December 20, 2016, 10:11am
Twenty-thousand years after man first huddled in a dimly lit cave and consciously placed marks upon a wall in an attempt to better understand, and perhaps change, the world, contemporary artists continue to make marks on two-dimensional surfaces with much the same intent. No matter how many times painting has “died” over the years, it keeps coming back to take another shot - reanimated, reinvigorated and ready to deliver the goods. And why not? People still respond and attend to the oldest of mediums with a reverence that no other artifact of cultural production can elicit.
In 2016, artists continued to make paintings, while galleries and cultural institutions dedicated the majority of their exhibition space to their display. During art fair week in Miami in early December, which was marred by low attendance due to post-election malaise and the specter of Zika, there was more painting on view than ever. Photography and other media were scarce. As was evident last year, much of the painting of display was representational with the preponderance of figurative subject matter being notable. Even at the younger fairs such as NADA, there was an almost complete absence of the type of bland, process-based abstraction that had been everywhere for the last five years. Ever aware of the latest trends, smart dealers of all levels have scrambled to bring image based painting into their programs.
I am happy to see that many of the artists that I selected for last year’s list had stellar years. Brian Belott seemed to be everywhere having been taken on by both Gavin Brown and Moran Bondaroff in 2016. Emerging artists Loie Hollowell and Laeh Glenn both became collector darlings in 2016, and mature artist Nancy Shaver had a very strong outing at Derek Eller that received positive critical attention. – Steven Zevitas, Editor/Publisher
December 08, 2016, 10:26am
For art lovers, art fairs are a blessing and a curse. There is a lot to look at, but, unfortunately, it is almost impossible to really look at anything. Distractions are everywhere. Art Basel Miami is perhaps the most difficult environment to focus on art that I have ever encountered. Navigating the crowds that aimlessly meander from one side of a congested aisle to another is challenging enough. Pair that with the siren call of hundreds of large scale works in every media simultaneously screaming for your attention and you will find art fair malaise setting in rapidly.
The 2016 iteration of Miami Basel was as overwhelming as ever, even if, as the press has widely noted, there were fewer people in attendance. It was hard to ignore some of the “major” works there – Lee Krasner’s 6 million dollar painting at Paul Kasmin, Sam Durant’s call to arms at Blum & Poe, and Yayoi Kusama’s infinity room at Victoria Miro, to name a few – but I tried my best not to get distracted. I found that the greatest visual pleasures came in small packages this year. The fair’s Survey Sector, which is dedicated to one-person exhibitions, was the highlight of the fair for me with Howardena Pindell, Margaret Kilgallen, Betye Saar, Giogio Morandi and Romare Bearden all looking stellar. Many other great works could be found in the Miami Convention Center if you gave it time.
Here are some favorites from Miami Basel 2016. - Steven Zevitas, Editor/Publisher
February 11, 2016, 8:54am
The needs and priorities of artists are in constant flux. Art historians have attempted to document this flux by identifying a series of seismic shifts in aesthetics and attaching to each its defining characteristics. This practice has provided us with a litany of isms that stretch back centuries. Art history will continue to roll on, but it very well may be that the age of the ism is behind us. That’s not to say that there are not, and will not continue to be, clusters of like-minded artists whose combined efforts can generate an aesthetic critical mass that historians are able to delineate. But with instant global communication, the time in which new ideas are disseminated, assimilated, and ultimately disregarded is so compressed that the enterprise has been, at best, reduced to trend spotting.
The medium of painting, in particular, has always been prone to noticeable trends. For the better part of a decade, the trend of note has been the overwhelming amount of abstraction that has circulated, in particular that of the provisional, or de-skilled ilk. While there are some talented artists working in this vein––Richard Aldrich and Joe Bradley, to name two––much of the stuff is so hopelessly bland and devoid of meaningful content that it has garnered the moniker “zombie formalism.” In the past two years, however, the winds have shifted. Abstraction is out, and the figure is in; flatness is out, as artists begin to embrace a space that lies somewhere between reality and a digital simulacrum of it.
Both of these trends were widely visible in 2015. As I wandered though the various art fairs that make up Miami’s art week in early December I was overwhelmed by the amount of figurative painting on view…much of if it at galleries that have rarely, if ever, exhibited such work. The figure is everywhere, and being addressed with all manner of stylistic intonation. Even more conspicuous was the number of artists who, whatever their subject matter, are conjuring a kind of space that seems teasingly “real,” yet clearly relies on life as experienced through the computer screen more than the living room window. Perhaps this is not a surprise, given that a generation of artists weaned on the Internet is now coming of age.
