Doctor Walker was a cold incisive surgeon; he went by the book. He was one of the first that created to-do lists and this made the operations run smooth. The scalpel has no heart. He was a sort of literalist. And Bob, as they called the anesthesiologist, came always rumpled with the same plaid shirt everyday and seemed to click the gas just at the right time to put the patient under the spell. There was an ether about him. [Read more…]
Igor Posner’s untitled photograph (below) is from his newly released book, Past Perfect Continuous. Mary Di Lucia’s response to that photograph, titled “A Brief History of Mid-Century Portraiture” (also below), is excerpted from her new collection, titled Accompaniments. The companion books are newly out on Red Hook Editions. [Read more…]
This exhibition of Ellsworth Kelly’s plant drawings is a companion exhibition to Ellsworth Kelly, Last Paintings, shown at the Matthew Marks space directly next door on West 22nd Street. The late Ellsworth Kelly’s oeuvre is unusual in that he pursued quite various themes and ways of artmaking in a range of media, including painting, drawing, prints, and photographs. Ellsworth Kelly had wanted to pursue art from a young age, and following a tour of service in the Army during World War II, he studied art in Boston and then Paris. He began making drawings of plants in the late 1940s in both of these cities, and his fascination with plants as subject continued throughout his career. [Read more…]
Few contemporary painters nail the zeitgeist as pointedly as Eric Fischl. The artist is in top form at his current show “Late America;” five large-scale canvases that pack a paunchy punch: the Hamptons’ haute bourgeoisie, magnified poolside by harsh daylight in the full flawed glory of their middle-aged decadence.
Fischl’s merciless vision is equally unkind to the men and women in these works, but here the men fare slightly worse. This is the decline of the American empire in painted Technicolor, and its various iterations depict the nominal heads of household as gracelessly aging emperors without any clothes. Although the show’s press release states that the pieces are not political, it is hard not to think of the wizened white patriarchs currently in power. [Read more…]
The Start Of Your Ending (41st Side)
Can’t Get Enough Of It
In 1916, when Florine Stettheimer was 45 and had been painting for over 20 years, she had her first solo show at the Knoedler Gallery in New York. Half way through the show, she wrote in her diary: “I am not selling much to my amazement.” And, at the end, “Nothing sold.” She did not get the recognition she expected as an artist through the sale of her paintings. Reviews were derisive or indifferent at best. It must have hurt. Had her paintings sold, she would have joined the ranks of painters such as O’Keeffe and Aaron Douglas and Arthur Dove and Gaston Lachaise, her Modernist friends who lived from their art. Instead, she was denied an escape from her position as an upper class idler. From then on, she refused all solo shows. She embraced brazenly her identity as upper class, at least publicly. She overpriced her paintings to prevent any sales. [Read more…]
at David Krut Projects, NYC Reviewed by Robin Scher
Since the days of cave paintings, the human need to represent and be represented has served as a powerful impulse to create art. This desire has manifested in many forms and been fulfilled in various fashions. Icons and Avatars, a current group show at New York’s David Krut Projects, presents five international contemporary artists who continue this tradition through portraiture. [Read more…]
at Cristin Tierney Gallery, NYC
Reviewed by Robin Scher
Picture documentary and artwork as a Venn diagram. Sometimes the line between the two categories is blurred. A fine example of this can be found in Janet Biggs’s three channel installation, Afar, currently on show at New York’s Cristin Tierney gallery, which offers viewers a brief visual sojourn to East Africa’s Great Rift Valley — “the most unlivable place on earth.” [Read more…]
1949 | 2017
Excerpted from Jesus’ Son
Car Crashing While Hitchhiking
A salesman who shared his liquor and steered while sleeping . . . A Cherokee filled with bourbon . . . A VW no more than a bubble of hashish fumes, captained by a college student . . .
And a family from Marshalltown who headonned and killed forever a man driving west out of Bethany, Missouri . . .
. . . I rose up sopping wet from sleeping under the pouring rain, and something less than conscious, thanks to the first three of the people I’ve already named–the salesman and the Indian and the student–all of whom had given me drugs. At the head of the entrance ramp I waited without hope of a ride. What was the point, even, of rolling up my sleeping bag when I was too wet to be let into anybody’s car? I draped it around me like a cape. The downpour raked the asphalt and gurgled in the ruts. My thoughts zoomed pitifully. The travelling salesman had fed me pills that made the linings of my veins feel scraped out. My jaw ached. I knew every raindrop by its name. I sensed everything before it happened. I knew a certain Oldsmobile would stop for me even before it slowed, and by the sweet voices of the family inside it I knew we’d have an accident in the storm.
I didn’t care. They said they’d take me all the way. [Read more…]
The Georgia O’Keeffe show at the Brooklyn Museum is an ode to the artist as icon. The exhibit combines little-seen early work with the artist’s own clothing–including dresses, jeans, shoes, and hats—as well as photographs taken by her famous husband, Alfred Stieglitz, and a dozen or so other noted photographers, to illustrate the extent to which O’Keefe — much like Warhol — was the brilliant architect of her own enduring image. [Read more…]
Kang Seung Lee’s two part exhibition at Commonwealth & Council reflects in part on photography’s documentary capacity by re-examining and reproducing photographs. Lee’s project grapples with the indexical nature of photography, but moves beyond merely exploring concerns surrounding what Roland Barthes called photography’s “evidential force.” [Read more…]
Point Blank is the title of the exhibition of four new paintings by Berlin based German painter Marcel Eichner (b. 1977, Siegburg, Germany) at James Fuentes Gallery, New York. In this show, Eichner works in acrylic and ink, with vigorous ink drawing and marks on broad washes of acrylic ground in pastel pinks and blues, and areas of white. These paintings mark the fulfillment of a new phase in Eichner’s approach to painting, since he has now moved away from his earlier idiom derived from the style of his mentor at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Jörg Immendorff. In his earlier work, Eichner emulated the piecework integration of figure and ground that is characteristic of Immendorff, an almost claustrophobic “interior-view” aesthetic so often found in the German Expressionist tradition. [Read more…]
“The voices of dust, the soul of dust: these things interest me many times more than flowers, trees, or horses because I sense they’re so much stranger.” — Jean Dubuffet
The Hammer Museum’s exhibit entitled Dubuffet Drawings 1935-62 is, according to their literature, the “first in-depth exhibition of Dubuffet’s drawings.”
