10 March 2018

What's up for two more days (Armory week edition)

I’ve never regarded an Armory as must see (1912 excluded) and that continues but I enjoyed it and there is much to detain the visitor in the more crowded weekend hours.  I saw Art Basel Miami last December for the first time and though I was unfortunately a bit rushed for both, it took me exactly half the time to see all the booths at Armory (1:45 vs. 3:30).  Pier 94 has a slow security check queue which gives incentive to see all that in one shot - starting at Pier 92 and taking one’s time there is not a bad idea. The Insights series in the back of 92 has a lot of classics, including the Arte Povera offerings of London’s Repetto and Gary Nader, who keeps a gallery in Miami only for the moment.  Here Nader devotes his booth exclusively to major works by Matta, Lam, and late Picasso, which I predictably relished while looking intently for his more contemporary holdings of artists I would enjoy at his New York address.  I honestly don’t know why the city of Miami has not been more helpful to him in his quest to build a museum there but that is a major loss for the city, known otherwise for a paucity of permanent collections.  In the Insights section in the back of 94, Lyles & King presents four large scale paintings by Miami’s self-taught Farley Aguilar, born in Nicaragua, ‘with the paint still drying,’ depicting flag-waving Floridians and sewing circles in his uniquely haunting style.

I hope to blog more about current gallery shows but I should note that if you have any chance to see Luisa Rabbia's five paintings at Peter Blum's Little Italy address before April 7 ('Birth,' 'Death,' - one of my favorite paintings of recent years - and three lingams; 'Love,' part of the series, just showed in Reggio Emilia) do so, as no reproduction can do justice to them.

04 March 2018

What's up for one more crowded day (ADAA Art Show edition)

It was crowded today but my plans to go Friday were grounded by wind patterns.

Mary-Anne Martin always coughs up some luminous Leonora Carringtons and this time there's an ample selection of her 1940 Down Below sketches which employ, in at least two instances each: the frottage method and anthropomorphic figures with bird heads, suggesting her emotional connection to Max Ernst on the heels of their traumatic separation.  Later I'm not aware of her use of frottage and her vision becomes more individualistic.  Wearing masks and removing them is a recurring theme of the drawings.

Salon 94 has portraits and works on paper of Ibraham el-Salahi, on the more realist side of his production. The small scale works on paper, which portray Sudanese city life, are a highlight, but the oils here aren't as compelling to me as his more Surrealist work which I've never seen in person.  Two galleries have major Joseph Cornells and Philly's Locks Gallery tops in this category. Peter Blum presents a selection of Chris Marker's series from North Korea in 1957.  Altman Siegel has paintings by Liam Everett.

This blog has no scoop on when and where the Moving Pictures fair is this year nor, it seems, does any other online publication or their website.  My email is listed somewhere if you have a tip.

10 February 2018

What's up for another week

Susan Meiselas' photo of a photo of slain Sandinista guerrilla Arien Siu, Jinotepe, 1978

At Washington Square's 80WSE, "Dream of Solentiname" (til Feb 17) was put together without the cooperation of the Nicaraguan government, which had wrested its Ministry of Culture from the administration of Solentiname Island’s priest, the poet Ernesto Cardenal, in 1988 after eleven years in favor of Rosario Murillo, El Presidente Ortega’s wife.  This past year, Ortega’s corrupt judiciary handed down an $800,000 judgement against Cardenal, now 93.  Former Frieze curator Nicola Lees, now director of the newly expanded galleries, sees the show challenging the growing materialism of the art world, as the first room harkens back to the joint statements against Reagan’s Contra War signed by luminaries of the visual arts, which unintentionally highlight how Obama and company have pacified fashionable gringo dissidents while fixing elections in Honduras, Brazil, and Haiti.  Rooms feature architectural panels from Marcos Aguelo’s reconstruction of Solentiname's church, Susan Meiselas’ photography of the revolution, and the wildlife sculptures of Cardenal, whose belief in the ecology of the revolution has been betrayed by Nicaragua’s proposed canal, but the highlight of the show is a room of  liberation theology oil panels by various artists likening the battles of the Sandinista revolution to Christ’s passion.

