Search View Archive

David Carrier

David Carrier taught philosophy in Pittsburgh and art history in Cleveland. He is writing a book about Maria Bussmann.

Guest Critic

The Contemporary Art Gallery

Nowadays ubiquitous, because galleries are so familiar, we perhaps do not sufficiently realize how distinctive they are.

In Conversation

JEFFREY DEITCH with David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro

Recently Jeffrey Deitch has been much in the news. He has just returned from L.A. where he held the directorship of MOCA for three years. Within this relatively short span of time, Deitch managed to transform radically the ways we approach museums, whether as insiders or outsiders, and, further even, he may have introduced a seismic change within the Art World proper.

In Conversation

PHILIPPE DE MONTEBELLO with David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro

Philippe de Montebello was appointed the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New Yorkin 1977 after having served at the same museum as chief curator under Thomas Hoving. When he retired in 2008 he was the longest-serving director in the institution’s history, and also the longest-serving director of any major art museum.

Thelma Golden with Joachim Pissarro and David Carrier

Thelma Golden, Director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, is a native New Yorker who grew up in Queens a precocious art lover. After graduating from Smith College with a BA in Art History and African-American Studies, in 1987 she became a curator at the Studio Museum.

In Conversation

SIR NORMAN ROSENTHAL with David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro

When recently we interviewed Philippe de Montebello, it happened that Sir Norman was in town, and so he participated in that discussion. He had much to say which was of great interest and so we thought it natural to continue the discussion with an interview devoted entirely to him.

In Conversation

MIKHAIL PIOTROVSKY with David Carrier & Joachim Pissarro

When one of us, Joachim Pissarro, was chief curator at the Kimbell Museum in the 1990s, he worked with Mikhael Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage. And so when it happened that the other one of us, David Carrier, was visiting Saint Petersburg in July, 2014, we wanted to interview Piotrovsky.

In Conversation

ALANNA HEISS with David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro, with the assistance of Gaby Collins-Fernandez

Alanna Heiss is hailed as a founder of what we know as the “alternative space movement,” and one of the most important centers for contemporary art in the country.

In Conversation

GLENN LOWRY with Joachim Pissarro, Gaby Collins-Fernandez, and David Carrier

When we began this ongoing sequence of interviews with museum directors, we knew that we wanted to talk with Glenn Lowry. To be a director of any museum is a complex, highly conflicted job. To be director of MoMA involves special pressures, which seem unique to the flagship American museum dedicated to collecting and reflecting on modern and contemporary art.

In Conversation

with David Carrier

“The beginning of the “Wall of Light” paintings came when I was sitting on a beach in Mexico in Zihuatanejo. I’d been visiting the ruins and I was in a moment of repose, so I made a little watercolor that was a memory portrait of my impression of what I’d been doing.”

In Conversation

MASSIMILIANO GIONI with David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro

Massimiliano Gioni, Director of Exhibitions at the New Museum was curator of the 55th International Art Exhibition, “La Biennale di Venezia” in 2013. When one of us saw that exhibition and then we both read the massive catalogue Il Palazzo Enciclopedico (Venice: Marsilio Editori, 2013) we could scarcely believe our eyes.

In Conversation

BARBARA DAWSON & SEAN RAINBIRD with David Carrier & Joachim Pissarro

On successive mornings in July, in sunny Dublin, I had the privilege of interviewing two museum directors. We talked about practical and conceptual issues—and we discussed the history of their institutions

In Conversation

CAROL SZYMANSKI with David Carrier

I first met Carol Szymanski and reviewed one of her shows in 1992. At the time she was constructing musical instruments that were a cross between sculpture and readymades. When then I reviewed her exhibitions in 2002 and, again, in 2012, her art had gone through some dramatic changes. Her day in banking had become more demanding; now based in London, she used that situation to create a fascinating, almost daily bulletin, she calls the cockshut dummy.

OKWUI ENWEZOR with David Carrier & Joachim Pissarro

When Joachim Pissarro and I began to organize our interviews with major museum directors—men or women who had decisively changed their institutions—from the very start we planned to talk with directors both in this country and internationally. Thus we interviewed not only Jeffrey Deitch, who had directed MOCA in LA; Philippe de Montebello of the Metropolitan; Alanna Heiss, and then Glenn Lowry, from MoMA; Massimiliano Gioni of the New Museum; and Thelma Golden of the Studio Museum in Harlem; but also Sir Norman Rosenthal from the Royal Academy, London; and Mikhail Piotrovsky at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. In this, the eighth of our interviews, we talk with Nigerian-born Okwui Enwezor who, after a distinguished early career as curator in the United States, organized exhibitions in Europe, where now he is director of the Haus der Kunst, Munich.

