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DAVID DRISKELL Creative Spirit: Five Decades

A curator, painter, teacher, historian, and builder of private art collections (including those of Bill Cosby and Oprah Winfrey), David Driskell has spent a lifetime using the language of art to reflect African-American history.


Daina Higgins paints in a photo-realist style that is approaching virtuosic. New Paintings, her fourth solo show at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, includes nine new works in a variety of modest sizes, the oddest being as long and skinny as a plank.

LOIS DODD New Panel Paintings

Lois Dodd’s great gift as a painter is her ability to pose complex questions without seeming to try.


While the interstitial concern between the two-dimensional work of James Brooks and Dan Flavin’s fluorescent constructions is light and its perceptual characteristics, as well the two artists’ friendship and mutual respect, their procedures and chosen media could not be more divergent.

DAMIEN HIRST The Complete Spot Paintings 1986 – 2011

Wandering through the New York portion of Damien Hirst’s global extravaganza “Spot Paintings,” I found myself thinking of Dutch tulips and sub-prime mortgages.


 “Obsessive” and “compulsive” are two words that immediately and inevitably come to mind when one views Lori Ellison’s work. While apt, these words alone do not do her art justice.

GEORGES HUGNET The Love Life of the Spumifers

The talented Georges Hugnet (1906 – 1974) played many roles, including those of poet, editor, publisher, translator, rare book collector, and designer of fine book bindings (not to mention filmmaking and acting), ample evidence of which appears at the Ubu Gallery.

Dark Christmas

Dark Christmas, at Leo Koenig, gives us an alternative view of the holiday—something like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas meets Caligula.


Here is a chance to walk through an entire strand of Ellsworth Kelly’s long and productive career—not yet definitive, because (at 88) he is still adding to it.

MALCOLM MORLEY Another Way to Make an Image, Monotypes

Monotypes are all about touch. Malcolm Morley has one. Several, actually.

Five Works from the Collection of Albert Murray: ROMARE BEARDEN and NORMAN LEWIS

Five Works from the Collection of Albert Murray only leaves one wishing that a larger exhibition of Murray’s collection be mounted.

THE RONALD S. LAUDER COLLECTION: Selections from the 3rd Century BC to the 20th Century / Germany, Austria, and France

Masterpieces make for good celebrations, or so it would seem from The Ronald S. Lauder Collection: Selections from the 3rd Century BC to the 20th Century / Germany, Austria, and France, which honors the 10th anniversary of the Neue Galerie’s founding.

Anonymous Tantra Paintings

I’m confident that most people’s understanding of India’s medieval Tantric philosophy ends with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent exhibition of beautiful miniature paintings or with a fuzzy, titillated acknowledgment of the Kama Sutra.

New Work

Sangram Majumdar’s new works, currently on view at Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, demonstrate a deft evolution of the painter’s pictorial sensibility. Majumdar is a painter’s painter, and his recent explorations in form and color bear this out.


Gudmundur Thoroddsen’s first solo show in New York playfully interrogates the self and the nation’s patriarchs through a range of disciplines.

SOTO Paris and Beyond,
1950 – 1970

Above all, an interest in movement cuts across the mid-career abstractions of Venezuelan artist Jésus Soto (1923–2005). During the period of 1950s Paris captured in the show, Soto, one of the pioneers of kinetic art, produced alongside a cabal of artists including Jean Tinguely, Yves Klein, and Group Zero.

JESS Paintings

Jess: Paintings, Tibor de Nagy’s third solo exhibition of the artist’s work and the first to focus on his paintings, features 17 paintings and two works on paper.


Unlike the gestural abstractionists of his generation, George McNeil (1908-95) did not develop a signature format—yet only he could have made each painting in this show of work from the 1960s.


New work from a painter who’s been showing since the ’80s but may not be on your radar. He should.


The paintings in Lola Montes Schnabel’s first solo exhibition are fitting allegories for the infiltration of spectacle into every sphere of contemporary existence.

THOMAS WOODRUFF The Four Temperament Variations

Thomas Woodruff’s recent suite of paintings at P.P.O.W. does nothing short of dazzle.


Clippinger’s small assemblages of found slats and irregular scraps of wood are painted with geometric shapes that sometimes have ideas of their own.


Peter Gallo’s interests are literary as well as painterly, frequently if not always including words or phrases in his eccentric but enjoyable art.


