January 31, 2009
"Not a traditional drawing show - there’s not one graphite mark in the collection - this is a challenging, unexpected, and ineffable discussion of the radical possibilities at the very
'opening' of the creative imagination. The exhibition’s purpose is to examine line anew: solid or supple, sensuous or rigid, expansive or contractive, insistent or tentative. Here we see line as means, beginnings, and ends of the process of inspiration and result: equally path, journey, and destination."
In the Boston Globe, Cate McQuaid reports that the show "leaps through a startling variety of materials, from the little plastic ties that make up the cinched tube shape of Tina ManWarren Roche-Kelly's gossamer 'Wingspan' to the 12-inch spike nails curled into the daunting thicket of John Bisbee's 'Cradle.' Michael Beatty's gorgeous sculpture 'The Trouble With Painting' has metal elbow joints holding undulating lengths of pale wood; the result looks like logic attempting to contain grace."
Note to curators and artists: The New Art Center has a 31-year tradition of using the Main Gallery for group exhibitions (two persons or more) curated by an exhibiting artist or independent curator. Since May 1991 they have continued this tradition through a public call for proposals. The next deadline for the Curatorial Opportunity Program is April 8, 2009
"Opening Lines," curated by Susan Goldwitz. A Curatorial Opportunity Program Selection
at New Art Center, Newton, MA. Through February 22, 2009. Artists include Michael Beatty, John Bisbee, Catherine Carter, Christine Hiebert, Masako Kamiya, Sol LeWitt, Anne Lilly, Agnes Martin, David Moore, Jennifer Perry, Tina ManWarren Roche-Kelly, Richard Serra, Jill Weber.
Strings & Geometry: An Intersection bewteen Art and Modern Physics
Lecture by Dr. Cumrun Vafa, Harvard University
Thursday, February 5, 7pm
How does abstraction run through both science and art? How different- and similar- are artists and scientists? What do lines, strings, and particles have in common? What role does aesthetics play in the work and process of artists & physicists?
I like line, too
"More than 100 of these cards are in 'Deleted Entities 1925-1996,' the centerpiece of 'Silent Key,' Bernard's poignant exhibit at the Boston Center for the Arts' Mills Gallery. Laid out chronologically and geographically, all the cards come from regions in which the system of government has changed. The Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and colonized regions in Asia and Africa are represented here. Bernard has arrayed the cards in a grid, leaving blanks to signify places Adams didn't reach in a given period of time. The result reads rhythmically, visually capturing ham radio's Morse code stutter....The overall effect - right up to a comical cache of erotic postcards Bernard found stashed among Adams's QSL cards - wonderfully evokes the community of individuals who kept in touch across social and political divides, through revolutions and upheavals throughout the 20th century. Interestingly, despite the ease with which the Internet connects people today, ham operators are still going strong." Read more.
"Cindy Bernard: Silent Key," Boston Center for the Arts' Mills Gallery, Boston, MA. Through February 15.
January 30, 2009
"In his best works, seeing and feeling merged in forms that glowed from within; decorative and subjective became one. It’s not just the colors that radiate in a Bonnard; there’s also the heat of mixed emotions, rubbed into smoothness, shrouded in chromatic veils and intensified by unexpected spatial conundrums and by elusive, uneasy figures.
"One of the most interesting things about Bonnard’s paintings is the time warp created by their folding together of form, color and feeling. Everything contributes to a kind of slowness that relates to both art and life. We experience his surfaces as diaries of their own making, accruing with pauses and second thoughts in gentle or erratic brushstrokes, layers of color within color and tracts of contrasting textures. We sense both the time and emotion invested in them."
“Pierre Bonnard: The Late Interiors,” organized by Dita Amory. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. Through April 19.
January 28, 2009
"There is another piece to this project - the origin of how these people come into connection with me, the artist. Conceptually, the collection as a whole becomes a community of individual's that have opted to be memorialized, much in the same way the original commissioners of portrait painting - the rich and powerful - chose to. The why is here is maybe a bit more obvious. As one new member put it so eloquently - 'we are all just a little bit vain.'"
Naturally, when I learned of Matt's project, I immediately joined his Facebook Group "I'll have My Facebook Portrait Painted by Matt Held." Within days this jpeg arrived in my inbox. My tiny Facebook image, originally taken in a poorly-lit campus stairwell by ECSU staff photographer Nick Lacy, is now 24" x 30," rendered in oils on canvas. Yes, I am a little bit vain: I love Matt's painting, and my nose is long and distinctive, but, for all the Two Coats readers out there who have never actually met me, I swear it isn't quite that broad :===)
Update: After I ran this story, bloggers Tyler Green and Paddy Johnson both ran posts about Matt's Facebook series, where the story was picked up by the mainstream media. After Matt was featured in both the Observer and New York Magazine, blogger Hrag Vartanian (portrait #30 in the series) checked in to see how he was holding up with all the attention. Read Hrag's Q & A here.
