Molly Warnock

  • James Bishop with his painting Hours, ca. 1963, American Center for Art & Culture, Paris, 1963.

    JAMES BISHOP (1927–2021)

    IT MAY BE THE NEAREST THING to a monochrome James Bishop ever made. Closed, 1974, is just slightly smaller—by a few inches—than the six-and-a-half-foot square format the painter adopted as his standard from the mid-1960s through the early ’80s. And like much of the work from that period, it situates him within a broadly “reductivist” tendency in postwar American art, running roughly from the less-gestural iterations of Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting through Minimalism. One notes in particular Bishop’s self-professed inclination for the square as the most “neutral” form; his

  • Joan Mitchell, Cross Section of a Bridge, 1951, oil on canvas, 79 3⁄4 × 119 3⁄4". © Estate of Joan Mitchell.

    Motion Pictures

    THE CANVAS IS LARGE, standing more than seven feet tall and six feet wide. Painted on a white ground, the composition reveals numerous areas in which white paint has been energetically brushed over marks in other colors, progressively editing a roiling chaos of gestures down to a sparer, more defined structure with several especially prominent elements. In the upper register, just left of center, overlapping brushstrokes in shades of red, black, blue-green, and yellow combine to form a thick vertical line, as if marking out the operative axis. Just below this upright element, there appears a

  • Moira Dryer, Picture This, 1989, casein on wood, 46 × 48".

    Moira Dryer

    “LIFE IS FRAGILE + TENUOUS / & so is the work / Delicacy + vulnerability are / things I explore.” So reads, in part, an undated handwritten note by Moira Dryer, an elusive and often poignant artist who certainly knew something of life’s frangibility. Born in Toronto in 1957, Dryer studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and then worked for a time as a freelance theater-set and prop designer before committing fully to her studio practice in 1985. Her first husband, a fellow painter, had died a few years earlier, of a congenital heart condition, at the age of

  • Luc Tuymans, Bloodstains, 1993, oil on canvas, 22 5⁄8 × 18 3⁄4".

    BARE LIFE

    LUC TUYMANS’S BLOODSTAINS, 1993, is one of the Belgian artist’s more allover compositions. Purplish-red discs rimmed with vermilion float within a rectangular format, accompanied by a smattering of smaller black dots. Erratically spaced, these circular forms drift indifferently toward all four edges and are in places cropped by them. Look a bit longer, and the picture splits, roughly, along an imaginary line running diagonally from the lower left corner to the upper right. To one side of that demarcation, the spots swell with life—white highlights imply glossy membranes, and a few well-placed

  • “WITH PLEASURE: PATTERN AND DECORATION IN AMERICAN ART 1972–1985”

    Curated by Anna Katz with Rebecca Lowery

    Pattern and Decoration is often cast as a hedonistic countercurrent to Minimalism and Conceptualism, one that eschewed cool industrial surfaces and cerebral text-based strategies for a staggering panoply of craft processes, globally sourced motifs, and vibrant colors. Deliberately heterogeneous since its inception, the movement has remained largely marginal to narratives of postwar art. Its adept manipulation of received—and historically gendered—hierarchies nonetheless looks newly fresh in the current craftivist moment. Featuring nearly one hundred objects

  • CLOSE UP: FULL DISCLOSURE

    AT FIRST, it looks like an enormous beetle, this mysterious form mostly submerged in water. Two tubular ears, antennae-like, swivel in opposite directions, while the stump of an amputated horn rises above the preternaturally still pool. A rhinoceros. Stripped of narrative context and confined, like the picture as a whole, to the narrowest of chromatic ranges, the unblinking beast resides in a perpetual present, monumental and unyielding. The brushstrokes are opaque yet utterly devoid of painterly bravado: Drab brown and gray daubs denote a mottled hide; creamy strokes suggest ribs beneath the

  • “UNFURLED: SUPPORTS/SURFACES 1966–1976”

    Curated by Wallace Whitney

    Supports/Surfaces has generally appeared a grand adventure in creative misreading: Within a France still largely hostile to postwar American abstraction, a handful of artists in Paris and Nice eagerly appropriated seemingly incompatible practices from abroad, freely mixing Color Field tendencies and post-Minimalist provocations. Long neglected on this side of the Atlantic, their determined “deconstruction” of painting has met recently with a slow but steady increase in interest, as artists and critics look beyond the battle lines established in the 1960s. Bringing

  • Daniel Dezeuze, Untitled, 1977, stained wood, approx. 111 x 42 3/4 x 15".

