Posted inArt

Henri Michaux’s Disintegrating Selves

The small selection of paintings and drawings currently at Edward Thorp Gallery serves as an introduction to Henri Michaux (1899 – 1984), one of the most original artists and writers of the 20th century. There are writers who made art — e.e. cummings, D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller come to mind — but none of them achieved what Michaux could accomplish in his modest-sized works in India ink, watercolor, oil and acrylic. And there are artists who wrote beautifully and brilliantly — Marsden Hartley and Ann Truitt — but none of them worked in as many distinct forms as Michaux, who wrote poetry, prose poems, travelogues, art criticism and unclassifiable essays.

Posted inArt

What Is It About Pageantry That We Love So Much? (On Roger Brown and Julian Schnabel)

Roger Brown (1941–1997) died a decade after his retrospective opened at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. (August 13, 1987–October 18, 1987), and traveled to three other museums, none of which were on the East Coast or in a densely populated urban center. More surprising, the show didn’t travel to Chicago, where Brown first gained attention and with which he is associated.

Posted inPoetry

On the Poems of John Godfrey

There are poets who wander around a city — from purposeful to aimlessly — and write about their experience. Charles Baudelaire trudged down the new broad avenues of Paris, alone among the window shoppers. While working at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Frank O’Hara liked to walk around midtown on his lunch hour. David Schubert and Paul Blackburn descended the concrete stairs and rode the subway to Coney Island and other stops along the way.

Posted inArt

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s “Revolution”

Eternal time posits the existence of paradise, while infinite time does not. Henri Cartier-Bresson found human warmth in his photographs, which he thought as a “decisive moment” that entered into the eternal, whereas Hiroshi Sugimoto sees beauty and inspiration in the coldness of the universe. He recognizes that the earth is our home, but that we are not at home here.

Posted inArt

“The Rose” Is Not A Rose

From 1955 to 1966, Jay DeFeo and her painter husband, Wally Hedrick, lived at 2322 Fillmore Street, San Francisco. They were at the center of a lively, politically anarchic milieu of artists and poets that included Bruce and Jean Conner, Joan and Bill Brown, Deborah Remington, Sonia Gechtoff and James Kelly, Jess, Robert Duncan, Philip Lamantia, Jack Spicer and others. Largely centered around small galleries and presses such as the Auerhahn Press, City Lights bookstore and press, the legendary Six Gallery (which Hedrick helped start), the East & West Gallery (run by Gechtoff’s mother), Batman Gallery, and Dilexi, this loosely allied group had no counterpart in New York. For various reasons, most of the figures associated with this group would neither be integrated into, nor adequately recognized by, the East Coast art establishment.

Posted inArt

In the Desert with Richard Artschwager

“In my beginning is my end.” The first line of T. S. Eliot’s poem “East Coker” — the second of his Four Quartets — came unexpectedly to mind when I returned for a last look at Richard Artschwager’s The Desert, a selection of pastels along with two paintings, at David Nolan Gallery. Artschwager’s mischievousness seems to have slipped into my thinking because I misremembered the line as: “In my end is my beginning.” Did I transpose the words because the artist is nearly ninety, and he began working on landscapes in color around 2007, when he was in his mid-eighties? The subject matter of many of the drawings is beginnings and endings as they are played out through the filters of the artist’s memory and imagination.

Posted inArt

Out of the Box: Al Loving’s Great Achievement

Al Loving (1935–2005) was born in Detroit and studied art at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the University of Michigan. Like many art students then and now, he kept up with what was going on in New York through art magazines. In 1968, when he moved to New York City, he was fully versed in the hard-edged abstraction and shaped canvases of Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland.

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Risky Business: Keltie Ferris’ Collisions of Improvisation and Decay

At some point while I was walking around the spacious exhibition space of Mitchell-Innes & Nash, it struck me that Keltie Ferris’s paintings no longer seemed to be making obvious allusions to Joan Mitchell, Frank Stella and Piet Mondrian. This may have been due to the order in which I looked at the paintings, but as I went from one to the next I could sense her increasing confidence.