Art Review

The Immigrant Song

One Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
hrough September 7, 2015

One of the most startling impressions that one takes away from seeing the reunited Migration Series at the Museum of Modern Art is how current the paintings still feel current in a way that Céline still does, or Christopher Isherwood, or John Steinbeck -- documenters of a very specific moment of transition, faithfully recording sensitive observations. Jacob Lawrence’s cycle of sixty paintings on the subject of the Northern Migration is both a landmark work for an artist who was just twenty-three years old when he began it, and it is a work of historical importance in American art of the 20th Century.  Read more »

RIP, Chris Burden

Performance artist Chris Burden died today, age 69. I think this video would be an appropriate obituary. The song "Joe The Lion" from David Bowie's Heroes album was about Chris Burden's early period performance work. He was known as one of the foremost performance artists of the '70s, often putting his body, literally, into his art.

Peel Slowly and See

Bill Jensen: Transgressions
Through May 9, 2015

There was a time in modern music when the role of the artist changed from being the custodian of cultural knowledge to something more of an autobiographer. We might choose that moment in the late sixties when Lou Reed abandoned the writing of pop ditties about boys and girls, to focus on his own, more personal interests, like boys and girls and heroin. Read more »

Clean, It Just Looks Dirty

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks
Brooklyn Museum, NY
April 23-August 23, 2015

"Words are all we have."
 - Samuel Beckett

"I cross out words so you will see them more." 
- Jean-Michel Basquiat

There are some painters who are born great (Picasso), some who attained greatness due to circumstances of their time (David), and some whose work grows in importance posthumously (Kahlo); Jean-Michel Basquiat is a rare case of a painter who managed to fall into all three of these categories. Read more »

Kicking Against the Pricks

Peter Williams: Common & Proper Nouns: The N-Word
Novella Gallery, NYC
Through April 5, 2015

And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." - Acts 26:14 (King James Version) Read more »

Tick, Tick, Bang

The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World
Museum of Modern Art, NYC
December 14, 2014-April 5, 2015

Between 1942 and 1963 Dorothy Canning Miller was the curator of the influential Americans shows at the Museum of Modern Art. Beginning with Americans 1942: 18 Artists From 9 States and ending with Americans 1963, Miller presented the work of artists such as Hyman Bloom, Robert Motherwell, Jay DeFeo, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Lee Bontecou, and Frank Stella -- artists who would ultimately be the defining contributors to the mid-century American art historical canon. After a gap of nearly a half-century, MoMA once again is reviving this tradition with Laura Hoptman’s The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemoporal World, an exhibition of seventeen painters representing current trends in painting. Read more »

Tangled Up in Blue

A Tangled Web: D. Dominick Lombardi, Curator
Causey Contemporary
Through January 29, 2015

The group show is one of those things that can either be done well or becomes an exhibition overwhelmed by variety -- or worse, a clutter of objects that don’t relate to each other without the benefit of lengthy wall texts. D. Dominick Lombardi, a veteran New York curator, has managed to pull together a visually interesting exhibition at Causey Contemporary, which was based on the simple premise of pairing the artists represented by the gallery with an outside artist of Lombardi’s choosing whom he felt complemented the work. What results is a show that is short on theory and long on visuality. He has turned the exhibit into a kind of dance, with one wondering (without looking at the cheat sheet) which artists are waltzing with each other. Read more »

Resonance and Memory

Resonance and Memory: The Essence of Landscape 
December 3 thru January 24, 2015

The exhibition at Elga Wimmer PCC, Resonance and Memory: the Essence of Landscapecurated by Robert Curcio, displays eight distinctive artists whose fresh perspective on landscape reinvigorates the genre by infusing it with issues that span time, real space, digital intervention, and altered observed reality. This diverse show includes paintings, sculpture, digital drawings, photography, and glass works by Kathleen Elliot, Sandra Gottlieb, J.J. L'Heureux, John Lyon Paul, Rebeca Calderón Pittman, Gerry Tuten, Gail Watkins, and Martin Weinstein.  Read more »

Little Q+A: Nicola Tyson + Bradley Rubenstein

Nicola Tyson was born in 1960 in London, England. She attended Chelsea School of Art, St. Martins School of Art, and Central/St. Martins School of Art in London. She currently lives and works in New York.

