A determinant piece of good luck during my high school yearsthe early 1950swas a class pass offering free admission to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, a privilege I availed myself of virtually every afternoon. This meant I was able to absorb the collections as Alfred H. Barr Jr., the famed founding director of the institution, had installed themtightly organized according to country and style.
One work in particular stuck out like a sore thumb from Barr’s didacticsRichard Oelze’s Erwartung (Expectation), 1935–36. That piece, loaned to Michael Werner Gallery for this exhibition, is, in its droopy representationalism, quite different from the remaining paintings and drawings that were in the show, most of which dated to the late ’50s and the turn of the ’60s. A rather verdigris grisaille work, Erwartung depicts a group of some twenty-plus behatted observers
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