Paul Campbell's larger-than-life social networking pics
I recently received a note from Carrie Elston, editor in chief of Mapcidy, that Two Coats of Paint is listed among Mapcidy's top art blogs in NYC. According to their website, which has interactivity galore, Mapcidy is a "blog, hyperlocal guide, and social utility." Elston, a 2003 Yale grad who's currently a Hunter MFA student, and the other contributors certainly seem to be throwing their hearts into it. Go have a look and report back.
I also received a note from William Emm, the sales director at new UK online galleries Loveart and Exemplars. The sites feature a generous review of art blogs, which includes Two Coats of Paint as well as all the regular bloggers. Lovearts' catchphrase is "Stunning Art, Beautifully Presented." Exemplars slogan is "Quality. Original. Art." I wish them all the best in this lousy deflating economy. If anyone has worked with these galleries, feel free to leave info about the experience in the Comments section.
Two Coats of Paint was included in "10 Blogs I Really Like," which appeared a while back at blogs.com. The list was compiled by guest poster Renee Coates, who creates an original painting each week and posts it on her blog, 52 Pieces.
January 26, 2009
"'I'm like some demented duckling stuck on this island -- stuck on the P-I -- so if I am forced to do something brave and move on out there, it might be good for me, and I am being forced,' Hackett told fellow Seattle critic Jen Graves, who writes for the Stranger. Hackett indicated that she was working on a book about Pacific Northwest art and would continue writing an art blog. Her writing is currently hosted as "Art to Go" on the P-I’s website, and presently features her reflections on Mrs. Lonelyhearts, Nathaniel West’s Depression-era novel about a desperate newspaper columnist. 'I mean, there are no jobs for us,' Hackett told Graves."
Sheila Farr, art critic of the Seattle Times, was also laid off, too, but Jen said it's no big loss.
"Acrylics took away his bounce, but what developed as a replacement has become as intriguing. Dailey paints flat smears of color that drag themselves across space and fight with their frames, which are constantly realigning their positions. Seattle art museums being what they are, none has seen fit to provide one of the Northwest's most singular colorists a retrospective, which is why the Greg Kucera Gallery joined forces with Dailey's gallery, Francine Seders, to provide one. At Kucera are early works, from 1965 to 1999. At Seders, the paintings are of more recent vintage." Read more.
"Michael Dailey: Color, Light, Time, and Place: Selected Works, 1966 - 1999," Greg Kucera Gallery, in conjunction with Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle, WA. Through February 14.
Michael Dailey: Color, Light, Time, and Place: Selected Works, 2000-2008," Francine Seders Gallery, Seattle, WA. Through February 9.
January 24, 2009
Also keep in mind that Kevin Regan is currently the artist-in-resident at Pocket Utopia in Brooklyn. Beginning tomorrow, on Sunday afternoons Regan will be serving coffee, and discussing relational aesthetics, collage, sculptural placards, sport figures, newspaper images and working in ink. Stop by and join the discussion.
"Beauty Marks and Body Parts," curated by Stephen Maine. Alpan Gallery, Huntington, NY. Through February 14.
January 22, 2009
"Linear Abstraction," McKenzie Fine Art, New York, NY. Through February 7. Artists include Mark Dagley, Gilbert Hsiao, Maureen McQuillan, Gelah Penn, Gary Peterson, Mary Temple
"Located inside the offices of Bailey Browne CPA & Associates, kork is a wholly sovereign conceptual entity; not unlike the nation of Lesotho, nestled quaintly within the borders of South Africa. Willhite's incursion into non-kork real estate manages to fix one's eye on the solidly bland-beige form of the kork space, the texture of which is equally bland compared with that of the lace working depicted in the surrounding photocopy. The mildness of the board is amplified to a nearly oppressive level. The artist's response to the installation is apt, 'I almost feel like it's looking at me more than I'm looking at it!' This mildness is an insinuation of steps not taken, of a life unbegun. Bulletin boards and lace curtains are custodians of our dusty memories. The initial pricks in a bulletin board's cork are imbued with great intention, but more often than not, the surface will bloom with the overgrowth of those expired intentions. The lace curtain captures the benign history of a grandmother's kitchen; remembrances caught on the wind. Here, writ gargantuan in black and white, that past now looms. Before it sits an empty bland agenda. The surface is passive; its form, assertive. It's presence atop the ephemeral curtain is firm and undeniable. Free from clutter, free of looming tasks impaled on its face, the tan monolith is a dull mirror confronting the viewer. It's unspoken query to the viewer may well be 'So, what's in your head?'
