New York

“Modernist Painting in America”

Robert Schoelkopf Gallery

The show of thirty-two small works at the Schoelkopf Gallery affords a minor confirmation of the same point. There were three or four decent things in it—especially the Matulka and the Bruce—but all these artists are too certainly artists who are dealing with other artists’ art and who understand, of what they are dealing with, principally the inessentials—not even entirely the “look.” And like Weber, or Dove in his early years, or O’Keeffe even at her most abstract, these artists always turn to sources that any informed or alert spectator would inevitably and automatically consider as primarily conceptual, and treat them as though they were wholly emotive! Most commentators have tried to isolate some characteristic of the American spirit in seeking an explanation of this fact, such as an attempt to break out of a deep-rooted loneliness by sheer force of feeling. I prefer to remain on safer ground, in merely noting these artists’ unfamiliarity with that part of picture-making which involves thought. But this probably includes the feelings, also, since more often than not these are confused and unresolved.

Jerrold Lanes