November 26, 2015

Today: Giving thanks

 John James Audubon, Wild Turkey, from Birds of America. (via Wikipedia Commons)


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November 25, 2015

Patricia Highsmith, CAROL, Yaddo, and me

As many readers might recall, this past summer I spent July working in Saratoga Springs at Yaddo, a retreat for artists of all kinds, from painters and filmmakers to poets and composers. A letter arrived recently notifying me that I'd been named the 2015 Patricia Highsmith-Plangman Resident, so I want to share a post about Highsmith, her relationship with Yaddo, and the forthcoming movie Carol, which is based on Highsmith's 1948 novel The Price of Salt.

According to Yaddo, Highsmith was a guest in 1948, and, generously, she  remembered the community in her will:
Highsmith visited in 1948, on the recommendation of her friend Truman Capote, and completed her first book there, Strangers On A Train. She returned almost four decades later for conversations with Michael Sundell, then Yaddo’s President, and Board Chair Don Rice, which culminated in Highsmith’s decision to make Yaddo the sole beneficiary of her estate. Her legacy has made it possible for Yaddo to build an endowment and we welcome this opportunity to recognize her artistry, generosity and vision.
As the box office receipts from Carol begin to accrue, Yaddo's budget stands to grow substantially. In other words, this could be the jackpot that will enable Yaddo to thrive for years to come.

The story is of two women who meet in a department store over the holidays in 1950s-era New York City. The younger woman (Rooney Mara) is a sales girl in the doll department, and the other (Cate Blanchett), older and more sophisticated, is a wealthy customer who lives on an estate (that looks very much like Yaddo) in New Jersey with her four-year-old daughter. The two women begin an unexpected affair, which leads to a nasty custody dispute; choices must be made. Directed by Todd Haynes and written by Phyllis Nagy, the film is a masterpiece of social dissection, beautifully shot and exquisitely acted. Each actress conveys her own brand of brittle determination to navigate the taboo against lesbianism in 1950s America--Blanchett with her physical elegance and haughty instability, Mara with her waifish forlornness and naive intensity, like a more bohemian Holly Golightly. Haynes does a remarkable job of integrating the visible and the emotional, shooting from oblique angles and into hidden nooks to evoke the unavoidably clandestine nature of the relationship, and then expansively--there's one especially brilliant diverging tracking shot--to signify their fleeting liberation. Kyle Chandler too is excellent as Carol's bitterly flummoxed husband, and gets the most out of a thankless role.

Few novelists are blessed with even a single great adaptation of their work. Highsmith, with Carol now joining Hitchcock's rendition of Strangers on a Train, gets two--and The Talented Mr. Ripley and The Two Faces of January aren't bad either.

Carol, playing at the Paris, the beautiful theater behind the Plaza Hotel, and the Angelika Film Center in SoHo.


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Big plans: The 2015 Miami fairs

HELL YES, the Miami art fairs are just around the corner! As usual, Art Basel Miami Beach--the biggest of the fairs, with 250 of the most affluent international galleries in attendance--will set up shop in the Miami Beach Convention Center from December 3-6. The smaller fairs--Scope Miami, Miami Project, PULSE Miami Beach, NADA, Fridge, Art on Paper, SATELLITE Projects, and Untitled--will also be in the Miami Beach area, and Art Miami, Context, Pinta, X-Contemporary, and Conception Miami will occupy the Wynwood Art District. Spectrum Miami Art Fair, Red Dot Art Fair and ArtSpot International Art Fair will be situated in Miami's Performing Arts District, and, as usual, free shuttles will be running between the fairs.

This year I'm excited to have three talented artists covering this blockbuster artopia for Two Coats of Paint: Sharon Louden, Heather Leigh McPherson, and an unidentified artist/art handler who will report on behind-the-scenes activities (and perhaps introduce readers to work by some of the other artist/art handlers).

I've studied the exhibitor lists, and the must-see fairs this year look like NADA, Untitled, Pulse, and the Tiger Strikes Asteroid project "Artist Run" in the SATELLITE fair. But check out the lists for yourselves, make your plans, and, when you get there, don't let FOMO ruin the week. Remember that no one, no matter how obsessed, can ever see it all! Note that the precise dates of the fairs vary within the December 1-6 time frame.

Sharon Louden, installation at Tweed Museum of Art, on view through May 29, 2016. Follow Louden's art fair coverage on Instagram, too, at

Heather Leigh McPherson, 2015 installation view of her work at Vox Populi in Philadelphia. Follow McPherson's art fair coverage on Instagram, too, at

Thank you art handlers! Here they are installing a Frank Stella. I'm looking forward to learning more about their experience of the Miami fairs. Image courtesy of PACCIN.

Image at top: Photo of Vintage Postcard, Miami Florida courtesy of 1950sUnlimited

Related posts:
Miami Beach: Swimming in pigment
EMAIL: Art Basel Miami Beach edition


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November 24, 2015

Quick study

Today's links concern a new fundraising incentive (an artist's book!), an historic sculpture show in LA, Ellsworth Kelly in Dallas, adjunct advice, Italian painting heist, and a painting's troubled history. Tomorrow I will introduce the artists who have been invited to cover the Miami Fairs for Two Coats of Paint.

