November 29, 2009

Paul McCarthy: Ineffectual cock-tease?

Paul McCarthy at Hauser and Wirth, installation view.

Paul McCarthy at Hauser and Wirth, installation view.
Paul McCarthy, "Inside her Ordeal," 2009, oil stick, charcoal and collage on paper, 127 x 81"

In Time Out New York, Kate Lowenstein is underwhelmed by Paul McCarthy's naughty drawings at Hauser and Wirth. "Paul McCarthy’s trademark work tends to be irresistibly over-the-top—take his barf-inducing performance pieces or his massive Santa with Butt Plug sculptures, for instance. But a drawings-only show? Eh. No matter how daring the content (and hell, nothing is really daring these days), McCarthy’s two-dimensional work simply cannot live up to the ball-busting precedent he set by creating an inflatable pile of shit and a fully functional chocolate factory in a New York gallery (made to churn out small chocolate versions of the aforementioned Santa, of course). Granted, the current drawings, all centered on a 19th-century German tale and its 1937 Disney rendition, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, are studies for future work, but presented this way—as pieces unto themselves—they underwhelm.

"The plans McCarthy lays with these small pencil drawings and large-scale oil-stick works draw attention to the odd story of Snow White—which, upon reflection, is pretty damn weird (as McCarthy suggested back in 2000 with his markedly sinister installation, "Dwarf Head"): What are all those mini men really thinking about the good-looking Miss White, anyway? The brothers Grimm may have spared us the details, but the sexual undertones in the dwarfs’ admiration for their beautiful housemate are pretty inescapable. In McCarthy’s hands, the fairy tale is cast in an unsparingly lascivious light, its main character a sexpot who takes up with her prince while her animal friends linger, their junk hanging out all over the place (oh yes, even Bambi and Thumper have humanoid privates in these pictures). 

"There is an admirable audacity in making monuments to human beings’ basest habits, and McCarthy is most successful when he triggers our gag reflexes in an effort to point out the pitiful state of society and politics. But bringing the viewer into the thought process behind the work—much of which succeeds precisely because of its slick, hyperproduced quality—is unnecessary. It’s one thing to present a show of preparatory sketches for the Pietà; having seen the finished product, it’s a thrill to get a peek into the making of the masterpiece. But plans for artworks that have yet to be made—especially those with little new to say—are nothing but an ineffectual cock-tease."

"Paul McCarthy: White Snow," Hauser and Wirth, New York, NY. Through December 24, 2009.

An international cohort of abstract painters deplanes in San Francisco

Brent Hallard, Installation view.

Brent Hallard, "burger, mo, and the flute"
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Kenneth Baker reports that "Trans: Form/Color" at Meridian Gallery is an exploration of abstraction and how it has evolved. "Early practitioners of abstract painting might plausibly claim that the meaning of their work inhered in its form. But the meanings of abstraction evolved quickly through mimicry, pastiche and the burgeoning of art in reproduction.'Trans: Form/Color' at Meridian Gallery offers a snapshot of that process of change with a selection of works by an international cohort of abstract painters - calling itself 'Trans' - who stay in touch through the Internet and occasional travel. The pronounced differences in style among the artists at Meridian - even among those living in the Bay Area - must make us wonder to what extent, if any, abstract painting today can be a collective project, as some in the first half of the 20th century thought it could.

Nancy White, "Lav-GyP-Fl-Pk_200903," 2009
Acrylic on hand tinted paper mounted on panel, 8.75 x 10.25"

"Robin McDonnell and John Zurier, for example, both work improvisationally, but we would never confuse paintings by the two, at least not any of those on view. McDonnell's 'Affect/Effect: Silver Black Blue' (2009) registers the activity of someone trying to forget as she goes, less to sustain spontaneity than to outrun second thoughts. McDonnell also appears to want to lay open the suggestiveness - the hints of light, space, scale and depiction - that seem instinctive in her materials at this stage in their history. Zurier also seems to paint with as much preparation and as little forethought as possible. But his washy, thinly painted canvases evoke a much slower creative tempo, not in the motions of the hand but in the preparation and episodes that contribute to a work's completion. Sensitivity to that kind of distinction affects one's perception of the world.

"The same sensitivity can detect a difference in tone between Stephan Fritsch's paintings and Zurier's. Despite a superficial resemblance in their techniques, the two painters clearly think differently about what they do. Without making a project of it, Zurier somehow keeps irony at bay. Fritsch finds irony inescapable, embedded in his art itself, and so tries to take it in hand through touch, color, scale and choice of support.

Mel Prest, "Minor Shades" oil on panel.

"If asked to guess which Trans painter lives in Tokyo, I would have guessed - correctly - Brent Hallard. He works on stacked sheets of plastic in a manner that alludes both to hard-edge abstraction and shaped canvases of the 1960s and the shrill, brittle cuteness of Japanese pop culture - the most conspicuous tension registered in the Meridian show.

Richard Schur, "Islands (Study)," 2009, acrylic on masonite, 12 x 16 inches

"The big discovery here for the Bay Area art public will be the work of Munich painter Richard Schur. Positioning himself among the progeny of constructivism, Schur paints intimate, adventurously patterned rectilinear shapes on canvas or panel, such as 'Nuit de la Grande Complication (Study)' (2009). He apparently masks areas to achieve crisp contours, but composes intuitively, despite the plotted look his work sometimes has. Schur's keen alertness to quantities and intensities of color makes his work more engaging to the eye than any description could convey.

For a set of Flickr images of the show, click here.
"Trans: Form / Color," Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Through December 19, 2009. Artists include Kasarian Dane, Stephan Fritsch, Brent Hallard, Leonhard Hurzlmeier, Robin McDonnell, Mel Prest, Richard Schur, Nancy White, John Zurier.

November 28, 2009

Miami update

Two Coats of Paint is the Official Marshmallow Sponsor of the first annual ART BURN 2009™ which will combine an international selection of original art with fire.

"An exclusive selection of more than three dozen exceptional pieces by the hottest renowned artists and sizzling, cutting-edge newcomers will be displayed from 1pm until sundown. After the brief exhibition, all of these original works will be burned for the public’s viewing pleasure. Nothing is for sale."

