Chloe Wyma

  • Agnes Pelton, The Fountains, 1926, oil on canvas, 36 × 31 1⁄2". Collection of Georgia and Michael de Havenon.

    DIVINE REALITY

    AGNES PELTON was fifty years old when she left New York for the village of Cathedral City, six miles southeast of Palm Springs in the California desert. By 1932, a conspiracy of sun, sand, and settler-colonial ideology had made the state a mecca for visionaries and seekers, attracted by landscapes seemingly unspoiled by human intervention, temporalities seemingly unburdened by the past. In Pelton’s 1941 painting Future, obscure shadows part to reveal two stone towers. Suggestive of those that marked the town’s entrance, they float just above the horizon and flank a distant lavender hill. Overhead,

  • Bear’s Heart, untitled ledger drawing, ca. 1875–78, watercolor, graphite, and colored pencil on paper, 8 5⁄8 × 11 1⁄4".

    “The Pencil Is a Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists”

    Growing consciousness of mass incarceration in the United States—the product of a bipartisan consensus that has seen the prison population, disproportionately represented by black, brown, and poor people, explode by 700 percent in the past fifty years—has motivated a surge of recent exhibitions devoted to art made by those serving time. While of a piece with this development, “The Pencil Is a Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists,” the Drawing Center’s first show under the direction of Laura Hoptman, is also unique in the way it uses the condition of imprisonment (broadly defined here to encompass

  • Tyree Guyton, Good Boy, 2016, house paint on canvas, 26 × 22". From the series “Faces of God,” 1989–.

    Tyree Guyton

    “Love, Sam,” Tyree Guyton’s solo exhibition at Martos Gallery, was titled in honor of the artist’s grandfather Sam Mackey. A housepainter by trade, he gave his grandson his first paintbrush when he was nine years old. Guyton, who is now sixty-four, would go on to study art at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies in 1980; six years later, he began painting candy-colored polka dots on the facade of Mackey’s house on Heidelberg Street in McDougall-Hunt, a predominantly black, working-class enclave on Detroit’s east side. This benignly eccentric act marked the beginning of the Heidelberg Project,

  • Tamara de Lempicka, La belle Rafaela en vert (The Beautiful Rafaela in Green), ca. 1927, oil on canvas, 15 × 24".

    Tamara de Lempicka

    “Lempicka was a liar, a snob and a fraud from the off,” began the British art critic Waldemar Januszczak in his poison-pen Sunday Times review of her exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts in 2004. Rarely has an artist inspired such moral condemnation and righteous disdain as Tamara de Lempicka, the rappel à l’ordre society painter who objectified, perhaps more than any other artist, the cold, metallic libido of Art Deco. Despite, or perhaps because of, her enduring popularity (she is the subject of several biographies, a stage play, and a forthcoming Broadway musical), major museum

  • George Tooker, Guitar, 1957, egg tempera on panel, 18 × 24".

    George Tooker

    “Watching George Tooker paint is excruciating,” art historian Thomas H. Garver once remarked. “Stroke, stroke, stroke, it goes on and on, yet to an observer almost nothing seems to be happening.” Over months and months, his effulgent surfaces would accumulate thousands of delicate wisps in egg tempera—the medium favored by the painters of late-medieval Italy—to illuminate delphic modern genre scenes and allegories glowing with beatitude and despair. Tooker (1920–2011) learned his ascetic and “plodding” (per the artist) method in the mid-1940s, from his friends the painters Paul Cadmus (Tooker’s

  • View of “Charlotte Posenenske,” 2019.

    Charlotte Posenenske

    Commanding one of the yawning depots of Dia:Beacon—a Nabisco box-printing factory turned postindustrial culture palace—the hollow sheet-metal and cardboard polyhedrons of Charlotte Posenenske’s Vierkantrohre Serie D (Square Tubes Series D) and Vierkantrohre Serie DW (Square Tubes Series DW) appeared to be fossils of use value. Designed in 1967 as the German artist was beginning to receive international recognition alongside proponents of American Minimalism, these groupings of unwieldy modular units were made to be manipulated and recombined by collaborating viewer participants. Produced in

  • Foreground: Maria Martins’s The Impossible, III, 1946. Background: Wifredo Lam’s The Jungle (La Jungla), 1943 (left), and Maya Deren’s A Study in Choreography for Camera, 1945 (right). All photos: Chloe Wyma.
    slant October 21, 2019