*It is unknown whether the presence of kork (Poughkeepsie, NY's most provocative new art venue) in the offices of Bailey Browne CPA & Associates was actually considered as a factor which contributed to Careercast.com's ranking of Accountant as one of the top ten best jobs in America today. Regardless, the creative minds behind the bulletin board gallery/project space will waste no time in spinning this moment of synchronicity to our advantage.
** kork enthusiastically the embraces the impulses of our artists, even when it is forced to question, then violate the laws of its own nature. Rules and laws exist for our own benefit. they protect us. Adherence to rules is a virtue. We are located in an accounting firm after all."
"Marc Willhite: Tableaux," curated by Chris Albert. kork, Poughkeepsie, NY. Through Feb 27, 2009.
January 20, 2009
Pocket Utopia, located at 1037 Flushing Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, is a relational exhibition, salon and social space run by artist Austin Thomas. Work by Kay Thomas, Elissa Levy, and Björn Meyer-Ebrecht is on view through February 15.
Andy Piedilato in Bushwick
Björn Meyer-Ebrecht at Pocket Utopia
Previous studio updates:
So long, little shack (Sept. 9, 2008)
Summer progress (Aug. 30, 2008)
Studio visits (July 12, 2008)
Unplugged in Beacon (June 6, 2008)
Habitat For Artists: Shack update (May 18, 2008)
Itinerant painter (May 9, 2008)
January 18, 2009
"R. H. Quaytman: Chapter 12: iamb," Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York, NY. Through February 1.
“Raqib Shaw at the Met," curated by Gary Tinterow. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. Through March 1.
January 16, 2009
Here is an excerpt from a conversation Ryman had with Brooklyn Rail publisher Phong Bui last year.
Phong Bui (Rail): Can you recall any specific event, whether it was seeing a particular work of art, having a conversation with some artists, or simply accepting the strong urge, which drove you to come to terms with the prospect of being an artist?
Ryman: There was no particular episode that I can pinpoint that made me think, “OK. This is what I want to do.” I didn’t plan on doing what I’m doing exactly. Although before high school, I wanted to make comics so that was the first indication of some sort....Anyway, in high school, I became interested in sculpture and was making a lot of very expressive figures, mostly faces with great anxieties. At that point I really felt that art was about emotion and should be expressed emotionally. I remember talking to my dad about art while trying to figure out what he was doing, and it was frustrating because I never got a clear answer. As a teenager there was something inaccessible about his work; I never understood what the big deal was. The fact that they were critically praised made it more difficult for me to access. I really wanted to understand it and figure it out, but since I was trying so hard I couldn’t. That process left me feeling as though I was missing something that everyone else seemed to get. Because if there was one thing that I knew it was the fact that his work was totally genuine... it wasn’t a gimmick. At some point I decided to leave it alone and stop trying to figure things out which in effect enabled the real breakthrough which came a little later. But now, when people don’t get my work, I can really understand. And I can really sympathize with them."Cordy Ryman," DCKT Gallery, New York, NY. Through February 14.
January 15, 2009
"Putin gives us all the information we need but nothing more. Look how he uses six quick strokes of bright red paint to suggest the decorative border of the curtain at the right, but only a dab or two of red to convey the same information at the left, or how he lets us see the curtain rail at the left, but doesn't bother to show the one on the right. This is an artist who has been struck by something most of us wouldn't look at twice. With remarkable economy he contrasts the warmth, light, and gaiety of the interior with the cold and darkness beyond."
January 14, 2009
"Drew Shiflett," Lesley Heller Gallery, New York, NY. Through January 31.
In The Villager, Bonnie Rosenstock writes about the Westbeth, the largest live/work facility for artists in the world, located in the far western edge of Greenwich Village in New York. "The original supposition of Westbeth was that young, starving artists would come here, become successful within five years and leave. Claire Rosenfeld, a self-described 'career artist' in her 60s who has been living in Westbeth since 1982, joked. 'Anyone who says he lives off his art has a trust fund.'