In Conversation

with David Carrier and Joachim Pissarro

Sylvain Bellenger, who was born in Normandy, took French degrees in philosophy and in art history. He then moved to the United States, where he held curatorial posts at the Cleveland Museum of Art and at the Art Institute of Chicago before being appointed in 2014 Director at Capodimonte in Naples.

In Conversation

DEBORAH NAJAR with Joachim Pissarro and David Carrier

Our prime interest in this interview has been to inquire on the origins of the JPNF and how this museum came to be established in this location. As most of our readers will have not (yet) visited Dubai—indeed, thus far only one of us has made the journey—we wanted to get some essential background information about Dubai’s art scene.

In Conversation

PIERRE ROSENBERG with Joachim Pisarro and David Carrier

Museums have to contend with increasing numbers of visitors, but how these expansions of the buildings and the collections are supported financially considerably varies from one country to another. Pierre Rosenberg speaks with the Rail about his tenure as director of the Louvre, from 1994 to 2001.

In Conversation

RICHARD BRETTELL with David Carrier

Richard Brettell studied art history at Yale University, becoming an authority on Impressionism. After a distinguished teaching career, he was appointed Searle Curator of European Painting at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino: Diverging Paths of Mannerism

Both born in 1494, Pontormo and Rosso Fiorentino were apprenticed to the High Renaissance master Andrea del Sarto, and yet their careers proceeded very differently.

The New Barnes Foundation Museum

Before MoMA was conceived, Albert Barnes (1872–1951) embarked upon an ambitious collecting program focused on Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Henri Matisse, and pre-Cubist Picasso.

JOSEF SUDEK The Legacy of a Deeper Vision

In his essay for the massive exhibition catalogue, the photographer Geoffrey James remarks that, though he has yet to travel to the city, when there, “I know I will not find Sudek’s Prague.” He is right.

Punk: Chaos to Couture

In the mid- and late 1970s, a small group of young men and women in London and New York created a remarkably individual style of dress and music. The punks believed that by D.I.Y. (do it yourself), they could provoke revolutionary change.

Street Art Brazil

True to the spirit and intentions of street art, this vast and indeed wild exhibition organized by the city administration of Frankfurt took place everywhere but within the clean confines of the museum itself. The city of Frankfurt became the canvas upon which works were executed by about a dozen Brazilian taggers, writers, and graffiti artists who represented a plethora of genres.

Jennifer Bornstein, Judith Bernstein, and Frances Stark

For West Wall, Dwan Main Gallery (1967), a now classic exhibition presented in 2008 at Peter Blum, Chelsea, William Anastasi photographed an empty gallery, silkscreened that image onto a slightly smaller canvas, and installed that work on the wall, making “the wall . . . a kind of ready-made mural,” thus changing “every show in that space thereafter.”

ROBERT GOBER The Heart is Not a Metaphor

What often gives the art of an old master emotional depth is the attachment of surprising symbolic meanings to seemingly banal artifacts.

Arthur Ou

When an old master painter shows someone reading, it’s natural to wonder: what is that document? So, for example, when we view the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Johannes Vermeer, “Woman in Blue Reading a Letter” (1663 − 1664) we may speculate: is this a love letter, a note about practical business, or perhaps something even less exciting?

SEAN SCULLY Different Places

Driving along narrow country roads eighteen kilometers north of Aix-en-Provence one comes to Château la Coste, an art center designed by Tadao Ando in 2011.

Late Medieval Panel Paintings II: Materials, Methods, Meanings

“Where the literature of foreign nations and of past cultures is accessible only across the barrier of language,” Meyer Schapiro wrote, “the works of painting, sculpture, and architecture may be enjoyed directly through the eyes and the humanity of their makers experienced in the expressiveness of forms.”

SALLY MANN Remembered Light: Cy Twombly in Lexington

The photographs in Sally Mann’s exhibition Remembered Light: Cy Twombly in Lexington are radically different. For a dozen years, towards the end of his life, Twombly worked half the year in Lexington, Virginia, the small town where, like Mann, he was born.

