March 30, 2013

Thomas Germano: A response to Roberta Smith's review of "Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design"

My former colleague, painter and art historian Thomas Germano, sent an interesting rebuttal to Roberta Smith's dismissive review of the Pre-Raphaelite show at the National Gallery, and has agreed to let me post it:

Without mentioning John Ruskin, or discussing the PRB's literary associations beyond a superficial glazing, RSmith simply hasn't done her homework or, to use her phrase, "just doesn't go very deep." Manet and Cezanne are not contemporaneous with the founding of the PRB (1848), but they came on the scene fifteen and twenty-five years later, in another country and at a time that was so rapidly accelerated that the comparison falls short of its intended effect. 1863 was after all, the birth of the modern era but it did not happen overnight.

 John Everett Millais, Ophelia (via Wikipedia)

A death exaggerated

In the April 8 issue of New York Magazine: Jerry Saltz argues that gallery shows may no longer be relevant:
Artists and dealers are as passionate as ever about creating good shows, but fewer and fewer people are actually seeing them. Chelsea galleries used to hum with activity; now they’re often eerily empty. Sometimes I’m nearly alone. Even on some weekends, galleries are quiet, and that’s never been true in my 30 years here. (There are exceptions, such as Gagosian’s current blockbuster Basquiat survey.) Fewer ideas are being exchanged, fewer aesthetic arguments initiated. I can’t turn to the woman next to me and ask what she thinks, because there’s nobody there...

March 29, 2013

Art History lesson: The Pre-Raphaelites, courtesy of Roberta Smith

"Pre-Raphaelite art is a volatile, highly complicated mixture of questionable intentions, literary erudition, ironclad nostalgia, meticulous realism, lavish costumes and a prescient technicolor palette. The brotherhood was formed in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, three disgruntled students at the Royal Academy of Art. Barely 20, they were repelled by the decadence of art and society, much of which they ascribed to the Industrial Revolution.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Lady Lilith, 1866–8, Delaware Art Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial 1935

Portfolio: Becky Yazdan

I first encountered Becky Yazdan's seductive paintings at the 2011 NurtureArt benefit, and this month she has a compelling show at Giampietro Gallery in New Haven. A graduate of the New York Studio School, Yazdan works in an intimate scale, deftly mining daily incident and objects for content and meaning. Bill Jensen, Graham Nickson (both of whom she studied with at NYSS) and (of course) Thomas Nozkowski are among her painting heroes. Here are some images of her work.

Potshot of the Day: Ken Johnson

 "This terrific exhibition makes me think that more artists should take time off from the grind of self-marketing."
 -- Ken Johnson in a NYTimes review of Catherine Murphy's show at Peter Freeman
 Catherine Murphy, Knot 1, 2008, oil on canvas on board, 16 x 19 inches. Courtesy of Peter Freeman Gallery.

Catherine Murphy, Snowflakes dedicated to Joyce Robins, 2011, oil on canvas, 52 x 52 inches.

"Catherine Murphy: Recent Work," Peter Freeman, Soho, New York, NY. Through April 27, 2013.


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March 28, 2013

Ben Godward's exploded view

Crafted from aluminum, neon-colored foam, paint, and plastic materials such as bubble wrap, plastic cups, and other discarded detritus, Ben Godward's work has always careened impulsively toward excess and chaos. More restrained than previous work, Voitenko vs. Berkeley (contemplation of the imploded past perfect (intremes) (2013) tempers Godward's signature exuberance with the geometric unity of a Donald Judd cube construction.

March 23, 2013

Win win: UConn MFA students raising money for their NYC thesis exhibition

Please join us on Tuesday, March 26th, at the Benton Museum for an auction of artwork by faculty, alumni, graduate students, and undergraduates to benefit the MFA in Studio Art program. The preview will take place noon-7 pm, and the live auction starts at 7 pm. The starting point for the left-bid auction of undergraduate work is just $10. 
As readers might remember, I earned my MFA at UConn and also taught a seminar in the MFA program this year, so naturally I'm a big supporter of this annual event. Highly competitive, UConn's program accepts just five students per year, awarding each a teaching stipend, tuition waiver, and cavernous studio space on the sprawling  campus for the old Mansfield Training School (in 1860 originally called the Connecticut School for Imbeciles).