International Contemporary Art Expo & Immolation
Curated by NYC artist El Celso
To be held in Miami’s Wynwood District at sunset on Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

The official media sponsor of the ART BURN VIP Lounge
The official blogazine, critic and beer sponsor of ART BURN
The official street art and corporate snack sponsor of ART BURN
The official red carpet carpet sponsor of ART BURN
The official marshmallow sponsor of ART BURN
The unofficial grilling partner of ART BURN

November 26, 2009

"One unexpected turn leading surprisingly to the next and culminating in a small triumph."

“Untitled” is Laura Owens’ 2009 take on Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s 1914 “Girl in White Chemise.”

My latest review for the New Haven Advocate considers "Continuous Present," an excellent show at the Yale University Art Gallery featuring work by Francis Alÿs, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Rodney Graham, Roni Horn, On Kawara, Thomas Nozkowski, Gabriel Orozco, Laura Owens, Dieter Roth, and Franz West.  Here's an excerpt.

"In 'Continuous Present,' the current exhibition at Yale University Art Gallery, a very loose curatorial conceit ties together the work of a disparate group of seasoned and established artists. Simply put, each piece explores some kind of existential phenomena....

"With Rodney Graham's whimsical film, "City Self/Country Self" (2000) setting the tone, the exhibition cleaves into two broad categories of existential exploration. In the first, conceptual artists Graham, On Kawara, Francis Alÿs, Peter Fischli, David Weiss and Roni Horn visually chronicle the routines and rituals that mark time in everyday life. In the second, Franz West, Thomas Nozkowski, Gabriel Orozco, Dieter Roth and Laura Owens demonstrate their presence in the creative process by making drawings, paintings, sculpture and prints which, to quote Gross' curatorial statement, are 'phenomenological projects weighted with human presence.'"

"Among the first group, Kawara's paintings are the most starkly obsessive. For more than 40 years, Kawara has been making one small painting a day. On each canvas, he paints that day's date in a simple sans serif font in white, centered on a darker background. All artists impose aesthetic limitations, but Kawara is legendary for his engagement with disengagement. He aims to debunk the romantic myth of the passionately inspired artist and supplant it with the reality of the dry habitual practice of serial repetition.

"Similar conceptually, Francis Alÿs' piece contains a looped animated drawing of a woman pouring liquid back and forth from one cup to another. The video is set low on the wall opposite a leather sofa, so that viewers can comfortably watch the endlessly repeating action. Where Alÿs creates an inviting space in which we watch the wistful animation of tedious endeavor, Kawara's art practice has itself become a tedious endeavor....

"Many of the pieces in Continuous Present have been shown in other contexts, but assembled here they create a wonderfully convincing testament to these older artists' lifelong consideration of process. According to Gross, the exhibition took five years to organize as she added and subtracted artists to suit the evolving theme, and the selection does seem somewhat random. One could argue that all artists make work that touches in some way on the loosely defined theme, and I would have liked to see more women represented (only two of 11 artists are female). But these are minor quibbles. I first saw the Peter Fischli/David Weiss film "The Way Things Go" (1987), in which a Rube Goldberg-like setup unfolds over the course of 30 minutes, at MoMA last year. Then it reminded me of a good day in the studio, with one unexpected turn leading surprisingly to the next and culminating in a small triumph."

Read the entire review here.

"Continuous Present," curated by Jenifer Gross. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT. Through January 3, 2010. 

November 22, 2009

Twitter notes

Here are some items cut and pasted from the Two Coats Twitter Feed. For readers unfamiliar with Twitter, "RT" indicates the item has been repeated, or "retweeted," from someone else's Twitter feed.

  1. Hey Blake Gopnik! How about recommending some NYC shows by WOMEN? 8:17 PM Nov 20th 
  2. Getting in the mood for Miami: 7:26 PM Nov 20th
  3. See you at the art blogger panel @ Art Miami 4:28 PM Nov 20th
  4. Spent the morning explaining Twitter, blogging and the whole idea of decentralized media to incredulous university colleagues. 11:56 AM Nov 20th
  5. I want to produce an art TV show for Oprah's new TV channel. #oprah 11:22 AM Nov 20th
  6. Jonathan Stevenson and Steve Simon on the real shock of Fort Hood 7:56 PM Nov 18th
  7. Welcome @Thecolinmcenroe back to Twitter! 12:53 PM Nov 18th 
  8. Jonathan Stevenson talks nukes with Alan Bisbort at the Hartford Advocate today 11:07 AM Nov 18th
  9. Saltz tells Green to get a grip. Green says "I don't hate you!" Winkleman calls for a public debate. 11:13 AM Nov 17th  
  10. Calling an art space "New Museum" is like tatooing your entire face: You'll have a harder time growing up than other kids. 3:07 PM Nov 14th 
  11. Thanks to the Phillips Collection for supporting art blogging through Culture Pundits 8:46 AM Nov 12th 
  12. Austin Thomas visits Mira Schor's studio. Then Loren Munk's hideaway 8:08 PM Nov 11th
  13. No-Big-Surprise Dept: No painters among $100,000 Ordway Prize finalists
  14. Thanks for including Two Coats in "100 Best Blogs for the Literati" 3:19 PM Nov 10th 
  15. RT @artwhirled: Alejandro Gehry @ Robert Berman (**) Bad Sue Williams slapped over a bad Hans Hoffmann just equals bad

Slow Painting: Alchemists and the motifs they scrutinize

Konrad Klapheck, "Noël à la Maison," 1999, acrylic on canvas, 60.4 x 48.2"

Corinne Wasmuht, "3 jeans," 2008, oil on wood, 137 x 212 cm

Gillian Carnegie, "Voi," 2004, oil on canvas, 76 x w: 53.2 in

The Morsbroich Museum in Leverkusen, Germany, is presenting "Slow Painting," an exhibition  in which complex concepts and elaborate compositions converge, resulting in a deceleration of the painting process.

