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 12, 2016, 8:58am
On a recent trip to Rome, Italy, I had the great fortune of seeing and experiencing William Kentridge’s Triumphs and Laments: A Project for Rome, a vanishing frieze along the banks of the Tiber river. Kentridge is a well-established South African multimedia artist best known not only for his beautiful drawings and animated shorts such as Felix in Exile (1994), but also for his keen humor and stunning ability to shed light upon the darkest of human nature, while ultimately highlighting our human capacity to reconcile, love, and laugh. - Ellen Caldwell, Los Angeles (Reporting From Rome)
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
January 10, 2016, 10:09am
One of the most gratifying aspects of publishing New American Paintings over the years has been watching our alumni go on to accomplish great things. The publication's history is replete with artists who were featured early in their careers that have gone on to become nationally and, in some cases, internationally recognized artists. Among them are individuals such as Iona Rozeal Brown, William Cordova, Amy Cutler, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Matthew Day Jackson, Eddie Martinez, Allison Schulnik and James Siena. At the end of the day, New American Paintings' number one goal is to offer deserving artists a vehicle though which there work can be discovered by an engaged and geographically diverse audience.
Since 2010, New American Paintings has awarded an annual prize to one of the two hundred and forty artists featured in that calendar year's six issues (look for our 2015 poll in the next week). In 2014, the winner of that prize was self-taught artist, Blaise Rosenthal, whose dusky, minimal abstractions draw more from his personal experiences and the American landscape then they do art historical precedent. I ran into Rosenthal's work on my annual visit to the Miami art fairs in early December. As I walked down an aisle of the UNTITLED art fair, there they were in the distance. I recognized them instantly, which, in today's overcrowded and homogenized art world really says something. It may sound trite, but these paintings have genuine presence and are clearly made by an artist who is actively searching...who is digging in the dirt. There is no artifice, or pretense to them.
As it happens, the reason Rosenthal's paintings were on view at UNTITLED is that Oakland based gallery Johannson Projects had recently discovered the work in New American Paintings. By all accounts, the relationship between Johannson and Rosenthal has turned into one that has been mutually beneficial. I had the chance to speak with Rosenthal at UNTITLED, and subsequently reached out to ask him some additional questions about his work and practice. Our conversation can be found below. - Steven Zevitas, Publisher
Blaise Rosenthal | The Ridge, Acrylic and Charcoal on Canvas, 26x29 Inches
December 28, 2015, 3:41pm
Help us narrow it down from 1000s of artists to one…In 2015 our jurors reviewed the work of more than 20,000 individual works of art by over 5000 artists. Our jurors have the impossible task of selecting the 240 artists to be featured in the 6 issues of New American Paintings. Of those artists, twelve (two from each issue) were distinguished as being “Noteworthy,” by the juror and our editorial staff.
Well, now it is your opportunity to help us select the best of the best. Below, you will find 2015’s twelve Noteworthy artists listed, along with an image and brief commentary. One of these 12 artists will be named the New American Paintings Artist of the Year! In addition to being featured again in our 2016 June/July issue, the winner of the Reader’s Choice Annual Prize will receive a cash prize of $1000!
Cast your vote by Sunday, January 24 (Midnight EST). The winner of the Reader’s Choice poll will be announced on Monday, February 1. We want to thank all of the artists who trusted us with their work in 2015. One vote per person will be counted!
Learn more about each artist after the jump!
October 29, 2015, 10:19pm
Steve Locke sold fifty 5 x 7-inch watercolor portraits through social media in June 2015, and an additional hundred similar paintings in August. He asked those who wished to participate to send him fifty dollars and any specific requests. For a few weeks, snapshots of the watercolors radiated from the Facebook and Instagram accounts of Locke’s connections. The images, taken by their recipients, enthusiastically reported their arrival by the US Postal Service. – Shana Dumont Garr, Boston Contributor
January 21, 2015, 4:52pm
Several thousand of you voted and selected Blaise Rosenthal as New American Paintings Reader’s Choice Artist of 2014. Congratulations Blaise!
After the jump learn more about the winner!
January 05, 2015, 1:25pm
On the occasion of the Museum of Modern Art’s show, The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World, New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl recently wrote of painting being in a state of crisis. In response to the show comprised of painters whose “approach characterizes our cultural moment at the beginning of the new millennium,” according to MOMA’s website, Schjeldahl rejects the medium’s outright death. Still unoptimistic, he concludes, “Painting can bleed now, but it cannot heal.”
As someone who has spent a lot of time with paintings over the last few years, I had to stop to consider whether I agreed: are the paintings I have encountered bleeding? In trying to answer, I found myself making my list of the five shows that made me think the most about the state of painting this year—its physicality, its lasting presence, and its bloodshed. — Erin Langner, Seattle Contributor
December 23, 2014, 9:32am
Previously we shared our Associate Publisher's top picks for 2014. Next up, Claude Smith, one of our favorite NAP/Blog contributors, shares his shows of 2015...2014 had numerous memorable moments–both locally and elsewhere, but for me, there were a few that stood out as exceptional. These are my top 5–in no particular order. – Claude Smith, Albuquerque/Santa Fe Contributor
From "Pattern: Follow the Rules" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. Jason Middlebrook | Another Vein, 2012. Courtesy the artist and DODGEgallery, New York, Photo: Karen Pearson. © Jason Middlebrook
December 19, 2014, 9:45am
Everyone's doing it, right? Over the next few weeks, some of the NAP/Blog contributors will share their favorite shows of 2015. First up, Associate Publisher, Andrew Katz...Enjoy!
I was able to travel a bit this year, so fortunately I could expand my art viewing to a few other cities. I categorized my selections to make things a little more interesting. Don't worry, Boston, you are still well represented! So many shows to consider, and almost impossible to narrow things down, so this year I focused on exhibitions that gave me a memorable overall experience.
If you saw any of these shows, I know you were equally as impressed. And if you didn't, I encourage you to look into the artists a little more. You'll like what you see. - Andrew Katz, Associate Publisher