Retrospective: Barnett Newman on the New York School

And other excerpts from our coverage 100, 75, 50, and 25 years ago

September 18, 1915

September 18, 1915

100 Years Ago

“No Architectural Awards”

The International Jury on architecture at the Panama-Pacific Exposition, which met in San Francisco during the summer and awarded the Grand Prix to Italy, gold medals to the buildings of France, California and other countries and states and numerous silver and bronze medals, on account of a disagreement repudiated and cancelled all the awards.

Some confusion of ideas has arisen in the architectural world through the announcement, after this negative action of the architectural jury, of the award of a gold medal to Cass Gilbert for the model of the Woolworth Building, N. Y., which he designed. This award was given in the Liberal Arts department and for the model of the building, not as an art architectural award.

September 14, 1940

September 14, 1940

75 Years Ago

“The Soviet Printmaker and Results of a Competition,”
by Doris Brian

Opportunities offered under the Soviet to graphic artists have been numerous and their talents have been constantly employed in the illustration of many books which have been distributed in large editions. A small cross section of the product of recent years is now hung at the A.C.A. Galleries, and from it one can form an impression not only of the variety of the publications of Russian and other European classics but also of the styles of the artists from all parts of the Union. While there seems to be little original contribution either in style or in technique—woodcut and lithography are the favored media—many of the printmakers are highly accomplished.

One of the leaders of the contemporary school is V. Favorsky whose powerfully composed woodcut of the famed Moscow Metro is here shown together with the work of some of his followers. Much care has been taken to represent the expressions of national and “racial” groups within in the country, and in evidence of this are presented woodcuts with Hebrew inscriptions by Moisei Fradkin and a group of absolutely Persian miniatures by Mathilda Mgebrishvili in the manner of the seventeenth century.

September 1965

September 1965

50 Years Ago

“The New York School Question,”
by Barnett Newman

The “New York School,” I find, exists only in California. It is curious that the only shows so titled have taken place there. The first one was in 1951, arranged by Robert Motherwell. Now we have another. Don’t those who use this label realize that, by doing so, they succeed in seceding from America? Actually New York had nothing to do with it. In my own case, if by New York is meant its institutions, it did not do that much for me. It is really the other way around. I helped make New York a place, as did Pollock, de Kooning and the others. It is even more curious that in this very extensive catalogue, there are no curricula vitae. The dates of birth but not the birth places are listed. Do you think that because of all the painters, only Gottlieb and myself are native New Yorkers and everyone else comes from someplace else, they are trying to hide it, to make New York a label that really sticks? It is even more curious that in regard to the notion of a New York School, Mr. [Clyfford] Still and [Ad] Reinhardt, who are on the record more than once as being anti-New York School, have offered the work they own themselves to become new members. Have they recanted? If this show truly represents the New York School, it is surprising to find them in and to find artists missing such as Brooks, Stamos, Cavallon, Marca-Relli, Tworkov, Ossorio, Vicente, Glarner, Sander, etc., and the ladies, Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, Hedda Sterne. All were active in New York during those important years.

September 1990

September 1990

25 Years Ago

“Venice: Site Specific,”
by Steven Henry Madoff

There was a good deal of favorable comment about the Indian Anish Kapoor’s stone sculptures in the British pavilion, and the British had done a smart job of marketing by handing out catalogues in shopping bags boldly imprinted with the artist’s name, as if he were an upscale boutique. But the work, mostly brought in from previous shows in New York and London, was nothing new. Kapoor hadn’t done anything special for Venice. His art nonetheless seems to have made a fresh impression, as he won the Biennale prize for artists under the age of 35.

Yet he artist under 35 most spoken of—in fact the only other name mentioned with the near frequency of [Jenny] Holzer—was another American: Jeff Koons. His work appeared in the banal and seemingly endless exhibition for younger artists called “Aperto.” His extremely vulgar and poorly executed sculpture of himself in the buff lying alongside the Italian porn-star-turned-politician Cicciolina was flanked by laser-painted canvases of the slickly unamorous couple, unveiled and smug in various revealing close-ups—which gave the term “site-specific” a whole other meaning. The Italian press had a field day with Koons’ soft-core seriousness, but his explicit (slightly pimpled) display of the way he evidently thinks artists must market themselves today only showed that truth in advertising may have its drawbacks after all.

A version of this story originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 96.

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