January 30, 2012

Ralph Fasanella: Defending the 99%


In his review of “Jubilation/Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined,” the new exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum, Ken Johnson neglected to mention that there are two paintings by Ralph Fasanella (American, 1914-1997), a self-taught artist whose large, detailed depictions of the urban working class critiqued post-World-War II America. An Italian immigrant who grew up in Little Italy, Fasanella was a zealous labor activist who worked tirelessly to make a better life for working men and women.

Ralph Fasanella, New York City 1950–1970, oil on canvas, 59 x 96 x 1 1/2 inches. American Folk Art Museum, gift of Maurice and Margo Cohen, Birmingham, Michigan. Fasanella's other large painting in the show depicts the plight of  Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.

In this video, produced by the Machinists' News Network, Fasanella's daughter tells how he would come home from the factory, head down to the basement, and, fueled by way too much coffee, paint all night.

In the 1997 NY Times obituary of Fasanella, Robert Smith reported that
from 1940 to 1945, Mr. Fasanella worked as a union organizer for the United Electrical Workers of the C.I.O., organizing the Western Electric plant in Manhattan. In 1944, a friend suggested that he take up drawing to relieve the arthritis in his hands. It worked, and he was hooked. He learned to paint after persuading the union to organize painting classes for its members and signing up. His first solo show was at the ACA Galleries on East 57th Street in 1948. One of his first sales was to the choreographer Jerome Robbins. During the McCarthy years, Mr. Fasanella was blacklisted and found it virtually impossible to find work. His wife, Eva Lazorek, whom he married in 1950, was able to support him by teaching school....
Jubilation/Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined,” organized by Stacy C. Hollander. american Folk Art Museum, New York, NY. Through September 2, 2012.
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Obamas check out 30 Americans

It was widely reported in the media that the Obamas went to the Corcoran Museum yesterday afternoon to see 30 Americans before it closes on February 12th. A three-decade survey selected from the Rubell Family Collection, the exhibition includes challenging work by prominent African American artists. The Rubells decided to call it “30 Americans.” rather than “African-Americans” or “Black Americans” because they felt nationality is a statement of fact, while racial identity is a question each artist answers in his or her own way, or not at all.

Whether wealthy collectors should be curating vanity exhibitions from their private collections for publicly funded museums (thereby increasing the value of the work) is a controversial question, but there's plenty of good work on view--Leonardo Drew’s cotton and wax sculpture Untitled #25, several of Nick Cave’s Soundsuits, and a large-scale Kara Walker silhouette are all included. Despite the ethical issues, I wonder what the First Family thought of the show...?














"30 Americans," curated by  the Rubell Family Collection. The Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC. Through February 12, 2012.The show will travel to the Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA, March 16th, through July 15th, 2012.

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January 29, 2012

Flower Power? Jim Isermann at Mary Boone

Through next week, Mary Boone is presenting more than a dozen of Jim Isermann's pieces from the mid to late 1980s and one work from 1993. Isermann belongs to that influential second generation of LA artists who graduated from CalArts in the late 1970s, but, unlike his contemporaries who were absorbed with postmodernist strategy, Isermann was obsessed with super graphics from the 1960s and 70s. The centerpiece of the show (although strangely installed in a cramped side room) is the 1985 Flower Seating Group, a construction of five painted, plywood-framed, lawn-chair-webbed supports, facing out toward the gallery, surrounding five petal shaped tables. A Flower Ceiling Pendant Light and a Flower Painting, both adjunct components of the original 1986 installation, are also included. (NOTE: Don't sit in the chairs. Although Isermann originally designed them as furniture for a gallery, now the chairs are to be apprehended as an art object. Do not touch!) The Shag Paintings pair latch hook Orlon acrylic yarn panels with hard edge geometric enamel panels, linking his work to the debates about craft that were generated by the feminist contingent.

The press materials assert that "while these works resonate with the best populist examples of Super Graphics, they never settle for being retrograde. The works take as their starting point the most elementary of geometric and coloristic units: they are as aesthetically persuasive as the best manifestations of geometric art of the last century."