 "During the course of the 20th century, artists have extended the traditional boundaries of painting in a variety of ways. Long-term projects, such as On Kawara's well-known 'Date Paintings' or 'Roman Opalka’s Details,' with its continuous series of numbers, have introduced the idea of the project into the realm of slow painting....Recent figurative works by Alexander Esters and Sebastian Ludwig, developed especially for the exhibition, likewise explore the continuing delimitation of painting. Esters combines numerous, specially developed printing techniques using traditional components, whereas Ludwig sketches shapes onto canvases, which he then elaborately covers with tape, allowing the paint to flow over and behind the taped areas in a controlled process. These techniques presuppose a high degree of craftsmanship endowed with the power to captivate and fascinate the viewer both when scrutinising the motifs themselves and when reviewing the essence of the alchemistic means deployed.

"On no account does the exhibition desire to foster a sense of competition between slow and fast painting. Instead, 'Slow Paintings' is intent upon placing the emphasis on the special connection between conceptuality and elaborate composition, which entails a unique experience for the viewer: this isn't merely concerned with extremely decelerated reception on the part of the viewer. More fascinating still is the apprehension of the way in which the complex ideas and the seemingly infinite number of layers of glaze resulting from this highly involved method are superimposed upon and, indeed, even conceal one another, ultimately surrendering the sharp, intellectual contours of their origin in favor of an unexpectedly rich, new physical identity. 'Slow Paintings' shows us in ideal-typical manner the abundant potential and continual inventiveness of painting."(via Art Daily)

"Slow Painting," curated by Fritz Emslander, Markus Heinzelmann und Stefanie Kreuzer. Morsbroich Museum, Leverkusen, Germany. Through February 7, 2010.

Artists include Tomma Abts, Ross Bleckner, Alighiero e Boetti, Michaël Borremans, Gillian Carnegie, Raúl Codero, John Currin, Alexander Esters, Bernard Frize, Franz Gertsch, Andrew Grassie, On Kawara, Konrad Klapheck, Jochen Kuhn, Sebastian Ludwig, Michel Majerus, Fabian Marcaccio, Rodney McMillian, Jonathan Monk, Reinhard Mucha, Manuel Ocampo, Roman Opalka, Laura Owens, Magnus Plessen, Ad Reinhardt, Bernd Ribbeck, Adrian Schiess, Pablo Siquier, Andreas Slominski, Cheyney Thompson, Corinne Wasmuht and Ekrem Yalçindağ.

November 21, 2009

Hanging salon-style at the Walker

Installing "Benches & Binoculars" at the Walker Art Center

Installation view

In contrast to the minimalist installation style in the galleries of most contemporary arts organizations, the salon-style installation of "Benches & Binoculars" at the Walker Art Center refers to the 19th- and early 20th-century gallery practices that lumber magnate T.B. Walker emulated in displaying his personal collection. The result is an unconventional narrative of recent art history, and a testament to changing tastes over time. At the Twin Cities Daily Planet Jay Gabler reports that "Benches & Binoculars" is both novel and tremendously illuminating." Installed in the tall yet cozy Perlman Gallery, the exhibit features paintings from the Walker's collection (including, prominently, an oil portrait of founder T.B. Walker himself) hung salon-style, jammed up in close proximity to one another. One wall features predominantly figurative paintings, the opposing wall abstracts. The gallery is carpeted (!) in purple (!!) with matching couches designed by Andrew Blauvelt; per the exhibit's title, binoculars are provided to peer at the higher pieces.

"You've probably never seen contemporary painting treated like this. The norm at museums of modern art, as it is elsewhere at the Walker, is to give a painting—especially a painting by a towering artist like Chuck Close, Frank Stella, or Mark Rothko—a wide berth of white wall space. (At a Thursday morning media preview, curator Elizabeth Carpenter noted that the Walker bought the massive Close self-portrait for just $1,200—paid in installments.)

"Seeing the work presented this way isn't just novel, it's tremendously illuminating. Not only do eras and artists get to intermingle, abstract art isn't segregated from figurative art. In the windowless gallery, the eclectic warmth of the display feels like a giant hug by artists who typically are presented as ice cold. Too often, museums try to render art accessible by posting—unmissably, and distractingly, adjacent to the art—biographical text that's supposed to make the artist someone you can relate to. Benches & Binoculars shows, in a manner that's fun but doesn't condescend to the work or to visitors, how the artists relate to each other. That's much more meaningful than a cute story about, say, Franz Marc's pet dogs."

"Benches & Binoculars," curated by Darsie Alexander and Elizabeth Carpenter. Walker  Art Center, Minneapolis, MN. Through August 15, 2010.

November 20, 2009

NY Times Art in Review: Hill, Hayes, Dunham

Drawings by Carl Fredrik Hill.

"CARL FREDRIK HILL: Drawings From the Malmo Art Museum," Scandinavia House, New York, NY. Through Jan. 9. Roberta Smith: Carl Fredrik Hill’s astounding career is sharply divided by madness into two halves, with ambition and determination their common ground....Overwork and lack of success — despite being included in the 1877 Impressionist Exhibition — caused a severe nervous breakdown, and after two years in hospitals in France and Denmark, Hill returned to his birthplace in Lund, Sweden. From 1880 until his death in 1911, he was in the care of his family. He never recovered, but he drew incessantly, producing thousands of works in chalk, pastel, charcoal and ink, most of which are now in the collection of the Malmo Art Museum in Sweden. Goran Christenson, the museum’s director, has selected the 75 drawings that form this exhibition, the first devoted to Hill in the United States....Hill is at his best when he bears down and eliminates a meandering, distracted quality that plagues many of these drawings. He does so most aggressively in several small drawings densely darkened with marks. These return to his original subject, the landscape, but it is now Nordic, populated by spiky pine trees, rocky ravines and rushing water. In other words, desolate, isolated but enduring. In one drawing diagonal lines rain down on the ground. It takes a minute to realize that they spell his name — Hill, Hill, Hill, Hill — echoing in the wilderness.

