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‘Portraiture From Manet to the Present’ at Leila Heller

New York

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Iké Udé, Amy Fine Collins, 2010, pigment on satin paper, 40" x 36". COURTESY LEILA HELLER GALLERY, NEW YORK

Iké Udé, Amy Fine Collins, 2010, pigment on satin paper, 40" x 36".

COURTESY LEILA HELLER GALLERY, NEW YORK

ook at Me: Portraiture From Manet to the Present” inaugurated Leila Heller’s new West 57th Street space and continued in the gallery’s Chelsea venue. The huge show, curated by Beth Rudin DeWoody and Paul Morris, was neither intimate nor introspective. Instead, it was celebrity-inspired and showy. The spirit of Andy Warhol was represented by his black-and-blue silkscreen-on-canvas Jackie (1964) of Jackie Kennedy in widow’s weeds, which actually radiated gravitas, and in his brighter-colored Farah Diba (1977), which also had heft.

Iké Udé’s photo Amy Fine Collins (2010) showed the fashion critic Collins sitting ramrod straight amid flamboyant patterns, while Eric Fischl’s knockout painting The Krakoffs (2006) advanced the society portrait with a masterful use of black clothing that cuts diagonally through the composition and offsets the subjects’ at-odds psyches, and two blurry “head-shot” portraits by the Iranian-born Y.Z. Kami plumbed depths one can’t quite fathom.

And then came the Crumbs—father (R.), mother (Aline Kominsky-Crumb), and daughter (Sophie)—keeping things from becoming boring. Aline’s garish colored-pencil drawing Lemon Tree Very Pretty (2011), with its lemon-sucking, cocktail-holding blonde, left viewers humming the title tune throughout the show—and beyond. Who says crassness doesn’t endure?

A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 97.

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