    Daniel Dezeuze

    One can’t help but smile at Daniel Dezeuze’s “Objets de cueillette”(Gathering Objects), 1992–95. Delicate, gently bowed branches or stalks of bamboo adorned with brightly colored bulbs and funnels and bits of mesh, and displayed leaning against the gallery walls, these improvised forms with found objects suggest fantastical fishing poles or butterfly nets. Clustered at the midpoint of this brilliantly selected and beautifully installed retrospective—the artist’s first comprehensive showing since a 2009 survey at the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, France—they offered a witty send-up of

  • François Morellet, Répartition aléatoire de 40.000 carrés suivant les chiffres pairs et impairs et d’un annuaire de téléphone (50% bleu nuit, 50% noir) (Random Distribution of 40,000 Squares Using the Odd and Even Numbers of a Telephone Directory [50% Night Blue, 50% Black]), 1961, silk screen on wood, 31 1/2 × 31 1/2". © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

    FRANÇOIS MORELLET

    Consigned in the 1960s to that most damning of dustbins—the seemingly exhausted history of “European painting”—the expansive, endlessly experimental oeuvre of François Morellet (who died last year at the age of ninety) has received relatively little attention in the US. This focused presentation, the French artist’s first full-career survey on American shores, could prove a game changer. Bringing together nearly fifty works spanning seven decades, the show places a particular emphasis on Morellet’s abstract geometric paintings of the

  • Pieter Schoolwerth, Fuck Me #1, 2016, oil, acrylic, and ink-jet print on canvas, 90 × 120". From the series “Fuck Me,” 2016–, from the project “Model as Painting,” 2016–.

    1000 WORDS: PIETER SCHOOLWERTH

    PIETER SCHOOLWERTH has always played around with words, and the title of his current project is no exception. As the artist readily acknowledges, “Model as Painting,” 2016–, immediately conjures Painting as Model, Yve-Alain Bois’s classic 1990 collection of essays on modern and primarily abstract exemplars of the medium. Yet true to the painter’s subcultural allegiances (he was for many years the animating spirit behind New York’s Wierd Records and the label’s legendary weekly party), it turns that rubric on its head. This reversal, Schoolwerth notes, is keyed to the rapid proliferation of

  • Ellsworth Kelly, Painting for a White Wall, 1952, oil on canvas, five joined panels, 23 1/2 × 71 1/4". © Ellsworth Kelly.

    Molly Warnock

    Yve-Alain Bois, Ellsworth Kelly: Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Reliefs, and Sculpture, Volume One, 1940–1953. Paris: Cahiers d’Art, 2015. 383 pages.

    LIKE MOST READERS, presumably, I come to this impressive tome—Yve-Alain Bois’s first installment in what promises to be a six-volume set—already in the author’s debt. For nearly a quarter century, beginning with his 1992 essay “Ellsworth Kelly in France: Anti-Composition in Its Many Guises,” the esteemed art historian has set the standard for scholarship on Kelly’s expansive oeuvre. Focusing in particular on the artist’s decisive early

  • Niele Toroni, 25 Paintings, 1987, acrylic on twenty-five canvases. Installation view, Swiss Institute, 2015.

    Niele Toroni

    CHUTES, 2000, a little-known work by legendary Swiss artist Niele Toroni, consists of four pennant-like fragments of blue, red, pink, and black paper marked according to the method he adopted in 1966: by pressing the bristles of a no. 50 brush—first one side, then the other—to a given support to produce squarish daubs of color (in this case, orange) at regular thirty-centimeter intervals. In the original French, the title suggests the shapes are the material scraps or cast-off bits of something else, but in the hands of a painter famously prone to puns, it also begs for other, less