Contributed by David Carrier / Emilio Vedova (1919–2006), who lived and worked in Venice, was once aptly dubbed the Jackson Pollock of the barricades. Employing that American painter’s gestural technique, Vedova made political art. “Rivoluzione Vedova” – “Revolution Vedova” – is an appreciative retrospective of his work on the third floor of the spacious M9 Museum of the 20th Century in Mestre, a very short train ride from Venice.
Contributed by D. Dominick Lombardi / Jammie Holmes, a self-taught painter born and raised in Thibodaux, Louisiana, now based in Dallas, is one of the artists currently featured in Marianne Boesky Gallery’s viewing rooms. “Make the Revolution Irresistible,” his first solo museum exhibition, is also up through November 26 at The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. I first came across a Holmes painting earlier this year at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, as part of its exhibition “Then Is Now: Contemporary Black Art in America.” The show carried an explicit message about how little the opportunities for African Americans had advanced in the last 60 years, and how much worse things had gotten since 2016.
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.
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.
Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / “A Painting is a Real Thing,” the Parrish Museum’s current exhibition of the work of the Abstract Expressionist painter James Brooks (1906–1992), is his first comprehensive retrospective in 35 years. On the rare occasions I’ve encountered Brooks’s paintings, I’ve paid them scant attention. Like many, I have walked on by, presumptively ranking him well below the likes of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko. With this survey of more than 100 paintings, drawings, and prints, I find myself reconsidering Brooks’s status. With the 176-page catalog containing essays by adjunct curator Klaus Ottmann and artist-writer Michael Solomon, the show makes a case that Brooks’s art is more original and important – both within and beyond the context of the AbEx movement – than most of us thought.
Contributed by David Carrier / It’s difficult to imagine a more effective presentation of Clyfford Still’s work than “A Legacy for Buffalo,” now in the brand-new wing of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. In four very high, white-walled galleries, the 33 paintings – most of them made between 1937 and 1963 and bearing Still’s distinctly prosaic and thematically unenlightening titles – have room to breathe and provide a full picture of Still’s early development.
Contributed by Matilde Guidelli-Guidi / In the 1970s, Jack Whitten developed a unique painting language driven by process and concept and characterized by material experimentation, dense luminosities, and multidimensionality. This exhibition brings together forty works from Whitten’s land- mark Greek Alphabet series, realized in his downtown New York studio between 1975 and 1978. The paintings were on view at DIA Beacon through July 10, 2023.
Contributed by Jason Stopa / An international survey at the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University explores how contemporary artists use abstraction to encode otherwise invisible realities: climate change, political strife, and inequalities of all stripes. Some are household names, others still emerging. Titled “So it appears,” the show is anything but timid. It boasts some 19 artists occupying three floors, each one grappling with the limits of abstraction and its history and pressing beyond the frame of the canvas. Western abstraction has tackled social and political issues before – there was deconstruction in the 1960s, Neo-Geo in the eighties, and most recently the palpable Trump-era uptick. “So it appears” looks to the Global South for perspective.
Contributed by Margaret McCann / Vincent van Gogh drew from many sources in his short, intensely inventive career. “Van Gogh’s Cypresses,” now up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, highlights his encounter with the Mediterranean conifer. A symbol of mourning, it dramatically punctuates the Tuscan landscape, and appears in paintings by Leonardo, in Arnold Bocklin’s Isle of the Dead series (who probably it in Rome), and Salvador Dali, among others. Van Gogh noticed the “interesting, dark note” in the Provencal landscape, near the end of a peripatetic life.
Contributed by David Carrier / Joan Brown’s retrospective at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh includes some 40 paintings, most of them large, and a couple of sculptures. The high, white-walled galleries on the top floor of the museum afford her paintings ample room to breathe.