The French connection at Cheim & Read

Louise Fishman, “Violets For My Furs,” 2010, oil on jute, 50 x 42″

Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002), “Untitled,” circa 1967, oil on canvas, 10 1/2 x 7 1/2″

In the 1950s, while the NYC Abstract Expressionists approached painting like a theoretical chess game, often reducing their investigations to a single trope (Pollock–spatter, Rothko–Sfumato, etc.), painters in France continued to explore the possibilities, rather than the limitations, inherent in the medium. French painters worked within painting’s traditional boundaries, but investigated its rich complexity. “Le Tableau,” a show organized by artist and critic Joe Fyfe, attempts to uncover the influence these painters had on contemporary practice, with a particular focus on the contribution of French abstraction from the post-war era. Created by both French and American painters, the selectted work places an emphasis on materiality and structure.

According to Roberta Smith, the show is a good reminder that quality is as much a matter of authenticity as invention. ‘What counts is the impact of the individual work on the individual viewer, and the way painting echoes through painting. There�s plenty impact and echoing here. A tiny clogged canvas by Jean-Paul Riopelle from 1967 could easily have been painted by Louise Fishman, whose more expansive work hangs opposite. Between them a large fluttery work by Daniel Hesidence contradicts the compression of its opposite number: Jean Fautrier�s small slab of white paint tinted pale red on green. The sparse, tilelike geometry of a 2009 work by Bernard Piffaretti parses the voluptuous blues and greens of a 1977 canvas by Joan Mitchell. Adjacent paintings by Richard Aldrich and Juan Usl� sparkle on the subject of bare canvas, hard edges and green. Works by Merlin James, John Zurier, Katy Moran, Sarah Rapson and Jean Fran�ois Maurige are among several others that reward close attention.”

Joe Fyfe, “The Red Fort,” 2010, felt and cotton, 70 x 108″ (Not in show)

Daniel Hesidence, Untitled ( Autumn Buffalo ),” 2009, 0il on canvas, 102 x 138″

Jean Fautrier (1898 – 1964), Terre D’Espagnet,” 1956, oil on canvas, 8 3/4 x 10 3/4″

 Bianca Beck, “Baby,” 2009, oil on wood, 16 x 12″
 Merlin James, “Cat,” 2004-07, acrylic on canvas, 13 x 22″
Katy Moran, “The Source,” 2006, acrylic on canvas, diptych, 38 x 46″

Miquel Mont, “Pore XXXIV,” 2007, acrylic on plywood, 76 3/4 x 47 1/4 x 2 1/2″

 Jonathan Lasker, “Lessons in Reality,”2010, oil on canvasboard, 12 x 16”

Bernard Piffaretti, “Untitled,” 2009, acrylic on canvas, 118 x 71″

Le Tableau: French Abstraction and Its Affinities,” Cheim & Read, New York, NY. Through Sept. 3, 2010. (Make sure to check out C&R’s excellent website for the show.)


  1. This is one show I mean to see this summer – thanks for posting.

    Some readers might not be aware that Riopelle was Mitchell's partner from 1955 to 1979. In this case I see Mitchell's influence in his usually more dense paintings. Her work began to open up during the same period, into large rectangular masses of color.

  2. I would like to note that the painting by Charline von Heyl, is not reproduced in the Cheim and Read online checklist and was also not mentioned by Ms Smith in her review.

    In my opinion, it was the strongest, most advanced painting in the exhibition.
    See page 14 of the installation views, on the south, street side wall.

  3. OK, either I just missed it, or John fixed it, but the von Heyl is on the C&R site now.

  4. this looks like a great show. a fine example of curating a contemporary art exhibit with historical roots that does not weigh in heavy on the old boy network. i hope i can get down to nyc to see! thanks for another excellent post.

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