Are they? I'm not so sure. Isermann didn't take the work far enough--for me they read as nostalgic totems from my childhood home, and they probably did back in the day, too. Where are the paper dresses?





"Jim Isermann: Reunion," Mary Boone, New York, NY Through February 4, 2012.

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January 25, 2012

Adolph Gottlieb lamented the end of the underground --in 1966

Yesterday I went to The Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle where Joseph Marioni is having an elegant solo show of monochromatic paintings through the end of the weekend. The Phillips, which opened in 1921, was founded by Duncan Phillips,  a champion of Modern art and, particularly, American artists, many of whom he knew personally. Adoph Gottlieb must have been one of his friends because this unusual Gottlieb entered the Phillips collection in 1963--the year it was made. I looked up Gottleib, who with his wife Esther Gottlieb founded the Gottlieb Foundation to support struggling artists, and found this interview with Andrew Hudson for a 1966 Washington Post article called “Gottlieb finds Today’s Shock-Proof Audience Dangerous."


Gottlieb: I think the situation today is similar to the period when Surrealism became important in France and Europe and the only painters who were able to continue working in the tradition of Cubism were those who were the originators and initiators of the movement. It wasn’t possible to have a really significant second generation of Cubist painters. What happened was that the younger painters who were able to contribute something went into another direction, which happened to be Surrealism. And I think a similar thing has happened today: That the so-called New York School, or Abstract-Expressionists, consisted of a group of painters who were about my generation and they are the legitimate practitioners of their concepts. But when so many young painters became involved in trying to carry out some of the ideas of Abstract Expressionism, it became rather academic.

Hudson: A sort of manner…?
Gottlieb: Yes. It was like Andre Lhote doing Cubist paintings of football games, and it became second-rate, and it was necessary for painters to develop other ideas. Now, I think the point is that Surrealism also had certain popular elements that could appeal to a large public like the postcard color, the use of realistic, naturalistic techniques, as in Dali- so that this was a kind of dilution of the values that had existed; there was a lowering of the standard that Cubism had. It just so happened that it wasn’t possible to do anything, to use Cubism as a springboard, let us say. I don’t think any movement ever is a springboard for another movement.

Hudson: It has to start again.
Gottlieb: Yes. The tradition of modern art is a tradition of revolution: there’s one revolution after another – for better or for worse. And I think that’s what we have today: there’s been a revolution, the older Abstract Expressionists can legitimately continue working in their way, but young people have to find some other way.

Hudson: Do you think sometime or other there’ll be another revolution somewhere.
Gottlieb: There is one now and there will be others. I think that one of the problems is that today what we are witnessing is the development of art in a democracy, and this never existed before. The idea of a democratic art which can reach many people ultimately must be a notion of some kind of mass culture. And this is the dismal aspect.

I don’t know if it’s possible for artists to feel that they can even go underground any more. We felt that we were living in an underground; we felt that we were a bit outside of society and, in a sense, outcasts. If such a mood could develop among artists, this would be a good sign – but I haven’t seen any signs of it. They all want success more than achievement.

I think one of the sorriest examples is that of two young artists – who I guess are taken rather seriously – recently collaborated on a scheme to use a computer go find out what people really liked best. The computer told them, for example, what color combinations people liked best, what shapes they liked best – and on the basis of this information they jointly made an object. I think the idea was to make it so that it could be duplicated. Obviously this is a different spirit than what has happened in the past with artists who are serious an independent.

What’s unfortunate is that nobody seems to be in a position to make a criticism of what’s going on, about standards being lowered, and having false ideals…We have a lot of young critics, and the young critics feel that the way to succeed in their own area is to espouse and support whatever it is that’s catching on, and if they can be the first ones to proclaim it, they can then become another Clement Greenberg, perhaps. They try to ride on the tail of whatever seems to them to be the art which is viable at the moment.