Robert Mangold: A Survey, 1965 – 2003

Mangold works in series, reworking a visual motif in varied colors and, sometimes, in paintings of various sizes until he has exhausted its potential.

Rashid Johnson: Untitled Anxious Red Drawings

This “incredibly anxious time,” Johnson says, “feels simultaneously unsettling, urgent, and radical.” And so he aims to respond in this art. Red is the color of anxiety.

Kon Trubkovich: The Antepenultimate End

What can pictures tell us about the great events of political history? Recent scholarship identified the complex relationship between Jacques-Louis David’s history paintings and the French Revolution. Was he truly a prophet?

Nora Turato: Govern Me Harder

Turato’s art is difficult to classify. In advertisements the words often supplement an image. You see a glamorous model and learn who designed their clothes. Or you view a car and read the manufacturer’s name. But what is Turato advertising?

Jamie Earnest: Good Mourning

Jamie Earnest’s seven medium-sized paintings each frame a window, an opening outward or a ladder leading upwards, linking her imagined space to an outside world.

Cubism and the Trompe l’Oeil Tradition

Cubism and the Trompe l'Oeil Tradition reveals important, far reaching parallels between trompe l’oeil paintings and Cubist collages. The subjects of these two kinds of pictures include a great variety of handicrafts, all of them small enough to be hand-held: sheets of wallpaper, notated music, chair caning, newspapers, mirrors, musical instruments, bits of picture frames, letters, small pictures within pictures, calling cards, drawing instruments, counterfeited money, advertising materials, and real or fake postage stamps.

Edvard Munch: Trembling Earth

As its title, Trembling Earth signals, the exhibition is focused on his images of nature. That title is taken from the drawing The Human Being and its Three Power Centers (1930), displayed in the exhibition. For Munch, humanity is interconnected with the universe in an energy flow that he called “earth waves,” or “trembling earth.”

Art Criticism That Made A Difference

There is one striking counter-example to the recent skeptical claims about the reach of art writing.

Isaac Aden: Vespers and Auroras

These are Color Field works, made quickly after painstaking preparation of the grounds, using spray paints. Describing them as Claudian Color Field paintings, Aden says that they allude to “those rare moments as the sun ignites a new day or gently fades into the evening.

In the Studio: Photographs
In the Studio: Paintings

Seeing an artist’s studio is exciting: what admirer of Caravaggio wouldn’t enjoy a glimpse of his workspace, as it is imaginatively reconstructed in Derek Jarman’s 1986 film? By going behind the scenes, we learn about the private life of a creative person, in a way that deepens our knowledge of their art.

FRANCIS BACON Late Paintings

This selection of paintings Francis Bacon made in the last fifteen years of his life (1977 – 1992) shows how, by employing a seemingly narrow range of subjects, he created an impressive variety of pictures.

LILIANE TOMASKO Into the Darkness

Normally, there’s a visually obvious distinction between figurative and abstract paintings. John Constable shows English landscapes, while Jackson Pollock’s large late-1940s abstractions depict nothing real.


Nasreen Mohamedi (1937 – 1990), born in what is now Pakistan, trained partly in London (1954 – 57) and Paris (1961 – 63), was a Muslim who traveled to Bahrain, Iran, and Turkey while she lived and worked in India.

The 58th Carnegie International: Is it morning for you yet?

In the preface of Mirror of the World. A New History of Art, Julian Bell says that he sees “art history as a frame within which world history, in all its breadth, is continually reflected back at us.” His description applies word for word to this International, which does a superlative job of reflecting our present political situation.

Body and Territory

But while for at least two generations, recent German art has been much displayed in our galleries and museums, many of the 31 artists or working groups of artists in Body and Territory are not familiar. This show aspires to change that situation.

Pearlstein/Warhol/Cantor: From Pittsburgh to New York

The pleasures and perils of studio visits at provincial art schools are not unfamiliar to us critics. When you see what talented students have learned by imitating faculty artists from a previous generation, you recognize that these young people must move to an art center and radically innovate if they are to find an entry point into the contemporary art world.

Naked at the Edge: Louis Eilshemius and Bob Thompson

Both parts of this exhibition of fifteen small paintings by Eilshemius and twenty-two by Thompson are very interesting. And both challenge our received ideas of modernism. But what’s puzzling is the conjunction of these two figures.