This year, first-year student Micah Cash is organizing the auction. Here's a picture of work in progress in a small corner of his studio, a space that is nearly three times the size that you see here (!) with big picture windows overlooking the haunting rural campus.

I donated a 2008-11 painting on canvasboard, which I started in my Habitat for Artists shack in Beacon in 2008, but ultimately didn't finish until several years later in New York. If you are in Connecticut, go to the auction, buy something, and help the enterprising Class of 2013 put on their exhibition, scheduled to take place at Sideshow in Williamsburg in May.

 Sharon Butler, Untitled, 2008-11, oil on canvasboard, 11 x 14 inches. 

Related posts:
Fundraising news: Auctions with benefits


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Brece Honeycutt's book report

Working on a book collaboration with poet Dara Mandle for Norte Maar Projects, Brece Honeycutt is on the lookout for book shows, projects and sightings. The following is her report from a recent ramble around New York.

First stop: "The Book Lovers, A Project about Artist Novels" at the Elizabeth Foundation Project Space (sadly, exhibition ended 3/9/13).

"The Book Lovers" installation at EFA.

March 21, 2013

VIDEO: Molly Zuckerman-Hartung discusses her deconstructed paintings

In the short video (below) from the Walker Art Center Video Channel, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung discusses her relationship to painting in the exhibition Painter Painter.  “I had to unlearn everything I was doing,” she says about her process.

March 20, 2013

Painting? Painting?

At the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, curators Eric Crosby and Bartholomew Ryan have organized "Painter Painter," an exhibition comprising work by fifteen artists, some of whom are working with painting materials in ways that are often labeled "painting" but may be more firmly rooted in  Minimalism and Process Art than with the formidable history of painting and abstraction. Considering the work presented in this show as well as the work selected for the deCordova Museum's "Paint Things," perhaps we aren't experiencing an expansion of painting as the curators have proposed, but rather a return to handmade sculptural objects...that sometimes have paint on them or are hung on the wall.

March 19, 2013

Paul D'Agostino: Fear and Loathing in Purgatory

Like an eccentric Brooklyn character in a Paul Auster novel, Paul D’Agostino – writer, curator, Italian literature scholar, and resolute insomniac – thinks in the cadences of Dante. In his exhibition “Twilit Ensembles” at Pocket Utopia, he combines jangled fictional cartoon narratives inspired by paint splatters on the studio floor with spare, elegant wall-mounted sculptures enthroning his characters (for example, The Legendary Fish Monster) and small oil paintings that encapsulate the lugubrious, insouciant mood conjured by D'Agostino's inventive new work.

Jared Sprecher: The liar's paradox

Fearless painter Jered Sprecher counts quilts, children’s drawings, signage and  gemstones among the diverse source material for his new work on view in "I Always Lie," his third eye-popping solo show at Jeff Balley. Working on numerous paintings at once, Sprecher says he "feels around in the dark," attempting to spark unexpected dialogue and casual conversation between them. Because he courts inconsistency, imperfection and all manner of shortcomings, his influential abstractions have always been hard to criticize, and this body of work, incorporating more mimetic imagery and three-dimensional illusion than previous work, continues the tradition.

Jered Sprecher, grouping of small paintings, installation view at Jeff Bailey.

Jered Sprecher,  Parachute, 2012, oil on linen, 32 x 20 inches

 Jered Sprecher, Window Lesson, 2012, oil on linen, 54 x 42 inches

Jered Sprecher, Chasing Arrows, 2012, oil on linen, 32 x 22 inches.
In the basement, don't miss "Titled /len/," a charming exhibition that Sprecher curated, exploring the notions of leaning, propping--anything but traditional hanging. Alisha Kerlin, Carrie Pollack, John O’Connor, Martin McMurray, Mike Andrews present work set  along the whitewashed cement ledges, all recently refurbished after a massive flood (thank you Super Storm Sandy). Don't bump your head as you go down the stairs.