You have a situation in the art world that’s become like show business; and, after all, if you’re in the museum field, or if you’re an art writer, there has to be a great deal of grist for your mill. You’ve got to be putting on shows all the time, which will draw the public in; and you also have to have new material to write about. Suppose that you were convinced that in the last 30 years or so there were only a handful of artists who were making an important contribution, and these were the ones who were worth discussing. You wouldn’t have much to write about, let us say, if you were writing for a magazine.

I think that at least two thirds of the vast new art public that we have today has never made a serious attempt to study art; they only know about art because they’ve started going to some exhibitions in the last three years, and they’ve read some reviews in newspapers or art magazines. And that’s their total knowledge…

But, of course, I don’t have a really objective view of what the art situation is. I think that some of the dealers might be in a better position to evaluate; they see the artists coming in with work all the time.
The other thing is that I don’t really care too much, because there isn’t anything that at my stage of the game I can do about it – I have to concentrate on continuing to work out my own problems. In other words, my path has been determined over the years: I believe the only thing I have to do is stay with my own direction.

Related Two Coats post:
Abstract Expressionism at MoMA
"Artists less celebrated, whose work used to seem flatfooted and obvious to me, now scan as forward-thinking. What I once considered lesser paintings because of the color, composition, brushwork, or surface quality have come to look fresh and challenging in their visual awkwardness. Adolph Gottleib’s symbolic contrivances, William Baziotes’s acidic color, Hans Hoffman’s clunky palette knifery, and Clyfford Still’s jagged edges are more in tune with the uncomfortable aesthetic decisions painters are making today...."

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A makeshift studio in Georgetown

Since I'll be spending more time in DC, and I have to paint for two upcoming shows, I turned the apartment into a makeshift studio.

The natural light, ceiling height and wall space in the apartment are excellent, although I can't work on too many things at once unless I spread out into the rest of the place--which is often the case. In my new work, I"m thinking about the monumental sculpture I saw recently at the National Gallery's Sculpture Garden.

I just started three 60 x 72 inch unstretched canvases. Working with acrylic pigments and binders, I can work on small sections of the paintings on the tabletop. I'm alsoworking on a stack of canvasboard studies (at right) and small drawings (on floor).

 Jason Andrew and DC artist Maggie Michael stopped by after Austin's opening at Heiner.

 Here are Maggie, Austin Thomas and Brooklyn artist Adam Simon. Don't forget to check out Ad's show at Valentine this month.

DC artist Dan Steinhilber looks on as I shamelessly treat one of my dogs like a toy. Photo by Jason Andrew (I promised to give him credit!)

 Austin is saying something brilliant. That's Elissa Levy's hair in the upper right corner!

Part Shih-Tzu, part Maltese. So handsome and earnest. Another excellent Jason Andrew photo.

 The next day it snowed! Here's a picture of the lovely courtyard outside my windows. The landlady says the building used to be a brothel back in the day. So much history (and scandal) in DC...

Related posts:
Images of 2011 work in the old studio
2011 Interview at Studio Critical 

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January 24, 2012

Barry Reigate's political geometry

While doing some research the other day, I ran across work by British artist Barry Reigate (b. 1971). In London Reigate is primarily known for his lecherous cartoon imagery of disembodied breasts and Disney characters, but geometric forms like cubes, spheres and pinwheels are also embedded in his large-scale paintings. In his October 2011 exhibition at Paradise Row, Reigate included geometric sculptures and earnest gouaches of geometric volumes, and I wondered if he was in transition, perhaps moving away from the pop culture references. According to Reigate, the gouaches, which have underlying political content, are not just studies for the larger paintings, but are works in themselves.

Taken from children's statewide math tests that are used to measure children's progress and thus the effectiveness of the schools, the geometric forms are part of a language system that Reigate believes bends truth through the use of statistics. Reigate took the test images and drew them on graph paper, removing them from their original statistical language and bringing them into the realm of modernist abstraction. In  the sculptures, Reigate pushes the shapes from the original equations into freestanding, structural objects.