FUNDRAISING: Our year-end campaign continues, and readers who contribute $150 or more will receive a proof edition of the latest artist's book from Two Coats of Paint Press, Butler's Goethe Theory of Color, a paperback pocketbook (image above), 404 pages, color cover with black and white interior. Click here to make your contribution and get a collectible proof, before we correct all the typos and bad line breaks! Hand-drawn cover art and marginalia are included in these proofs. THANK YOU to all the readers who have made generous contributions already. Remember: The more money we raise, the more posts we can produce in 2016!



The NYTimes reports that Dallas Cowboys owners, Jerry Jones and his wife, Gene, bought Ellsworth Kelly's 2012 aluminum sculpture White Form (image above) at a charity auction for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and the Dallas Museum of Art. "The work is just the latest acquisition for the stadium’s Dallas Cowboys Art Collection, which now includes 59 works — paintings, sculptures, photography and video art — by major artists including Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson, Jenny Holzer and Doug Aitken." They plan to hang it at the stadium.  Read more.

November 23, 2015

Ben La Rocco's Saturnalia

In "Saturn's Gates," his first solo show at Slag in Bushwick, Ben La Rocco presents a new series of large-scale paintings on Masonite, most casually leaning against the walls, except for a large painted tarp that hangs loosely, outfitted with slits and dangling ropes, from the ceiling. In the studio, La Rocco doesn't travel a linear path, and so naturally this work is a departure from his previous shows with Janet Kurnatowski, the longtime Greenpoint gallerist who represented him until she closed at the end of the summer. 

According to the press release, La Rocco, who is also an editor-at-large for The Brooklyn Rail, is thinking about weighty, philosophical themes, such as time, birth, matter, and light. "Masonite, a common utilitarian board, functions as a symbol for foundation, which he then uses as a surface to explore aspects of human consciousness through his work with color and line." Referencing both the planet and the Roman god, the paintings in "Saturn's Gate" have an urgency -- agitated, imaginative, and most of all sincere.

[Image at top: Ben La Rocco, installation view, at Slag]

November 22, 2015

Gedi Sibony's backwards images in Greater New York

In "Greater New York" at MoMA PS1, Gedi Sibony, known for his early assemblages of carpet and drywall, is represented by nine framed pieces that were made in 2015, but borrow an idea from his previous work. Each piece, seemingly sourced in a thrift shop, consists of an old metal frame -- the popular, make-it-yourself modular type used to frame posters and prints in the 1970s. In each, the artwork has been turned away from the glass, leaving a view of the back where an anonymous framer attached the fragile piece of paper to the matboard. By displaying the back of the artwork, rather than the images that the original owner framed, Sibony playfully challenges the viewer to embrace a new narrative. The disintegrated tape and the yellowed matboards may at first glance seem a simple riff on Robert-Ryman-esque Minimalism, but they also tell a another story -- about time, decay, and changing aesthetics.

[Image at top: Gedy Sibony, installation view at "Greater New York."]

November 19, 2015

Interview: Daniel Kingery in Hunt's Point

Contributed by Rob Kaiser-Schatzlein / The four paintings I looked at in Daniel Kingery's Bronx studio are all medium-sized, human scale. Paint application strategies vary across each canvas, but overall the surfaces have a stiff, solid sheen. Kingery paints in layers, applying and completing each before beginning the next. Sometimes this means a physical imposition of paint on top of paint, as in the Self-Portrait as Taylor Swift or The Sack of Minerva's Temple (after St. Augustine and Richard Prince). The more loosely painted untitled self-portraits are contained in a square, while the stenciled paint seems to hover over it.

Kingery began the conversation with a rant about the fact that his landlord is raising his studio rent by about 50% (for comparison, rent-stabilized apartments in New York City are limited to less than a 2% increase per year). After discussing that depressing news, we got down to talking about his recent work.

[Image at top: Daniel Kingery, Self-Portrait as Taylor Swift, 2014, oil, oil stick and acrylic on linen, 66 x 50 inches.]

Quick study

Links today include a pick for the Miami fairs, two news stories about art warehousing, a Ryman boys profile, text discovery on a Malevich, union busting at Connecticut State University, and a post about "total service artists."

1. Painter and curator Julie Torres has announced the artists included in "Art in America," an exhibition she curated for Tiger Strikes Asteroid’s "Artist-Run" at The Satellite Show in Miami, December 1-6, 2015. The exhibition includes one piece from one artist in each of the fifty states and Puerto Rico. Yes, artists live everywhere!

[Image at top: Adam Lovitz, hoagie bar cackle, 2015, acrylic on panel, 10 x 8 inches. Representing Pennsylvania.]