Frederick Hayes, "Build an Empire," 2009, graphite and charcoal on paper, 22 x 30"

"FREDERICK HAYES: Build an Empire," Number 35, Lower East Side. Through Dec. 6. Roberta Smith: Frederick Hayes is an encouraging anomaly. At 54, he is only now having his first solo gallery show in New York. Mr. Hayes’s subject might be defined as both the richness and harshness of urban life. His drawings depict city blocks whose structures shift from tended and grand to neglected and modest and while modulating between realism and semi-abstraction. His short video focuses on New York streets and random pedestrians. But it is his paintings that sing. Or more accurately the painting: “Urban Grid” is a series of 32 small canvases forming a large rectangle; each is a vigorous portrait of a city dweller that could easily stand on its own. The portraits depict men, women and teenagers, and are based on images taken from television, magazines or newspapers; on Mr. Hayes’s own photographs; or on his imagination....Mr. Hayes builds his subjects’ faces carefully if bluntly, distinguishing each robust stroke. He has an opulent and inventive sense of color and is fearless in his contrasts of shadow and light. And despite their physicality as paintings, his portraits suggest actual people. Whether artists like Max Beckmann, Marsden Hartley and possibly Emil Nolde figured in the development of Mr. Hayes’s style, they are among the precedents for its adamant and considered vitality."

Carroll Dunham, installation view.
"CARROLL DUNHAM," Gladstone Gallery, Chelsea. Through Dec. 5. Ken Johnson: This joyous show of sweet, goofy and raunchy paintings might be the best of Carroll Dunham’s nearly 30-year career. Sex is still his main subject, and he continues to work in a style that amalgamates Pop, Surrealism and Expressionism. But he has taken a surprising turn from the angry gender warfare of previous years, and he has banished his Puritan character with the bullet-firing penis-nose. With candy-bright colors separated by fat black lines and paint applied in a multitude of ways, these canvases have an engrossing sensuality. The images are turbulent but exuberantly so; they find Mr. Dunham on the threshold of a new Eden....Most of the show’s works feature the boldly outlined image of a naked woman with full, pendulous breasts. In some she is viewed from the front bending forward to wash herself in translucent blue water. In others she bends over with her posterior and genitals — highlighted in some cases in shocking pink — presented to the viewer in a pornographic manner. There’s a naughty formalist joke here: you are implicitly invited to enter the picture imaginatively — to penetrate the painted surface and go into a virtual world conceived of as female.Mr. Dunham is mischievously toying with the old romantic equation of nature and femininity (as in Gauguin), envisioning with comic élan and realist skepticism a pastoral, erotic alternative to our industrial, violently male-dominated world.

Read the entire Art in Review column here

November 18, 2009

"A lot of artists really sort of loathe Thomas Kinkade"

Carrie Galbraith

In the SF Chronicle, Julian Guthrie reports that dozens of artists converged on a small underground gallery off a dark and narrow alley in the heart of North Beach on Friday night for a one-night show called "Kinkade Cannibalized! - An Exhibition of Augmented Thomas Kinkade Paintings."

Kinkade, who calls himself the 'Painter of Light' and is said to be the most collected living artist in America, creates images of Christmas chapels dusted in snow, of cottages next to placid lakes, of mountain paradises, of the perfect yellow rose and of pools of serenity. 'A lot of artists really sort of loathe Thomas Kinkade,' said Kevin Evans, who curated the show. 'Not just because of his very simple and extremely idealized and conservative view of the world, but because it's formulaic painting that creates a static and stagnant image.'

"The show was held in the gallery and studio of longtime San Francisco artist Winston Smith, best known for his collages for musicians and punk artists, including the Dead Kennedys. 'Kinkade has a formula,' Smith said, holding court at the back of his studio, behind a draped curtain. 'The bourgeois attitude that this is art is insulting.' Sitting nearby was Ron Turner, the founder and publisher of Last Gasp comic books. Turner, who was one of the first publishers to feature the work of the now widely known illustrator R. Crumb, said he also has published a book on Kinkade's work.

"'I'm not anti-Kinkade,' Turner said. 'I think he gets under everyone's skin because he glorifies the fairy tale. Kinkade is a master marketer, and I think the idealizing of the images is Kinkade's own inside joke.'"

"Kinkade Cannibalized!" curated by Kevin Evans. Winston Smith’s Grant’s Tomb Gallery, San Francisco CA. Artists  included Tara Evans, Kevin Evans, David Ewald, Richard Fong, Carrie Galbraith, Marsha Grant, Margaret Griffis, Steven Johnson Leyba, Stuart Mangrum, Michelle Mangrum, Suzanne Onodera, Winston Smith, Spence Snyder, Kevin Soderlund

November 17, 2009

Critic on critic: Jerry Saltz tells DC blogger to get a grip

In a Vulture post about the New Museum's questionable curatorial practices, Saltz assesses the quality of the vociferous debate and courageously suggests that prickly blogger Tyler Green's criticism has crossed the line. "One of the main things that suggested all this indignation had gone too far was the witch-hunt tone of an editorial in the November issue of  Art Newspaper. The language in the piece — written by art blogger Tyler Green and published at the end of last week — was scolding, scornful, condescending, and smug, tinged with a verbal violence that was a little scary. The editorial begins with the false charge that private collector exhibitions are 'fluff shows.' Green sniffs that he’s 'especially disappointed' in the New Museum, and finishes by beseeching all museums to 'cancel' exhibitions of private collections. He demands that the Association of Art Museum Directors 'ban' these shows because they are 'an insult' to the art world. When I hear a word like 'ban,' I reach for my dictionary and review the definition of the word democracy.

"This kind of apparatchik rule-making feels off to me. Green has gotten into the habit of demanding that people be fired, reprimanded, or punished, as if only he knows right from wrong. He played a role in getting Grace Glueck fired from the Times for her 'conflict of interest.' After Village Voice art critic Christian Viveros-Faune talked about his dual roles as a critic and an employee of an art fair, Green accused him of indulging 'a textbook case of unethical conflict-of-interest' that struck 'at the very heart of ... integrity' and 'flouted journalistic norms.' Green sneered that he was 'troubled' by this behavior and publicly asked the Voice to 'stop publishing' Viveros-Faune. Guess what? That’s exactly what happened. The Voice and the art world lost a tremendous voice....

