Author: Two Coats Staff

Catalogue Essay

Elisa D’Arrigo: Between the beautiful and the grotesque

Contributed by Kay Whitney / There is a fundamental paradox at work in Elisa D’Arrigo’s ceramic objects — while they are unmistakably beautiful, they break every standard for what is considered “beautiful.” They are small, shambolic, eccentric objects lacking symmetry; they are not overtly colorful and don’t attempt to please. They are humble, not loudly announcing nor applauding their own appearance; understated and private, the viewer must come to them. Rather than exhibiting the mechanical surfaces of a wheel-thrown or machine-made object, her forms bear the imprint of her hands and in that way reveal the processes of their making.

Film & Television

Arthouse Art House

Contributed by Jonathan Stevenson / The set-up of Vasilis Katsoupis’ slickly but somewhat facilely resonant feature debut Inside is deceptively simple. A high-end art thief is helicoptered onto the roof of a luxury Manhattan high-rise and, with the aid of a techie accomplice, hacks into the security system of an absurdly opulent penthouse, owned by a high-end art collector who is evidently away for a season or two. The thief is targeting several of Egon Schiele’s signature vampy drawings and a singularly valuable self-portrait.

Museum Exhibitions

Ed Ruscha’s retro spective

Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / The work of the Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha is often referred to as a West Coast version of Pop Art. The implication, of course, is that since it didn’t come out of New York, it must be inferior. His retrospective “Now Then,” his first at the Museum of Modern Art and first in New York since 1983, contains over 200 works from 1958 to the present. It includes paintings, drawings, prints, vitrines with selected self-produced photo-documentary books presented for our perusal, and some film (the Getty Research Institute owns a complete set of Ruscha’s artist’s books). The exhibition also includes the installation Chocolate Room, the walls of which are covered top to bottom with gridded sheets of paper silkscreened with chocolate syrup, recreated from its first iteration at the US pavilion in the 1970 Venice Biennale. Ruscha was also the American Biennale representative in 2017.

Art Fairs

Selected Paintings from SPRING/BREAK NYC 2023

Contributed by Fay Sanders and Bob Szyantyr / In a shift befitting this year’s theme, !WILD CARD!, the Spring/Break Art Show departs from its past trajectory of more-and-bigger spectacle, year after year. Building on the “Secret Show” of this past spring, which returned to the Old School where the fair began, the organizers asked artists for this year’s show at 625 Madison to revisit past themes with a mix of nostalgia, homage, and cheekiness.

Studio Visit

Studio visit: Charles Clough’s audacious return to sculpture

Contributed by Jack Edson / A trip to Charles Clough’s studio, situated with his gallery and library on three floors of the historic Roycroft Print Shop in East Aurora, New York, is always inspiring. I invariably see rooms full of art from the past and find new works headed in unexpected directions. On my visit last August, his vibrant new Slotted Sculptures blew me away. Displayed on long tables labelled “Clufffalo” (the idiosyncratically spelled phonetic melding of “Clough” and “Buffalo”), they evoke playful model-train layouts and are broadly aligned with the Roycroft Movement’s legacy of handcrafted works. At the same time, they move in their own direction, using the wild color schemes and dynamic shapes of Clough’s recent paintings. The freestanding pieces urge engagement, as viewers must walk attentively around them to digest all four sides. They constitute a genuinely thrilling advance. 

Group Shows

Confrontational color at Analog Diary

Contributed by Clare Gemima / Analog Diary’s group exhibition “Chromazones” – curated by Derek Eller, Abby Messitte, Katharine Overgaard and Franklin Parrasch – features a wide, intergenerational array of artists. Many works, including Clare Grill’s Plant, Pam Glick’s Cat, Dog, Car, Sky, and Yukine Yanagi’s Chrysalis, are traditional oil paintings. Others utilize unconventional materials, such as glitter, which is found in Chris Martin’s Fireflies, or gemstones, which appear in Alteronce Gumby’s I can’t stop thinking about love. And there are ceramic sculptures, like Peter Shire’s Scozzese and Ken Price’s Iggy. The show confronts viewers with abundant color. While that may be a narrow parameter, here it provides insight into each artist’s approach to material and method of application.


Short story: Rescue Center [Elizabeth Scheer]

Contributed by Elizabeth Scheer / I first discovered the Rescue Center while walking idly on the Upper West Side. I rang the bell and then stood in the atrium. A person came to the door and wrote my name on a clipboard. “You’ll be added to our mailing list,” they said.  I cannot recall if that individual was a man or a woman. Gender, race and so forth were not of consequence in such a place. The humans formed, in aggregate, a giant hand filled with seeds. 

Gallery shows

NYC Selected Gallery Guide: September, 2023

Contributed by Sharon Butler / Here are a few shows that stand out this month: Joan Snitzer at AIR in Brooklyn, Rebecca Morris at Bortolami, Leslie Smith III at Chart, Wade Guyton at Mathew Marks, Charline von Heyl at Petzel, and Sam Gilliam, Julian Schnabel, and Jules de Balincourt solos at Pace. We also got an announcement for a show of new Cady Noland sculptures at Gagosian in the 871 Park Avenue space. Is this a prank, we wondered (as we posted the news immediately on social media). A bunch of art fairs are in town this month, including the indefatigable Spring/Break Art Show. Art fair addresses, links, and dates are all posted at the end of the gallery listings. Summer’s over everyone — welcome back.

News comment Writing

On “negative criticism”

Contributed by Sharon Butler / Sean Tatol, the art critic who writes a snarky website called Manhattan Art Review, recently penned a piece for The Point about art criticism titled “Negative Criticism, a sentimental education.” In an era in which many critics prefer to describe work rather than judge it, Tatol’s Manhattan Art Review is notable for the “Kritic’s Korner” — short, sometimes scathing reviews that include a star ranking system: five is great, four is good, three is okay, two is bad, and one is awful. At artnet critic Ben Davis took a deep dive into Tatol’s essay in a two-part piece (one and two), that brings in ideas by other critics who have written on the topic. Davis wonders if “’negative criticism’”’ is the right way to frame the solution, or even if ‘the question of judgment’ is really a full picture of what is at stake.” I asked contributors at Two Coats of Paint if they had any thoughts about the essays or the state of art criticism today, and today we are running responses from critic David Carrier and artist-critic Laurie Fendrich.

Museum Exhibitions

Jo Baer: Space, position, and light

Contributed by David Carrier / Five smallish early Jo Baer paintings are on display in one white- walled gallery at DIA Beacon in her exhibition there since 2022. The show is both tantalizing and exasperating. In the 1970s, Baer became famous as a minimalist painter. Then she left New York, published a manifesto in 1983 proclaiming “I am no longer an abstract artist,” and changed her style completely.