Sean Scully: The Passenger

Here, then, we get a good presentation of Scully’s entire development. I cannot imagine a better introduction to his art.

Beyond Caravaggio: A New Account of Neapolitan Painting

In his survey Neapolitan Baroque and Rococo Architecture, Anthony Blunt says that he counted more than two hundred churches, and a great deal of painting, sculpture, and decorative art was—and mostly still is—housed in these churches. But Naples’ artistic history has been marginalized.

Poussin et Dieu

For any art historian interested in Nicolas Poussin but not a devotee of the interpretative literature, visiting this exhibition, which marks the 305th year since the artist’s death in 1665, might be puzzling.

RICHARD ESTES Painting New York City

“Fascinated with buildings—with their spaces, the light that plays around them, their human uses…” the paintings of this artist, which are “works of great poetic beauty, carry an apparent objectivity.” I quote from Gary Schwartz’s account of the Dutch 17th-century painter Pieter Saenredam, which applies also word for word to Richard Estes’s pictures.


Half a lifetime ago, around 1980, I started doing art criticism under the spell of Joseph Masheck, who was then the editor of Artforum.


In his Lectures on Aesthetics, Hegel says that in art, the unfolding of truth and the revelations of world history are interlinked.

Zao Wou-Ki No Limits

When painters migrate between previously distant visual cultures, novel artistic syntheses may seem possible. No country has a longer or more illustrious tradition of visual accomplishment than China. But until the 20th century, art in China mostly developed without directly responding to European painting. Zao Wou-Ki was one of the first Chinese painters to attempt a synthesis of these very different traditions.

Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara

This pioneering exhibition of 200 works includes sculptures, fabrics, and some manuscripts, supplemented with detailed maps, useful captions, a massive catalogue, and a video.

Seeing Blindness
NICOLAS POUSSIN, “Blind Orion Searching for the Rising Sun”

A blind man might write an interesting treatise on visual aesthetics: he could explain that painters depict still-life objects, historical events, landscapes and whatever else may be seen. He could tell us that some 20th-century artists created paintings with no depicted subject.

Back to Eden: Contemporary Artists Wander the Garden

A decade ago, the art historian James Elkins published On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art, a book that offered a highly suggestive observation. The United States is a very religious country, he noted, but very little contemporary art found in the mainstream galleries or museums presents religion in a positive way.

New Era

In 1973 Martin Cooper made the first public cell phone call from the street in mid-town Manhattan. New Era, a continuous ten minute, fifty-six second loop video by Doug Aitken responds to that event and the present consequences of this new technology.

Peter Saul

Peter Saul (b. 1934) is a classic Pop artist who, with his current exhibition at the New Museum, is achieving the recognition he has long deserved.

Frank Stella: From the Studio

By now, Frank Stella’s illustrious, long career is very well documented. We know by heart the story of his early development of proto-minimalism; his transition to making elaborate decorative paintings; and his construction of metallic relief sculptures. And of course we have his fine, highly personal book, Working Space (1986), which relates that development to the prior history of early modernism. The story of Stella’s art is, arguably, the story of late twentieth-century American painting. What more can he possibly do at this point? And how might his style in old age add to our picture of this artistic period?


For his first solo show in New York, Ryan Sawyer offered a challenging variation on now well-entrenched deconstructive themes. He stripped all of the copper from the drywall of the front room of the James Fuentes Gallery, and sold it in Brooklyn as scrap metal.


As the catalogue exhibition essay by Francesco Solinas says, she was a famously “strong and combative” woman whose “unbridled ambition for success, wealth and higher social standing” made her famous and successful during her lifetime. But reaching that goal took heroic struggle and for a long time, Baroque painting and art by women was marginalized.


What defines modernist painting, and distinguishes it from old master European art, is the elimination of obvious details. This suppression permits expressive directness and pursuit of immediacy, which makes the figurative works of Matisse and Picasso, like the abstractions of Mondrian and Pollock, distinctively modernist.

Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective

Almost inevitably, we initially describe and understand what is marvelous but unfamiliar in terms of what we know. And so the quilts of Tompkins have been compared with the paintings of Josef Albers, Paul Klee, and Piet Mondrian; and her improvisations related to those of jazz musicians.