"I know it’s dangerous to take on bloggers. They can go after you every day, all day long, and anonymous people can chime in, too. Already this week Green has branded me an 'up-with-art cheerleader,' chortled 'balderdash' at something I wrote, and is now even writing comments on my Facebook page and publishing other of my Facebook comments on his public blog. Still, come what may, I’m tired of the hate fest."

In a conciliatory response, Green writes in the Comments thread (and on Saltz's Facebook wall): "I'm proud of the positions I've taken on a range of issues. It is true that I've taken assertive, principled positions on a range of issues. I'd be happy to engage in a dialogue on any of those positions. ...I don't hate you."

Update, November 17: On Jerry's Facebook wall, Green says the debate isn't about him, it's about the New Museum. Nice guy Ed Winkleman has called for a public debate between Saltz and Green. Newsgrist's Joy Garnett says hell yes! to a public debate, but suggests it be between the NY Times art critic Ken Johnson, who has been a regular contributor in Saltz's Facebook wall debates about the New Museum, and Saltz.  At Twitter, Paddy Johnson (@artfagcity) Hrag Vartanian (@hragv) and William Powhida (@powhida) think Saltz's stance against Green is about defending the art world he knows and loves against Green's bullying, not about changing his mind concerning the New Museum's arguably corrupt exhibition policies. "Jerry loves [the art world] despite its flaws--his own ugly baby," writes Powhida.

Update, November 17: Later in the day, Saltz and artnet editor Walter Robinson gang up on Green's positions via Facebook, particularly what they see as his impossibly idealistic vision of a conflict-of-interest-free artworld. Unfortunately, by the time I return to HQ from the University Senate, the entire discussion has been deleted. On Twitter Hrag suggests that one of Powhida's next cartoons for The Rail might be a pissing contest between Saltz and Green. Powhida agrees that the idea is tempting.

Update, November 18: In a call for a more level-headed, less ad hominem discussion, blogger James Wagner, the first  to publicly criticize New Museum practices, tries to get the derailed debate back on track. "Saltz isn't the only commentator who has failed to recognize the merits of the arguments of the people whom he describes as having 'harped' on the ethics of the NuMu/Joannou deal, but at least he doesn't question their integrity. I've seen a number of writers do just that, having failed to see the problem. They're questioning the motives of what one source refers to as the 'morality police,'  asking what kind of grudge the critics of the arrangement might have against the principals involved....The merits of the argument are genuine. I don't doubt that they can be intelligently disputed, but only if they are understood and if hysterics can be avoided on all sides."

Update: After suggesting that the art world should be regulated, and that New Museum’s decision to exhibit the collection of Trustee Dakis Joannou indeed represents a conflict of interest,  Paddy Johnson adds one final note. "While I have at times found blogger Tyler Green’s tone needlessly aggressive, the response has been much more troubling. As a result I’m going to let this story simmer down and will slow our coverage for the next couple of days." In the Comments section, Sky Pape reports that Jerry Saltz deleted the missing thread himself. "It wasn’t a FB glitch. I’m kind of glad this happened - the tone was not pleasant, and it was looking like it would escalate out of hand." According to Green, when he complained to Saltz, the thread was deleted from his Facebook wall.

Related Links (via Art Observed):
Controversy over New Museum’s plans to show trustee’s collection [The Art Newspaper]
Turning a museum into a vanity space [Tyler Green for The Art Newspaper]
The New Museum responds [The Art Newspaper]
The NuMu ethics story hits the NYT’s front page [Modern Art Notes]
The Met’s director: We’re closer to NuMu than to MoMA [Modern Art Notes]
Saltz: Money, Insularity, and a Huge Controversy for the New Museum [New York Magazine]
Art Morality [New York Magazine]
Some Object as Museum Shows Its Trustee’s Art [NY Times]
The New Museum’s Web of Connections [NY Times]
Museum Directors on Collectors and Exhibitions [NY Times]
The New Museum’s Position on Its Show From a Trustee’s Collection
The Appendix: New Museum Scandal Edition [Artinfo]
NuMu Boo Boo [Time]
New Museum Brouhaha Goes Supernova [Artnet]
New Museum commits suicide with banality [James Wagner]
The November Brooklyn Rail Cover [William Powhida]
New Museum Controversy Grows with its Announced Plans to Show Trustee’s Art [Art Fag City]
Jeff Koons and The Perils of an Unregulated Art World [Art Fag City]
The New York Museum Director Witch Hunt Begins [Art Fag City]
The Authority of the New Museum [Art Market Monitor]
Like a Face Tattoo  [Butler at Buckwalter]

November 15, 2009

R.H. Quaytman: "There is an answer. There is meaning."

R. H. Quaytman, "Chapter 13, Constructivismus," 2009.

R.H Quaytman, "Chapter 12: iamb (Double Exposed Lamp)," 2008.

R.H. Quaytman, "Chapter 12: iamb," 2008.

For "Momentum 15," R. H. Quaytman's upcoming solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Quaytman has created paintings inspired by the past exhibitions and educational mission of the ICA, its history of presenting the "contemporary," and the architecture of the Momentum gallery. In the Boston Globe Cate McQuaid talks with the artist and the exhibition's curator, Jen Mergel.

"Quaytman started working in groups when she was a student. 'I couldn’t figure out a painting that stood alone. I had to make two or three,’' she recalls. 'I stuck with that problem: That will be the foundation of how I figure out how to make paintings.’' She also worked for a time as a curator at PS 1 in New York. 'I had the experience of hanging paintings together and seeing how they are changed by their vicinity,' she says. It’s fitting that Quaytman’s first solo museum show should be in Boston. The artist, whose first name is Rebecca, was born here. Her grandmother, Mary Manning, was a founder of the Poets’ Theatre in Cambridge. Her aunt, poet Fanny Howe, still lives in the area. Her mother, poet Susan Howe, grew up here and attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where she met painter Harvey Quaytman. 'And that’s where I was conceived,' Quaytman, 48, wryly admits. 'By mistake. They were both young.' In one way, 'Momentum’' nods to that family history. 'I do think my work references poetry,’' she says. 'You can read it. They’re like sentences....'