"When I was  making these pieces, there were ‘riots’ going on outside and kids  were burning down buildings on their school holidays," Reigate said. "All our government kept going on about was healthy social structures while the physical ones were being burnt down. So there is this whole social-political thing going on in regards to education and the social (the government kept talking about the ‘underclass,' families on welfare, no one working and poor education). There is political content within the work but only layered aesthetically, ornamentally, within the structural content amongst so many other things."

Reigate is in the process of opening an experimental space called City of London Art with his friend Alastair Mackinven. The gallery won't represent artists, but will focus on the critical, thought-provoking work that commercial galleries aren't showing.

Barry Reigate, studio snapshot, 2011

Barry Reigate, Untitled (Equations), 2011, mixed media on linen, 400 x 230 cm.
Installation with paintings, sculptures and gouache geometry studies on  paper, 2011.

Barry Reigate, Gouache and pencil on graph paper, 2011.

Barry Reigate, Gouache and pencil on graph paper, 2011.

Barry Reigate, Untitled painting, (Equation 4), 2011, mixed media on linen, 210 x 156 cm.

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January 22, 2012

From the Gardner's collection: Anders Zorn

Last week the long-anticipated Renzo Piano wing opened at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  For the first time in its history, the Gardner will have space for both temporary shows organized from the collection and exhibitions of contemporary art. Curator Oliver Tostmann, who I ran into at a gallery reception in DC this week, told me that he plans to focus on singular masterpieces from the collection, borrowing work from other museums to put the objects in context. His first exhibition centers on a work by Anders Zorn (February 18, 1860 – August 22, 1920), the artist who painted the full length portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner that hangs prominently in the original section of the museum.

Zorn, whose brushwork and subject matter recall those of  John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925), studied at Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm, Sweden from 1875-1880. Famous during his lifetime for portraits, nudes and depictions of water, Zorn's paintings are included in collections at the Nationalmuseum (National Museum of Fine Arts) in Stockholm,  Musée d'Orsay in Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  The Zorn Collections in Mora (Dalarna County, Sweden), a hometown museum dedicated to Zorn, was opened in 1939.

Anders Zorn, Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice, 1894, oil on canvas, 91 x 66 cm.

The backstory: While visiting the Gardners in Boston in February 1894, Anders Zorn made an etching of Mrs. Gardner, which neither of them considered to be a complete success. Later that year Zorn and his wife visited the Gardners in Venice, staying for several weeks as their guests in the Palazzo Barbaro. He attempted again to make a portrait of Mrs. Gardner, but continued to struggle with the task. One evening, Mrs. Gardner stepped out into the balcony to see what was happening outside, and as she came back into the drawing-room, pushing the French windows open, Zorn exclaimed (according to Morris Carter): “Stay just as you are! That is the way I want to paint you.” He went instantly for his materials, and then and there the portrait was begun. (Source: Richard Lingner, "Isabella Stewart Gardner in Venice," in Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 215.)

 New gallery space at the Gardner. I think that's the original building outside the window. "Yes, it’s designed to have the visitor step in and actually experience the gardens while they’re inside. You can see through the glass out to the gardens, and of course you can see the palace itself. But if you step in a little further and you look left, you can see the working greenhouses. Piano has said that the building is about light and sound, and you can certainly feel that." --Director Anne Hawley on WBUR

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Here are images of three other Zorn's in the collection at the Gardner Museum.

Anders Zorn, The Morning Toilet, about 1888 

Anders Zorn, Omnibus, 1892 

Anders Zorn, Portrait of Mrs. Grover Cleveland, 1899.

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BONUS VIDEO: Shot in Zorn's charming country house in Sweden (now a museum), the video  includes images of his collections and his log cabin studio.



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Quick study: Batman, love advice, internships, and the new videographer in town

"Batman Returns," Joyce Pensato's show at Friedrich Petzel, was in Time Out New York's Top Five and listed as ArtCat's Top Pick this week. Incorporating color in her new paintings, Pensato presents crazed images of Batman, assemblages of toys, ephemera, stuffed animals, and photographs. Looks good.
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The January issue of Art in America just arrived here -- better late than never. Faye Hirsch writes about Arlene Shechet's clay sculpture. "With an awkwardness so skilled it becomes elegant, Shechet demonstrates a mastery over everything that can go wrong in ceramics, harnessing wrongness to endless expressive possibility." Thanks, AiA, for putting it online.