"Printmaker Christina Maile, now 63, recalls that 1970s fantasy very vividly.'Yeah, that sounded about right, five years,' she said. 'We were all about the same age moving in, and there was a general air of optimism. But then life intruded, we started families, or had more hardship than we thought. Artists need security where they are, even if they talk a great game. Like a scuba diver, you need something to help you breathe,' she said.
"Jack Dowling, the visual arts chair-person of the Westbeth Artists Residents Council and director of the Westbeth art gallery for the past 10 years, also remembers that pie-in-the-sky notion. He is 77 years old, a painter, writer and printmaker. When he moved here from Soho 30 years ago, it was the first time he had a real bathroom. He wonders where artists can go now for affordable living and working space." Read more.
January 12, 2009
For more on optimistic artists, read Charlie Finch's report here. "In Portland, Ore., blogger Eva Lake raised money for the documentary Alien Boy, a film about a local rocker shot to death by the police for no apparent reason in broad daylight in front of a local coffee bar. At Pocket Utopia, a new artist-run space in Bushwick, artist Deborah Brown collaborated with gallery owner Austin Thomas on a print of a cardinal escaping from a Schielelike branch, to benefit the Women in Need charity. Another Brooklyn artist, Hannah Corbett of Park Slope, also produced prints based on her painting of 'The Graces,' a seductive nude-in-triplicate of her three too-sexy aunts...."
"Andy Piedilato," curated by Chris Harding. English Kills, Brooklyn, NY. Through Feb. 15.
January 11, 2009
On Saturday, January 17, there's an opening in Beacon, NY, at the Van Brunt Gallery for the Habitat for Artists residents. Mastermind Simon Draper is bringing the HFA project indoors for the month. Collaborators include Chris Albert, Richard Bruce, Sharon Butler, Ryan Cronin, Kathy Feighery, Marnie Hillsley, Matthew Kinney, Grace Knowlton, Sara Mussen, Steven Rossi, Matthew Slaats, Lynn Stein, Dar Williams, Grey Zeien and Donald Kimmel and the Flying Swine Live Theater. Participating artists will create work in the gallery and invite visitors, students and other artists to collaborate and participate in the process. This open studio/workspace/habitat will provide the public with access to understanding the artists’ creative process and will function to blur the boundaries between artist and viewer. The aim is to engage the public and provoke dialogue not normally associated with traditional gallery exhibitions. I wrote about my summer Habitat For Artists experience here.
On Sunday, January 18, don't forget that Austin Thomas and I are planning a Pocket Utopia salon at 4pm, to discuss art making, art blogging and world-making. See you there.
Update: A short report on the residency and salon at Pocket Utopia.
January 9, 2009
"Every feeling waits upon its gesture, and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it"
"From one photograph to the next we sense a young artist and writer honing her eye and voice. 'Making pictures of people in all sorts of situations, I learned that every feeling waits upon its gesture, and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it,' she later wrote in the memoir 'One Writer’s Beginnings.' 'These were things a story writer needed to know.'" (via Karen Rosenberg, NY Times)
“Eudora Welty in New York: Photographs of the Early 1930s,” Museum of the City of New York, New York, NY. Through Feb. 16.
January 7, 2009
Village Voice critic Martha Schwendener, in a good piece on the state of art writing and criticism, suggests that, despite the bad economy, things are pretty good right now. "The big narrative in the art world over the last decade has been the market. Money, as you may have heard, changes everything. But now that the market is marching in lockstep with the global recession, the big question for those involved with art is: How's it affecting you? One population, ironically, has been less affected than others, and that's art writers: We're at the low end of the art economy either way....The days of power critics like Clement Greenberg or Harold Rosenberg ended decades ago; writers have been eclipsed by globe-trotting curators, mega-dealers—even, in recent years, collectors. Roundtables and panel discussions have been devoted to the 'crisis in criticism;' recent books include titles like Critical Mess and What Happened to Art Criticism?
"But at the same moment that the old guard has been decrying the sorry state of 'criticism' (a contested term that's come to mean everything from academic papers to exhibition reviews), something has been happening in art writing. While James Elkins, author of the doomsaying What Happened to Art Criticism?, claims that art criticism is 'dying, but everywhere . . . massively produced and massively ignored,' writers are pushing out in new directions, trying hybrid forms, and blurring the distinction between art writing and art making. And then there are the critical writings of artists themselves. These have ranged over the decades from the prickly formalist criticism of Donald Judd to the wacky manifestos of Ad Reinhardt to Agnes Martin's poetic texts. Writing was also important for two artists whose work has set the parameters for many contemporary artists: Andy Warhol and Robert Smithson. Warhol's obsessive cataloging in the diaries and his genre-bending and sleight-of-hand banalities in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (1975) feel intimately linked to Kraus's writing, as well as to Wayne Koestenbaum's Hotel Theory (2007) and Andy Warhol (2001) biography for the Penguin Lives series, and to the novel Reena Spaulings (2005) by the artist-collective Bernadette Corporation. Seth Price, who combines a visual art practice with writing, is perhaps the most self-conscious heir to Smithson's delirious sci-fi-and-George-Kubler-influenced writing..." Read more.
