Gabriel Laderman

  • Unconventional Realists, Part II: Sculpture

    “THUS IN PLACE OF A SELF-RESPECTING art worthy of its ancient lineage, the Paris of yesterday—that is, the Paris of immediately before the war (W.W. 1)—offered her visitors the puerile effronteries of these harlequins, delighting through their very ineptitude a public avid of new sensations. Unbridled realism and cleverness had run their course, and the jaded critics found refreshment in pretense of naiveté and willful bungling.

    “One protests that these things are merely the front of the annual exhibitions, that there is always a great body of good work, less obtrusive because decent. The serious

  • Problems of Criticism VIII: Notes from the Underground

    UNTIL THE SOCIAL AND FINANCIAL success of Abstract Expressionism, the avant-garde American art world was underground. Vanguard American art never recovered its market after the disaster of the Armory Show and the pre-1913 market for American art had been one of short duration, limited to relatively few artists anyhow. There was no tradition in this country, as there was in Europe, of the intimate relationship between dealer and artist which, lasting through all the lean years of the artist’s early vanguard work, finally produced commercial success for both. From Impressionism on, the vanguard

  • On the Hanging of the Show

    IT MUST BE HARD to be a museum director, or even a curator for that matter, nowadays. Not only must the trustees, patrons and potential patrons be kept happy, but a whole host of others—the city fathers, the protectors of the environment, the blacks, irate artist groups, the general public, the art historians, critics, and museum professionals. The Metropolitan Museum’s show of 19th-century American art and interiors is a show which judiciously tries to combine the functions of pleasing various publics and remaining within the bounds of artistic and art historical decorum. It really is an almost

  • Uses and Misuses of the Recent Past

    . . . It moves one to compassion indeed . . . the simplicity of the artist who would bestow so much labor and pains to acquire that which all others seek with so much care to avoid.

    —Vasari, Life of Pontormo

    . . . The object of Mr. Barber in these engravings is not to make pretty pictures but to enforce moral truth. Everything is made with studied simplicity to bend to this purpose. Hence they have a peculiar power.

    —Henry Howe, Introduction to Barber’s Picture Preacher

    EVER SINCE VASARI’S LIVES OF the Artists we have been made aware of the task of the artist: to rescue the art of his time and

  • Expressionism, Eccentric and Concentric

    WE GENERALLY FEEL THAT WE can recognize an Expressionist painting no matter when or where it was produced. In Expressionist paintings we expect the subject matter, whether perceived or imagined, to be reformed by the intense emotion of the painter, communicated through his distortions of form and color and dislocations of space. These should lay bare the emotional excesses and even pathological morbidities of the artist’s mind. Historically the word has been used most in describing European paintings done between Impressionism and Surrealism. Munch and Hodler, who might otherwise be called Art

  • The Future of Landscape Painting

    SURELY THE CLIMAX OF landscape painting occurred during the 19th century. It had a long preparation, going back at least as far as the landscapes of Polidoro da Caravaggio, Schiavone, Niccolo dell’Abate, Breughel and the Bassani. The neo classic landscape painters of the 17th century, including the dionysiacs Gaspar Dughet and Salva tor Rosa, had enormous influence during the 18th century, as their works were reinterpreted by the picturesque theorists. Edmund Burke, together with the picturesque theorists, established the philosophical foundation for landscape painting of the 18th and 19th

  • Re-Hanging the Met’s 19th-Century Galleries

    THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM, APPARENTLY in honor of the purchase of its latest million dollar (and therefore crowd-pulling) painting, Monet’s La Terrasse à Sainte Adresse, has rehung its French 19th-century galleries. The Monet is a very beautiful painting, though hardly as important as Thomas Hoving seems to think it is. Renoir’s Point des Arts of 1868 (La Terrasse was painted in 1866) though only three-quarters as large as the Monet, is of equal quality and was for some years on loan to the Museum by Mrs. Richard Ryan. Still, the Monet is nice to have, can teach us, artists and public, a great

  • Unconventional Realists

    THE CONVENTIONAL ARTIST OPERATES not only within the rules, precepts and formulas developed by earlier artists and given to him by his immediate predecessors but also within a ready-made social and institutional position inherited from them. At the moment, within representation, the two polar extremes of violent Expressionism and neo-academic realism are most conventional. A great deal of good painting by standards recently or more remotely evolved diverges towards these two extremes. The Pop painter is not on this continuum at all. He is essentially manipulating images and their stylizations

  • Figurative Painting Of The Fifties

    The Schoelkopf Gallery mounted a show of 34 works by 31 artists active in New York in the 1950s. The paintings tend to group around the date 1955. Two of the artists represented, Jan Muller and Ben Johnson, are now dead, and three, Robert Goodnough, Felix Pasilis and Wolf Kahn, no longer work in the tradition of figurative expressionism characteristic of the works exhibited here. Although the paintings exhibited depended on the holdings of the gallery and of friendly collectors, in many instances exceptional works were shown, such as Gandy Brodie’s Green Apples, Paul Georges’s Girl in Chair, Al

  • “The Triumph of Realism”

    “The Triumph of Realism” at the Brooklyn Museum places late 19th-century American painting in the context of its contemporary European sources. Although Courbet is the pivotal figure, the Leibl Kreis, with the exception of Thoma, seems to have developed independent of his influence, if not of his example. Its members grouped themselves around Wilhelm Leibl, a naturalist who seceded from the Munich Academy, with its hierarchy topped by history painting. Two American students at Munich also joined this rebellion. Frank Duveneck was the older and apparent leader of the two, although William Chase