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M/E/A/N/I/N/G, A Journal of Contemporary Art Issues, 25th Anniversary Edition, edited by Susan Bee and Mira Schor (and featuring one of my essays) is now available for Kindle.

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Don't miss art critic Ben Davis's "The Art Lover," a hilarious column at ArtInfo concerning love and/or art.  Last week gallerist Allegra LaViola asked for dating advice. Ben says don't be shy--if you have a question about love and/or art just ask him.

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College Art Association is looking for an editorial intern. "Intern assists with administrative and editorial tasks in the publications department of the leading professional organization for artists and art historians." Fifteen hours a  week for either stipend or credit.

Art Fag City is looking for interns. "Ideal candidates have a strong interest in visual art and digital media, are proficient in MS Office, Quickbooks, and Excel, and possess excellent writing skills." I imagine a sense of humor might help, too.
 

Joanne Mattera posted her essay for Textility, an exhibition she co-curated with Mary Birmingham at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey. "Textility was conceived in Miami last December. That’s where Mary Birmingham and I, standing by chance in front of an Arlene Shechet clay sculpture with a surface that can only be described as velvet, noted the significant number of textile-esque works we had been seeing in booths and hotel rooms throughout the fairs: knitted paintings, painted quilts, metal tapestries and more...."

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Hyperallergic reports that Joann Kim Núñez of art blog Updownacross is partnering with Skillshare, the online marketplace for offline classes, to build a Creative Arts program.

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The next generation: Check out a video report of Austin Thomas's opening at Heiner Contemporary in DC made by seven-year-old Grant (a la The James Kalm Report).  Go Grant!

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January 20, 2012

Horrifying photo of the day

 Child exploring a Richard Serra at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

Green light: Peter Halley in Portland

On Sunday, "Prison," Peter Halley's first exhibition in the Northwest, opens at Disjecta, a non-profit space in Portland. The  site-specific installation is a digitally generated mural of repeated prison icons, covering three walls of Disjecta’s 3000 square foot gallery. As in previous work, the project unites Halley's interest in visual and architectural systems, but the new work attempts to create an immersive experience that weds the "geometry of the social with the mall-level spectacle of saturated fluorescent color."

"Prison" is essentially a collage of simple studies for Halley's prison paintings, lit with green colored theater lights. The background is printed in an olive green and the line work is dark magenta. Halley says he wanted to create “a gloomy, Samuel Beckett interior of endless prisons.”

For previous site-specific installations, Halley has delivered mural-sized variations of his vibrantly-colored geometric conduit imagery, which he links to the deconstructionism of Jean Baudrillard and Michel Foucault and the social experience of space in our society. The "Prison" installation marks Halley's first attempt to incorporate theater lighting into the mix, which seems to add a compelling emotional component to his hard-edged, resolutely cheerful abstraction.

Peter Halley, installation view of "Prison." When viewers stand in the middle, I hope they can hear the lights hum.

Peter Halley's wallpaper for "Prison."

Peter Halley installation, Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London, 2007

Peter Halley installation at Gary Tatintsian Gallery, Moscow, 2006.

"Peter Halley: Prison," curated by Jenene Nagy. Disjecta, Portland, OR. January 22-February 25, 2012.
On Friday, January 20, 7 pm, Halley will give a lecture about his work at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.


Related posts:
Peter Halley's grim vision
James Kalm Report in Peter Halley's studio in 2011

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January 19, 2012

Bill Jensen lightens up

In his new work, Bill Jensen gets reductive, working in a large-scale triptych format with a limited palette. Here's the James Kalm Report coverage of Jensen's exhibition at Cheim & Read, where,  understandably, Jensen doesn't want to talk about the paintings on camera. The paintings look sublime.



