Sidney Tillim

  • Stanley Friedman, Richard Chiriani, Arthur Kleinfelder and Joel Galker

    No generation since the post-war one of the mid-forties has seemed as emotionally involved with new art as the present one. Artists now in their late thirties and early forties, freshmen twenty years ago, consolidated the avant-garde in America for the first time by forcing a climate of acceptance and then entering the ranks of the vanguard themselves. Not incidentally, they helped to bring more than one moribund art school to life. I can recall the exact year—1946—that Dean Norman Rice began the modernization of the art curriculum at Syracuse University.

    Now, again, the young art students are

  • Gothic Parallels

    AS OF DECEMBER, THE AMERICAN Watercolor Society was 100 years old. The Metropolitan Museum is commemorating the anniversary with another of its historical but somewhat shapeless surveys. This one is called 200 Years of Watercolor Painting in America and it has no particular point of view on the subject.

    The Society’s anniversary has also been marked by the publication of A History of Watercolor Painting in America by Albert Ten Eyck Gardner, Associate Curator in charge of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Metropolitan.1 The book is a scandal. Virtually every one of the fifty color plates,

  • Rosemarie Beck

    Rosemarie Beck’s exhibition was almost overlooked. Right now New York is a Primary Structure festival and Miss Beck is a figurative painter. By itself, this is not the reason it was ignored, though it was most of the reason. Miss Beck is not original enough an illusionist to attack and not poor enough to forget. She is that difficult kind of painter––one who commands respect if she does not command love. And respect, if expressed for an unfashionable artist, is regarded by the beautiful people not so much as betrayal but––worse––terribly sentimental.

    Miss Beck turned from abstractionist to

  • Tiepolo Acquisitions at the Met

    THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM HAS very quietly purchased and placed on view three huge mural paintings by the 18th-century Venetian master, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Reputedly the best of a set of ten painted for the Dolfin family of Venice in the early 1700s, the huge oil paintings were acquired for an undisclosed sum from a source as yet undisclosed. It is not clear when the murals first arrived in the United States.1 Unquestionably the acquisition is a major, even miraculous, one; yet the paintings, the largest of which is 18 feet high and 11 feet wide, are something of a disappointment. Virtually

  • Surrealism as Art

    Form today is significant enough, significant of incapacity. Some hope I see in Surrealism; for the surrealists are showing, together with much silliness and indecency, a renewed respect for their materials, for some beauty of surface and a return to inventiveness in their paintings.

    —William Rothenstein in Since Fifty, Vol. 3 of his memoirs, Men and Memories, 1940

    THE HOPE OF A RETURN to illusionistic1 art is as old as modernism itself. It was a hope before art became fully abstract and it has sometimes been the hope of the most advanced art as well. In fact, abstract art encountered considerable

  • Philip Pearlstein and the New Philistinism

    IT IS A LONG TIME since modernist art seriously offended anyone, at least in a way that was enduringly significant culturally. “Le Dejeuner Sur L’herbe,” or, rather the scandal provoked by it, has become one of modernism’s most durable legends, and the cultivated bourgeoisie, assimilated to the tradition of the new, is now among that tradition’s most enthusiastic patrons. It not only expects to be shocked but counts on it as the most valid and visible criterion of esthetic judgment, which ironically assures it that (its) tradition is safe. It takes, in fact, extreme gestures to arouse the public

  • Edward Kienholz’s “Barney’s Beanery”

    IT’S DIFFICULT TO JUDGE with any accuracy just how the New York art world received Edward Kienholz’s ultimate assemblage—Barney’s Beanery—a bar reconstructed in every detail but living action. The New York Times ran an advance item on it, with a photograph, yet after it was installed in the Dwan Gallery’s recently opened New York quarters, the Beanery, to my knowledge, received little of the word-of-mouth publicity that is customary when an unusual exhibition happens along. It is safe, I think, to say that local cognoscenti missed its import—as I almost did—out of simple snobbism. I had intended

  • Robert Motherwell

    ONE WAS NOT CERTAIN whether it was the occasion or the art that mattered. Robert Motherwell was not only being honored by The Museum of Modern Art with a retrospective, but an era was at last being recognized in a way that it had not been before. On opening night, a momentary sense of unreality partially resolved itself into the awareness that Motherwell was the first “giant” of Abstract Expressionism to be honored by the museum in an atmosphere of seeming volition, even joy, rather than compulsion. Pollock had just died when his retrospective was assembled late in 1956 or early 1957. Gorky’s

  • Further Observations on the Pop Phenomenon

    “David McCallum is utterly self-contained and completely dedicated to his own world. He acts and loves acting, but he also lives and loves living. He has never dissipated himself, never soiled himself with casualness, never deviated from a passionate addiction to his own basic values.”

    Jean Kessner, Photoplay Magazine, July, 1965

    “Claes Oldenburg has subordinated his entire being to the pursuit of an original, intensely personal vision. His artistic goals are ambitious, and he applies himself to their realization with complete dedication . . . He is the completely inner-directed man. His personality

  • The Figure in Abstract Expressionism

    THE SUBJECT OF THIS ESSAY—the fate of the figure in Abstract Expressionism (or action painting)—is conceivable only in the light of post-Abstract Expressionist developments. Five years ago it was unthinkable. Abstract Expressionism was still popularly believed to deal in apocalyptic “acts,” the resulting imagery of which was at best a secondary presence. The total work was felt to have presence and the artist’s identity was said to be behind it. The only Abstract Expressionist of note still working with the figure—de Kooning—was relieved of guilt by association by interpreting his imploded