Tag: Laurie Fendrich

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.

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

The real deal: James Brooks reconsidered

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.

Solo Shows

Miyoko Ito: Past ordeal to beauty

Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / When I walked into the large middle gallery at Matthew Marks, where the stunning work of Miyoko Ito (1918–1983) from the 1970s is concentrated, a person in the gallery turned to me and said, “Give me a coffee machine and a cot and I can spend the rest of my life here.” I completely understood. I first encountered Ito’s work when I was in graduate school at the Art Institute of Chicago. Along with my teachers Ray Yoshida and Richard Loving, Ito joined my roster of painting heroes. The current exhibition includes three small, figurative lithographs, but the thrust of the show is the paintings – painstaking abstractions with allusions. Sixteen, spanning the period 1942 to 1983, the year of her death, are on view. All are modest in scale and, though there are color constants, each has its own particular – and novel – composition.  


Short story: Bernard’s Eye [Laurie Fendrich]

The annual New Year’s Day party hosted in the cavernous Robeson home in Evanston was invariably a drag, but that didn’t keep anyone who received an invitation from accepting. They went because they were grateful to be on the party list and they wanted to see and be seen. Bernard Souser, the art dealer from whom Sissy Robeson regularly bought paintings, always was invited, of course, and though he’d arrive late and sneak away early, Sissy never noticed….

Museum Exhibitions

When an artist becomes a community: The life and work of Benjamin Wigfall

Contributed by Laurie Fendrich / Understanding the work of the mostly overlooked artist Benjamin Wigfall (1930–2017) requires looking at far more than the art. Over the course of his lifetime he made numerous paintings, assemblages, collages, and prints, a number of which are on display in the large, thoughtfully curated survey exhibition “Ben Wigfall & Communications Village” at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz.


Short story: The Cat Sitter [Laurie Fendrich]

Hold on, hold on, Harry said to himself as he scrolled back up the web site.  

Academic couple in Westchester looking for reliable cat sitter for our cat. Must be willing to stay in our home, set on two private acres, mostly weekends but at times longer. Employment begins end of June and continues through fall. $100/day. References required. If interested DM me. Alice Wikam.


Short story: Bernard Goes to Chicago [Laurie Fendrich]

Spring had arrived in Chicago, but wouldn’t you know it, just as people were putting away their winter clothes a snowstorm hit. It pushed in hard from the plains, its wind snapping off tree limbs and flattening daffodils. The snow was supposed to go all day, so Bernard reluctantly left his car behind and took the Ashland bus to his gallery on Chicago Avenue where Molly Upton, his most important artist, was to meet him for a walkthrough of her show before the opening at five o’clock.