"In addition to her personal associations with the ICA, Quaytman examines the institution’s role over the years, with silkscreen paintings of archival photos taken from mid-20th-century exhibitions, including two images with patterned Op Art arrow paintings that resemble her own. 'The ICA has a history of presenting art of our time. But look at the archive photos of the past installations, and they feel dated,' says curator Jen Mergel. 'Rebecca’s asking: In 2049, what will feel contemporary? Will I be in the storage rack?' The artist has also hand-painted text from the museum’s 1948 announcement of a name change, from the Institute of Modern Art to the Institute of Contemporary Art. In the announcement, the museum’s board president and director argued that despite modern art’s laudable revolutionary beginnings at the Armory Show in 1913, it had since inspired 'a cult of bewilderment’' and had come to 'signify for millions something unintelligible, even meaningless.'

“'They’re talking about the public’s fear of art,' Quaytman says. She doesn’t want the viewer to be afraid. 'I make all these bridges from one painting to the next,' she says. 'So there is an answer. There is meaning.'’’

"Momentum 15: R.H. Quaytman," curated by Jen Mergel, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA. Opens on Wednesday. Through March 28, 2010.

November 14, 2009

Quote of the Day: Nicole Eisenman

Nicole Eisenman, "The Triumph of Poverty," 2009, oil on canvas, 65 x 82."

Installation view at Leo Koenig.

Nicole Eisenman, "Beer Garden with Ash," 2009, oil on canvas, 65 x 82"

"There’s a whole genre of paintings, particularly French ones, of people eating and drinking, and the beer garden seems to be the equivalent, for certain residents of twenty-first-century Brooklyn, of the grand public promenades and social spaces of the nineteenth century. It’s where we go to socialize, to commiserate about how the world is a fucked-up place and about our culture’s obsession with happiness." --Nicole Eisenman

"Nicole Eisenman," Leo Koenig, New York, NY. Through December 23, 2009. Check out the James Kalm Report of the opening reception.

"Nicole Eisenman: The Way We Weren't," Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY. Through January 3, 2010.

Grounded in India

Charlotte Cain,  "Chandra Lila Chandra Ma # 6,"  wax and acrylic on antique paper, 8 1/4 x 8 1/2."

Julie Evans,  "Radiadiate,"  acrylic, gouache, pencil on paper on wood, 17 x 17."

Kathryn Myers, "Obscure & Common Duties, Mumbai," gouache on antique paper, 4 1/2 x 3 3/4."

In Hartford, Connecticut, Trinty College presents three American artists whose diverse painting languages share common influences and themes grounded in Indian art, culture, and the rituals of daily life. Funded by Fulbright Fellowships, Charlotte Cain, Julie Evans, and Kathryn Myers have each been inspired by the significant time they've spent in India. Through silence, excess, recognition or time, their works evoke a sense of reverent observance and invite us to participate, as they offer windows into painting processes that are themselves kinds of private, devotional practices.

“Indian Art After Independence: Selected Works from the Collections of Virginia and Ravi Akhoury and Shelley and Donald Rubin,” a small show at the Hofstra University Museum, illustrates how Indian artists embraced modernity after the end of British rule in 1947. About 20 paintings and drawings are on view, a few predating independence and all on loan from two private New York collections.  In the NY Times, Benjamin Genocchio reports that Rebecca M. Brown, the exhibition curator, has done a good job of illustrating the main currents in modern Indian art. "Prior to independence, much modern art in India was an expression of resistance to colonialism. But afterward, artists began to explore new directions, usefully condensed and organized here into four interrelated themes. The works in the show reflect the country’s diversity, representing different generations of artists and schools, ranging from the pre-independence Bengal School, which advocated a return to Mughal era miniature art, to the Progressive Artists Group, whose members blended local subjects with Western influences....Setting aside the gaps and inconsistencies in selection, this show has much to offer, from a whirlwind tour of Indian modern art to numerous works rich in imagination. But most importantly I think it reminds us that modernism was not imported wholesale or copied in India, but adapted to the country’s specific cultural, political, religious and social circumstances."

"Un/common signs: Charlotte Cain, Julie Evans, Kathryn Myers," Widner Gallery, Austin Art Center, Trinity College, Hartford CT. Through December 15, 2009. Note: Kathryn Myers will give a talk, Western Artists and India; Influence and Appropriation, on Nov. 18 at 4:30 p.m. in McCook Auditorium at Trinity College.

Indian Art After Independence: Selected Works from the Collections of Virginia and Ravi Akhoury and Shelley and Donald Rubin,” curated by Rebecca M. Brown, Hofstra University Museum, Hempstead, NY. Through December 18, 2009.

November 13, 2009

Heavy reading

Artkrush (Flavorwire? Flavorpill? I'm not sure exactly what blog I'm reading) declares that, "in the hierarchy of art, painting has always been at the top of the heap. The medium lends itself to the depiction of life, death, and desires, as well as to the investigation of imaginary, abstract forms." OK, Two Coats is down with that, even if plenty of people would disagree. But who cares? It's just a lead-in for a post about two new painting books:  Painting Today and Painting Abstraction: New Elements In Abstract Painting. (Note: Support art blogging! If readers buy the books by clicking on these links,  Two Coats of Paint gets a small percentage of the sales. )

"Painting Today presents an international roundup of the best painters of the past 40 years. Written by Tony Godfrey, a 20-year veteran at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, the volume begins with a look at the Global Scene, which includes Australian aboriginal painter Uta Uta Tjangala, Korean abstractionist Lee Ufan, and the Colombian portrayer of fat-figured people Fernando Botero. The next chapter examines Western Traditions in contemporary painting, featuring Richard Prince’s riffs on Willem de Kooning’s abstract women, Bridget Riley’s op-art patterns, and Alex Katz’s formal figurative studies, among others.