Connected presents works by five contemporary artists inspired by the gallery’s concurrent exhibition, Anonymous Tantra Paintings. Through the artists included here, Tantra’s medieval Indian tradition touches Modernism’s history.

KANDINSKY's “Painting with White Border”

I initially went to the Guggenheim Museum to see Cattelan’s spectacle All, however, I was drawn to the rooms off the main spiral, which focused on Kandinsky’s “Painting with White Border” (1913).

BARBARA SANDLER Straight On Till Morning

With the straightforward formal immediacy of photos from the early 1900s, Barbara Sandler’s handsome young males pose proudly in jacket and tie, in sailor suits, and as boxers, dukes up and at the ready.

December (Organized by Howie Chen)

When is a painting not a painting? When it’s finger traces in acrylic “dust” on a mirror (Tony Matelli, “Big Tits,” 2011)?


Almost any of Edwin Dickinson’s paintings could serve as a primer on the art; there is so much to be learned from his work about depicting people, landscape, light, and air, not to mention about the application of paint itself.


José Rivera was born in Chicago in 1955, grew up in Puerto Rico, and now lives in the Bronx. This, his first solo show, includes drawings, paintings, collages, assemblages, and sculpture—and it’s a knockout.

REMBRANDT’S WORLD: Dutch Drawings from the Clement C. Moore Collection

The people of Rembrandt’s world do everything New Yorkers do—skate through the streets, smirk at foreign eyes, toast to their own survival—just set against bucolic Dutch scenery.


If  Joseph Montgomery played accordion, Velveteen would embody his instrument’s bellowing out.

The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini

Sandro Botticelli’s “Portrait of a Lady at a Window” (c. 1470 – 75),included in The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini at the Metropolitan Museum,is a beautiful, philosophically complex painting.


Mexican-born, New York-based Bosco Sodi’s exhibition of recent canvases falls in between the categories of sculpture and painting. Each of the 12 paintings on view has a thick surface whose crust has, in many areas, broken away from other parts of the painting.

DOUG WADA Americana

Americana is the name of Doug Wada’s smart, smashing show of new paintings, which coolly depict spot-on artifacts/icons of postwar American life.

Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap, a group exhibition at Kent Fine Art, is rife with framed, cream and gray, rectangular works which anchor unruly neighboring pieces displaying buckled textures, blurred resolution, or smoky graphite diffusion.


Tarkovsky is the only artist explicitly invoked by Jensen in the exhibition, press release notwithstanding. The film he invokes, Andrei Rublev, is the story of a painter, so a specific equation is made here between Tarkovsky’s art and that of painting.


Shoshana Dentz pulls up to her studio building on a classic Dutch bicycle. She laughs, “That’s the last time I’m riding here this season!” It is windy and bitter cold. As she dismounts, I notice her wooden soled boots. It is clear that life with her husband, the gifted Dutch photographer, Frank Oudeman, has had its effect.


One is, upon arrival at Susanna Heller’s studio, warned to take care. There is wet paint on palettes and paintings, amid myriad drawings and studio paraphernalia.


The studio was in flux when I stopped by as preparations were being made to transport most of the new paintings to the Friedrich Petzel gallery for Pensato’s show, Batman Returns, which opened on January 12 and comes down on the 25th of February.

Making American Taste: Narrative Art for a New Democracy

The concept of “taste” looms uncomfortably over the practice of art criticism, a constant reminder of the fundamental difficulty in assessing aesthetic quality in objective terms.

Letter from BERLIN

An exhibition of work by Matti Braun, the Berlin-born, Cologne-based artist, is always something to which one looks forward. At BQ, Braun has made a show that speaks for itself more than just visually, extending any singular interpretation of the works with the simple device of an exhibition title.


In 1986, Joseph Marioni proposed the term “radical painting” to describe what he does. Radical painting is the root source that “exists as a concrete object in the real world [and] presents the least information and the most sensation of all painting.”


The exhibition feels in tune with the present moment where uncertainty and restraint fill the lives of most Americans.

Aggregate (Clare Gasson, Nick Hornby, Connor Linskey)

In the midst of a sea of blue-chip spaces in Chelsea, an oasis exists in a tiny storefront called Churner and Churner on Tenth Avenue.

Master Bill at MoMA

He became my friend and his insights into art meant more to me than those of any other artist or critic I knew at the time. So it now seems fitting to end the second and final volume of my memoir by writing about Bill and the astonishing show of 200 of his paintings at the Museum of Modern Art.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2012

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