Barry Schwabsky

  • René Daniëls

    WHAT I REMEMBER from the couple of shows René Daniëls (then not using the diaeresis in his name) did in New York in the mid-1980s is mainly feeling puzzled. The paintings were representational, and—if I recall correctly—mostly without figures. They more than flirted with abstraction, and they were shown at a gallery, Metro Pictures, that seemed to maintain a distinctly antipainting stance. At the time, these camps—the neo-expressionists, the abstractionists, and the Pictures crowd—seemed utterly at odds, and yet this artist shared something with all of them and none. Whose

  • Tala Madani

    In “Corner Projections,” Tala Madani’s recent exhibition of paintings and animation, the blunt, raunchy, and cartoony directness of attack that characterized her previous New York show, in 2010, was not entirely gone from her pictorial tool kit, but the paintings here were much more oblique. Stylistically, she’s dialed down her palette and added elements of illusionism. Most of the new paintings were in shades of gray, sometimes with a few small patches of prismatic color. As well, the artist provided some tricky light effects, which rendered the works a bit too slick at times, yet all the more

  • “NEO RAUCH: AUS DEM BODEN/ FROM THE FLOOR”

    Curated by Brett Littman and Jeff Fleming with Amber Harper

    Speaking about his studio, Neo Rauch has commented that “it is necessary to enter this place in a state of psychological and physical ventilation.” One might adopt the same mindset when approaching his paintings, entangled as they can be in the dank and heavy meshes of inexpressible histories. One aerated mode of entry might be through his drawings, here granted their first extensive American exhibition, in collaboration with the Des Moines Art Center. The 179 items on view, dating from 1994 to 2017, should give a clear idea of what

  • Ralph Humphrey

    By the time Ralph Humphrey (then in his fifties) came to my attention in the late 1980s, he was already known as a painter’s painter, and this reputation only increased after his death in 1990. He remains for a certain cohort “someone to aspire to, and someone I want to continue the conversation with,” as painter and critic Stephen Westfall explained in 2012.

    I never fell in with this sentiment. Yes, Humphrey’s odd color choices could linger with the viewer like a musky perfume, but beyond that I could never get the hang of his work. Its heavily built-up relief surfaces, which for Westfall are

  • Keith Sonnier

    It comes as a surprise that “Keith Sonnier: Until Today,” a selection of thirty-nine works made between 1967 and this year, really is “the first comprehensive museum survey to consider the arc of this iconic artist’s achievement,” as curator Jeffrey Grove writes in the catalogue. After all, Sonnier has been a renowned figure for five decades; by thirty he’d exhibited at the Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He also participated in legendary shows such as Lucy Lippard’s “Eccentric Abstraction” at New York’s Fischbach Gallery in

  • Tim Maul

    Similar in age to the younger members of the Pictures generation, Tim Maul practices a form of photography that reflects something of the group’s aesthetic of suspicion, along with an adherence to a legacy of “art” (Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol) rather than “photography” (Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson). And yet I can’t help thinking that, just as Russian literature came, according to Dostoevsky, out of Gogol’s overcoat, Maul’s sense of photography fell from William Eggleston’s red ceiling.

    Maul finds his subjects in places more than in things, and in things more than in people, as the title

  • Grit Richter

    The work of Hamburg-based Grit Richter encompasses painting, sculpture, and installation (she is also a veteran of her city’s underground electronic-music scene), but her recent exhibition “The Space Between Us” put the emphasis firmly on painting. In fact, one of the works was titled Forever Now, 2018, name checking the controversial 2014–15 state-of-the-art-of-painting survey at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. In this ensemble, the painting seemed to reinterpret the MOMA exhibition’s cyberpunk-derived theme of “atemporality” as, I think, a kind of classic space opera. Whereas Laura Hoptman,

  • Robert Bittenbender

    Looking at Robert Bittenbender’s assemblages and works on paper, you’d almost think that there is still some kind of bohemia in New York, that somewhere out there a few artists are trying to live their lives in the interstices of the market economy, breathing life into its detritus, taking Apollinaire’s famous advice to “paint with whatever material

    you please, with pipes, postage stamps, postcards or playing cards, candelabra, pieces of oil cloth, collars, painted paper, newspapers.” Bittenbender’s exhibition “Cosmo Freak” included six pieces, all dated 2018: two wall-hung, three-dimensional

  • “ROCHELLE FEINSTEIN: IMAGE OF AN IMAGE”

    Part of a slow-moving wave of late-blooming, venturously eclectic New York painters who are widely esteemed by fellow practitioners but who, despite increasing international renown, have still not quite found the public they deserve—Chris Martin and Dona Nelson also come to mind—Rochelle Feinstein is probably the most politically feisty of the lot. She uses abstract painting to question just about everything, and then uses just about anything to question abstract painting. Following on the heels of a three-venue German/Swiss retrospective in 2015–16, this exhibition,

  • Zoe Pettijohn Schade

    The seven densely layered paintings on paper that made up Zoe Pettijohn Schade’s exhibition “Shifting Sets” produced a distinctly disorienting effect, especially since the works themselves, all sixty by forty inches, were hung close together in Kai Matsumiya’s small storefront space. There was something dizzying about their shifting patterns, and about the way so many of the multitudinous images out of which those patterns are formed seemed to want to jump out and fix themselves in the viewer’s gaze as individually significant; they kept the viewer’s eye and mind off-balance. In some ways,