Banksy: A Visual Protest

Just as René Magritte’s Surrealist paintings often rely upon unexpected juxtapositions of banal objects or scenes, a daylight sky and a nighttime street for example, so Banksy shocks by creating irrational correspondences.


Now and then we can learn much about the nature of painting thanks to the coexistence at one time of antithetical personalities, whose opposition reveals the changing limits of this medium. Titian (1490 – 1576) and Michelangelo (1475 – 1564), like Ingres (1780 – 1867) and Delacroix (1798 – 1863), are such artist “frenemies.” So too are Sean Scully (b. 1945) and Christopher Wool (b.1955).

Andy Warhol & Ai Weiwei

Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei are closely tied to mass media. Both are celebrities who are famous beyond the narrow bounds of the art world, and both have enormous studios with small armies of assistants. They never really met, but Warhol visited Beijing and Ai lived in Manhattan from 1983 – 93, and so saw Warhol in passing. And so we learn from Eric Shiner’s interview published in the exhibition catalogue, when Ai came to New York, he read The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again). “To me,” he said, “Warhol always remained the most interesting figure in American art.


For more than three decades now, a great deal of contemporary German painting has been shown in New York. The leading artists have had gallery and museum exhibitions, and all of them have been much celebrated. And yet, as this exhibition shows, how exotic Georg Baselitz’s visual aesthetic remains.

Sue Coe: It Can Happen Here

The show’s title comes from Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here, in which a populist fascist becomes America’s president. But the tone is entirely Sue Coe’s own. Throughout the show, she presents industrial pollution, racist politicians, sexist violence, and the slaughter of animals for food.

Diversity Billboard Art Project

10 artists present the theme “Make Our Differences Our Strengths” using 14 billboards, with six more locations to go up on December 28. Seeing the exhibition requires a long afternoon of driving on suburban roads, with the aid of GPS.

Jeff Wall

As has often been noted, the ability to make photographs as large as easel paintings allows them to compete visually with paintings. But of course that practical consideration merely identifies the necessary condition for the success of this novel artistic genre; it doesn’t tell us how to interpret these works.


“In view of the some four thousand publications on Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio,” the author of a very recent book about him writes, “one might think that everything that could possibly be said about the artist has been said—but not by authors currently reaching for their pens or switching on their laptops.”

Acquired on eBay (and from other surrogate sources)

Acquired on eBay consists of dense hangings of drawings, paintings, sculpture, and also some books, mostly small, by relatively marginal recent artists. On the second floor of a building on the Lower East Side, the Algus Gallery is about as far from gentrification as you can get in the Manhattan art world.

Luca Giordano: The Triumph of the Neapolitan Painting

This exhibition, which includes nearly 90 works, is an ambitious revisionist exercise. Known by the infelicitous nickname “Luca fa presto,” Giordano did paint quickly, creating more than 5,000 frescoes and paintings. To be so productive he had, as you might expect, an army of assistants.

Elizabeth Murray & Jessi Reaves: Wild Life

Elizabeth Murray (1940–2007) had an astonishing capacity to develop. Looking just at the works in Wild Life, her two person show with the sculptor Jessi Reaves (b. 1986) curated by Rebecca Matalon, the distance between Night Empire (1967-68) and C Painting (1980-81) is amazing.

The Asia Society Triennial

The exhibitions We Do Not Dream Alone, the inaugural Asia Society Triennial, and Dreaming Together at the New-York Historical Society bring together works by over 40 artists selected from the collections of both institutions in a thoughtful and very welcome showcasing of the work of Asian and Asian-diasporic artists still underrepresented in mainstream Euro-American contexts. At this moment, when the movement of people and even artworks is difficult, the mere existence of this two-museum show is a major accomplishment.

Rembrandt's Orient

Presented in nine galleries on the second floor of the new wing of the Kunstmuseum Basel, this large display encompasses 120 works, including paintings and works on paper by Rembrandt. It is a visually effective presentation of Holland’s 17th-century colonialist cultural encounters. The “Orient” in this exhibition encompasses the territories on the Dutch trade routes, the Mediterranean sites controlled by the Ottoman Empire, as well as Persia, India, and the Far East.

Madame Cézanne

This exhibition of Paul Cézanne’s images of his most frequently portrayed model, his wife, Hortense Fiquet (1850 – 1922), includes 24 of the 29 known paintings of her, three watercolors, fourteen drawings, and three sketchbooks.

