"Milton Avery, "Smokestacks," ca. 1930, Oil on board, 20 x 24 inches
"Milton Avery: Industrial Revelations," Knoedler & Company, Manhattan. Through May 1. Roberta Smith: The great American modernist Milton Avery always looks a bit dour in photographs. He seems to lack the bright disposition that might logically be expected from the jaunty topographical abbreviations, effulgent colors and lively textures of his best-known landscape paintings. These works expand on the grandeur of nature with sly jokes, and they redesign its vistas into flattened shapes that keep elegance and bluntness in even balance. Avery’s little-known depictions of New York City’s waterways, bridges and railroad yards from the late 1920s and early ’30s appear to be more in character. As seen in this knockout exhibition, they are consistently overcast, bordering on gloomy. Dominated by grayish shades of reds and blues, the images date from the Depression and seem to catch their subjects in the fading light of a long, hard workday....
Betty Parsons, "Autumn," 1965, oil on canvas, 30 x 31"
"Journeys: The Art of Betty Parsons," Spanierman Modern, Manhattan. Through March 20. Roberta Smith: Parsons’s paintings handily evade derivativeness. She had a wonderful, implicitly humorous touch that loosened up her borrowings. “Journey” (1975) has the patchiness of Still’s surfaces, lightened by stain-painting in pink and ochre; occasional bits of dark green striped with orange suggest plaster and lath peeking through peeling paint. More monochromatic works, like “Copper” (around 1971), have randomly brushy fields broken by little shards of colors within colors for an effect that vacillates between abstraction and cheerfully useless cartography. Parsons clearly painted noncompetitively, for herself, which may account for the relaxed mood of her canvases. But they are still a vibrant part of the art history of their time, alongside Parsons’ groundbreaking gallery....
"Joe Bradley and Chris Martin," Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Chelsea. Through March 27. Roberta Smith: In this exhibition of works by two sympathetic but quite different artists, one eats the other’s lunch. Just which one that is probably depends simply on your taste.... (Animated with Flash, the images on the M-IN website are not available for download. Sorry.)
Rosson Crow, "The Nest," 2010, Oil, acrylic and enamel on canvas 96 x 122 "
"Rossen Crow: Bowery Boys," Deitch Projects, SoHo. Through March 27. Karen Rosenberg: In her first (and last) solo with the gallery, Rosson Crow, a young painter from Texas, explores Mr. Deitch’s favorite territory: 1980s graffiti culture and the downtown haunts of art-world “bad boys.” Her show has plenty of sentimental value, though the attitude it projects is strictly secondhand. Exuberant renderings of Keith Haring’s “Pop Shop” and Kenny Scharf’s “Cosmic Cavern” are here, as is a view of “The Nest,” Dan Colen and Dash Snow’s infamous installation of shredded phone books at Deitch. For good measure Ms. Crow has thrown in opium dens and barbershops from the 1880s, brought up to date with references to Warhol and Allen Ruppersberg....Ms. Crow has talent, and for now, lots of attention. But if it’s longevity she’s after, she should stop hanging out in bad boys’ lairs and find a bad-girl room of her own.
Read the entire Art in Review column here.