New York

Lennart Anderson

Graham Gallery

Lennart Anderson’s tiny still lifes, portraits and landscapes are quiet testimony to a gentle and ordered outlook on nature and the commonplace objects of domestic life. All of his canvases are intimate, unperturbed views, casual, yet never simply chance arrangements of items or forms, and uniformly pervaded with a melancholy starkness. Studio nudes in chaises-longues lie inattentive and lax; rivers glide smoothly beneath cloudy skies, as if waiting for some mercurial event to grace them in passage. Even factory chimneys can become a kind of pastorale, rising smokeless and barren from unpeopled buildings. Yet one never has the sense that either subjects or formal problems have truly been tackled.

Color is only the most veiled of suggestions in Anderson’s paintings—subdued sandy tints and greys predominate, even in the airiest marine landscapes, with only a touch of brick mauve or deep green on occasion. In several views of Maine factories and bridges, and in the river and beach landscapes, the clarity and balance of planar constructions in light and dark,and the duality of reflected shapes create engaging and moderately pleasing compositions. Nevertheless, the muted tonalities and evenness of the lighting often mask this interest, and the merits are more apparent in black and white reproduction than in color, strangely enough. Although on the surface the forms may look uninspired and conventionally treated, they do have a certain thoughtful delicacy, which is Anderson’s most redeeming quality, even in his more pallid still life arrangements of household objects.

Few portraits were exhibited, but two exceedingly sensitive Portraits of Mimi, the artist’s wife, in which a detailed definition of the face is contrasted with summary, broadly brushed areas suggesting the masses of the body, show this genre to be among Anderson’s most successful endeavors to date.

It is a strangely chilling and often remarked feature of American history that periodically, our Presidents have been assassinated. The initial shock of the event sets off the inevitable, emotion-packed descriptions by the press, and the frequently exaggerated or vengeful reactions of the public. Then interest usually settles down to an abiding fascination with all of the gory details and suspicious undercurrents relating to the crime, or the capture and trial of an assassin.

Emily Wasserman