Before getting in to this year’s list of Artists to Watch, I want to say how pleased I am to see the success of all of the artists featured on last year’s list. Sadie Benning had a knockout show at Susanne Vielmetter in Los Angeles that was critically acclaimed. Katherine Bernhardt took it to the next level with her outing at Venus Over Manhattan. Daniel Heidkamp, who just gets better and better, was heavily in demand. Eddie Martinez, whose current show at Mitchell-Innes & Nash is his best to date, is now firmly on the radar of serious international collectors. Most exciting to me is the attention given to mature painter, Katherine Bradford. Bradford has been making her quirky, extraordinary paintings for years and, finally, the world has caught up. Her work looked completely of-the-moment at NADA Miami, and her subsequent one-woman show at CANADA in New York City was a huge commercial and critical success. – Steven Zevitas, Editor/Publisher
April 02, 2014, 9:32am
Back in December, I wrote an article in which I suggested that, after a number of years in which abstraction has been the dominant mode of painting in the “contemporary art world,” we might start to see an upswing in image-based painting. It is not exactly a Delphic prophecy given the way in which today’s market driven art world is constantly craving the next best thing, and, I might add, in ever more compressed cycle times. In conducting my monthly survey of commercial gallery shows this month I was struck by the amount of representational work on view, and even more so by the “academic” rigor much of it evinces. So what am I talking about? Have a look… – Steven Zevitas, Publisher
March 19, 2014, 5:39pm
Artists come and go, and so do galleries. Last week gallery owner Kristen Dodge announced that DODGEgallery, which has been in operation since 2010 in New York City’s bustling Lower East Side arts district, was closing shop. The news took a lot of people, including myself, by surprise. - Steven Zevitas, Publisher
March 03, 2014, 10:12am
I let the cat out of the bag a little early with this piece. It was supposed to be released today on the NAP/BLOG and it was posted earlier than expected on The Huffington Post. Over the weekend I received dozens of emails, calls and Facebook comments - I am going to respond to all of them in good time – and the piece was viewed by more than 25,000 individuals on the Huff Po. A heartfelt thanks for all the great feedback. The response demonstrates that the issues addressed in the article/rant are on the minds of a lot of people. I look forward to continuing the dialog. - Steven Zevitas, Publisher
I had a Jerry Maguire moment last night. I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to write. The following thoughts are a bit of a ramble – a sketch really – and I leave it to others to expand on the dialogue. If I had a business manager, I’d probably be told that for someone who makes part of their living as an art dealer, putting these words “out there” is not a particularly bright move. If I had a boss, he might fire me. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, I don’t have either.
February 25, 2014, 9:46am
I put together my first selection of Forty Galleries You Should Know if You Love Paint in 2012. As with everything in life, a lot has changed in the art world over the past two years. Some of my favorite galleries have closed, including Harris Lieberman in New York City and the legendary Daniel Weinberg Gallery in Los Angeles, while some younger galleries have either suddenly appeared or have developed their programming in truly noteworthy ways.
Of all the changes since 2012, the most difficult has been the recent loss of the visionary and beloved New York art dealer who simply went by the name Hudson. His gallery, Feature, Inc., has been a critical part of the city’s frenetic art scene since the mid-1980s. Hudson brought early exposure to dozens of important artists, including Alexander Ross and Tom Friedman. In the past few years, his championing of mid-career artists such as Andrew Masullo and David Deutsch helped bring their work much-deserved attention. While Hudson will long be remembered for his impact on the art world, it is his quiet intelligence and gentle spirit that I will miss the most. There is no word yet as to what will become of Feature, Inc. – Steven Zevitas, Publisher
January 30, 2014, 9:50am
There are more than two-dozen New American Paintings’ alumni on view this month, and some of our favorites are among them. Molly Zuckerman-Hartung opens a show of new work at Corbett vs. Dempsey in Chicago on February 7th, just two months before she appears in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Four extremely talented Los Angeles-based artists will have exhibitions in New York City this month: Sarah Cain at Galerie Lelong; Iva Gueorguieva at Ameringer|McEnery|Yohe; Frohawk Two Feathers at Morgan Lehman; and Lisa Sanditz at CRG Gallery (I should add that all four of these artists were featured in NAP early in their careers…yes, it pays to subscribe). If you are on the West Coast, then be sure to check out James Sterling Pitt at Gallery Paule Anglim in San Francisco and Patrick Wilson at Susanne Vielmetter in LA.
