Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Mothers of Invention: Louise Nevelson

The great one

"We learned the artist is a woman, in time to check our enthusiasm. Had it been otherwise, we might have hailed these sculptural expressions as by surely a great figure among moderns. See them by all means--painted plaster figures and continuous-line drawings that take much knowledge from Picasso and from Mayan and Indian expressions. I suspect that artist is clowning--but what excellent equipment artistically."
--Cue, October 4, 1941

Louise Nevelson: Black and White took place at Pace Gallery on 24th Street recently. The lights were dim in the main gallery, whose walls were painted dark gray. This is how Nevelson had envisioned and presented an early show of her work. The eyes needed time to acclimate, and the camera did its best to capture what it saw as I photographed around the visitors.

Entering main gallery: Sculptures from the Fifties, Sixties, and Seventies
The sculpture at left is shown frontally in the image below

Untitled, late 1970s. wood painted black, 9'11" x 11'10" x 1'11"

Panning around the gallery
Foreground: Colonne II, 1959, wood painted black, 9 feet by 20 inches by 20 inches
Against the back wall: Untitled, late 1970s, wood painted black,  8'7" x 8' 4" x 1'6"
High on wall: Black Moon, 1961, black painted wood, 40 x 40 x 3.5 inches

This work was against the third wall in the gallery: Untitled (Sky Cathedral), 1964, wood painted black, 8'4" x 11' x 1'7"
There's a splendid image of this work on the gallery's website (scroll to the eighth of 15 images)

Detail below

Another gallery  held these dramatic white sculptures, set against the same dark gray walls
Dawn's Presence-Three, 1975, wood painted white, 123 x 127 x 99 inches

Foreground: Detail of Dawn's Presence-Three; back wall: Floating Cloud V, 1977, painted wood, 30 x 28 x 10 inches

Panoramic view looking toward the frontmost gallery with viewers for scale and  contrast

In the front gallery two walls contained a museum-like timeline  from Nevelson's birth in Kiev in 1899 through her childhood in Maine, to her long career in New York City, and then her death here in 1988, just shy of the century mark

As the list of her achievements grew, photos depicted an ever-more-dramatic Nevelson swathed in layers of sumptuous fabrics, furs, head scarfs--with her signature eyelashes

Despite the drama, there was the ever-present thumb on her early effort, as noted in the text below (from which I took the words that open this post). Still she persisted, and by 1962 she represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. Though noted for her monochromatic Constructivist assemblages in wood, during her long career Nevelson worked in a range of mediums: bronze, clay, even plexi.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Five Shows in Chelsea (Four Are Still Up)

Thomas Nozkowski
Pace Gallery, 16 x 20, January 19-February 17

Exhibitions in New York City are never long enough. I caught Thomas Nozkowski's show on the penultimate day of its run, even though I thought for sure it had weeks more to go. The other exhibitions I'm showing you here are still up.

Installation view of Thomas Nozkowski at Pace, from the front looking toward the back All the works are untitled, oil on panel, 16 x 20 inches

Below: The first painting you see in the photo above

View from the back looking toward the front

Above: This painting is on the middle-ground wall of the photo above
Below: This, on the foreground wall left

While all the same size--the 16 x 20 of the show's title--the paintings span four decades, from the Seventies to the early 2000s.  Here's what the press materials says about the size: "By focusing himself on a small canvas, he deliberately constrained the possibility of the gesture and drew himself closer to the painting's surface."

Sorry, I don't have dates for these, but I love the mix of biomorphic and geometric

. . . .

Peter Plagens

Nancy Hoffman Gallery, through March 10

Installation view

Plagens's exhibition took place in three gallery rooms. This view is of  the second room looking into the third. I like these paintings, with their mysterious, six-color shapes--which sometimes read as dimensional forms--afloat on a chromatic space that reads both flat and of indeterminiate depth. That's a lot of visual ambiguity, a pleasurable way to lose yourself in figuring out what's what.

Untitled (to J,W,R, Dunne), 2017, mixed media on canvas, 84 x 78 inches

Quinella, 2017, mixed media on canvas, 72 x 66 inches

An Ear for Everyday Speech, 2017, mixed media on canvas, 84 x 78 inches
This painting was in the first gallery, which I couldn't shoot because the gallery was full of visitors coming and going (good for the show, not great for photographing)

Below:  a detail of the expressionist markings under the flat turquoise field

. . . . .

Joanne Freeman

My Generation, Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, through March 24

Installation view

Freeman's paintings are a tantalizing combination of geometry and the suggestion of biomorphic form. The  lines are crisp, but those rounded edges are luscious. Up close her surfaces are built up of color that's richer than a wash but not opaque. The painting on the far wall above, for instance, features a slightly lavender ground rich with brushstrokes. These dualities are endlessly engaging. I also like their very human scale.

Space 17 Summer 4, 2017, oil on linen, 40 x 36 inches

Installation view opposite wall
My Generation refers to Freeman's formative years, the culture of the Sixties and Seventies. There is something of the graphics quality of that era, as well as a nod to Matissean shapes, but these are very much contemporary paintings that engage with a figure-ground relationship. 

Below: Memory Train, 2018, oil on linen

. . . . .

Carrie Moyer

Pagan's Rapture, DC Moore Gallery, through March 22

Installation view (from the gallery website)

These are feel-good paintings, offering visual sustenance with color, materiality (yes, glitter), and the suggestion of life overflowing. A balm for bad times. This is a major moment for Moyer, what with this solo,  a concurrent show at Mary Boone (through April 22), her participation in the recent Whitney Biennial, and a ton of red dots. 

Spider Swag, 2018, acrylic and glitter on canvas, 84 x 72 inches

Arch, 2017, acrylic and glitter on canvas, 96 x 78 inches
Detail below

Martha Graham's Candy Stripers, 2017, acrylic and glitter on canvas, 96 x 78 inches

View into the side gallery
Brainiac, 2017, acrylic and glitter on canvas, 72 x 60 inches
Detail below

. . . . .

Brett Baker

New Paintings, Elizabeth Harris Gallery, through March 24

Installation view

The painting on the far wall, also shown below, is the largest I've seen of Baker's work.  He constructs each painting with thin strips of color, the width of a narrow brush, which he paints over and over with a final palette of blue and a range of secondary hues. It may take a year or more to complete even the small paintings. The result is an intensely physical surface with a deep visual reward. 

Aquarium, 2017-2018, oil on canvas,  42 x 94 inches
Night Aquarium 1, 2016-2018, oil on canvas, 10 x 20 inches

Night Aquarium II, 2016-2018, oil on canvas, 16 x 24 inches

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Little Shameless Promotion: Art Wynwood

I wish I could tell you that I'll be in Miami next week. I won't but my work will be at Art Wynwood, February 15-19, thanks to the New York City-based Analog Projects. And I'll be in good company with Jeffrey Cortland Jones, Lori Katz, and Matthew Langley. If you're in Miami, stop in and say high to Matt, who will be in the booth.

Look for a grid of my Silk Road paintings. Here, Silk Road 385, 2017, encaustic on panel, 12 x 12 inches

Art Wynwood: Under the tent, right by the MacArthur Causeway across from Miami Beach

You'll find us right by the entrance
A limited number of free passes are available. Let me know if you need and I'll get them to you electronically

Below: Different fair, but great installation of Langley's work

More info
. About Art Wynwood