"Further chapters explore the neo-expressionist movement of the ‘80s, photorealism and the use of photography as a point of departure for painting, pure and ambiguous abstraction, history painting, painting space, and installation painting, as well as the requisite review of the figure, landscape, and still life. John Currin, Marlene Dumas, Michael Borremans, and Jenny Saville are highlighted in The Figure; Peter Doig, Laura Owens, and Miguel Barcelo get good play in Landscape; and Gary Hume, Sudodh Gupta, and Wilhelm Sasnal are standouts in Still Life.
Chapters on Death and Life, the Leipzig School, Post-feminism, and Painting Tomorrow round out the beautifully designed, dynamic 448-page book, which includes 550 illustrations, artist biographies, and a chronology of painting since 1968.

"Painting Abstraction takes a more focused look at the medium. Penned by independent curator and critic Bob Nickas, the 352-page hardback kicks off with an essay on the Persistence of Abstraction, followed by six chapters that analyze a variety of artistic approaches to abstract painting. The chapter on Hybrid Pictures includes the car-crash inspired canvases of Kristin Baker, the pixilated paintings of Alex Brown, and Elizabeth Neel and Carrie Moyer’s distorted figures.

"The Rhythm and Opticality chapter features Karin Davie’s loopy brushwork, Xylor Jane’s obsessive mark-making, and John Tremblay’s experimental approach to painting; Color and Structure highlights such masters of the medium as Mary Heilmann, while championing more recent players, including Joanne Greenbaum and Odili Donald Odita; and Mike Cloud’s mix of paint on old clothes on stretcher bars is a standout in Found/Eccentric Abstraction.

"The final two chapters deal with Form, Space, and Scale and the Act of Painting. Katharina Grosse’s unusual approach to real space as the site for painterly intervention resonates particularly well on these pages, as does Bernard Frize’s colorful engagements of canvases with continuously moving brushes of paint. Steven Parrino, Thomas Scheibitz, and Christopher Wool also contribute much to the dialogue of these final two overlapping concerns. Weighing in at more than five pounds and featuring 250 illustrations, Painting Abstraction capsulizes a current movement."

November 12, 2009

Heather Brown: Cartoonish, but carefully observant

Heather Brown, "Calendar," 2009, ink on paper, 18 x 20.5"

Installation view

Heather Brown’s drawings remark—often obliquely—on the devices of drawing by revealing or collapsing formal idioms in a sometimes awkward, humorous or brutal fashion. Her idiosyncratic and experimental process lays bare the labor as revisions accumulate on the surface. In LA Weekly, Christopher Miles reports that the drawings often deal in the sort of raw physicality that will be familiar to those who know Brown’s paintings, with plays on space — actual 3-D space, illusionistic space and page space — in ways that border on a kind of draftsman’s physical comedy, combined with a drawing style that is cartoonish but also careful and observant, and defined by an economy of flourishes and abbreviations."If you’re looking for academic figuration, you’ll unquestionably be disappointed by this offering. But if you’re looking for figuration that’s genuine, smart and pleasurable, and maybe a bit poignant about modern life and love, you might find a bit of homespun magic here."

"Heather Brown: Drawings," Parker Jones, Los Angeles, CA. Through December 5, 2009.

November 11, 2009

Travis Somerville's response to the Gettysburg Address

Travis Somerville was born in 1963 in Atlanta, GA, and grew up along the eastern sea board in towns throughout the southern United States. His large scale paintings, incorporating paper, collage and oil,  employ political and cultural icons associated with the history of the south to explore the complexities of racism. 

In ArtForum Annie Buckley highly recommends Somerville's show at Otis College of Art & Design. "Somerville’s work addresses the tangled knot of issues surrounding the history of race in America. Using such loaded images as a noose, hooded clansmen, and the Confederate flag in a self-consciously liberal way is laced with difficulties, yet Somerville takes such challenges on with gusto in a new exhibition, 'Dedicated to the Proposition.' Conceptualized as a contemporary response to Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address, the exhibition is fraught with aggressive images, including a sculpture of Lincoln’s head on a ball and chain, and assorted representations of people in blackface....

"The detail and care with which Somerville constructs each work, alongside the artist’s insistence that viewers consider complex and unresolved issues—including prejudice, post-Katrina New Orleans, urban blight, the conditions of migrant workers, and the treatment of Muslims in America after 9/11—create a charged and vital body of work." To check out a slide show of the exhibition, click here.

"Travis Somerville: Dedicated to the Proposition...," Ben Maltz Gallery at the Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA. Through December 12, 2009.

Images courtesy of Otis. Top, installation view at Somerville's opening, bottom Meg Linton, Director of Galleries and Exhibitions at Otis with Travis and Catherine Clark, owner of Catherine Clark Gallery

November 10, 2009

Sign up for free artist's proofs

Here is my pile of rejects, er, I mean artist’s proofs for the kork Advent project. kork curator Chris Albert, who writes the best press releases,  has asked 31 artists to create 31 works of art, accompanied by some thought for the day. “As the calendar advances on the kork board in Poughkeepsie, NY, you’ll be able to ‘play along’ at home. Everyday for 31 days, you’ll receive an email of that day’s artwork and phrase.” If any Two Coats readers would like an artist's proof, send an email with your address to twocoatsofpaint{at}, and I’ll put one in the mail. To register for the Advent email list, click here.

Note: Promotion Project collaborators will automatically receive a print.

UPDATE: All prints have been shipped.

Street artist stabbing in San Francisco

San Francisco street artist Chor Boogie was working on a project on Market Street between Sixth and Seventh street (in image at right) when he confronted four people who were trying to steal his spray paint. They stabbed him and took off on a Muni bus, but he hopes surveillance cameras will help police track them down. Boogie's mural is part of San Francisco's Art in Storefronts project launched last month. The arts commission selected 20 artists to come up with art installations aimed at revitalizing Market Street and other neighborhoods.

"Chor Boogie along with all the other artists who were invited to the Art In Storefronts program were only paid $500 to help defray some of their expenses associated with these installations, so they're really providing a gift to the city," says Luis Cancel from the San Francisco Arts Commission. Naturally the arts commission hopes this was an isolated incident but recommends that artists painting murals for the city work in teams. (via ABC News)

I hope the Commission helps pay Boogie's medical bills.