Frohawk Two Feathers. Courtesy of Morgan Lehman, New York City.
It sounds like an obvious statement, but there is a lot going on in New York City in February, especially for emerging painters. I am particularly excited about the following exhibitions: Julia Rommel at Bureau, Katherine Bernhardt at Canada, Gabriel Hartley at Foxy Production, Davina Semo at Marlborough Chelsea, Whitney Claflin at Real Fine Arts, Ted Gahl at Dodge Gallery and Holly Coulis at Sardine. Our old friend, Eddie Martinez, has once again put on his curator’s hat and cooked up a must see group show titled Bad Fog at Martos Gallery that closes on February 15th.
A number of galleries around the country are giving shows to deceased artists who are just starting to become better recognized. One of the truly great “realist” painters, of the twentieth-century Gregory Gillespie, will be on view at Forum Gallery in New York City. Also in New York, be sure to see Mitchell-Innes and Nash’s show of work by the Croatian painter, Julije Knifer, and Michel Majerus at Matthew Marks Gallery. In Santa Fe, overlooked abstractionist Oli Sihvonen will have eleven paintings from his last, and largely unseen, body of work on view at David Richard Gallery. - Steven Zevitas, Publisher
January 06, 2014, 8:52pm
I looked a lot of art while hunkering down to escape the subarctic temperatures blasting through Boston and much of the rest of the country. My monthly review of more than four hundred gallery shows yielded close to one hundred must-see painting shows, three-dozen of which involve New American Paintings’ alumni.
Among the NAP exhibitions are Radcliffe Bailey at Jack Shianman Gallery in New York City (the mid-career, Atlanta-based artist’s work was the focus of a stellar museum exhibition that traveled for much of 2011 and 2012); John Sparagana at Corbett vs. Dempsey in Chicago,; Astrid Bowlby at Gallery Joe in Philadelphia; and in Los Angeles, Annie Lapin (2010 NAP Artist of the Year) and Matthew Penkala, at Honor Fraser and Western Project, respectively.
There are two noteworthy gallery shows of artists who made their reputations in the earlier part of the 20th-Century: works by Regionalist Thomas Hart Benton are on display at Alan Avery Art Company in Atlanta, and Mr. Push/Pull, Hans Hoffman, whose students included a number of prominent second generation Abstract Expressionists, is on view at Ameringer|McEnery|Yohe in New York City. A number of emerging painters look particularly good this month, including: Alexandra Grant at Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin; Zoe Nelson at Western Exhibitions in Chicago; Laeh Glenn at Altman Siegel in San Francisco; and in New York, Anke Weyer at Canada, Davina Semo at Marlborough Chelsea, and Kour Pour at Untitled.
If abstraction is not your thing, there are plenty of shows of artists working with images, some in a more traditional mode. In Chicago, eighty-something Jane Freilicher will have a one-woman show at Chicago’s Valerie Carberry Gallery. Maine-based painter Gideon Bok has a soon-to-close solo show of paintings depicting the interior of his studio at Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas, Texas. In New York, be sure to catch Yvonne Jacquette at DC Moore, Steven Assael at Forum Gallery, and Robert Bechtle at Gladstone Gallery.
After the jump, you'll find the entire must-see list for January. Enjoy. - Steven Zevitas, Publisher
December 03, 2013, 10:29am
Love them, or hate them, art fairs are now a firmly entrenched part of the art world’s commercial mechanism. Every art fair has its own unique feel and vibe. Some are stately and serene, while others are brash and raucous. Of all the smaller art fairs that take place annually, perhaps none is able to generate the amount of pure heat that the annual installment of the NADA Art Fait in Miami is able to. The VIP preview of NADA has consistently been one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the art fair circuit. On opening morning the biggest collectors in the world, and those on down the food chain, our lined up for what can only be described as a feeding frenzy.
This year’s installment of NADA, Opening Thursday December 5th, is sure to have manufacturers of tiny red dots working overtime to meet the demand. The fair can now be previewed on the excellent art web site Artsy. I spent some time checking it out and after the jump are ten things that are Must See as far as I am concerned. - Steven Zevitas, Publisher