Robert Storr

  • Denzil Hurley, 2013. Photo: Zhi Lin.
    passages August 04, 2021

    Denzil Hurley (1949–2021)

    TWO YEARS AGO, at the Milton Resnick/ Pat Pasloff Foundation, I mounted a group show of work by abstract painters who were generally below the art world’s radar but who’d caught my eye and about whom I thought frequently. They had awakened something in me that wouldn’t let go. Borrowed from a Broadway musical about Annie Oakley, the title was “Doing What Comes Naturally.” It was intended to bait critics because I am of the firm conviction that art is by definition artificial and therefore unnatural, making me skeptical of the assertion that what seems compelling in a given artist’s work is that

  • Leon Golub, POST MODERNIST BIMBO, 2002, oil stick and ink on vellum, 10 x 8".

    Leon Golub: Live + Die like a Lion?

    This exhibition features fifty-odd drawings Leon Golub made between 1999 and his death in 2004.

    Leon Golub was at odds with the world and with himself for most of his long career. His contrarian, combative stance gives his work a ferocity that catches people off guard. Famous in the 1950s, when abstraction ruled the roost, for huge antiheroic canvases of gigantic warring figures, Golub reemerged in the neo-expressionist ’80s with stark muralsize tableaux of political violence in the shadows of the American empire. Unable to paint on such a scale during his last years, he drew prolifically instead. This exhibition features fifty-odd drawings he made between 1999 and

  • Elizabeth Murray

    ROBERT STORR

    SOME YEARS BACK, a student who had attended the summer program at Skowhegan in Maine told me about the powerful impression Elizabeth Murray had made on him. One thing he recounted stuck in my mind—that during a studio visit, Murray had said in passing, “For you to be right about what you’re doing, not everybody else has to be wrong.” Or is my memory playing tricks on me? Was it actually a woman who recalled this story for me? The matter of gender is significant when you talk about Murray, who died in August at age sixty-six. She was among a handful of woman painters of her

  • Ndary Lô, Le Refus de Rosa Parks  (Rosa Parks’s Refusal) (detail), 2005, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Dak’Art 2006

    JUST OPPOSITE DAKAR, off the coast of Senegal, lies the island of Gorée. A rocky mass with a small harbor at one end and high cliffs at the other, it has no natural springs and precious little vegetation. The sun shines hot. Despite these inhospitable conditions it is covered with colonial buildings of undeniable charm. Some are grand but derelict; many more are small but well kept. The majority, it seems, are the property of absentee owners who make seasonal visits. Artists also number among the inhabitants, notably the late Mustapha Dime, the creator of elegantly raw wood and metal sculptures,

  • Robert Storr

    1 “ACCUMULATED VISION, BARRY LE VA” (INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART, PHILADELPHIA) For me, the past year’s most awaited, most revealing, and most beautifully executed exhibition was this miniretrospective organized by Ingrid Schaffner (who deserves her own high ranking on some roster for the string of exhibitions she has curated over the years). Le Va is one of those ground-and-wall-and-glass-breaking characters whose reputation had for too many years hung tenuously on grainy Artforum photos (nostalgically recycled by Matthew Antezzo) and a few verbal generalizations. But the work itself is

  • Al Held

    AL HELD THOUGHT BIG and painted accordingly. Never more so than in the last years of his life, which ended this past summer, at the age of seventy-six. Among the scrappiest and most ambitious members of the second-generation Abstract Expressionists, Held was also the first to move decisively beyond AbEx’s attenuating conventions toward a bold, sharply contoured approach that harnessed the muscular gestures of the New York School to space-expanding graphic imagery. A series of works from the early ’60s thus feature massive, enlarged letter forms, of which The Big A, 1962, and The Big N, 1965,

  • Ron Gorchov

    RON GORCHOV could have been a contender—more times over than any other painter of his generation. If he gets the breaks and goes the distance this time, he will be one of the greatest comeback kids the New York School has ever seen. What are the odds on this happening? It’s almost impossible to say. But based solely on his recent exhibition of paintings made between 1968 and 2005 at Vito Schnabel’s temporary space in New York, I’d say he has an excellent shot. His chances this go-round are improved all the more by the discreet support of fellow artists Saint Clair Cemin and Ray Smith, in whose

  • Willem de Kooning

    Though comprising only fifty-two works, this show surveys de Kooning's entire career, including its final, still-controversial decade. The exhibition's innovation is the inclusion of nine contemporary painters whose work resonates with that of the Dutch Master.