January 6, 2009
At The Old Gold, Jon Lutz speaks with Carrie Pollack about her images, process and source materials. "My goal is to make a painting with as little as possible, almost stopping short to keep it open. I want them to be quiet, slow and a little unclear. I think when this happens it becomes more of a conversation then a statement, maybe somewhere in-between deliberation and intuition. I react to specific things in the world. These things have similar qualities so the choice of source is deliberate. Once I have this catalogue of images I know I want to work with I just sit and look at them for weeks. Through the looking at these images I begin to see other things at play, I think I am intuitively responding and arranging images at that point." Read more.
From the press release:
Josephine Halvorson's new small-scale paintings examine familiar objects. In "Problem Set" (2008) an old notebook page from a calculus class is replicated on linen; the word "sin" (a mathematical function) now has multiple readings. The painting is a construct of a problem and an answer, a start and a finish.
In Carrie Pollack’s new mixed media paintings, she examines how perception can change and evolve - for better or worse - over time. Giving rise to ambiguous interpretation, Pollack questions the initial meaning of an object, and then turns it into another meaning. Pollack’s works, echoing the outlines of minimalism – repetition, neutral surfaces - are formal compositions of subject matters ranging from distorted details of woven fabric to blurred photographs.
Kevin Christy presents two large mixed media drawings. In Untitled (2008) - a 3 by 5 foot work on paper - an elongated image of a white t-shirt bearing the American flag is set against a black background. The image, ghostly and rooted in working class values, is Christy’s interpretation of a design for the “Freedom Tower” in New York City.
"Perception as Artist," Monya Rowe, New York, NY. Through Feb. 14.
January 5, 2009
"Mr. Tuttle had been argumentative from the beginning: about the fee—twelve dollars—the size of the canvas, and the prospect to be shown through the window. Fortunately, there had been swift accord about the pose and the costume. Over these, Wadsworth was happy to oblige the customs collector; happy also to give him the appearance, as far as it was within his skill, of a gentleman. That was, after all, his business. He was a limner but also an artisan, and paid at an artisan’s rate to produce what suited the client. In thirty years, few would remember what the collector of customs had looked like; the only relic of his physical presence after he had met his Maker would be this portrait. And, in Wadsworth’s experience, clients held it more important to be pictured as sober, God-fearing men and women than they did to be offered a true likeness. This was not a matter that perturbed him.
"From the edge of his eye, Wadsworth became aware that his client had spoken, but he did not divert his gaze from the tip of his brush. Instead he pointed to the bound notebook in which so many sitters had written comments, expressed their praise and blame, wisdom and fatuity. He might as well have opened the book at any page and asked his client to select the appropriate remark left by a predecessor five or ten years before. The opinions of this customs collector so far had been as predictable as his waistcoat buttons, if less interesting. Fortunately, Wadsworth was paid to represent waistcoats, not opinions. Of course, it was more complicated than that: to represent the waistcoat, and the wig, and the breeches, was to represent an opinion—indeed, a whole corpus of them. The waistcoat and breeches showed the body beneath, as the wig and hat showed the brain beneath—though, in some cases, it was a pictorial exaggeration to suggest that any brains lay beneath.
"He would be happy to leave this town, to pack his brushes and canvases, his pigments and palette, into the small cart, to saddle his mare, and then take the forest trails that, in three days, would lead him home. There he would rest, and reflect, and perhaps decide to live differently, without this constant travail of the itinerant...." Read more.
January 3, 2009
At Connecticut Art Scene, Hank Hoffman opts to ignore Newman-Scott's angle, and takes a look at each artist individually. "It is a worthy metaphor around which to organize a show. But it can also be a distraction. Given the multiplicity of ideas and media offered here, trying to consider the works through any one given frame seems a mistake. So I'm not going to."
