February 27, 2018

Variable Star


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February 25, 2018

Instagram Reviews

"California Landscapes: Richard Diebenkorn and Wayne Thiebaud" @acquavellagalleries, Uptown NYC. Malevich's Suprematists were enthralled by aerial photography, the horizon line exiled from the picture plane. (Biographical detail: WT served in the First Motion Picture Unit of the Army Air Force, '42-'45, RD served in the Marine Corps '43-'45, no flight experience reported.) POV of the dive bomber, the looming groundswell. What had changed in the intervening 50 years after the Russian aerial regard? WT's Aristotle to RD's Plato. WT had Pop legs while RD retracted towards Mondrian. For WT, the purity gets contaminated. Is RD a flat earther? RD's abstraction purified towards a Pythagorean Theorem, the earth's curvature meant very little to him. RD's representational referents in exile. Scaffolding is all that remains. I found more surprises in WT: 1) Vanishing perspectives tucked within flattened perspective. 2) Long shadows indicate a sun near a horizon, an indication of an actor off stage. 3) Things represented become clots and thumbs of paint, reflections off things like Rembrandt's stumbled highlights on a helmet. 4) Did I see Edward Munch in a grove of trees? #painting

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Tom Wesselmann "Standing Still Lifes" at Gagosian 24th Street Chelsea I neither liked nor disliked TM as I opened the gallery doors. But then as I approached the first assembly, turning from two to three dimensions, my curiosity was piqued. The peep behind the curtain renders mountains. In the back gallery, a treasure of preparatory material. His oeuvre is a flat cut-out in itself. The backstory is the rest of the story, the depth of his art. To know him is to respect (love?) him. Schwitters, forced through Matisse, Bonnard with a Pop. I started to rank, who was better? Rosenquist? Katz made cut-outs too, by the way, flirting with the elimination of the ground. (For some painters like Judd, the ground was a problem that had to be dispensed with.) TW went past flirtation. Did I see a draftsman's hand, close to Oldenburg's? "Pointing at everyday life via conceptual means" (I quote myself with satisfaction), emphasis on the pointing. Indexical. This is this. That is that. Are prosaic objects elevated or are we instead shrunk? ("The Incredible Shrinking Man", 1957 starring Grant Williams and Randy Stuart.) Is G-d in the details? Did he ever create theater sets? Is the viewer an actor on a stage? #popart

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Milton Resnick "Boards" @cheimread, Chelsea NYC. At first sight, they all look the same. All-Over and everywhere at once. From a distance, you need time for the eye and mind to adjust and resolve. First sit and relax. Allow the eye and mind to adjust. Then get up close, an arm's length away, like MR did. These are nose paintings, you have to press into them. Frank Auerbach! Knots and burls and skeins and curls of paint. Impasto, wanting to lift off and then pushed back into the canvas, face smash. Brushes ground to destruction, leaving trails all over. All-Over, Pollock's long shadow. I think of the telescope photos of the sun, the roiling surface, loops of ejecta sucked back gravitationally. They will never escape. Black suns, green suns, brown suns. I am certain that most of these paintings did not look that fresh in the studio. At times, he surely used medium to alter the paint out of the tube/can. Paint shrinks somewhat when it dries, and even more so when oil and varnish and who-knows-what is added to it. It puckers. It wrinkles. Then there are all those insults that happen on their way to destiny: for example, something stacked on its face that smashes the largest knots of paint flat. And this is all for the better in those paintings, they not only handle it, they seem to ask for it. #painting

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Sue Williams "1997-98" @skarstedtgallery Uptown NYC. The loaded brush line swells from fat to thin and back again, a freight of representation in each single stroke. Traces of Pettibone. Curiously, vaguely 50's era figures / characters. The first two photos presented: probably her Ur-paintings, what I assume to be the spring boards for what quickly came later. What came later? A cartoon Pop reverse osmosis towards an All-Over Abstract Expressionism. Why the All-Over? The vision of a fragmented society gang banging in a froth. Fetish soup. Later in the cycle: a Suprematist constellation of orifices. Clusters of penetrating moments. Panel comics, unbound. Caricature pulsed in a blender. "Turning and turning in the widening gyre... surely some revelation is at hand...". #painting

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February 8, 2018

tear it wide open

tear it wide open
Oil on Canvas over Wire


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February 6, 2018

Review Panel

The Review Panel Returned for its Third Annual Season at Brooklyn Public Library at 1 Grand Army Plaza. Publisher/Editor David Cohen moderated a panel including Ken Johnson, Svetlana Alpers and Alex Bacon. It was a night of sharp yet friendly elbows, very interesting. The shows reviewed included:
Jamian Juliano-Villani, "Ten Pound Hand" at JTT Gallery in the Lower East Side.
Byron Kim, "Sunday Paintings, 1/7/01 to 2/11/18" at James Cohan Gallery, Chelsea.
Anthony McCall, "Solid Light Works" at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Catherine Murphy, Recent Works at Peter Freeman in the Lower East Side.

What stood out to me was the mildly contested claim (David Cohen's) that the avant-garde does not exist in this historical moment. That this article of faith was questioned at all -however tentatively- is a significant development. Cohen even stepped on his line by questioning the validity (vitality?) of the academic conceptualism of Byron Kim's show ("... [Byron Kim is} not exactly cutting edge, a bit retro , comfortable zone to be in..."). I'm not suggesting here that we champion a resurrected classical avant-garde. I'm saying that the End of History narrative hoisted at the fall of the Berlin Wall had neutralized the will of the art world to write subsequent chapters of art history. All that would be countenanced is that artists and critics could only write the bibliography and end notes. When painting was taken up in earnest in the aftermath of this historical moment in the 90's, the overwhelming majority of artists and critics whistled past the graveyard of painting, making art en passant. What should have happened was an avalanche of articles and demonstrations in art works that questioned the postmodernism that characterized the end of the 20th century -then, ten years early- and an earnest anticipation of the dawning 21st century. What resulted is our current impasse where only the moniker "Zombie Art" (see Mugar, Saltz and Robinson) has left the critical playing field completely to be defined by the high end (auction) market.

I must also emphasize that what I am advocating here is not the grandiose aspect of an avant-garde, but simply the mindset that I think all artists that have been celebrated in history had possessed: the imperative to question the legacy that they had inherited, to reject aspects that are no longer relevant to their time, to formulate a position that both reclaims legacy aspects of merit and postulate new aspects that pertain to a developing immediate future. That evening at the Review Panel, I sensed small signals of discomfort that I found encouraging: a jaundiced view of academic conceptualism of Byron Kim, a heated debate as to what seemed redeemable in both the enduring tradition of conventional representational painting of Catherine Murphy and the "edgy" Post-Pop sampling of Jamian Juliano-Villani, and the difficulty the panel encountered defining Anthony McCall as either retro or cutting edge.

Sparks to tinder.

I took notes:




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February 5, 2018


wings-fly 2.gif

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February 4, 2018

Fran├žois Morellet at DIA CHELSEA

DIA hosted a conversation between Yve-Alain Bois and Benjamin H. D. Buchloh about the work of Fran├žois Morellet, currently on exhibition at their Chelsea gallery. They talked about Morellet's system-minimalism and his relationship with artists on both sides of the Atlantic including Ellsworth Kelly, Sol LeWitt, Duchamp, Cage, Mondrian, and others. Of interest were distinctions of different types of utopian projects, modernisms (specifically South American) and humor/irony in minimalism.

I took notes:


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