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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."



Louise P. Sloane, Honey Moon Rising, 2019. Acrylic paint and pastes on linen, 40 x 36 inches. Signed titled and dated on the verso.  Courtesy Spanierman Modern.

One of the last shows I was able to see this spring, before the curtain dictated by COVID-19 descended on the New York art scene, was "Louise Sloane:  New Horizons" at Spanierman Modern (through March 28).  I am so glad I did.  For the formula Sloane has been employing ever since I first encountered her painting has finally altered, at least a bit!  Hurrah! Read More 

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John Marin (1870–1953), Little Fir Tree, Deer Isle, 1921. Watercolor on paper, 16¾ x 13¼ inches. Signed and dated at lower right: Marin 21. Courtesy Menconi +Schoelkopf.




Three days later, and a lot more irritated, I report that in the Big Apple, all restaurants and even fast-food outlets like Dunkin' Donuts are now no longer allowed to serve eat-in customers.  If I want to go out & do the walking my knee surgeon recommends I am hard-pressed to find someplace to sit down – even if I am toting a takeout cup of coffee.  Still, I suppose I should be grateful that I have not yet been struck down by COVID-19, and am still able to report on my visit on Friday, February 29, to "The Art Show," as sponsored by The Art Dealers Association of America and held at the Park Avenue Armory.

I always enjoy "The Art Show" more than The Armory Show, and not only because their attitude toward the press is a lot more civilized than that of the Armory Show.  From what I can tell, The Armory Show has recently decided that only sycophants are entitled to press passes, whereas "The Art Show" welcomes all members of the working media.  True, because the ADAA show is composed exclusively of U.S. dealers, it customarily displays less art by foreign artists.  On the other hand, it is far more open to "historical" art, both European and American, so the percentage of gallery displays that I really want to talk about is higher.

Finally, because this year's edition showcased only about 70 galleries, it was a lot more manageable than the Armory Show – not least, because it was far more generously supplied with seating for visitors.   All in all, it was a most pleasurable experience.


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Adolph Gottlieb, Black on White, 1967.  Oil on linen, 60 x 72 in. (152.4 x 182.9 cm.)  Courtesy of Helwaser Gallery, New York. Photo: Hadi Fallahpisheh

Well, the big news of the moment is, of course, the world-wide spread of COVID-19, and it affects everything else.  Here on a Saturday in the Big Apple, auto traffic is light and buses are nearly empty, but almost anyplace that sells reasonably-priced food, from supermarkets to coffee-and-bagel shops, is doing capacity business. For New Yorkers (and maybe all Americans) the solution to every problem, it would appear, is EAT!


As almost all museums in New York, and most of the galleries, are closed, I don't know how long I will be able to continue my reviewing activities in this column, but I did manage to visit The Armory Show, on Piers 90 and 94, and "The Art Show," at the Park Avenue Armory.  Attendance was on the light side when I was there, especially at the Armory Show, but I prefer to think that this was due to the fear of contracting COVID-19 as opposed to any lessening of interest in the art scene per se. Read More 

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Yaghjian, Edmund, 8th Avenue El, 1940. Oil on canvas,  16 x 20 in.  Courtesy ACA Galleries.


If, like me, you're a passionate New Yorker, you'll relish this latest & very worthwhile excursion into the life & times of Big Apple transport.  It's "Track Work: One Hundred Years of New York City's Subway" at ACA in Chelsea, with nearly 60 drawings, watercolors, prints, oils and images in other media, all bringing history – right up to the present – vividly alive (through March 14). Read More 

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Joan Miró, Personnage et oiseau [Personage and Bird], 1966. Bronze (sand and lost wax casting), Cast 3/5. Edition of 6 casts, Fundició Parellada, Barcelona.18 ¾ x 10 ¼ x 7 7/8 inches (47.5 x 26 x 20 cm). © 2020 Successió Miró / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

We all know and love the young Joan Miró (1893-1983).  He was the brightest star in the surrealist firmament that graced Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, whether it was with his wickedly witty paintings or his serenely lunatic "poetic objects." But what of his later work?  Only a few of the paintings from after World War II measure up, but I found many happy divertissements among the 20 artfully patinated bronze sculptures made between 1966 and 1974 by this versatile Catalan artist and on view in "Miró the Sculptor: Elements of Nature," at Acquavella (through February 29). Read More 

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George Hofmann, Is This the Blue of the Aegean?, 2008-09.  Acrylic on linen, 40 x 32".  Artwork © George Hofmann. Courtesy of David Richard Gallery. Photo by Yao Zu Lu

Far from the madding crowd, at 211 East 121st Street in Manhattan, one may find "George Hofmann," at David Richard (through February 28).   These eleven canvases, though done between 2008 and 2010, still have an airy freshness that renders them welcome to our jaded town. Read More 

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FYI: Carl Hazlewood & Friedel Dzubas

FYI: "Artcritical," a website which needs no introduction for my readers, has published my review of "Friedel Dzubas," a new book by Patricia Lewy.  Here's a link: Friedel Dzubas, by Patricia Lewy


And "Delicious Line," a new website edited by Franklin Einspruch, has published my review of Carl Hazlewood's show at June Kelly.   Here's a link: Carl Hazlewood at June Kelly


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Jung Ho Lee, Untitled IX, 2018.  Oil and acrylic on linen, 28 1/2 x 24 inches.  Courtesy Lichtundfire.




A show of contemporary art that I related to was "Remember When It Winter Was" (closed January 12). It was at held at Lichtundfire on the Lower East Side, and despite its political window-dressing, was (thankfully) mostly about the visual in art. Read More 

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Mark Rothko (1903–1970), Composition, 1941-42, oil on canvas, 28 1/2" x 24 1/2", signed; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

One historical show I related to – indeed, strongly related – was "Globalism Pops Back Into View: The Rise of Abstract Expressionism," at Michael Rosenfeld (closed January 25). 


This gallery has two specialties, abstract expressionism and African-American art.  By focusing on ab-ex in the early 1940s, before the movement went totally abstract, this show was also able to include a number of distinguished African-American artists who not even by the 1950s  had gone totally abstract, but who created some powerful paintings nevertheless.  In this context, everybody looks perfectly grand. Read More 

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Stuart Davis, Egg Beater No. 1, 1927, oil on linen. Collection of Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, gift of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, 31.169. Artwork © Estate of Stuart Davis / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.


In 1906, a 6-year-old girl, Edith Gregoryevna Fivoosiovitch, migrated from Kyev (then in Russia, now in Ukraine) with her family to New York City.  She grew up to love art, study it and try to make it, but doesn't seem to have been very good at it herself. She therefore learned all about selling in Manhattan department stores and elsewhere. 


She married a painter, Samuel Halpert, became known as Edith Gregor Halpert, and in 1926 opened in Greenwich Village what was to become known as the Downtown Gallery.  The tale of this pioneering art dealer, the first to exclusively represent American moderns and American folk art, is told in absorbing detail by "Edith Halpert and the Rise of American Art" at The Jewish Museum (through February 9). Read More 

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