"Archeology of Wonder," organized by Kristina Newman-Scott. Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT. Through Sunday, Jan. 4. Closing reception 3-5 pm. Artists include Elia Alba, Tom Bogaert, Julia Brown, Brian Burkhardt, Harriet G. Caldwell, Chad Curtis, Valerie Garlick, Heather Hart, Jennifer Knaus, Simone Leigh, Brian Lund, Justin McAllister, Sally B. Moore, Julia Gail Oldham, Javier Piñón, and Yuko Suzuki. The excellent RAW web site has links to all the artists' work.
January 2, 2009
NY Times Art in Review: Tazeen Qayyum, John Wesley, Alexi Worth, Keltie Ferris, Trenton Doyle Hancock
"John Wesley: Question of Women," Fredericks & Freiser, New York, NY. Through Feb 7. Ken Johnson: "For more than five decades John Wesley has been creating poetically resonant paintings in a formally acute cartoon style. Most of the paintings in this lovely show date from the mid-1990s and depict young women who look like fashion models....The beauty of Mr. Wesley’s paintings is as much in the abstraction as in the imagery. The reduced palette of pinks, coral reds, black and sky blue; the sensuous flux of curvy contour lines; and the perfect fitting of large shapes into the rectangle of the canvas — combine all that with the tantalizing imagery and you have paintings that are nearly impossible to look away from."
"Alexi Worth: Eye to Eye," D C Moore Gallery, New York, NY. Through Jan. 3. Ken Johnson: Painted with sensuous neatness in a nicely simplifying representational style, Alexi Worth’s pictures present curious visual puzzles slyly charged with sexual undercurrents....Looking, seeing and comprehending is a complicated process, driven at its most urgent, Freud and Marcel Duchamp would say, by sexual curiosity. It’s hard to think of another painter these days who has such infectious fun with the philosophical analysis of modern painting."
"Keltie Ferris: Dear Sir or Madam," Sunday, New York, NY. Through Jan. 18. Karen Rosenberg: "Ms. Ferris’s five large-scale paintings, made with oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, synthesize Mudd Club-era tendencies toward graffiti and neo-expressionism. At the same time they recall the more esoteric styles of Philip Taaffe and especially Ross Bleckner. A prime example is 'Ragnarok,' with its scattering of airbrushed dots over a rough-textured, woodlike surface....The overall impression is of the art of an earlier generation filtered through a young painter’s own nostalgia for the era of her childhood."
"Trenton Doyle Hancock: Fear," James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY. Through Jan. 10. Roberta Smith: "For his latest solo show at this gallery he has trimmed his epic, racially charged battles between comical color-loving meat-eating blobs and knobby white vegan villains to a single, topical subject: fear. He has also curtailed the eccentric buildup of materials usual to his collage paintings, although he continues to implicate the gallery walls to eye-popping effect....At once tragic and comic, this work makes good on Mr. Hancock’s debts to artists like R. Crumb and Philip Guston with a finesse all its own. As much a drawing as a painting, it is an altogether astounding sight."
Read the entire NY Times Art in Review column.
January 1, 2009
Clever ideas--once confined to the brainstorming sessions of Mad Men and corporate art directors-- have become the backbone of contemporary art practice, especially among recent MFA grads. These emerging artists are perfectly happy to create pieces to suit specific curatorially-prescribed concepts and spaces. Against this cultural backdrop, an exhibition like "Double Lives" at the New Britain Museum of American Art feels a little old-fashioned. But perhaps for that very reason, it is all the more fascinating and refreshing. Guest curator Richard Boyle's conceit is that historically, illustration stands in relation to fine art as prose does to poetry. "In the nineteenth century, the academy looked down its nose at assigned work," says Douglas Hyland, NBMAA director. "Free choice was taken away when you had a book or magazine editor telling you what they wanted from you." Hartford Advocate art critic Alan Bisbort writes that many artists didn't sign their illustration work, or they used pseudonyms. Many artists/illustrators in the exhibition--Elihu Vedder, Henry Farny, John La Farge, Ellen Emmett Rand, Ben Sloweny and others-- are more obscure than their contemporaries who focused on "fine art," like Winslow Homer, Rockwell Kent and Childe Hassam. According to the exhibition's press release, illustration itself has "many functions, but the exhibition emphasizes illustrated books, magazine articles and stories, non-fiction and fiction, directed at an audience of adults, as well as children and young people. Illustrations were based on a given text, with the goal of illuminating that text. Fine art, however, is created according to the artists’ own creativity and inspiration."
Roberta Smith's advice to young artists: Learn to paint
Playing for Fung in Santa Fe