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Posted inArt

Poliakoff and the Russian Connection

The retrospective of Russian-born painter Serge Poliakoff, which just closed at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, was both a welcome surprise and something of an anachronism. One would be hard pressed to find clues in the current international art scene, or even in the secondary market, to explain the royal treatment lavished by a well-funded institution on an artist almost forgotten today.

Posted inArt

Simon Hantaï’s Discontent

In 1983, at the height of his career, Simon Hantaï (1922–2008), then sixty years old, decided to withdraw from the art scene and stop exhibiting his work, if not to stop painting altogether. He would not show again until 1998, a fifteen-year hiatus and self-imposed silence that echo with more force as time goes by. Why, we may wonder, would an artist at the top of his game, especially someone of Hantaï’s stature, do such a thing?

Posted inArt

Beware the Tragic Sublime

My first exposure to Eugène Leroy’s (1910–2000) work goes back to 1973: a small group in just as small a storefront in an eighteenth-century Flemish baroque-style building close to the historical center of Lille, a city on the French/Belgian border. I only went to see the show — mostly Flemish regional artists all of the same generation — at the insistence of some of my beaux-arts student friends. We stood in silence in front of a medium size painting by Leroy, trying to make sense of the profligacy of paint in front of us when we could barely afford the few tubes of oil paint we needed for our studies.