Visions of Order and Chaos: The Enlightened Eye

In his late, short book St. Mark’s Rest (1877), John Ruskin says that nations compose their autobiographies in three ways: in “the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art.”

The African Origin of Civilization

When you go up the stairs through the main entrance into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, if you turn to the right you immediately enter the Egyptian galleries. And if you head to the left and walk through the Greek galleries, you get to the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, where the Sub-Saharan Adrian art is displayed. But since Egypt is in Africa, it’s natural to wonder why the displays of African art are divided this way. The answer involves the history of the museum.

Warren Rohrer

Raised in Lancaster farming territory, in a Pennsylvania community near Philadelphia, Warren Rohrer (1927–95) was descended from many generations of Mennonite farmers. For a long time, he lived on a farm amongst the Mennonites. And so, becoming an artist involved some real personal struggle. And although he left that community, this tradition gave him close, lasting ties to nature and agriculture. This show of abstract paintings and drawings from the 1990s reflects this, his lived experience.

Carnegie International, 57th Edition

No curatorial task is more difficult than assembling an international survey exhibition. If in Pittsburgh, the task is further complicated by the history of the Carnegie Museum and its Internationals.

Ron Gorchov: At the Cusp of the 80s, Paintings 1979–1983

Eight of Ron Gorchov’s classic paintings on shields, executed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, are currently on view in the new uptown gallery of Cheim & Read. Two of them arch out vertically, while the others are horizontally oriented. None, needless to say, are either rectangular or flat.

Intimate Infinite: Imagine a Journey

Intimate Infinite is a revelatory commentary on the history of gallery spaces. In the three floors of the Lévy Gorvy gallery on Madison Avenue you see almost one hundred works, most of them small enough to fit into your carry-on luggage, by twenty-seven artists.

John Houck: Holding Environment

Where is the dividing line between painting and photography, two visual artistic media that are often said to be essentially opposed? The long history of very diverse answers to this question is fascinating and revealing.John Houck’s liminal art, which marks and erases the boundaries between painting and photography, offers a highly original extension of this lengthy history.

Nuestra Casa: Rediscovering the Treasures of The Hispanic Society Museum & Library

Because the Hispanic Society is in Washington Heights, Manhattan, it has until recently had a marginal position in the New York art world. Although it’s only about 75 blocks uptown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that can seem a long journey to the busy critic. I, at least, confess that in all my years of reviewing, I’d never visited this institution. And so, right now, while the museum is closed for renovations, I came because a selection of the best works is on display. How amazing that it took me all of these years to get uptown to see the best portrait in a New York City museum, Francisco de Goya’s The Duchess of Alba (1797).

Border Crossings

Border Crossings and its accompanying, richly illustrated catalogue highlight important issues for the reception of art across the ideological boundary between North and South Korea.


There is a lot to see in each individual work, and there are many large works in this crowded exhibition. You need to take your time here. But ultimately the display works very nicely for German because she is an artist who deals in the stimulating pleasures of visual overload.

Sofonisba Anguisola and Lavinia Fontana: A Tale of Two Women Painters

In his radical political treatise, The Subjection of Women (1869), John Stuart Mill briefly takes up discussion of female visual artists. If, as he claims, women are as fully able as men, then why, he asks, have there been no highly distinguished women painters?


Joffe doesn’t repeat herself—she doesn’t need to because she is consistently, magnificently inventive.

RICHARD SERRA: Sculpture and Drawings

The most remarkable artwork in Richard Serra’s recent exhibition, which included dense paint stick drawings and sculpture, is Four Rounds: Equal Weight, Unequal Measure (2017).

Jane Freilicher & Thomas Nozkowski: True Fictions

Jane Freilicher (1924–2014) and Thomas Nozkowski (1944–2019), both important painters, were very different artists. She made figurative paintings of still life objects with countryside and urban scenes in the background, while he was an abstract painter whose subjects had elusive, “real” sources. They hardly knew each other, and they certainly didn’t influence each other. What, then, is to be gained displaying them together, in this exhibition of some 16 works, late paintings by both of them?

Rochelle Feinstein: Image of an Image

What can an abstract painting represent? Rochelle Feinstein offers a plenitude of answers. Image of an Image is the most challenging retrospective that I have recently had the pleasure of viewing.