 "Titled /len/," installation view.

"Jered Sprecher: I Always Lie," Jeff Bailey Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through March 23, 2013.

Image at top: Jered Sprecher, Memory Device, 2012, oil on canvas, 32 x 30 inches

Related posts:
The New Casualists
Fall preview for painters


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March 18, 2013

Bonnie Flood: W's painting teacher

In the last few months, the world learned that after George W. Bush left office more than four years ago, he took up painting. Images from a hacked email account revealed that Bush has been painting self-portraits in the bathroom, and later reports indicated he also has an interest in dog portraiture. Last week, Bonnie Flood, an artist in Cumming, GA, revealed that she spent a month in Boca Grande, Florida, teaching the former President how to paint. According to Flood, Bush has a passion for painting, shows real potential as an artist, and signs his work "43."

Bonnie Flood, Roses Between Thorns, 5 x 7 inches. Flood seems to specialize in landscape and still life, but also paints abstractly on occasion.

Most of the attention has been focused on whether or not Bush has talent, but I suspect that Two Coats readers might like to know more about Bonnie Flood, a painter who used to own two art galleries but now says she supports herself through teaching and painting. "Art has been a main thread throughout my life." she writes on her website. "It wove through years of clothing design, interior design and resulted in the development of oil painting. When I started painting, it became a deep passion..." In her workshops, students work from still lifes and photographs as they learn compositional strategies, canvas preparation, color mixing, and methods for applying paint with a palette knife.
The idea of Mixing colors and creating a painting was so fascinating to me. I love patterns of reflected light, subtle nuances of color and I am always looking for new ways to express my perceptions and feelings. I grew up in a small Amish town in Indiana. Sometimes I find myself drawn back to the barns, farm animals, and hay bales. Painting them takes me back home. The colors of the farmland in the Spring, the smell of fresh hay, all bring about the desire to paint them.
I have traveled throughout Europe painting a totally different scene, vineyards and small villages, but there is no place like home. I have studied in Taos, Santa Fe, Scottsdale, and Europe. I have been influenced by many great teachers, but I am still in awe of the great masters. As in design work, I enjoy all styles of painting; still life with brilliant colors, flowers with a palette knife, and mixed media. My paintings hang in many collectors’ homes as well as corporate offices. I have won many awards for my work, which I am very grateful for....My desire is to touch the hearts of those that see my work, to influence and encourage those that love to paint as much as myself.
Flood doesn't mention where she went to art school, so I suspect she doesn't have a BFA but probably studied with independent teachers instead. Here are a few images of her paintings, which may not be challenging intellectually, but they display a good grasp of color and some lively paint handling.

 Bonnie Flood, Colors, 24 x 36 inches.

 Bonnie Flood, Waterfront, 16 x 20 inches.

 Bonnie Flood, Roses and Oranges, 24 x 36 inches.

 Bonnie Flood, Green Apples, 24 x 36 inches.

Bonnie Flood, Floral Still Life 2, 16 x 20 inches.

Watch an interview with Bonnie Flood here.


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March 17, 2013

Last chance: Thomas Nozkowski at Pace

Reminder: Thomas Nozkowski's recent paintings are on view at Pace through March 23. If you haven't seen the show yet, go. The newest work features less of Nozkowski's signature wonkiness, conjuring Paul Klee's  playful attitude, personal symbolism and color sensibility.

 Thomas Nozkowski, Untitled (9-26) (the Katy Kill), 2012, oil on linen on panel, 30 x 40 inches.

"Thomas Nozkowski: Recent Work," Pace Gallery, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through March 23, 2013. Note this is a two-venue exhibition: the gallery at 508 West 25th Street features twenty-one oil paintings from between 2010 and 2012. The exhibition continues at 511 West 25th Street, with a presentation of Nozkowski’s small notebook drawings and a selection of oil paintings on paper.

Image at top: Thomas Nozkowski, Untitled (9-10), 2012, oil on linen on panel, 22 x 28 inches.