I’m not sure if they mean in the United States or perhaps even world -wide. No matter. It is an extraordinary grouping of almost 100 works on paper – many borrowed from France – and the sheer volume is not only a treat for the viewer but provides important insights into Dubuffet’s idiosyncratic technique. His “backstory” – as we say here in California – is quite unusual. Apparently, he showed early artistic talent and had many significant artist friends, but for twenty years was a wine merchant. Not until 1942, at the ripe old age of 41, did he finally commit to being a full time artist. He had his first solo show in Paris two years later. [Read more…]
“I am poor and I am naked, but I am the chief of the nation”
Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota Sioux
The Hammer Museum has mounted a massive, sprawling and entertaining retrospective (the first in North America) of the multi-faceted sculptor, poet and activist Jimmie Durham. He is little known in the United States since moving abroad 30 years ago. In 1990 the United States government passed the Indian Arts and Craft Act requiring Indian artists to register in order to protect the consumer. Durham refused to register and wrote the following tongue in cheek statement:
I am a full – blooded contemporary artist, of the subgroup (or clan) called sculptors. I am not American Indian, nor have I ever seen or sworn loyalty to India. I am not a Native ‘American’, nor do I feel that ‘America’ has any right [Read more…]
It would be easy to say that the alternative histories portrayed in the works of Umar Rashid are perfectly timed to reflect the era of “alternative facts” taking place in this historical moment. But the truth is, if you are going to make art intended to talk, both directly and indirectly, about the oppression of people of color and the suppression of their history, there is no time in the modern era when the work would not seem timely.
As Frohawk Two Feathers, and now Umar Rashid, the artist re-imagines 18th century history in images that recall traditional portraiture, folk art and Native American art but updated with details from the contemporary world. The mash-up allows him to speak simultaneously about the past and the present, accompanied by a complicated written narrative that must be read to fully understand the work. [Read more…]
Silent Voices at LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe NM Reviewed by John Biscello
During a recent visit to Santa Fe, I chanced upon the artwork of Linda Stojak. Her show, Silent Voices, was being featured at LewAllen Galleries, and entering the shrine-like atmosphere of the nine-painting exhibition, I immediately felt as if I were holding sacred vigil or bearing witness to metamorphic elegies.
The female subjects comprising Silent Voices seem to exist in a haunted chrysalis state, or embryonic purgatory. Their faces, ashen swabs which are kin to Di Chirico’s faceless enigmas, suggest not only the tragic obliteration of identity but also the potential for rebirth, i.e., a Bardo makeover. [Read more…]
at The Harwood Museum of Art, Taos NM
Reviewed by Erin Currier
Not unlike tin scraps gathered, then painstakingly crafted and painted into ex-voto offerings under the dim flicker of propane lamps in the outer rings of Mexico City, Antigua, or Salvador, and not unlike the mid-century Beat “cut-ups” of William S. Burroughs scattered like lotus petals on a mosaic tiled floor in the junk-sick dawn of Tangiers, and not unlike the embroidered Ayahuasca-dreamt songlines of the Amazonian Shipibo, Anthony Hassett’s pen, ink and glaze drawings in Japanese Moleskin albums are rhythms of a history at once autobiographical and universal: poetic calling cards shuffled and laid bare in a line by an adept renderer’s hand that has the strength and fury of a fighter’s fist combined with the mystical empathy of a Stigmata. [Read more…]
On Saturday, January 21st of this year, Tony welcomed me into he and Erin’s warm home. Greeting me at the door with a big hug and smile, Tony, despite his ongoing lengthy battle with cancer, was his usual self: cracking gallows humour jokes about his health, about the newly inaugurated President Trump, the cop-rotten planet, and so much more. [Read more…]
Matthew Marks Gallery, NYC
Reviewed by Donald Lindeman
A confusion about media is at the heart of Vija Celmins‘ artmaking. In her new show at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, are paintings, prints and sculptures, but we soon learn that things are seldom what they seem in Celmins’ art. The paintings and prints are based on photographs made by her, and some of the sculptures are ‘real’ found objects, e.g. stones, writing tablets, that are juxtaposed to mind-boggling “doubles” crafted by the artist. [Read more…]
The Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach
Reviewed by Nancy Kay Turner
“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”
Edgar Allan Poe
“Dreamland,” Frank Romero’s sprawling (like Los Angeles itself), exuberant retrospective at the Museum of Latin American Art, is jam-packed with over 200 paintings, monotypes, mixed-media low-relief wall pieces and jazzy neon sculptures. Romero, a founding member of Los Four in 1974 with Carlos Almaraz, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan and Roberto “Berto” de la Roche, came of age artistically in that heady time when identity politics was being shaped. Groups underrepresented in the art world at that time -women, gays and lesbians, Chicanos – all separated into their respective tribes to develop and nurture art that both described and celebrated their unique experience. [Read more…]