    De Kooning would have turned one hundred last year, but it has been twenty years since his work was seen in depth in Europe. Though comprising only fifty-two works, this show surveys de Kooning's entire career, including its final, still-controversial decade. The exhibition's innovation is the inclusion of nine contemporary painters—among them Brice Marden and David Reed—whose work resonates with that of the Dutch Master. There are risks involved. In the '50s, the most dangerous place to be for a young artist with a subtle wrist was

  • Mike Kelley, Trickle Down and Swaddling Clothes, 1986, acrylic on paper, 2 sheets, each 60 x 95 1/2".

    What’s Not to Like?: Mike Kelley

    Andy Warhol: “I think everybody should like everybody.”

    Gene Swenson: “Is that what Pop Art is all about?”

    Andy Warhol: “Yes, it's liking things.”


    —“What Is Pop Art?” Art News, November 1963

    Go to the source. As far as Pop is concerned, that would be Warhol. Not because he was the first of his kind—Roy Lichtenstein edged him to cartoons and Claes Oldenburg to the dark side of the ’60s—but because his detachment set the rhetorical tone for the movement that imploded high culture and inverted mass culture with the same wicked equanimity. Liking things omnivorously and with a seemingly indiscriminate

  • Milton Resnick’s Tenth Street studio, New York, 1956. Clockwise from left: Irving Sandler, James Rosati, George Spaventa, Pat Passlof, Milton Resnick (standing), Earl Kerkam, Angelo Ippolito, Ludwig Sander, Elaine de Kooning, and Al Kotin. Photo: James Burke.

    Irving Sandler

    FIRST, FULL DISCLOSURE: I make a handful of brief appearances in this book, having known its author well for twenty years and having worked closely with him on several projects. This neither qualifies me nor disqualifies me to judge the writer or his account in any special way. Hundreds of people inside the New York art world and out could make the same claim. Many of them are mentioned in passing and some are discussed at length in these pages. Not all are famous, though numbers of them were famous but have since slipped into obscurity. That’s the way it goes, and Sandler is nothing if not

  • Untitled, 1943.

    Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings

    Arshile Gorky has generally been regarded as among the first Abstract Expressionists, and hence a paradigm-breaking innovator, but his art was deeply rooted in a devotion to the old masters (Cézanne, Picasso, and Miró) that bordered on impersonation and an emphasis on well-rehearsed displays of technical virtuosity.

    Arshile Gorky has generally been regarded as among the first Abstract Expressionists, and hence a paradigm-breaking innovator, but his art was deeply rooted in a devotion to the old masters (Cézanne, Picasso, and Miró) that bordered on impersonation and an emphasis on well-rehearsed displays of technical virtuosity. Gorky was unrivaled in his patently erotic longing for aesthetic release—and greatness. This 140-work exhibition, curated by the Whitney’s Janie C. Lee and Gorky scholar Melvin P. Lader, makes for good critical sport for those reconsidering the myth of AbEx from the vantage of Gorky’s

  • WARTS AND ALL: THE ART OF ALEXANDER ROSS

    THERE IS A PLACE ON THE CONTINUUM OF VISUAL EXPERIENCE WHERE THE DISTINCTION between natural and geometric form dissolves. Actually there are several such places, and the zones in which difference blurs overlap, such that one can speak of a multidimensional matrix at the core of which the macrocosmic and microcosmic, the organic and the geological, the living and the dead are confounded.

    This metamorphic space has long been the preoccupation of science and the playground of science fiction. Thanks to saturation advertising, “matrix” is now a universal buzzword for the digital template in which