• Paul Signac (1863-1935)

    Grand Palais
    3 avenue du Général Eisenhower
    October 9, 2015–May 28, 2001

    The average showroom Signac, invariably post-1900, condemns the artist as an uninspired designer, a slave to the dot. There are marvelous early works of the Paris suburbs, however, as well as resonant portraits such as that of critic Félix Fénéon. Signac’s role in the beginnings of modernism was indisputably crucial, and his meetings with van Gogh and Matisse were decidedly fruitful. Let’s hope this full-scale retrospective, which comes on the heels of Françoisc Cachin’s catalogue raisonné, proves the significance of those first years and does justice to the range of the artist’s output thereafter.

  • Pop Art Revisted

    Various Venues

    March 15–June 18, 2001

    Back in the ’60s, I used to think that Pop art sprung, fully formed, from the head of Leo Castelli at 4 East Seventy-seventh Street and that its shocking, larger-than-life newness was the birthright of an exclusive club whose charter members were Lichtenstein, Warhol, Rosenquist, and Oldenburg. For most New Yorkers at the time, art across the Atlantic was so beyond the pale that it might just as well have been from another planet. Despite Sidney Janis’s “New Realists” show in 1962, with its French contingent, or the realization that Richard Hamilton’s little collage of 1956, Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?, had offered a quiet British preview of far brasher American things to come, Pop meant America. For parochial New Yorkers, even the California contestants—Ruscha, Ramos, Thiebaud—seemed out of bounds.

    All that has changed, and now Pop art’s once singular American voice is inflected by accents both international and regional. As our viewfinder keeps widening, the idea of Pop expands in every direction, seeping into our over-all perspective on the art of the ’60s from both sides of the Atlantic. Such is the premise, at least, of “Les Années Pop,” the Centre Georges Pompidou’s spring exhibition, under the curatorial direction of Catherine Grenier. The 300-work survey promises a fresh excavation of the now-remote past, 1956-68, as seen from the retrospective threshold of a new century. The cast of characters will sweep across national boundaries, offering, for example, glimpses of Spain (Equipo Crónica), Italy (Pistoletto), France (Alain Jacquet), Germany (Richter), and England (Paolozzi); the borders of different media will be crossed as well, with nods to Pop architecture (Archigram, Robert Venturi, Disneyland), furniture (Arman, Allen Jones), even rock music. And historicizing, a staple of recent exhibition techniques, will introduce younger generations to the look and sound of Oldenburg’s Store and Warhol’s Factory, now to be experienced nostalgically in Paris as virtual reality.

    Far more modest, but equally revisionist, will be Houston’s fifty-six-work effort to pair American Pop artists with their Brit counterparts. Cocurated by David E. Brauer and Jim Edwards, “Pop Art: US/UK Connections, 1956-1966,” at the Menil Collection, will deal with the same time frame, mixing the usual suspects (Hockney, Ruscha, Hamilton, Dine, et al.) in Anglo-American alliances, but also reintroducing some lesser reputations (Pauline Boty, Joe Goode, Derek Boshier, Rosalyn Drexler) that have yet to become enfranchised in the global Pop enterprise. (“Postmodern Americans,” a companion show curated by Walter Hopps, explores Pop’s hold on this country to the present.) If this international expansion continues, Pop may appropriately become the golden arches of twentieth-century art.