    Loose Canon

    IN JUNE, NEW YORK’S MUSEUM OF MODERN ART WENT DARK to put the finishing touches on its contentious five-year expansion, which promised to put $450 million and 47,000 square feet of Diller Scofidio + Renfro architecture toward fostering a “deeper experience of art” across boundaries of media, geography, and identity. Today, MoMA emerges from its chrysalis a bigger, brighter, and supposedly more progressive institution. Gone—we are told—is the stiff, developmentalist progression from ism to ism, the residual investment in medium specificity, the instinctive parochialism, the cult of white male

  • Augusta Savage, The Harp, 1939, bronze, 10 3⁄4 × 9 1⁄2 × 4". Souvenir replica.

    Augusta Savage

    In the company of Jacob Lawrence’s streamlined Cubism, Romare Bearden’s faceted and collaged surfaces, and William Ellisworth Artis’s sleek, softly Egyptianized terra-cotta figures, the physiognomically expressive and convincing portrait busts of Augusta Savage (1892–1962) gave her the bearing of an éminence grise in “Renaissance Woman”—the first survey in thirty years devoted to the pathbreaking sculptor, educator, and arts advocate. Curator Jeffreen M. Hayes placed examples of Savage’s limited surviving production alongside works by these and many other artists who benefited from her guidance

  • View of 2019 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. From left: Eric N. Mack, Proposition: for wet Gee’s Bend Quilts to replace the American flag—Permanently, 2019; Jennifer Packer, Untitled, 2019; Jennifer Packer, An Exercise in Tendernesses, 2017; Jennifer Packer, Untitled, 2019; Jennifer Packer, A Lesson in Longing, 2019. Photo: Ron Amstutz.

    2019 Whitney Biennial

    THE 2019 WHITNEY BIENNIAL will go down as one of the most consequential in the event’s history—though for reasons that, frankly, make reviewing the art, some of which nearly came off the gallery walls two months before the show’s close, a thorny undertaking. The Biennial is always a critical flash point, and indeed this year’s edition seemed curated to anticipate and respond to the conflict over representation that scarred its predecessor. But even before the 2019 exhibition began, anxious meta-discussion over art’s audiences, its subjects, its spokespeople, and its paymasters had overdetermined

  • Roger Brown, Virtual Still Life #12 Modernistic Planter with Half a Desert Painting, 1995, oil on canvas, mixed media, 38 1⁄2 × 26 × 12".

    Roger Brown

    “The mainstream art world hierarchy—a system of dealers, writers, artists, critics, and pundits—presumes to define what art is for the rest of us,” Roger Brown (1941–1997) wrote in 1990. “. . . Whatever category one chooses—folk, naïve, outsider, or so-called regionalist—it is very evident that real artists exist and continue to be nurtured outside the mainstream hierarchy. In fact I would venture to say that the only real artists are nurtured there . . . on the outside.” Known as one of the leading Chicago Imagists, Brown could hardly be called an “outsider artist.” He was, however, a voracious

  • View of “Davina Semo and Deborah Remington,” 2019.
    picks August 29, 2019

    Deborah Remington and Davina Semo

    The steely, gradient-filled lacunae of Deborah Remington’s Saratoga, 1972, and Sussex, 1976, evoke busted TV screens and foggy windshields, beyond which noirish vistas might extend. The artist, who died in 2010 at the age of seventy-nine, was the sole woman among the half-dozen painters and poets who cofounded San Francisco’s Six Gallery, the beatnik haunt where Allen Ginsberg first read Howl in 1955. Five of her paintings, made between 1964 and 2003, hang alongside recent sculptures and wall works by Davina Semo at Parts & Labor, a new project space devoted to shows pairing works by one mid-career

  • MINOR VARIATIONS

    ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in the left-leaning tabloid PM, Ad Reinhardt’s 1946 cartoon How to Look at Modern Art in America is a mordant and enlightening diagram of aesthetic positions and politics in the immediate postwar period. Rooted in the French Post-Impressionists and supported by a sturdy trunk inscribed with the names Braque, Matisse, and Picasso, the avant-garde tradition is represented as an enormous tree branching into discrete movements and tendencies. Foliated with leaves bearing names like Albers, Davis, Motherwell, Pollock, and Rothko, the left-hand, upright sprigs represent the