Critics’ Picks

Beauford Delaney, Untitled (Trees), ca.1945, oil on canvas, 29 x 23''.

Beauford Delaney, Untitled (Trees), ca.1945, oil on canvas, 29 x 23''.

New York

“It’s Not Your Nature”

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
100 Eleventh Avenue
June 2–August 5, 2016

Summer shows can feel like that other seasonal occurrence, the stoop or yard sale. “It’s Not Your Nature” is a hodgepodge of art under a vague sign. But when you’re dealing with Lee Krasner, Harry Bertoia, and Norman Lewis—and when your view is Fairfield Porter’s, across the barrier islands in Maine—it’s compelling stuff to sift through. It’s also a rare chance outside of a museum to see so many modern American masters up close and personal.

The show’s title is a confusing pun, as the pieces seem very much in the nature of the twenty-two artists on display and incorporate an expansive conception—whether petroglyph, bird, branch, or sky—of what one thinks of when it comes to the natural world.

But it’s the work that matters, and there are wonders. Lenore Tawney, a fiber-arts pioneer who was a confidant and studio neighbor of Agnes Martin at Coenties Slip in New York, is represented here by a stunning unraveling of Minimalist line, Arbor #1, ca. 1960: a profusion of golden flowers that climb up rambling vines of wool, linen, and silk open-warp weaving. In delightful directional counterpoint, Hale Woodruff’s painting Landscape with Fallen Star, 1979, hangs next to it. Another strong cluster includes a knockout small Joan Mitchell, Untitled, ca. 1967, that carries in its blue-green abstraction the tonic viridity of two adjacent works: Beauford Delaney’s Untitled (Trees), ca. 1945, and Alma Thomas’s Lake Reflecting Advent of Spring, 1973. Depending on your nature, you’ll find your own treasures.