Alastair Wright

  • Mary Lum

    The sixteen works created by Mary Lum for her latest exhibition are part collage, part (often the larger part) painting. Angular blocks of flatly applied acrylic surround photographs and strips cut from comic books that portray fragments of the urban environment: anonymous intersections and a ribbon of paint-spattered wall, precariously tilted buildings and a concrete staircase turned dizzyingly on its head. The artist’s preferred haunts—New York, Paris, and London (Detroit also makes a brief appearance)—are identified only by the works’ titles, for Lum rigorously avoids recognizable

  • “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs”

    WHEN WE PICTURE Henri Matisse at work, two scenes generally come to mind, and in both he is bedridden. In the first, known only through his own account, he is a callow twenty-year-old recuperating from appendicitis who finds his vocation when his mother gives him a box of paints to pass the time. In the second, at the other end of his career and documented in countless photographs and eyewitness reports, he is a venerable master, white-bearded and bespectacled, propped up against a pillow and scissoring into sheets of colored paper.

    Matisse worked hard to place these images in our heads. He

  • Paul Gauguin

    SOMETIMES IT TAKES an exhibition for us to see a familiar artist’s work afresh. This is certainly the case for Paul Gauguin, whose reputation increasingly tends to obscure his achievement. Viewers have long been suspicious both of his art and of his personal behavior (taking a thirteen-year-old “wife” in Tahiti is the best known of his misdemeanors). His countless depictions of “primitive” Breton peasants and half-naked Polynesian women are condemned, respectively, for their metropolitan condescension and for their sexual and racial stereotyping, and his work is also taken to task for its