans to be back on the job again whenever in the autumn she feels entirely comfortable patrolling those hard grey pavements of New York

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William Perehudoff (1918 - 2013), AC-87-85, 1987. Acrylic on canvas, 55 5/8 x 53 7/8 in. (141.3 x 136.8 cm). © Perehudoff Artwork. Courtesy Berry Campbell Gallery, New York



Berry Campbell has so many interesting exhibitions that I have to ration my visits there.  However, this show was a standout.  Covering nearly four decades in the career of one of Canada's most illustrious painters, it was entitled, "William Perehudoff: Architect of Color" (closed May 24). Read More 

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Frank Bowling
Tate Britain, 31 May – 26 August 2019

Ziff 1974. Acrylic paint on canvas. 2010 x 1460 mm.Private collection, London. Courtesy of Jessica McCormack. © Frank Bowling. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2019


FMD is indeed fortunate to have a review of "Frank Bowling," the massive retrospective at Tate Britain (through August 26).  It was written by David Evison, the British sculptor, whose most recent exhibition has just closed in Beijing. Read More 

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I am so sorry to have to report that John McLean, the British painter, has died at the age of 80 from the Parkinson's disease that he had suffered from for years.  Read More 

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Carmen Herrera (Cuban, born 1915). Equilibrio, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, 48 × 60 in. (121.9 × 152.4 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Promised Gift of Estrellita and Daniel Brodsky, © Carmen Herrera



"Epic Abstraction: Pollock to Herrera" opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art  on December 17, 2018, but is "ongoing."  By this the Met means that it isn't one of its usually admirable big loan shows but only a  rehanging on those galleries that the museum previously devoted to its permanent collection of first- and second-generation abstract expressionists.  Read More 

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Peter Bradley, We Should Be Heroes, 2018.  Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 46.5 x 76 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Emerge Gallery.




On the Hudson River, north of Kingston, stands the picturesque town of Saugerties (population 19,000). On its outskirts lives Peter Bradley, the painter, in a handsome 18th century stone house.  Downtown Saugerties is home to Emerge, a pocket-sized gallery that is currently housing a real humdinger of a show, "Peter Bradley: New Work" (through June 30).  Though this show contains only six paintings, and the largest is only a little over 6 feet tall, every one's a winner. Read More 

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Joan Miró. The Hunter (Catalan Landscape). Montroig, July 1923-winter 1924. Oil on canvas. 25 1/2 x 39 1/2″ (64.8 x 100.3 cm). Purchase. © 2018 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris



Recently, I joined the milling throngs visiting the Museum of Modern Art on a free Friday evening to view "Joan Miró: The Birth of the World" (through June 15). On view are approximately 60 works by the master Spanish surrealist (1893-1983), almost all from the museum's permanent collection, and tracing his career from 1917 to the mid-1950s. 


I suppose he qualifies as a hero to postmodernists because he belonged to an underprivileged ethnic minority.  But hey, if they want to make a fetish of him, it's quite okay with me.  For he was a wonderfully wise, witty and whimsical artist -- one of the all-time greats. Read More 

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What Price Diversity?



Since the spring of 2018, I have been pondering Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to "diversify" New York City's three specialized or "elite" public high schools by getting the state legislature in Albany to abolish the Specialized High School Admissions Test (SHSAT) that is required under the Hecht-Calandra Act of 1971 for all students who wish to enter these high schools.


De Blasio's argument is that these tests prevent all but a very few African American  and Latino children from being invited to attend these schools, and that such de facto segregation makes a mockery of the city's professed claims to be truly liberal and democratic.


He wants to diversify the student bodies of these schools by increasing the number of African American and Latino children enrolled in them even if these children don't perform well enough on the SHSATs to be admitted on the same basis as the white and Asian-American children who currently occupy almost all of the seats at these schools.


This places me in a quandary.

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Helen Frankenthaler, Las Mayas, 1958.  Oil on canvas, 100 x 43.255 inches (254 x 109.9 cm).  Courtesy Yares  Art.   Artwork by Helen Frankenthaler © 2019 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York




 Helen Frankenthaler was a great artist and a sympathetic personality – for me, at any rate. Though we were never that close, I feel privileged to have known her.  When I met her, on the occasion of her retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Art in 1969, she was at the peak of her form and the work bowled me over.  I wish I could say the same of "Helen Frankenthaler: Selected Paintings" at Yares Art (through May 18).  Still, despite the problems inherent in putting together a show of work by an artist now eight years dead, there is much at Yares to be enjoyed and appreciated (or at least there was, when I last saw the show on March 27). Read More 

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Gabriele Evertz, Chromatics + Metallics (Green), 2014.  Acrylic on canvas over birch panel, 24 x 24 inches.  Courtesy of Minus Space.



Although the venue didn't send me, there is a lively, exhilarating show of 20 abstract paintings by as many artists in the grandly-styled "Gallery of the American Fine Arts Society" at the Art Students League on West 57th Street (through May 1).  The show is entitled "New York – Centric" and it was curated by James Little, the hard-edged abstractionist whose work I most recently mentioned in my March 1 posting on "The Art Show." Read More 

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