  • Bice Lazzari

    Those who appreciate the art of Nasreen Mohamedi or Agnes Martin—artists whose pursuit of simplicity led them to probe the endless vibrations of space rather than the construction of form—might want to start looking into the work of Bice Lazzari, yet another of the seemingly endless number of underrecognized women modernists whose work is ripe for reconsideration. Born in Venice in 1900 and trained as a figurative painter, she began working abstractly in the late 1920s, first as a practitioner of the applied arts—fabric designs, decorative panels, and the like—but her abstract

  • Mimi Lauter

    Seeing Mimi Lauter’s work for the first time brought home to me how rare it is to see contemporary painting whose substance is rich and full-bodied but possibly inchoate, rather than style, topicality, or an arm’s-length commentary on art history. Lauter’s work is clearly imbued with historical self-consciousness—the press release rightly cites “Redon, Vuillard, Bonnard, as well as other members of the Nabis and Post-Impressionists” among the Los Angeles–based artist’s precursors, to which list I would add Blaue Reiter–period Kandinsky and maybe a few more recent explorers of the cusp

  • Thornton Dial

    “Mr. Dial’s America,” the second gallery exhibition of Thornton Dial’s work since his death in 2016 at the age of eighty-seven, included seven paintings dated between 1990 and 2011, as well as a freestanding sculpture, The Top of the World, 1998. Dial is often referred to as an outsider, or self-taught artist, and while it is understandable why commentators resort to such handy but potentially misleading labels, this exhibition made the best possible case for seeing Dial as, simply, an artist of his time, with no need for further qualification. Like most artists, Dial considered art itself as

  • Anita Rée

    Anita Rée was a leading artist in Weimar-period Hamburg. No avant-gardist, this devotee of Paul Cézanne, Paula Modersohn-Becker, and the Italian Renaissance was ambivalent about Picasso and dismissive of abstract art. Her portraits, the largest part of her oeuvre, are close in spirit to Neue Sachlichkeit, but more broadly her art was in accord with efforts to reconcile tradition and modernity internationally, from Diego Rivera to Duncan Grant to the Novecento Italiano. Born in 1885 to a Jewish father and a Venezuelan Catholic mother, though raised a Protestant, Rée seems always to have been

  • Elizabeth Murray

    An unexpected, utterly unstable synthesis of Chicago’s unruly, almost lowbrow Imagism with the more calculated approach—and blockbuster scale—of New York abstraction: That’s what Elizabeth Murray achieved at her best. The twenty-five works in “Elizabeth Murray: Painting in the ’80s” made it absolutely clear why she became one of the leading American painters of that decade, even though her work—no more neo-expressionist than neo-geo—didn’t really fit in with anything else going on. The frenetic energy of these paintings is simply undeniable, and it’s the energy of a formidable

  • Alberto Savinio

    THE MUSICIAN, PAINTER, AND WRITER Andrea de Chirico changed his name to Alberto Savinio in 1913. An Italian born in Greece in 1891, having studied under the renowned composer Max Reger in Germany, he’d moved to Paris in 1910, followed shortly thereafter by his older brother, Giorgio. The elder de Chirico was just starting to make his own now-indelible reputation, though he was already painting the works for which we still know him best. But at this point—as the cultural historian Keala Jewell has pointed out in her book Art of Enigma: The De Chirico Brothers and the Politics of Modernism

  • Marianne Mueller

    Photography has the peculiar capacity to show how things feel, thanks to peculiarly photographic ways of distorting the way things look. That, I guess, is what Garry Winogrand was talking about when he spoke of wanting to see “what things look like photographed.” Marianne Mueller seems to rephrase this idea: “Photography because the pictures I see don’t exist.” The camera’s cyclopean eye creates appearances that deviate from those supplied by natural binocular vision, and through those differences photography creates metaphors we recognize as “true.” That’s what Mueller does with her photographs,

  • Robert Moskowitz

    Having been included in William C. Seitz’s Museum of Modern Art exhibition “The Art of Assemblage” in 1961, and with a solo debut at the Leo Castelli Gallery the following year, Robert Moskowitz has maintained a quiet but persistent presence on the New York scene for more than half a century. Quiet persistence has been a characteristic quality of his art as much as of his career. That tenacity pays off was demonstrated by his recent exhibition of six paintings, some of which were probably among his best, and, for that matter, are among the best anyone is making today.

    Observers have always

  • “Terry Winters: Facts and Fictions”

    Terry Winters has said that, as a young man mesmerized by Minimalism, he was led by the desire to draw “away from that blankness and toward developing an imagery that could play a role in my work.” This effort precipitated the atmospheric paintings inspired by scientific illustrations of organic specimens for which he first became known in the early 1980s. The seventy—eight works in this retrospective will follow Winters’s development from that time through the more fully abstract approach that has occupied him since the ’90s, with dense weaves of swirling, crisscrossing

  • Peter Doig

    It’s been fifteen years since Peter Doig moved from London to Trinidad. But his art has never gone tropical. If anything, his work these days seems more “northern” than ever. The thirty-four paintings and works on paper in this show kept making me think of Marsden Hartley, Max Beckmann, Helene Schjerfbeck—not of the Gauguins and Matisses who looked to the south for their light. Doig’s early paintings often seem to represent remembered or, perhaps, imagined scenes from his Canadian childhood, but stylistically they are hard to locate, concerned more with inner than outer landscapes, apparitions