In the basement of the Grey next door til March 31 is a collection of Baya gouaches from the Maight collections, the family that sponsored her when she moved from Algeria to the South of France. The Grey owns a few ceramics from Picasso’s Vallauris period, and the occasion of Baya befriending him while living there is a propitious excuse for showing them here. Despite the show's subtitle 'Woman of Algiers,' there is no known connection between Baya and Picasso's appropriations of the Delacroix painting. In the “What Andre Breton said” department (pdf): “I speak, not like so many others to deplore an end but to promote a beginning, and over this beginning Baya is queen. The beginning of an age of emancipation and concord, radically severed from what came before and one of whose principal levers is, for man, the systematic and always greater impregnation of nature. The primer of this age is in Charles Fourier, the brand new motor has just been supplied by Malcolm de Chazal. But the rocket heralding it, I propose we call it Baya.”

Miguel Abeu's two Chinatown galleries feature til March 11 "Collage(s) de France," Jean-Luc Godard's dioramas for a 2006 show at the Pompidieu that was truncated due to the auteur’s conflict with the institution. What remains is what he describes as an ‘archeology’ of the cinema, which arrives at that synthesis through the construction of dollhouses of Godard’s consciousness, rewarding repeated visits from Godard enthusiasts.  The dollhouses are at Abreu’s 88 Eldridge outpost along with projected screenings of some harder to find Godard projects, while other materials and screenings of features on a TV can be found at its Orchard St location. On the 5th floor of 88 Eldridge til March 18, David Lewis has the best Thornton Dial selection I've seen (pdf).   33 Orchard has more Indian tantra works, some signed by contemporary artists and other anonymous, from various collectors.

Leon Golub at the Met Breuer til May 27 is sanitized of any historical specificity: at one point a card describes a series of portraits of Brazilian military junta leader Ernesto Geisel “as aged and wizened."  In the second to last year of Geisel’s administration, he responded to a legislative loss by dismissing congress under the A1-5 laws and ensuring the elections would be won by the junta supported by the CIA, while continuing to open the economy to US investment, a history their description card omits while attributing Golub’s likeness of Geisel to “the social construction of authority and masculinity.”  In the Thomas Cole show, the Met curators relish Cole’s cartoon lampooning a Luddite leader and rather ridiculously speculate that the fires in The Course of Empire: Destruction may relate to Luddite fires, when there is direct source material tying the series to Byron’s anti-war poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, wherein he broke with other Romantics in its denunciation of the Napoleonic Wars, a poem which had already provided the inspiration for Turner’s The Field of Waterloo.

Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1836

Their are, though, a half dozen loans of major Turners from British museums here til May 13.  Joseph Cornell’s Homage to Juan Gris til April 15 is well worth seeing as it literally shows both sides of his works and some that are not shown at their host museums due to being considered unfinished or minor. The industry of presuming to read Cornell’s mind is in full throttle and there are some stated cultural associations I don’t agree with here.  Some works are from the Bergman collection at Art Institute of Chicago, to whom Cornell said ‘you have too many of my works’ at which time Bergman turned to third party sources.  The second best Cornell collection is in New Orleans due to a gift by the Cornell foundation.  Michelangelo (through Sunday Feb 12) has quite a lot of drawings, including many from the Ashmolean in Oxford, many that are once-in-a-lifetime views, though it helps to share his taste for the male anatomy. About the Met price hike, institutional elitism prevents museums from developing a process for deaccessioning works that seeks the input of scholars and the community.  The public would get a list of works that have no chance of ever being exhibited and can have their complaints about specific works mediated by a museum employee and an external advisor.  In the case of the Met, $20 million of their two billion dollar endowment could give them four years to devise such a system. Common sense.  Met President Weiss hails from American university administration, often a contest determining who can position themselves to dictate terms to others and is willing to raise the prices.  Then you have museums like Fisk and La Salle announcing without public input they are going to sell the crown jewels pending litigation. Obviously if a museum president deceptively cites statistics to the public about their voluntary contributions he should be immediately removed from his office and return to being a mediocre Medieval art professor. PAFA made Sundays free during its Norman Lewis retrospective and the place was full of black Philadelphians. The Met has sent the opposite signal to low income North Jersey residents and their more contemporary exhibitions suffer from this privileged insularity ‘in this room, Hockney presents us with two monumental portraits of the curator.’

While de Chirico “sought correction in the ancient world of his childhood in Greece,” the Greek Philadelphian Thomas Chimes went from Neoclassicism and religion to immersion into Artaud and Jarry in the mid-60s, and the resulting metal boxes and panel paintings can be seen in a small retrospective at Philly’s own Washington Square for another week.  Fellow Artaudian Baselitz has a selection at Werner for another fortnight.

28 January 2018



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26 January 2018

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19 January 2018



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18 January 2018

Audrey Chen and Phil Minton in Philly tomorrow night..


13 January 2018

Sunny Murray 1936-2017

Radha Viswanathan 1934-2018