Medical rights advocate Regina Holliday paints murals about our inadequate healthcare system

A detail of Regina Holliday's mural showing her husband, Fred, in his hospital bed receiving a blood transfusion.

NPR had a devastating story yesterday about  Regina Holliday's outrageous experience with the health care system after her husband Fred was diagnosed with cancer. Holliday, a DC-based medical rights advocate, is currently at work on a series of murals depicting the need for clarity and transparency in medical records. "On a humid day this summer, in a parking lot at the long back wall of a gas station, Regina Holliday stood on a scaffold with her palette of red, black and blue and started painting a mural.  At the center, there's a dying man in a hospital. It's Regina Holliday's husband, Fred. He died on June 17th of kidney cancer. He was 39 years old, with his wife and two young sons. For official Washington, this has been the season of health care overhaul. Fred and Regina's personal health care struggle overlapped the policy debate going on in another part of the city. Now she's painted the story of her husband's difficult final days on the gas station wall in a residential neighborhood several miles from the U.S. Capitol and the White House." To listen to the complete story on NPR, click here.

November 8, 2009

Why we write

Carol Diehl, "All These Things That I've Done," 2008
oil on panel, 15 x 23"

At Art Vent, artist/writer Carol Diehl articulates why writing is an important part of the process for many artists. "For me, it’s through being forced to describe something that I learn what it is and what I really think about it. In fact this is why I write about art at all, because I wouldn’t engage in such a detailed exercise on my own. It’s how I learn, and it’s how I teach students to write about art. In fact I think everyone studying any aspect of the arts should be required to take art writing, not so they can better write their theses or that noxious item we call the artist’s statement, but because through writing description you learn to observe what’s outside—and inside—you. And no matter what the endeavor—be it art, bricklaying, dentistry or cooking—observation is everything." I couldn't agree more.

Besides working as a contributing editor at Art in America, Diehl has used words, numbers and symbols to record the events of her life on canvas in dense painterly formats that marry the literal with the abstract. One-person exhibitions of her work include those at Gary Snyder Fine Art in 2002, and Hirschl & Adler Modern in 1996 and 1998. Check out more of Diehl's paintings here.

November 6, 2009

Sharon Horvath: Condensed visionary fictions

Sharon Horvath, "Nightbed," 2002-09, dispersed pigment, ink and polymer on canvas, 70" x 76"

Sharon Horvath, "About the Car," 2006-09, dispersed pigment, ink and polymer on canvas, 46" x 54."

Sharon Horvath, "The Goodbye Door(2),"2007, dispersed pigment, ink
and polymer on canvas, 22" x 30."

In New York, award-winning art critic Jerry Saltz gives Sharon Horvath's show at Lori Bookstein a thumbs up. "The overlooked painter Sharon Horvath excels at creating condensed visionary fictions at small scale. In her new series, 'Parts of a World,' her crustily elegant depictions of maps, microcosms, Mondrian-like nets, star charts, and ballparks spread out onto larger canvases. Horvath’s topographical shapes echo textiles, trusswork, and hills as well as the abstract paintings of Thomas Nozkowski and Arthur Dove. It’s a fine inauguration for the new Chelsea location of Lori Bookstein Fine Art, formerly on 57th Street."

The title of the exhibition, “Parts of a World” is borrowed from the title of Wallace Stevens’ book of poetry published 1942, as are the titles of several paintings borrowed from his poems, including Dezembrum, Palaz of Hoon, Description Without Place and Human Arrangement. These borrowings are a tribute to the poet’s lifelong involvement with, in his words, “the incessant conjunctions between things as they are and things imagined.”

Since Sharon Horvath received her BFA in 1980 from Cooper Union  and her MFA in 1985 from Tyler School of Art, she has racked up numerous awards and honors, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Grant for Painting, the Jacob H. Lazarus-Metropolitan Museum of Art Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, the Anonymous was a Woman Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Richard and Hilda Rosenthal Award for Painting, the Edwin Palmer Prize in Painting from the National Academy Museum and two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grants. She is an Associate Professor of Art at Purchase College, SUNY, and lives and works in New York City. Since 1987, she has exhibited in New York, Philadelphia and Boston, and internationally.

In The Brooklyn Rail Ben La Rocco writes  that Horvath's work is richly optical, full of enticing complexity, intense color, and fascinating characters. "Horvath paints the world as it looks to me when I am at my best. These paintings are devoid of cynicism."

As Saltz suggests,  Horvath's work has been mysteriously overlooked. What does a painter of Horvath's caliber have to do to get some attention in this town?

"Sharon Horvath: Parts of a World," Lori Bookstein Fine Art, New York, NY. Through November 25, 2009.

November 5, 2009

Hyperallergic, Jason Andrew, Brooke Moyse, and me

On Hrag Vartanian's new blog, Hyperallergic, I contributed a short interview with Jason Andrew this week about Jack Tworkov and the New York School. Andrew is the curator and archivist for the Estate of Jack Tworkov and was the mastermind behind the recent retrospective of Jack Tworkov’s work — the final show at the UBS Art Gallery. A prominent figure in the Bushwick art scene, Andrew is also the founding director of Norte Maar, which encourages, promotes, and supports collaborations in the arts. Go to Hyperallergic to read the interview.

Brooke Moyse, "Forest M.E. 2009, oil on canvas, 60 x54."

At Norte Maar this month, Andrew has installed paintings by Bushwick artist Brooke Moyse.  Moyse makes thinly painted landscapes with the slightest hint of horizon."Many of the paintings develop around a specific historical work of art." Moyse writes in her statement. "Recent examples include Nicolas Poussin, John Constables, Giovanni Bellini, Hans Holbein, and Lawrence Weiner. Light and space are represented symbolically as a way of presenting the individual experience that comes out of a search for physical environment, personal meaning, and life."

"The Other Side: New Paintings by Brooke Moyse," Norte Maar, Brooklyn, NY. through Nov. 21, 2009.