Art of the City

Art in the Dead of Winter: A Painting Blowout at Gavin Brown, the Winter Antiques Show, and ML Artspace

Katherine Berhardt in 'Call and Response,' on view at Gavin Brown's Enterprise through February 28, 2015.

Katherine Berhardt in ‘Call and Response,’ on view at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise through February 28, 2015.

It is cold and wet outside in New York, which is not an ideal combination, the conditions making it essential for any trip outside to really count. Below, two suggestions for art exhibitions on view with plenty to offer, and a third that lasted only for a few hours but heated a room for one evening very successfully. Stay warm.

“Call and Response” at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

While everyone was quarrelling over the Museum of Modern Art’s critic-baiting contemporary painting show “The Forever Now,” Gavin Brown and his staff were organizing this toothsome rejoinder. It includes more than three times as many artists (almost 60, including eight on view in the MoMA show) and offers a more expansive view of what is happening in painting today. The mood is exuberant, extroverted, attuned to pleasure. Omissions are righted, borders expanded.

Brian Belott in 'Call and Response.'

Brian Belott in ‘Call and Response.’

There’s Katherine Bernhardt, with one of her wild still lifes, a beast of a canvas with cartoon socks, bananas, and—wait for it—Capri Sun juice packets; Brian Belott, with a sharply patterned, reverse-glass number embedded with socks, as unlikely an artwork as you may ever see; and Matt Connors (a MoMA pick), whose 7-foot-tall slab of wood, leaning on the wall and painted black and Starburst pink, pushes painting into the realm of sumptuous minimal sculpture. It’s an especial joy to see younger artists looking strong alongside stalwarts like Michael Krebber and Charline von Heyl. Among them are Jamian Juliano-Villani, Sadie Laska, Van Hanos, Avery Singer, Will Benedict, and Sanya Kantarovsky, who’s showing the only painting I’ve encountered that depicts a woman spitting on a man. Really nice. And Joe Bradley is here to remind everyone what Oscar Murillo seems to have tried to steal from him.

Hung salon style in a single room, the show is a touch hard to digest, and you may feel there are some omissions. I would add Austin Lee, Whitney Claflin, Sarah Crowner, Gina Beavers, Heather Guertin, and Nolan Simon. But I am sure that I am also forgetting people, and taken for what it is—a survey, an introduction, a reason to get together to party and argue—it is a solid affair.

A drawing by a schoolgirl by Hannah B. Badger at Pollack in the Winter Antiques Show.

A drawing by a schoolgirl by Hannah B. Badger at Pollack in the Winter Antiques Show.

The 61st Winter Antiques Show

Its $25 ticket price is a little steep, but the 61st Winter Antiques Show, with 73 international exhibitors, always has some art offerings that you are unlikely to see elsewhere or, perhaps, ever again, if private collectors snap them up.

One great surprise on my visit last night was painting by Pop artist Allan D’Arcangelo from 1964, called Guard Rail, which has one of his wide-open roads overlaid with fencing and barbed wire. It is a supremely weird work, but elegant and rough-hewn. Deaccessioned by the Whitney, according to Washington, D.C.’s Geoffrey Diner Gallery, which is selling it, the painting is on view at the Park Avenue Armory through Sunday, February 1, when the fair closes.

Other highlights: a somber 1958 Fairfield Porter painting of the view outside his studio, which looks like it could have been painted by Morandi, at New York’s Magen Gallery; Charles Burchfield and the early American portraitist Ammi Phillips (a child in a radiant pale pink dress with a spaniel) at Hirschl & Adler; a touching, detailed drawing of an interior from around 1812 by one Hannah P. Badger, a schoolgirl, at Frank & Barbara Pollack American Antiques & Art; and, at New York’s Jonathan Boos gallery, a humble little vase with flowers by the self-taught Horace Pippin and a gloriously patchy late Sea Piece (1951) that John Marin painted two years before his death.


Detail of a cabinet by William ‘Willie’ Howard.

My tendency is always to go around antiques shows on the lookout for canvases, but the absolute highlight of the fair was, of all things, a wooden desk that was tipped off to me by the Instagram of Meaghan Roddy, the head of sales in Phillips’ design department. Brought to the fair by Allan Katz Americana of Woodbridge, Connecticut, it is a writing desk from about 1870, and its doors are carved with an array of smooth representations of all sorts of utensils and tools—forks, knives, pails, pitchers—and the odd hand and leg. William “Willie” Howard, a former slave who stayed on his plantation in Mississippi after being freed, made it when he was in his 70s. There are only two other known works by him, and they are in the collections of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hardford, Connecticut. Alas, this third example has already been sold.

A work by Joseph Geagan and Jessie Reaves.

A work by Joseph Geagan and Jessie Reaves at ‘DAS GESAMTSEXWERK’ at Spectrum.


“M/L Artspace Presents: DAS GESAMTSEXWERK” at Spectrum

A final note: on one of the coldest nights of the month, two weeks back, artists Lena Henke and Marie Karlberg (who organize shows as M/L Artspace) put together an action-packed one-night exhibition at the venturesome Spectrum theater in Bushwick. One tiny room was transformed into a ramshackle, hypnotic John Armleder installation, all flashing lights and mirrors. Jessie Reaves and Joseph Geagan showed menacing, brightly painted new fabric dolls on chairs. The walls held a photo of a silver mannequin by Wolfgang Tillmans (apparently shot on site) and photo bondage scenes by Sophie Mörner (each involving a woman, rope, and a horse), among others. Early on in the night, after announcing that it would be his last performance for two years, the indefatigable Jacolby Satterwhite, outfitted in his skintight bodysuit, performed a bravely energetic dance in front of one of his projected video pieces, at one point grabbing a member of the audience and making out with him on the ground. The place was packed. The event furnished just another piece of evidence that claims about New York losing its cultural relevance are sadly out of touch.

“Art of the City” is a weekly column by ARTnews co-executive editor Andrew Russeth.

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