First there was a solo show by a painter’s painter, and then a slice of sour cherry pie from a food-based conceptual artist. That they were encountered on the same day was by accident and not by design, which is the way art happens much of the time.
This year’s New York incarnation of the NADA art fair suggested that the gathering of young emerging galleries often characterized as the minor leagues of Frieze and other “major league” art fairs has grown up quite a bit. Yet with maturity comes a tendency towards conservatism, and that was reflected in countless booths filled with small, affordable works and unremarkable displays on white walls.
One could say that paying attention to the minutiae of an artwork is often necessary to digesting and understanding it. Where would we be today if viewers overlooked the borders of Piet Mondrian’s paintings? Indeed, it is with a subtle eye that Judith Braun’s most recent exhibition at Joe Sheftel Gallery should be viewed.
I was standing with a female painter friend in the Metropolitan Museum recently, in front of work by Van Gogh, when she said, “There are no rules.” Then, after a beat, she added, “Or he was hallucinating all the time and painted exactly what he saw.” For women, rules define a set of social expectations that are meant to keep them under control. In the arts, purportedly so much more liberal than the rest of society, this problem is acutely magnified, since culture tells us who we are, both literally and imaginatively.