November 16, 2015

EJ Hauser's metamorphosis at Regina Rex

Many of the paintings in "Amphibian," EJ Hauser's first solo exhibition at Regina Rex, feature an image of a frog. Or perhaps I should say, they look like an image of an image of an image of a frog. In previous work, Hauser took images and ran them through the gamut of digital degradation--printing, scanning, printing, scanning--until the original image is nearly unrecognizable. With these paintings, she works more directly, starting with a rich, multi-layered base of solid color and then painting the images on top. In most, the colors are not fully saturated, and the frog images are isolated in the center, but in twinned amphibian, Hauser paints two white figures against a bright, lively yellow, as if suddenly, her love object has found a friend.

[Image at top: EJ Hauser, frog mountain clock 6, 2015, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches.]

November 15, 2015

Fundraising update

Please click here to donate / To all the readers who have sent contributions in our first week --THANK YOU. We have raised nearly $6000 from 103 generous contributors, and we hope to double that by the end of the year. Your contributions ensure that Two Coats of Paint will get the code upgrade and archiving services required to move forward. We hope to raise enough in the next six weeks to cover most of the operating expenses for 2016.  

If you have not yet made a contribution, I hope you will consider doing so today. Thanks to our fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas, all donations, are tax deductible.

Please click here to donate. 

Thanks for supporting independent art blogging!

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Related posts:
Our first Year-End Fundraising Drive: How you can help


Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

November 14, 2015

Thinking about Paris: The life of Gustave Moreau

From the Gustave Moreau National Museum website:
For Gustave Moreau (b. 1826), as for da Vinci and Poussin, artists he liked to refer to, painting was a cosa mentale. It does not seek to recreate on canvas an observation of nature but first and foremost addresses the spirit, and comes from the innermost depths of the artist. Moreau wanted to create a body of work where, in his own words, the soul could find: all the aspirations of dreams, tenderness, love, enthusiasm and religious ascent towards the higher spheres, where everything in it is elevated, inspiring, moral and beneficent; where all is imaginative and impulsive soaring off into sacred, unknown, mysterious lands. Moreau’s painting is meant to inspire dreams rather than thought. It seeks to transport the viewer into another world.

The Gustave Moreau museum, installed in the painter’s family home, was a project conceived by Gustave Moreau (1826-1898). The apartments on the first floor form a small sentimental museum displaying family portraits and works given to Moreau by his friends Théodore Chassériau and Edgar Degas. The second and third floors are taken up with huge studios, containing hundreds of paintings and watercolours. The walls are covered with over four thousand drawings that give a broad perspective of the techniques and subjects of the undisputed master of French Symbolism. A unique house-studio in Paris, the Musée National Gustave Moreau has managed to retain all the magic of its original atmosphere. It is located in the heart of Nouvelle Athènes, in the 9th arrondissement at the foot of Montmartre.

Mailbox: Don Porcaro's shape of play

I get a slew of exhibition catalogs in the mail, so I've decided to feature some of the more interesting ones in a column called "Mailbox." This week I was delighted to receive "Shape of Play: Sculpture by Don Porcaro," a catalog that accompanied a  recent exhibition at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, featuring a fine essay from independent critic and curator Karen Wilkin.

Playful and lyrically complex, Porcaro's human-scale sculpture, like much of the sculpture featured on the second floor in "Greater New York" at MoMA PS 1 explores the nature of human interaction with the physical world. A longtime faculty member at Parsons School of Design, Porcaro has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Sculpture Magazine, Art in America, Artnews, BOMB and Newsday, among others. Porcaro received his MFA in Sculpture from Columbia University.

[Image at top: Don Porcaro's installation on the grounds of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.]

November 12, 2015

Quick study: Divorce court, Heimo Zobernig, menstrual blood paintings, Flora Crockett, Joe Bradley

All the links are about painting this week!

According to NYPost: Husband removes art collection from the apartment while the wife is in Europe, puts the Basquiat up for auction, stashes the rest in a Queens storage facility, then files for divorce. Read more. (Image via Art Market Monitor)

November 11, 2015

Art and Film: Women with dogs

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Two new films concern edgy women of the New York art scene: Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict and Laurie Anderson's Heart of a Dog, a moving meditation on dying and love. Vreeland builds a portrait of the visionary gallerist, proto-feminist, and renowned libertine as a social rebel and intuitive art savant around a series of taped interviews and an abundance of old footage. While that methodology makes it difficult to forge a character-plumbing film biography, it works well for marking Guggenheim’s prominent place in twentieth-century art history, and for framing her endearing eccentricities: at bottom a bit of a misanthrope, she is buried in Venice with 14 of her dogs (mainly lhasa apsos and shih-tzus).

November 10, 2015

In his own words: William Powhida's paradox

This season William Powhida presents a new body of work at Charlie James in LA that departs from his familiar drawings-on-notebook-paper style. The new paintings and screen prints, still text-based, introduce color in a mash-up of early Ed Ruscha's 1970's text paintings and archly amateurish, font-happy typographic design.  

[Image at top: William Powhida, installation view. All images courtesy of Charlie James.]

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