Saturday, April 19, 2014

A show I'd love to see: Gravity's Edge at the Hirschorn

Installation view of Gravity’s Edge at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, 2014. Left to right: works by Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Kenneth Noland, Morris Louis, and Morris Louis. Photo: Cathy Carver
February 7 to June 15, 2014 (Lower Level)

Gravity’s Edge presents works made between 1959 and 1978 that signal a shift in approaches to color and abstraction. The installation, drawn from the Hirshhorn’s collection, traces a double trajectory: the exploration of the force of gravity as a determining factor in artistic production and the increasing attention paid to the edge as a compelling aspect of the structure and perception of an artwork.

Moving away from the perceived focus on the inner self associated with Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s, painters Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Kenneth Noland gave prominence to and inspired renewed emphasis on materials and processes. Frankenthaler pioneered modes of staining thinned paint directly onto unprimed canvas, which Louis and Noland adopted for their vivid veils and hard-edge stripes. In 1964, art critic Clement Greenberg labeled this development “post-painterly abstraction,” which codified Color Field painting, a style primarily associated with certain figures in New York and the Washington Color School.
This exhibition re-contextualizes the Modernist narrative of Color Field through placing pieces by Frankenthaler, Louis, and Noland together with the lyrical abstractions of Paul Jenkins and Sam Francis, and alongside contemporaneous sculptures by Lynda Benglis and Anne Truitt. These works reveal the extent to which artists of this period used both gravity and edge as a means of challenging the spatial and perceptual limits of art. Rather than reinforce an art historical divide between gestural and geometric abstraction, this installation demonstrates a heightened phenomenological sensibility across media.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

UES/LES: April Showers Bring May Flowers

Polke at MoMA

Gorgeous Polke paintings


One of the greats--these purple-black abstractions, and bitumen abstractions, were superb--but photography is not allowed.

Elsewhere at MoMA, Michalangelo Pistoletto. What I could not photograph at all was the excellent Jasper Johns show--understated and elegant gray paintings and prints based on Lucien Freud's wall of rags.

At the Whitney Biennial, Dan Walsh

Whitney Biennial, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, best painting by her I've seen: a NO painting

Sterling Ruby's micro worlds--more Ruby below

Louise Fishman

Amy Sillman

Sillman collaboration with Pam Lins

Jacqueline Humphries. Someone should do a show of silver paintings, with this, Rosie Keyser, Ryan Sullivan, other artists working with metallics...

Overview of fourth floor, middle room

Looking left, and

Weird painting on right wall summoning 1960s and 70s children's book drawings...

Laura Owens

Dona Nelson, a frontrunner

Ken Lum

Sarah Charlesworth

Phil Hansen

Phil Hansen

Shio Kusaka

Zoe Leonard

Camera obscura with an iPhone

David Diao

Diao reminding me of Polke's early works and early Baldessari, too

Amazing Rebecca Morris

Slightly reminiscent of Avery

Rebecca Morris


Elijah Burgher

Downtown, Laura Sharp Wilson at Valery McKenzie, reviewed by Thomas Micchelli here:

Pat Place at Jane Kim

Place's iPhone photos arranged by pattern narrative...harking back to earlier works of film stills, shown in the back room for context. The beauty in these is their demand to be observed, and the shock of light illuminating cloud. Rich results from an economy of means.

At Brian Morris, a stunning three-person show with Liz Markus, Judith Linhares and Ashley Garrett



Markus, Linhares

There is another show I want to talk about, but have no images of, and cannot find any: SUMMER WHEAT at POCKET UTOPIA (191 Henry St., LES). This show snapped its fingers in my face and shouted, WAKE THE HELL UP! There is no online evidence of it that I can find but it is easily one of the best and weirdest shows I have seen in a very long time. This is a painter who puts you inside a replicated world that hybridizes Bonnard, Vermeer and Matisse. Go see it.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

More Matisse: Simon Schama

Simon Schama: how Matisse and Picasso Turned Old Age Into Art

This morning on Facebook, Rising Tide and Pearls From the Ocean filmmaker Robert Adanto posted this link. The discussion of Matisse's aims and goals in particular compel.

One delicious tidbit:
"...his freedom, not just from easel painting, but from the containing edge, the frame, was what Matisse sought from the play of forms he had somehow brought into independent organic life, shapes that embodied the forms of nature, without either laboriously imitating or departing entirely from their visual and tactile presence. So the termini of designed space were joyously over-run; the distinction between figure and ground made ambiguous (especially when Matisse incorporated the discarded shapes from a cut-out into the same composition). He described the correspondence between the play of those shapes and whatever had provoked their visual genesis as a “rapport”; an affinity that he then went on to say was, in fact, love, and “without that love there can no longer be any dependable criteria of observation and therefore no longer any art.”

Another interesting point of discussion is how Matisse (and others, including Picasso himself) considered Picasso a thief of visual ideas. Influence is tricky; how edifying to read about it so long ago.

Matisse in action

The Circus (Jazz) 1943
More about the cutouts:Matisse website

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Haiku for spring

White chrysanthemum
Before that perfect flower
Scissors hesitate.

From Wikipedia:

Grave of Yosa Buson
Yosa Buson or Yosa no Buson (与謝 蕪村?, 1716 – January 17, 1784[1]) was a Japanese poet and painter of the Edo period. Along with Matsuo Bashō and Kobayashi Issa, Buson is considered among the greatest poets of the Edo Period. Buson was born in the village of Kema in Settsu Province (now Kema-chō, Miyakojima Ward in Osaka) city. His original family name was Taniguchi.
Around the age of 20, Buson moved to Edo (now Tokyo) and learned poetry under the tutelage of the haikai master Hayano Hajin. After Hajin died, Buson moved to Shimōsa Province (modern-day Ibaraki Prefecture). Following in the footsteps of his idol, Matsuo Bashō, Buson traveled through the wilds of northern Honshū that had been the inspiration for Bashō's famous travel diary, Oku no Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Interior). He published his notes from the trip in 1744, marking the first time he published under the name Buson.
After traveling through various parts of Japan, including Tango (the northern part of modern Kyoto Prefecture) and Sanuki (Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku), Buson settled down in the city of Kyoto at the age of 42. It is around this time that he began to write under the name of Yosa, which he took from his mother's birthplace (Yosa in the province of Tango).[2]
Buson married at the age of 45 and had one daughter, Kuno. From this point on, he remained in Kyoto, writing and teaching poetry at the Sumiya. In 1770, he assumed the haigō (俳号, haiku pen name) of Yahantei (夜半亭, Midnight Studio), which had been the pen name of his teacher Hajin.
Buson died at the age of 68 and was buried at Konpuku-ji in Kyoto.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Matisse - Enticing Luminosity

I am pleased to have my essay on Matisse published on Julie Heffernan and Virginia Wagner's blog, Painters on Painting. Read it here: Elisabeth Condon on Henri Matisse

Tomorrow,  I leave for two weeks at the Morris Graves Foundation. I return Sunday, March 16 for the opening reception of Enticing Luminosity at Lesley Heller Workspace, curated by Olive Ayhens (54 Orchard St.). The opening is 6-8 PM. See you there? Lesley Heller Workspace