Related posts:
Thomas Nozkowski describes a good day in the studio
Thomas Nozkowski: Making pictures with "as much intelligence and depth as I can muster"
Proximity: Thomas Nozkowski and Joyce Robins
How Thomas Nozkowski scaled back the rules and rhetoric


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Brion Nuda Rosch: From vernacular to monumental and back

San Francisco artist Brion Nuda Rosch recycles detritus from daily life to create freestanding constructions and small collages that he considers "monuments for the everyday." Pages from old art books, a covered ceramic bust, cut forms, and ephemera scavenged at construction sites are disassembled and recombined in surprisingly elegant and amusing configurations. Scarecrow images paired with modernist sculptures turn the monumental into the vernacular, geometric chips of color pasted onto images of vast landscapes turn small scraps into monuments. The show came down last week, but the images are worth a look.

Brion Nuda Rosch, Always Wore a Tie Always Wore a Smile, 2012, found book page on found book page 11 ½ x 9 inches.

Brion Nuda Rosch, Two Masks One Head Make Face, 2012, acrylic, book page, paper, wood, unfired clay, frame, overall: 58 5/8 x 24 x 3 1/2 inches.

The other side of Two Masks One Head Make Face.

Brion Nuda Rosch, Figure on Stand on Stand, 2012, acrylic, book page, paper, wood, unfired clay, frame overall: 45 x 9 x 3 1/2 inches.

 The other side of Figure on Stand on Stand.

Brion Nuda Rosch, This Painting Has Been Painted Many Times Before, 2012, acrylic on canvas
approx. 13 x 9 inches.
Brion Nuda Rosch, Monolith of Covered Bust, 2011, reclaimed ceramic, acrylic, plaster.

Brion Nuda Rosch at DCKT, installation view.

Image at top: Brion Nuda Rosch, Sign Post Tomorrow, 2012, found material on found book page, 6 ½ x 4 inches.

"Brion Nuda Rosch," DCKT, Lower East Side, New York, NY. Through March 10, 2013.

Related posts:
Pick a painter


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March 12, 2013

Richard Jackson: A painter who has been asking "What if...?" since the 1970s

In images of his retrospective at the Orange County Museum, Los Angeles artist Richard Jackson (b. 1939) looks like a pretty frisky, indefatigable painter, inspired by icons of art history from Jacques-Louis David and Edgar Degas to Conceptual artists like Sol LeWitt and Bruce Nauman. Puns and one-liners abound in a sprawling exhibition comprising ambitious work from the past forty years.

Richard Jackson, Reconstruction of Untitled (Maze for Eugenia Butler Gallery, Los Angeles), 2013, oil and pencil on paper, 108 x 240 x 240 inches. Collection of Alison Terbell Nikitopoulos and Dimitris E. Nikitopoulos. Installation at Orange County Museum of Art. Photo: © Grant Mudford; Image courtesy the artist and OCMA.

In 1970 at the Eugenia Butler Gallery in LA, Jackson created a 20 x 20 foot enclosure out of stretched canvas that he painted by sliding other wet canvases through it. The painting installation transformed illusionistic space into architectural space, and turned viewing a painting into an all-encompassing, time-based experience. The show at OCMA includes a recreation of this seminal piece, which opened endless possibilities and changed the way Jackson thought about painting.

In the LA Times, Christopher Knight tries to recount all the ways Jackson uses paint. "Thick, brightly colored paint oozes like mortar from between thousands of canvases stacked like bricks into a kind of room-size temple, and it's smeared in rainbows that unfurl across white walls. It's shot from a pellet gun at a big drawing and out of the rear ends of carousel animals toward spinning canvases and sculptures on surrounding walls. Paint is pumped through neon tubing that spells out the show's title, clogging illumination, and into a bathtub copied from one where a hero of the French Revolution was ignominiously murdered. It has dripped from glass models of human heads, oozed from squashed metal models of a ballerina and spewed from a hose wielded by a sculpture of a reclining nude glimpsed, voyeur-like, through the crack in a barely opened window. It puddles on pedestals and the floor....This is the only museum exhibition I've seen that posts a sign at the entry warning visitors not to touch the art for the specific reason that the paint might not be dry."