Primarily known as a painter, Tyson also works with photography, film, performance, and the written word. Tyson's photographs document the early days of the Blitz Kids and the beginnings of the New Romantic movement -- late Seventies, post-Punk London. Bowie Nights at Billy's Club was a weekly event in a small Soho venue, the brainchild of a young Steve Strange and Rusty Egan. The event quickly became the beating heart of a brand-new scene -- a refuge for disillusioned punks; suburban art school students; androgynous, subversive, creative kids; and (most importantly) Bowie fans, all competing for conspicuousness. Among them were the future stars of Eighties synth-pop: Boy George, Marilyn, Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, and a plethora of culture-defining individuals across fashion, film, and art. Bradley Rubenstein talks with Tyson about her paintings, her photography, and her recent forays into sculpture. Read more »

Assenting Voices: Agitprop Art in North Korea

Assenting Voices: Agitprop Art in North Korea
Andrew and Anya Shiva Gallery at John Jay College
November 12 through January 23, 2015

Curated by Dr. Thalia Vrachopoulos, Assenting Voices presents twelve oil paintings on canvas and thirteen posters by North Korean print-making collectives. Two "Social Realist" style posters were created as early as 1956 and 1960, but the majority of them were produced in the 1970s and early 1980s. Posters by seven artists, working mostly with the Chosun Labour Party Publisher and Pyongyang Total Print Factory, are included. The carefully rendered contemporary oil paintings, dated 2011 and 2012, present idealized images that portray scenes of young woman in a variety of life pursuits.  Read more »

Fantastic Voyage

Francesco Clemente: Inspired by India
The Rubin Museum of Art
Through February 2, 2015
 
Two Tents
Mary Boone Gallery
Through December 20, 2014

The original impulse in my life as an artist was to write and to break from writing into image.... Art is the last oral tradition alive in the West. - Francesco Clemente Read more »

An Interview with John Mendelsohn

I first came to know Kook Projects from curator Soojung Hyun, who asked me to participate in their inaugural show Kooky Cutters: Redefined Realities. What I find particularly intriguing about this gallery space, besides being new and not in your typical art district, is its discreetness. Founded and directed by Kate Kook and co-founded by its curator, WooJae Chung, Kook Projects stands as one of the more unorthodox spaces in New York City, as it has no street visibility. For their openings, this nicely converted ground floor apartment directs its visitors to enter through an iron-gated service entrance, down a set of stairs, and past the building’s recycling area to an alleyway that leads to a fenced-in courtyard and interior spaces.  Read more »

The Shape of Things to Come

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs
The Museum of Modern Art
Through February 8, 2015

In the early months of 1945, Matisse wrote to his daughter that he had gone as far as he could with painting in oil, intending instead to focus his efforts on a large-scale decorative project using the cut-out paper technique he had employed to make sketches and maquettes for his mural and theater projects in the early Thirties ("Red Dancer" [1937-38], and "Two Dancers" [1937–38] for Diaghilev's Rouge et Noir). "Painting seems to be finished for me for now… I'm for decoration -- there I give myself everything I can. I put into it all the efforts of my life." Although he had already been employing this technique for years as an adjunct to his paintings, it was not until the mid-Forties that he turned almost exclusively to cut paper as his primary medium, introducing a radically new operation that came to be called a cut-out. The Museum of Modern Art has devoted an entire exhibition, a mini-retrospective of sorts, to this final chapter in Matisse's work. Read more »

Bong Jung Kim Gets Right to the Point

Bong Jung Kim has a very deliberate and consistent way of working. His intention, which is navigated through bold combinations and contentious juxtapositions of symbols, mixes metaphors as he vies for a deeper cord in our psyches. He is primal with respect to color and technique, yet he tells his tale with references to the darker side of the collective contemporary social condition and our quick to throw away and ever-upgrading technology. Read more »

Poetic License in Public Spaces

Siah Armajani: The Tomb Series
Alexander Gray Associates
September 4 - October 18, 2014

Iranian-born Siah Armajani, inarguably one of the finest sculptors in America to have emerged out of minimal and conceptual art, the main aesthetic strategies of the late 1960s, creates deeply affective rigorous and ruminative work. It appears to be at once elementarily simple and tautly complex. Read more »

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