instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

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."



Félix Vallotton (1865-1925), The Lie, 1897. Oil on artist's board, 9–1/ 2 × 13–1/3 in. (24 × 33.3 cm). The Baltimore Museum of Art. The Cone Collection, formed by Dr Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland, BMA 1950.298

At The Metropolitan Museum of Art we have "Félix Vallotton: Painter of Disquiet" (through January 26). If you can insulate yourself from this show's dystopian title and accompanying dystopian verbiage, you may enjoy some of the very pleasurable painting it displays by an artist who reached the acme of his accomplishments in the 1890s, or only a decade or so before artists as varied as Kirchner and yes, even Matisse (to say nothing of Picasso, Braque & Duchamp) were beginning to put simplicity, strength, and emotion and/or wit before beauty as traditionally defined. Read More 

Be the first to comment


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), Tightrope Walk, 1908-10. Oil on canvas, Neue Galerie New York



The fact that Die Neue Galerie is taking a fresh look at "Ernst Ludwig Kirchner" (through January 13) is attested to by the fact that it has installed this splendid show of one of Germany's early 20th century pioneers very differently from most of the shows it has held in its third-floor space.  Instead of turning to the right as you get off the elevator, in order to start the show, you must now turn to the left and traverse the narrow hall (with a printed chronology on its wall) to get to the show's first display, in the spacious gallery backing up against Fifth Avenue on the west side of the building. Read More 

Be the first to comment


One-half of "Comedian"



In the really old days, before the advent of the talkies in 1927, the lowest form of variety show in the U.S. was burlesque, home of striptease and the raunchiest jokes.  Here's where the phrase, "top banana," originated, meaning the lead comedian in the show.


I suspect this info is already known to Maurizio Cattelan, the Italian conceptualist, heretofore famous as the creator of "America:" a fully-functional, solid gold toilet that had art-lovers who visited the Guggenheim Museum in New York a year or so ago lined up to use it. 


Why do I suspect that this artiste is already familiar with the phrase, "top banana"? I say this because his contribution to civilization this year was a real, live banana fastened by silvery-grey duct tape to a partition in the Paris-based Perrotin gallery booth at Miami Basel.  Its title was "Comedian," and its price tag ranged from $120,000 to $150,000. Read More 

Be the first to comment


Larry Zox (1937-2006), Untitled, c. 1974.  Acrylic on canvas, 81 1/2 x 92 1/2 inches (ZOX-00139).  Courtesy Berry Campbell.


When I last reviewed what seems to have been a more wide-ranging show by Larry Zox, staged by Berry Campbell in May 2017, I concluded that in the 60s, he was more of a minimalist, but by the later 70s, had become more of a modernist – courageously swimming as it were against the tide. This latest – and highly enjoyable -- show catches him in a transitional phase.  It is "Larry Zox: Open Series (1972-1975)", and is again at Berry Campbell, but if you want to see it, you need to hustle, as it is only up until December 20 – this coming Friday. Read More 

Be the first to comment


"Elie Nadelman: Significant Form," at Paul Kasmin, November 7-December 21, 2019. Installation shot.  © The Estate of Elie Nadelman. Photography by Diego Flores.


On those occasions when I've seen sculpture by Elie Nadelman in the past, I've found its pointy-toed ladies and pin-headed men a little too cute for me.  However, I have great respect for the taste of David Evison, the sculptor, and on a recent whirlwind visit to New York, he made a point of checking out "Elie Nadelman: Significant Form" at Paul Kasmin in Chelsea (through December 21). I therefore high-tailed it downtown to see what there was to see. Read More 

Be the first to comment


Larry Poons (b. 1937), One Inch Less Wild, 2001.  Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 78.5 x 111 inches (199.4 x 281.9 cm). (Inv# 3940). Courtesy Yares Art.



At Yares Art, we have "Larry Poons: First Thought, Best Thought – The Particle Paintings (1996-2002)" (through February 15, 2020).  This is not the first time I have reviewed Poons's work from this period, but I liked it a little better than I did the last time I saw it – in a show at Salander O'Reilly in February 2001.  It's cheerful, colorful and – to borrow a word from Ken Johnson, the critic from the New York Times who liked that show a lot—it's playful.  Read More 

Be the first to comment


Dan Christensen, Pollux, 1968. Acrylic on canvas, 102 x 74 inches.  Courtesy Berry Campbell.



The first third-generation abstract expressionist I wrote about was Dan Christensen (1942-2007). This happened in May 1969, when I was still working for Time, and the story featured the "spray paintings" he was making and exhibiting at that moment.  Recently, I was able to revisit that past at Berry Campbell, when it staged "Dan Christensen: Early Spray Paintings (1967-69)" (closed November 9).  Though this wasn't the first time I'd seen these paintings over the intervening years, I continue to admire them.  Read More 

Be the first to comment


Friedel Dzubas, Nova, 1979.  Magna on canvas, 51 x 115 inches, 129.5 x 292.1 cm.  Courtesy Yares Art.




Gradually, I am getting back into circulation – but so late into the autumn that I have a lot of catching up to do.  Not least among the shows I have managed to see and very much enjoyed was "Friedel Dzubas: Affective Color" at Yares Art (closed November 2). Read More 

Post a comment


Installation shot, John Adams Griefen at Galerie Born Berlin, 2019.  Top: "Dawson Dawn."  Lower left: "Paradise."  Lower right: "Copper Rose"  All 2018.  Photo by David Evison.



(I am delighted to welcome our roving correspondent, David Evison, back to (An Appropriate Distance) From the Mayor's Doorstep.  His review this time is of the latest show of John Adams Griefen at the Galerie Born Berlin  -- through October 26).



Griefen has for many years made paintings which should not be photographed because he shows us that  they are for eyesight alone. Of course we need reproductions, be it to promote, sell or to remind. But look at "Hotspur" (2019) in this exhibition! Its bright crimson is  Read More 

Be the first to comment




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

Post a comment