In terms of freewheeling, soul-bearing angst, Abstract Expressionism might once seemed to have had the final word.
At this very moment, Vermeer may be spinning like a lathe in his grave. Or, just maybe, he’s executing a slow, pleasurable shimmy. In either case, the proximate cause would be Walk-In Pantry, an installation at Fridman Gallery by the artist Summer Wheat.
Gagosian has done it again: produced another museum-quality show, this one devoted to images of artists’ studios, as recorded in photographs (on view at its uptown gallery) and in paintings (installed at West 21st Street).
Pick up a survey of modern art, start scanning the 1930s, and you may come across a paragraph or two on the French painter Jean Hélion (1904–1987).
In our times, the sincerity and passion of Ab-Ex look pretty good again, especially when the formal strengths of the work add up to more than just stylistic adventuring. Elizabeth Harris Gallery’s current show is a case in point.
Bedraggled tutus? Rogue angel wings? Dried tofu twists? Though unidentifiable, the forms in David Fratkin’s five works at the Painting Center glide about with considerable self-possession.
HUDSON, N.Y. — Bruce Gagnier’s life-size figure sculptures have been popping up everywhere this past year: at Lori Bookstein Fine Art, the National Academy Museum, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY. And they’ve impressed each time.
The Museum of Modern Art’s current offerings include, just possibly, the world’s most brilliant student of a certain kind of art. The student would be the German postmodernist Sigmar Polke (1941–2010), and the work in question would be pieces dating from after approximately 1960, when art was turning away from a belief in the power of expression to examinations of that expression, and in fact of the entire role of art.
At the age of 27, painter Eleanor Ray has already made something of a critical splash. As of this writing, her second show of 40 paintings at the gallery has very nearly sold out.
One of the more intriguing and underappreciated of American art movements is the group called the Indian Space Painters. Seeking an innately American response to Cubism and Surrealism, artists such as Steve Wheeler, Peter Busa, and Robert Barrell began in the late 1930s to combine elements of Native American and pre-Columbian art in mosaic-like abstractions.
Consider two reds: a pure cadmium red medium — all fiery denseness — alongside a burnt sienna, equal in tone but utterly different in character: subdued, stoic, retiring. They jostle and shift, eager to separate. Plunk next to them a throng of blues, some deep and jewel-like, others brightly vacant. Leverage them with various greens; punctuate with small, dense patches of light and dark.
We know how a handful of painters — Pollock, de Kooning, and company — wrested modernism from the Old World to create a new kind of art, one unmediated, enveloping, and completely frank in its making. Less well-known is the story of how another group of painters, a half-generation later, pursued with equal ardor but far less acclaim a different goal: figuration inflected by abstraction.