Richard Jackson, Painting with Two Balls, 1997, Ford Pinto, metal, wood, canvas, acrylic paint, 20 x 36 x 20 feet. Photo: © Grant Mudford; Image courtesy the artist and OCMA. 

In Painting with Two Balls, Jackson outdoes Jasper Johns’1960 critique of abstract expressionism by rigging a Ford Pinto to power two large spinning balls that spew paint. Watch Jackson crank the Pinto in this video.

Richard Jackson, 5050 Stacked Paintings, 1980–2013, Wood, plywood, corrugated board, crayon, pencil, cardboard, glue, approx. 10 x 30 x 15 feet. Installation at Orange County Museum of Art. Photo: © Grant Mudford; Image courtesy the artist and OCMA.

Conceived in 1980, 5050 Stacked Paintings comprises thousands of stretched canvases painted and stacked facedown to create a big sculpture that references the Minimalist forms of Donald Judd. Both glue and image, the paint is reduced to one idea repeated over and over again--a critique of the stylistic conventions and branding embraced by many artists at the expense of experimentation.

Richard Jackson, 1000 Clocks, 1987-1992 (detail), steel, aluminum, electric parts, fluorescent lights, oil paint, plastic, 141 ¾ x 432 ¼ x 360 ¼ inches. Hauser &  Wirth Collection, Switzerland. Photo: © Grant Mudford; Image courtesy the artist and OCMA. 

Unlike all the other installations, this piece, made when Jackson turned fifty, has no paint. Just walls of ticking clocks, all set for the same time.

Richard Jackson, La Grande Jatte (after Georges Seurat), 1992-, oil and graphite on canvas, 11 x 16.5 feet. Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Photo: SITE Photography, Vancouver. Image courtesy Rennie Collection, Vancouver. 

Considered incomplete, this painting is made with a pellet gun. Jackson dips the pellets into paint and fires them at the canvas--creating an even more labor-intensive process than Seurat had devised.

Richard Jackson, La Grande Jatte (after Georges Seurat), 1992- (detail), oil and graphite on canvas, 11 x 16.5 feet. Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Photo: SITE Photography, Vancouver. Image courtesy Rennie Collection, Vancouver

Richard Jackson, The Blue Room, 2011, fiberglass, steel, wood, formica, urethane paint, acrylic, paint, canvas, wig, motor, rubber and control panel, 175 x 175 x 108 inches. Rubell Family Collection, Miami, Photo: © Grant Mudford; Image courtesy the artist and OCMA. Note: any reproduction must include "Rubell Family Collection, Miami" below the image. 

Remeber Picasso’s 1901 painting,  The Blue Room (The Tub)? Jackson does. In this 3-dimensional environment, he replaces Picasso’s girlfriend Blanche from the original painting with a sculpture of the Eve Babitz taken from that famous photograph of her playing chess with Marcel Duchamp.

Richard Jackson, Bad Dog, 2013, Fiber reinforced composite skin and steel, approx. 336 x 384 inches. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Photo: © Grant Mudford. Image courtesy the artist and OCMA.

Lolz. Dog peeing paint on the museum riffs on the pissing dogs Banksy (or a Banksyish artist)  painted around LA in 2011.

Richard Jackson, Ballerina, 2009, Bronze, wood, acrylic paint, fabric, Edition 2 of 3, 60 x 30 x 40 in
Rennie Collection, Vancouver, Photo: © Grant Mudford. Image courtesy the artist and OCMA.

Edgar Degas's ballerina meets CSI.

Richard Jackson, Untitled (Project for Orange County), 2013, Canvas, wood, acrylic paint. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: © Grant Mudford; Image courtesy the artist and OCMA. 

Jackson paints the front of the canvases and then uses them as "brushes" to create the mural.

Richard Jackson, Ain’t Painting a Pain, 2012, neon and acrylic paint, Approx. 72 x 120 inches. Courtesy of the artist. 

