Posted inArt

Abstract Expressionism’s Missing Link

Angels, Demons, and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Dubuffet, which was organized by Klaus Ottmann and Dorothy Kosinki for The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. (February 9–May 23, 2013) and is currently at the Parrish Art Museum, Watermill, New York (July 21–October 27, 2013), is — for many reasons — both long overdue and a game changer. For one thing, it brings Alfonso Ossorio back into view.

Posted inArt

Some Thoughts on Clement Greenberg and His Legacy

In his introductory essay to Vitamin P, a survey of contemporary painting first published by Phaidon in 2002, the poet and critic Barry Schwabsky takes pains to point out the variety of stylistic positions available to a contemporary painter. In doing so, Schwabsky suggests that there is no single identifying characteristic that would disqualify a contemporary painting from critical consideration today. This state of openness was not always the case. In my opinion, however, the receptivity that Schwabsky claims for painting is not actually an accurate characterization of the current situation, where success is generally judged by an artist’s standing in the marketplace.

Posted inArt

Ken Price’s Time

I was very happy to see the exhibition, but I was not surprised that Ken Price (1935–2012) had to wait until he was safe in heaven dead to have his first museum show in New York, Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Posted inArt

Katherine Bradford and the Bigger Picture

I left Katherine Bradford’s first museum show, August, at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine (June 29 – September 1, 2013) wishing for an in-depth survey. As it is, there are eight paintings ranging from 10 x 10 inches to 68 x 80 inches — a sumptuous sampling — exhibited in one gallery. While the curator, Joachim Homann, and the museum are to be applauded for making this show happen, they should also be chided for appearing to hedge their bets. Bradford deserves more, much more. A second room and eight more works would have been a good start.

Posted inArt

The Inimitable and Influential Art of Catherine Murphy

I have been following Catherine Murphy since 1980, when I first saw her work at Xavier Fourcade. My interests are purely selfish: she is uncompromising in ways that I admire, which is to say she is not dogmatic. Always in hot pursuit of what she sees — subjects so commonplace and underfoot that other painters working in a parallel vein would not think of looking at twice — her subjects have become more memorable to me as the years pass. Murphy transforms the bedrock bleakness of our daily life into something unforgettable.

Posted inArt

Studio Visit: Richard Walker in Glasgow, Scotland

GLASGOW — My first encounter with the Scottish artist Richard Walker was when I went to his exhibition House Paintings at the Alexandre Gallery (November 29, 2012 – January 5, 2013). Measuring around 15 x 20 inches, and done on panels, Walker’s paintings were observations of a darkened room at night. They were made while the artist had a residency at The Haining, a large 18th-century house in Scotland.

Posted inArt

Patrick Strzelec’s Sculptures Are in the Middle of an Improbable Thought

In drawing, a line need not become a contour or an image. In sculpture, this resistance to becoming is harder to pull off. For all their insistence on pure abstraction, Donald Judd makes boxes and Richard Serra makes steel fortresses. The problem is that this kind of sculpture smacks of signature shapes and branding, an efficient form of production.

It is a problem that Patrick Strzelec, who is having his first show at Gary Snyder Gallery (June 20–July 26, 2013), which is his first in New York in more than a decade, both addresses and exposes by having no two sculptures look alike.

Posted inArt

Who Is Geneviève Asse?

PARIS — At ninety, the painter Geneviève Asse is one of France’s national treasures, though France has yet to fully celebrate that fact, as it has with Pierre Soulages, who is four years her elder. A postage stamp with her profile in front of one of her abstract paintings has been issued (Soulages also has had a stamp issued), but I don’t know if there are any plans to build a museum in her honor. If the Soulages Museum in Rodez (the town where he was born), to be completed in December 2013 and open to the public in May 2014, is being built with public money, shouldn’t France’s next project be a museum for Asse?

Posted inArt

Waste Not, Want Not: Phillip Allen’s Recent Paintings

DUBLIN — Phillip Allen is an English abstract painter in his mid-forties, whose interest in the material possibilities of his medium — ranging from felt tip pens to oil paint and enamel — informs nearly everything else. He would finish a felt tip pen drawing in one sitting, and then, using the drawing as a starting point, labor over an oil painting on board for many months. Since at least 2003, when he had an exhibition of Recent Paintings at PS1, his signature gesture has been to bracket his canvases across the top and bottom edges with large gobs of paint. Formally, the bracketing is a way of framing the image, which Allen does with a line in his felt tip pen drawings. It also makes the painting’s surface protrude into the viewer’s physical space.

Posted inArt

Too Big for His Pond: The Irish Abstract Painter John Cronin

DUBLIN — John Cronin, an abstract painter in his late 40s, who has been exhibiting his work regularly in Ireland since the late 1980s, was – for this viewer – a wonderful revelation. Little known in America, it was clear from the moment that I walked into the high-ceilinged gallery space that Cronin was up to something. The most obvious is a preoccupation with the nature of paint’s materiality, and beyond that, with the status of painting at this late point in history. Instead of choosing the path of solutions and a signature style, he has elected the territory of investigation and discovery. Rejecting the commonplace answers of parody and citation, he focuses on the how and what of painting.