“I have been looking at this painting and receiving relief like a cool drink on a hot day.”
Even as Pollock was eliminating mythology in his work, younger artists born in the 1920s were finding ways to make it fresh.
For years, Coffey has produced modestly scaled self-portraits with not a brushstroke of flattery.
I liked Outside In because I found out what five artists whose works I have followed are doing these days.
While touring a few of the many small exhibition spaces scattered throughout the city, I was pleasantly reminded that painting requires neither heroic-sized canvases nor the prestige of whitewashed airplane hangars to succeed as significant art.
Susanna Coffey, who was born in New London, Connecticut, studied at Yale, teaches at the Art Institute of Chicago, and lives and works in New York, is best known for her self-portraits. These frontal heads set against backdrops of world locales and events are rigorous, unrelenting penetrations of the meeting-point of humanity and violence.
Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects is a long and narrow space, somewhere between a bowling alley and a railroad apartment, on the Lower East Side. It is within this rather confined space that Marshall Price, curator at the uptown National Academy of Art, installed eleven paintings by artists committed to working from observation. Chronologically, the artists span five decades (or generations), with Lois Dodd and Lennart Anderson, born respectively in 1927 and 1928, being the oldest. The youngest include Gideon Bok, Anna Hostvedt, Sangram Majumdar and Cindy Tower, with Bok and Tower born in the 1960s, and Hostevedt and Majumdar born in the 1970s. The other artists are Susanna Coffey, Rackstraw Downes, Stanley Lewis, Catherine Murphy, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold, who were born between 1938 and 1949. Together, these artists — a number of whom have been influential teachers — suggest that observational painting is a vigorous, various, and imaginative enterprise that continues to fly under the radar.