Riffing on Bruce Nauman's neon pieces, Jackson pumped paint into the neon tubing, clogging the lights.

Richard Jackson, The Laundry Room (Death of Marat), 2009, acrylic paint, metal, wood, linoleum, aqua resin, plastic, fabric, computer, washing machine, 3.9 x 18.7 x 18.7 feet. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: © Grant Mudford; Image courtesy the artist and OCMA

Uncharacteristically political, The Laudry Room is a 3-dimensional recreation of David’s 1793 painting. Jackson attempts to link the French Reign of Terror to the American war on terror. 

At KCET, Carolina Miranda fills in some personal details. "Given the rather extreme nature of his painting -- he'll use a Ford Pinto as a painting tool -- Richard Jackson, is a decidedly low-key guy, He is soft-spoken and clear-eyed, with a penchant for wry jokes. It is the week before the opening of his show at OCMA, only the second museum survey of his work ever held (the first was at the Menil Collection, in Houston, in 1988). But Jackson appears remarkably relaxed, cruising through the galleries in a set of paint-splattered overalls. For an artist who doesn't like to revisit past works, but instead likes to destroy them, the retrospective feels out of character. 'Awful,' he says with a grin. 'It's like going to the dentist.'"

"When you take part in an activity or are involved in a process, something can go wrong, and that's when it gets interesting," Jackson said after his 1988 retrospective at the Menil Collection in Houston. "It's not interesting if everything is going well."

Yes, I have to agree. The best stories are about things gone wrong.

"Richard Jackson: Ain’t Painting a Pain," curated by Dennis Szakacs. Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA. Through May5, 2013. Traveling to Museum Villa Stûck in Münich,
July 25–October 13, 2013; and S.M.A.K. Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium,
February 28–June 29 2014. A 350-page, full-color catalogue with essays by Dennis Szakacs, John C. Welchman, Michael Darling, Jeffrey Weiss, and Hans Ulrich Obristis available.

For readers in LA on March 21:
Third Thursday: Hard Work, Richard Jackson, and the Artistic Process
6–8 pm: Free with paid admission
Public tour of Richard Jackson's Deer Beer (1998) followed by panel discussion at 7 pm with
artist Richard Jackson, curator Paul Schimmel, catalog essayist John Welchman, and UCLA art historian George Baker. Discussion to encompass how post-studio practices have changed the way artists make work, the idea of self-reliance, and the way artists maintain control over their practice.


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March 11, 2013

At the Art Fairs: Christine Frerichs

This weekend at VOLTA, Gallery | KM from Santa Monica, CA, presented  Christine Frerich's diminutive, thickly painted abstractions. Frerich's work seemed out of place in an art fair atmosphere--more handmade and personal than the glitzy, over-produced projects and installations that dominate the fairs. But there they were. Working in an intimate scale that she compares to a handwritten letter, Frerichs explores three themes in her paintings: the relationship between two people, sight (and it's interruption), and the possibility that imagined landscape space can convey emotional transformation.
Christine Frerichs, You and me, Los Angeles, 2011, oil and ink on canvas, 11 by 8.5 inches. Images courtesy of Gallery KM in Santa Monica, CA.

Based in Los Angeles, Frerichs is scheduled to have a solo show at at Gallery | KM in June. She received her B.F.A. from the University of Arizona in 2002 and her M.F.A. from the University of California, Riverside in 2009. Frerichs has taught undergraduate painting and drawing courses at U.C. Irvine, U.C. Riverside and is currently Senior Lecturer at Otis College of Art and Design and Adjunct Faculty at East Los Angeles College. Her work was featured in New American Paintings in 2005. 
 Christine Frerichs, A letter to my adult self on the topic of love, 2009-2011, oil on canvas, 11 by 8.5 inches.

Christine Frerichs, Nude, Reclining, 2009, oil on canvas, 11 by 8.5 inches.

Christine Frerichs, Egress (for Fra Angelico), 2013, oil and ACP (Activated Carbon Paint) on canvas, 11 by 8.5 inches


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