Justin Spring

  • passages February 12, 2019

    David Beitzel (1958–2019)

    I NEARLY ALWAYS SAW David Beitzel in a dark-blue suit and tie, as if he came from the world of banking or investments. But David was no stuffed shirt. A painter turned art dealer, he had just set up his first gallery in a storefront on Greene Street when I first met him, around 1989. Only three years later he moved to the second floor of 102 Prince Street and was showing a full roster of promising and established artists. His vision for the gallery clearly developed out of his early experiences as a painter at Bennington College, where he had lived and worked largely in solitude during his MFA

  • Ismail Merchant

    FEW OF THE TRIBUTES written about Ismail Merchant—the producer half of the well-known Merchant-Ivory partnership, who died last year at age sixty-eight—have done more than celebrate his charismatic personality and his uncanny business acumen. While everyone is familiar with Merchant Ivory Productions’ meticulous adaptations of classic English and American novels, such as The Bostonians (1984), A Room With a View (1985), and The Remains of the Day (1993), and while early Merchant-Ivory films like Shakespeare Wallah (1965) and The Guru (1969) have rightly developed their own cult following, hardly

  • Wayne Thiebaud

    IN 1962, Wayne K. Thiebaud was forty-one. Recently divorced and remarried, he had just taken a job as assistant professor of art at the University of California's sleepy Davis campus. Over the years, he'd worked as a commercial illustrator, layout editor, and cartoonist, and for the last ten years as an art instructor at Sacramento Junior College. His first one-man show outside Sacramento, held the previous November at Art Unlimited in San Francisco, had produced no sales and only one review, a dopey feature in the San Francisco Chronicle that called Thiebaud “the hungriest artist in California.”

  • Richard Misrach

    Since 1983, Richard Misrach’s ongoing photographic explorations of the American desert have been organized into bodies of work he calls cantos. Misrach feels that his images, like Ezra Pound’s poems, are “free-associative,” and that, like an anthology of poetry, his collected work adds up to a greater whole. The artist recently exhibited large-format color photographs selected from three new series: “Desert Canto XV: Skies,” 1992–; “Desert Canto XXI: Heavenly Bodies [sic],” 1995–; and “Desert Canto XXII: Night Clouds,” 1994–. These radiant and technically accomplished images bridge the gap

  • Paul Cadmus

    MERCILESS CARICATURIST, gruesome fantasist, homoerotic moralist, and above all maker of wonderfully crafted drawings and paintings: Paul Cadmus worked in many modes throughout his life and created so many surprising and often disturbing varieties of art that even those most passionate about his work are seldom unequivocal in their assessments. About Cadmus him-self, however, all agree: This enormously talented artist was also the kindest, gentlest, most self-deprecating of men.

    A scholarship student at the National Academy of Design, Cadmus became a printmaker, following in the steps of the Ashcan

  • Maria Martinez-Cañas

    Maria Martinez-Cañas often derives the layered, complex imagery of her photographs from old maps, customs documents, and other items relating to her Cuban heritage. However, in “Traces of Nature,” her most recent show, the inspiration came not from her memories of Cuba but from her own backyard: On view were photograms—shadowlike images produced by placing objects between light-sensitive paper and a light source—made with plants, leaves, and other organic forms taken from the Miami-based artist’s garden. Used since World War II in the creation of maps, the photogram has also been a favorite mode

  • Adam Cvijanovic

    Adam Cvijanovic’s Monument Valley, 1999, is a full-gallery installation, a floor-to-ceiling, seventy-six-and-a-half-foot-long landscape painting spanning four walls, ostensibly portraying the desert terrain where Arizona meets Utah, a region familiar to anyone who has ever watched a Hollywood Western. This handpainted rendition of an exterior region meant to be experienced as interior art recalls the popular cycloramas of the nineteenth century, which afforded spectators three-hundred-and-sixty-degree painted vistas of a given landscape. But unlike a typical panorama, there is no seamless

  • Hiroshi Sugito

    The second New York show of twenty-nine-year-old Hiroshi Sugito featured paintings of extraordinary delicacy that came, playfully, in two sizes: tiny and enormous. While many of this young Japanese artist’s contemporaries have been enthralled with mass-media imagery in the form of Japanimation, video games, and advertising, Sugito clearly finds his inspiration elsewhere. Drawing on the fantasies of childhood, he fashions dainty renderings of imaginary animals, dreamlike stage sets, bizarre machinery, and gargantuan buildings. The artist approaches this strange and charming subject matter with

  • William Turnbull

    William Turnbull’s first New York exhibition in nine years, which included seventeen bronze sculptures dating from 1980 to 1997, proved this British sculptor to be a master of his form, with work remarkable for its cosmopolitan sensibility, open-ended simplicity, and elegant craftsmanship.

    The Scottish-born, seventy-six-year-old artist studied in Paris from 1948 to 1950, where he met and absorbed the ideas of Giacometti and Brancusi. Like these European modernist sculptors, he appropriates a formal simplicity from a range of early sculptural traditions. The works on view quote eclectically from

  • Richard Kalina

    It’s hard to get past pleasure with Richard Kalina’s latest exhibition, the fifty-two-year-old artist’s first in nearly three years. His most recent paintings, made up of layers of material, possess a vibrant and wacky kind of beauty, like Miró or Matisse by way of Jefferson Airplane. Starting with an unprimed linen base, Kalina uses black-and-white copies of the early nineteenth-century botanical prints of Pierre-Joseph Redouté as an underlayer for the paintings. But he also uses the Redouté prints in cutouts that float on top, of the painting, adding depth and symbolism. These cutouts are in

  • Philip Smith

    The eight works in Philip Smith's recent show featured a technique that has become his signature: the artist spreads a colored surface of oil and beeswax on an underlayer of the same media, then—working without preparatory sketches—scrapes through the top coat with a sharp instrument to reveal the contrasting color beneath. Smith has made paintings this way, sort of like a child's scratchboard drawing, for years; new in this group are the exclusively solid ground colors, which (unlike the grids, stripes, and polka-dot grounds of earlier efforts) bring simplicity and clarity to the densely packed

  • Peter Dreher

    Peter Dreher’s second solo show in New York featured three distinct bodies of work, each comprising paintings of a single subject. Twenty-one small images of a drinking glass belong to his series “Tag um Tag ist Guter Tag” (which roughly translates as “Every day is a good day”); seven large nudes came from a series called “The Naked Ones,” which Dreher began in 1990; and a group of medium—scale (each 17 1/2 by 23 inches) works entitled “The Large Poster in Watercolor” depicted rectangular sections of a single image, a bouquet of spotted pink azaleas bearing the slogan “Einfach so” (Simply