 Bill Jensen, installation view.

  Bill Jensen, installation view.

"Bill Jensen," Cheim & Read, New York, NY. Through February 18, 2012.

Related post: Bill Jensen's long and winding nature trail
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Stopping time: On Kawara and Danica Phelps

On Kawara and Danica Phelps, two single-minded artists obsessed with documenting life, are on view in New York this month. David Zwirner has over 150 of On Kawara's date paintings spanning 1966 to the present (known collectively as the "Today" series) hanging in both galleries, and Brennan & Griffin is presenting Danica Phelps new series, "The Cost of Love."

For the past ten years, using a signature system of brightly-painted stripes, Phelps has charted her income, expenses, and debt. In "The Cost of Love" she focuses on the recent breakup with her longtime girlfriend. Using the court papers and documents from the subsequent financial fallout, Phelps has produced an emotionally fraught series of panels that don't track the passing of time in the same way that her earlier work did, but rather chronicle the phenomenon of loss.

On Kawara, on the other hand, creates calmer, more philosophical paintings that meditate on the nature of human existence. In 1966 he started painting dates, meticulously centering handpainted white, sans serif letters and numbers on monochrome canvases. For the artist, who has made the paintings in more than a hundred different cities, each date evokes a specific location, and a scrapbook with facsimiles of clippings from local newspapers is included in the exhibition. His monk-like dedication is astonishing--I can't imagine making the same painting (give or take the subtle variations) for more than forty years. On Kawara's endeavor is smart and thought provoking, but Phelps works emphatically from emotional necessity.

  Danica Phelps, The Cost of Love (Paragraph 6), 2011-12, gouache, watercolor, and pencil on paper mounted to panel 44 x 26 inches


 Danica Phelps, installation view at Brennan & Griffin

Danica Phelps, The Cost of Love (Paragraph 6), 2011-12, detail.


 On Kawara, installation view at David Zwirner. July 16, 1969--only three years into the project.

 On Kawara, installation view at David Zwirner.

"Danica Phelps: The Cost of Love," Brennan & Griffin, New York, NY. Through February 12, 2012.

 "On Kawara  Date Painting(s) in New York and 136 Other Cities," Zwirner, New York, NY. Through February 11, 2012.

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Promote your projects, exhibitions and art programs (and support online arts writing at the same time)

 Two Coats of Paint is a member of the Nectar Ads Art Network, which includes the powerhouse art blogs Hyperallergic, ColossalArt Fag City, and Rhizome. I urge readers to promote projects, organizations, art programs, and exhibitions by placing advertising with the network, which boasts over 1,000,000 highly-targeted page views per month. The cost is very reasonable (downright cheap!), and the ads, which are carefully curated for quality, will guarantee that your exhibitions, products, and organizations will be promoted to the most progressive members of the arts community. I particularly encourage MFA programs and university galleries to buy advertising on the network. Raising the the visibility of your program will benefit faculty, graduates and alumni, and also help recruit talented students. Artists should ask their galleries not just to send press releases to influential bloggers (we get hundreds every week), but to join the conversation by advertising on our sites.

Why not promote your project and support online arts writing at the same time? Contact Veken Gueyikian to discuss promotion options (he has plenty of great ideas) and rates.


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January 18, 2012

Gallery 764: In the Artist's Studio

This week the Metropolitan Museum opened the renovated American Wing, which features twenty-six galleries on the second floor. Using coved ceilings, skylights, and architectural detailing, the museum has created a contemporary interpretation of nineteenth-century Beaux-Arts galleries.The Met's collection boasts amazing holdings by pre-modern American painters, including John Singleton Copley (Daniel Crommelin Verplanck), Gilbert Stuart (George Washington), Thomas Cole (The Oxbow), Frederic Edwin Church, (The Heart of the Andes), Winslow Homer (Prisoners from the Front), Thomas Eakins (Max Schmitt in a Single Scull), and John Singer Sargent (Madame X). 

