Raymond Pettibon: Long may he buzz

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / It would be easy to cast the tireless, unconstrained Raymond Pettibon as the louche trickster demigod of wise-ass artist-snipers. But it would be lazy, even grudging and condescending, to leave it there. As his abundant – in one dose, perhaps overwhelming, albeit thematically arranged – exhibition “A Pen of All … read more… “Raymond Pettibon: Long may he buzz”

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A better bonfire at the Whitney: Painting from the 1980s

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / “Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s,” the Whitney’s trenchant exhibition of American work, immediately recalls the Reagan era, when bluffness trumped irony and a turbocharged version of squareness – razor-sharp creases and collar bars, coke-fueled hostile takeovers, money in the service of comfort and status, strategic peremptoriness – shoved aside … read more… “A better bonfire at the Whitney: Painting from the 1980s”

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Virtuosity: David Humphrey at Fredericks & Freiser

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / David Humphrey’s visual and intellectual virtuosity – augmented by the smooth surface finality of meticulously applied acrylic paint – is such that he seems to accomplish everything he wants in a given painting. Each one in his current exhibition “I’m Glad We Had This Conversation,” at Fredericks & Freiser, stands … read more… “Virtuosity: David Humphrey at Fredericks & Freiser”

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Art and Film: Elizabeth Murray and the splendor of the ordinary

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Elizabeth Murray, who died too young at 66 in 2007, stretched and contorted household scenes and objects into kinetic abstract festivals on baroquely shaped canvases that defied and escaped the presumed domestic tyranny of wifely and motherly duty. That may be what a Guerrilla Girl – fittingly interviewed in her … read more… “Art and Film: Elizabeth Murray and the splendor of the ordinary”

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Art and Film: Pablo Neruda and the triumph of art

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / With Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, the principled advancement of civilization as the goal of politics seemed to give way to the venal aggrandizement of the clique. It’s a grim setback, but the story of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda, as told in his … read more… “Art and Film: Pablo Neruda and the triumph of art”

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Art and Film: Damien Chazelle comes of age in La La Land

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Whiplash, Damien Chazelle’s remarkably assured and incendiary second feature from 2014, made the case that artistic accomplishment was predominantly a cloistered process of Darwinian nastiness, redeemed only in an evanescent performance that the artist must keep repeating to make good on his dark investment. The final scene – a drum solo … read more… “Art and Film: Damien Chazelle comes of age in La La Land”

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Godward and upward at SLAG

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Ben Godward is at home with bright colors and exotic shapes. The New York sculptor has for some time been producing boldly optic, resolutely asymmetrical pieces that render impressions of roiling urban excess into freewheeling mixed media, abundantly featuring foam, urethane resin, and Day-Glo hues. Much of his work’s appeal … read more… “Godward and upward at SLAG”

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Artists under duress: Max Beckmann

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Esteemed in Germany during the Weimar Republic but branded a “degenerate artist” by the anti-modern Adolf Hitler, the great expressionist painter Max Beckmann fled Nazi Germany to Amsterdam and continued to paint. Returning to Germany after the war may have struck him as craven or at least psychologically unsustainable, and … read more… “Artists under duress: Max Beckmann”

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Art and Film: Kelly Reichardt’s stoic women

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Kelly Reichardt’s unostentatiously virtuosic Certain Women, based on Maile Meloy’s short stories, depicts hardscrabble Montana in angular austerity, with the simple lines of mountains and fences and utilitarian buildings, in the subdued colors of impending snow, through iterations of circumstances that illuminate foibles and strengths. Natural spectacle may not be … read more… “Art and Film: Kelly Reichardt’s stoic women”

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Art and film: Bruce Conner, escape artist

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / Evident in the transfixing Bruce Conner retrospective “Bruce Conner: It’s All True” at MoMA is a probing eye that seeks out departure of one kind or another. Eclectic and countercultural, his rather Rauschenbergian arc reflects the artist’s energetic and sometimes unsubtle insistence on embracing the world’s stark, unsettling inconstancy – … read more… “Art and film: Bruce Conner, escape artist”

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