Michael Fried

  • “THOMAS STRUTH: FIGURE GROUND”

    Opening in early May and continuing until mid-September will be a more ambitious and comprehensive exhibition of Thomas Struth’s work than has ever been mounted. Organized by the distinguished critic-curator Thomas Weski, the show will comprise more than 120 items, representing every series of the artist’s production (“Unconscious Places,” 1976–2008; “Family Portraits,” 1985–; “Museum Photographs,” 1989–2007; “New Pictures from Paradise,” 1998–2007; “Nature & Politics,” 2007–, among others), and will also include several of the hypnotically compelling video portraits that

  • “The Figurative Pollock”

    “The Figurative Pollock,” organized by Nina Zimmer, was a pleasant surprise. For one thing, the large selection of early drawings and paintings on view would have made for a highly informative show in its own right; the exhibition featured major early paintings such as Stenographic Figure, ca. 1942; The Moon Woman, 1942; Guardians of the Secret, 1943; The Moon-Woman Cuts the Circle, 1943; Totem Lesson 1, 1944; and Totem Lesson 2, 1945. All were effectively hung and looking amazingly fresh. Then there was a group of works from 1946–47 that culminated with the allover Constellation, 1946; Something

  • Frank Stella

    No artist of his generation has been remotely as productive and creative as Frank Stella, a distinction to be celebrated by a large retrospective exhibition at the Whitney this fall and winter. Michael Auping, chief curator at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, will assemble some 120 works—paintings, reliefs, maquettes, sculptures, and drawings—the earliest items dating from 1958, the marvelous exploratory year leading up to the “Black Paintings” of 1959, and the most recent, K.459, from 2012, a gray sculpture that, depending on how it

  • Michael Fried

    James Welling: Monograph (Aperture) is a sensationally attractive book. It was published to coincide with a large survey exhibition of the artist’s work from the 1970s through 2012 that opened at the Cincinnati Art Museum and traveled to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where I caught up with it. The main text, by James Crump, is an exemplary account of Welling’s career to date: It proceeds in chronological order, series by series, with unflagging intelligence and critical acumen. Not only does Crump do justice to the critical literature, but time and again he contributes new information about

  • Michael Fried

    A RECENT REVIEW OF SHOWS by Helen Frankenthaler at Gagosian Gallery and Morris Louis at Mnuchin Gallery gave New Yorker critic Peter Schjeldahl the chance to express his considered views on Color Field painting:

    Color-field reacted against the juicy, muscular styles of Willem de Kooning and his many followers, which [Clement] Greenberg deemed spurious and passé. It won that scrap, in the court of uptown galleries, but soon succumbed to the juggernauts of Pop art and minimalism, which had behind them forces of more than rarefied aesthetic theory: by 1962, Andy Warhol’s silk-screened works equalled

  • Anthony Caro

    ALL OF US WHO WERE CLOSE TO ANTHONY CARO (Tony to his friends, an international society of thousands) were certain that he would live to be at least one hundred, making significant sculpture all the way. My impression was that he thought so too, though the last few times I saw him he spoke confidingly about the experience of being really old (he was eighty-nine when his heart gave out on October 23, 2013) and how different that was from anything he had quite imagined. In fact, when I spent two days with him this past July in his Camden Town studio, his legs were hurting so much that he found it

  • Charles Ray

    For more than five years now, Charles Ray has been making sculptures based closely on the human figure, somewhat in the manner of his first work of this type, Aluminum Girl, 2003. In his 2007 show at Matthew Marks Gallery, another such piece, The New Beetle, 2007, depicted, if that is the word, a naked young boy seated directly on the ground playing with a small model of a Volkswagen. Since then, Ray has been mining this vein in a number of works, three of which, all dated 2012, made up his recent exhibition in the same gallery.

    The first to be completed, Sleeping Woman, had its origin in more

  • “James Welling: Monograph”

    Over the past forty years, there has been no American photographer more creative and original than James Welling.

    Over the past forty years, there has been no American photographer more creative and original than James Welling. Certainly no photographer has been more successful working in both black-and-white and color and in both depictive and abstract modes (sometimes, as in the “Glass House” photo­graphs, 2006–2009, within a single image). Welling’s recent show at David Zwirner was further evidence of his super­lative gifts, with ravishing, tempera-like color variations on scenes associated with the painter Andrew Wyeth and two very different groups of abstractions. This ambitious

  • CLOSE-UP: GRAY SCALE

    A LARGE RETROSPECTIVE of the German photographer Michael Schmidt, curated by Thomas Weski, was held at the Haus der Kunst in Munich during the late spring and summer of 2010. I flew to Munich from Berlin expressly to visit it and am glad I did (in fact, I reviewed it for these pages). Not only was the exhibition a fairly comprehensive survey of the oeuvre of one of the most original contemporary photographers, but it was accompan­ied by a publication that I might otherwise have missed before it went out of print, as it now appears to have done.

    The publication is a photobook called, simply, 89/90

  • THE BEST BOOKS OF 2011

    Ten scholars, critics, writers, and artists choose the year’s outstanding titles.

    SVETLANA ALPERS

    Imagine that you are listening to a spirited conversation between a French art historian and a German painter. De Rouget and Daimler, as they are called, are at lunch on a recent October Sunday near Pontarlier. It is where Degas vacationed briefly in 1904 and where absinthe is made. In Il était plus grand que nous ne pensions: Édouard Manet et Degas (Paris: Nouvelles Éditions Scala/Collection Ateliers Imaginaires), Éric Darragon, author of a subtle biography of Manet and writings on contemporary German

  • Luc Delahaye

    At Galerie Nathalie Obadia in Paris, Luc Delahaye recently showed ten large-format color photographs and one small black-and-white print, the bulk of his production since 2006. In his previous exhibition in Paris, at La Maison Rouge in 2005, nearly all of the photographs were made with a panoramic camera, but Delahaye seems to have come to feel that the format had become limiting, and the new work all issues from a four-by-five-inch camera that he wields without a tripod. This allows him to respond to events as they actually take place, in a quasi-photojournalistic manner, even as his aims go

  • Michael Schmidt

    It is hard to imagine a tougher venue for a photography show than Munich’s Haus der Kunst, with its vast, uninflected spaces and general pathlessness, but the recent survey exhibition by the Berlin photographer Michael Schmidt met the challenge triumphantly. Curated by Thomas Weski and titled “Grau als Farbe” (Gray as Color), it comprised nearly four hundred black-and-white photographs grouped, for the most part, to reflect the previous coming together of many (though by no means all) of them in the brilliant and original photo books Berlin Wedding (1978), Waffenruhe (Ceasefire, 1987), Ein-heit