But my favorite is Gallery 764, which features paintings of artists at work. The gallery is a reminder that art practice evolves--artists haven't always worked the way we work today. Here are some images and their stories (via the museum's website).

Matthew Pratt (1734–1805), The American School, 1765, oil on canvas, 36 x 50 1/4 inches.

"The picture depicts a scene in the London studio of Benjamin West, who is generally agreed to be the figure standing at the left. Based on comparisons to self-portraits, Pratt is the man at the easel, an accomplished portrait painter. The identities of the other artists represented in the picture remain uncertain, but they are younger and they draw rather than paint. The composition explores the academic tradition as carried out among Americans in late-eighteenth century London."

Samuel F. B. Morse (American, Charlestown, Massachusetts 1791–1872 New York City), Susan Walker Morse (The Muse), 1836-37, oil on canvas, 73 3/4 x 57 5/8 inches.

"The full-length portrait of Susan Walker Morse (1819–1885), the eldest daughter of the artist, was painted during the crucial years of the invention of Morse's telegraph (ca. 1835–37). The painting shows the girl at about the age of seventeen, sitting with a sketchbook in her lap and pencil in hand with her eyes raised in contemplation. Although traditionally described as a Muse, the figure is more likely a personification of the art of drawing or design. Morse drew on the full extent of his European training, taking from the works of Rubens and Veronese in what was to be an ambitious farewell to his career as an artist. Stymied by a lack of financial success, he abandoned painting for science and inventing. This painting was first exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1837, where it won enthusiastic praise. Susan married Edward Lind in 1839 and moved to his sugar plantation in Puerto Rico, returning often to New York to spend extended periods with her father, who had been left a widower when Susan was just six. She gradually grew less and less happy with her husband and plantation life. Lind died in 1882; in 1885, Susan set out to return to New York permanently but tragically was lost at sea."

Kenyon Cox (American, Warren, Ohio 1856-1919 New York City), Augustus Saint-Gaudens, 1887, replica 1908, oil on canvas, 33 1/2 x 47 1/8 inches. Sorry, no story about this one.

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The thoughts and scrawls we leave behind

In Bushwick, artist and Italian literature Ph.D Paul D'Agostino organizes projects in his apartment that usually involve selected artists' interpretations of obscure reading materials. His charming curatorial statements (and email blasts) are like a gentleman's correspondence from the 1800s (or even earlier). Here is the text for his current show, "Dissolution, or Resolutions:"
A simposio exhibit (for all and sundry) As 2011 dwindles down and away, and as 2012 waits with prophesied tumult at bay, we at Centotto invite all of you to compose a simposio ode thereto. Well, not really. More simply, while simposio exhibits are typically born of a text and generate a new one, the textual components of this show will work a bit differently. That is, the initiatory text will arrive in your mind – as a thought or two about 2011, or as resolutions or predictions for 2012 – and the show's ultimate text will be the thoughts and scrawls you leave behind. A large scroll will be present to accommodate your musings on whether you found 2011 to be particularly dyspeptic – politically, climatically or seismically, for example – and on whether you think 2012 will really bring about The Great Belch (or whatever you want to call it). The scroll will be furled up post-closing, and we'll call the group-thunk simposio done. Then we'll stow it away somewhere for probing inquirers to come. Clearly (or not), the primary visual tenor of the show will be conveyed via artworks loosely or resolutely related to ideas of dissolution or resolution.
The show, which features plenty of small, scrappy paintings, is up through Sunday, and features work by Steve Harding, Mila Dau, Paul Gagner, Julie Torres, Layton Hower, Vilaykorn Sayaphet and Carmen von K. Stop by the closing party on Friday night, add your thoughts to the scroll, and sign up to receive Centotto's excellent email announcements.

Here are some installation images I took when I stopped by on New Year's Day.

Paul Gagner

Layton Hower

Steve Harding (on back wall)

Julie Torres and Carmen von K

 
And isn't that Austin Thomas surveying the goods left around the dumpster outside Centotto's building...?

Related posts:
Rolling Conversations this Friday night in Bushwick

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