Arshile Gorky 1904-1948

During the 1920s and ’30s Arshile Gorky and his New York fellow painters slowly and with real difficulty worked their way through European modernism.

Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America

Just before the end of his life, Okwui Enwezor worked with Massimiliano Gioni to organize this exhibition, which now is installed on all three floors of the New Museum. It is presented with curatorial support from Naomi Beckwith, Glenn Ligon, and Mark Nash.

Liliane Tomasko: We Sleep Where We Fall

Liliane Tomasko’s new paintings, all made in 2019 and 2020, are about liminal states. In the gallery announcement she says: “maybe during those hours spent in this almost unconscious state, something is illuminated that cannot be seen in the brightness of the day.” Her art aims to recover and represent these experiences.

Harvey Quaytman: Against the Static

This, the first museum retrospective devoted to the New York painter Harvey Quaytman (1937 – 2002), includes more than seventy works, many of them large.

Frankenthaler: History Returns to Venice

In his luminous essay “The School of Giorgione” (1877) Walter Pater, asserting that painting “must be before all things decorative, a thing for the eye, a space of colour on the wall,” describes the art of Giorgione, as he imagines it.

Shikō Munakata: A Way of Seeing

Shikō Munakata (1903–75), a Tokyo-based printmaker, became internationally famous in the 1950s. Starting in 1959, he often visited New York, which he thought of as his second home. Much inspired by Vincent van Gogh, (who himself was of course much influenced by prints from Japan), Munakata modernized the style of classic Japanese prints to present subjects from contemporary life. This exhibition includes nearly 100 of his woodblock prints, most in black-and-white, some in color.

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré: World Unbound

Bouabré said that he didn’t work from his imagination, but drew what delighted him. His delights included cloud formations; the natural markings on the surfaces of oranges, bananas, kola nuts, and leaves; numbering systems; and, more broadly, what he called “knowledge of the world.”

MATISSE In Search of True Painting

The art world is in love with Matisse. In the decade 2000-10 alone, he was in 74 museum shows, many with catalogues.

Art Theory/Art Writing

“Because most of us lack confidence in our ability to simply look at and feel art, in the same way that we can listen to and feel music, there exists a vast business of interpretation.” (Michael Findlay, The Value of Art)

Elstir's Harbor at Carquethuit

When staying at a luxurious Normandy beach hotel, Marcel, the narrator of In Search of Lost Time, and a pal write a friendly note to a famous painter, Elstir, who lives nearby. Elstir then invites Marcel for a studio visit, though Marcel would prefer to meet the girls he sees but doesn’t yet know.

Debra Bricker Balken’s Harold Rosenberg: A Critic’s Life

Born in Brooklyn to a relatively poor family, Harold Rosenberg spent a couple of years at City College and briefly attended law school. In the 1930s he wrote poetry and worked as an editor. Then during World War Two, because he had an injured leg, and wasn’t drafted, Rosenberg lived in Washington, DC and worked for the Office of War Information.

Giorgio Morandi:
Late Paintings

Early on Giorgio Morandi was a familiar, but marginal figure within Italian Futurism, who by the time of his death occupied only a modest place in modernist collecting culture. Thanks to important historical work by Janet Abramowicz in Giorgio Morandi: The Art of Silence (2005), we have a reliable account of Morandi’s life. To this growing corpus, we can now add the perspectives of other contemporary artists collected in Zwirner Books’s Giorgio Morandi: Late Paintings.

Landscape into Eco Art: Articulations of Nature Since the ’60s

Everyone knows about rapid climate change. No one who even glances at the newspaper or looks at the news can be unaware of these concerns. How, then, can visual artists respond to this situation? Mark Cheetham argues that politically responsible contemporary art needs to explicitly take account of ecological issues.

Aby Warburg’s Bilderatlas Mnemosyne

The new edition includes just 20 pages of editorial material and a six-paragraph highly elusive introduction by Warburg himself. But most of the book is devoted to a reconstruction of his picture atlas: collected arrays of old master paintings, contemporary works, prints and also newspaper clippings and other materials from popular culture placed on large screens.

A Tribute to Thomas Nozkowski

Tom was one of the first postwar artists to question the heritage, hubris, and clichéd bloat of Abstract Expressionism. His intelligence transformed art as a political act; the creation of exquisite canvases that would fit in humble homes and not necessarily be destined for corporations or institutions


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues