September 14, 2014
#MkeKelly, ‘Foreground, background,’ 1990. Home sweet #embroidery. @b8nswitch #Movetheworldbackfromtheabyssofdestruction

#MkeKelly, ‘Foreground, background,’ 1990. Home sweet #embroidery. @b8nswitch #Movetheworldbackfromtheabyssofdestruction


September 3, 2014

Jewish Museum Show Spotlights 2 Abstract Expressionist Masters Who Were Left Out of Spotlight (Maybe Because They Were Black and Female?)

She was born in 1908 to Russian parents was raised in Brooklyn.

He was born in 1909 to immigrants from Bermuda, and grew up in Harlem.

Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis both studied art in New York, explored Social Realism in their work with the Federal Art Project, and refined their personal abstract language in the ’40s and ’50s. They both developed signature styles that summon classic elements of Abstract Expressionism, playing with gesture and color and line that almost resolves into writing. And both had shows in prestigious New York galleries.

But the two artists, the black man and the Jewish woman best known as Jackson Pollock’s wife, shared another quality: few people wrote about their work.

“A noticeable lack of critical reception” is how Norman Kleeblatt, chief curator at the Jewish Museum, puts it in the catalogue for “From the Margins,” an exhibition featuring paintings the two artists made between 1945 and ‘52.

The show, opening September 12, creates a suggestive painterly conversation, at times articulated in the rhythms of early Modernism, Hebrew and bebop.

And it reminds us that the story of Abstract Expressionism is still being written. 

September 2, 2014

Hard not to be a fan of the African-print cloths of Ghana in new Fowler Museum show

July 28, 2014

How many ways can you capture the midtown skyscape through Spencer Finch’s rainbow-colored filters? 

Commissioned by the Morgan Library & Museum to create a work for its four-story Gilbert Court, Spencer Finch took his inspiration from medieval prayer books. He applied films of color to the windows, dangling panes that transform Renzo Piano’s glass-and-steel courtyard into a hall of multicolored mirrors. The configuration and color palette will change with the seasons. 

July 21, 2014

The Eyes of Mickalene Thomas Speak Volumes

July 21, 2014

Take a walk on the tiled side: Katrín Sigurdardóttir’s spectacular Sculpture Center floor

A fairytale Baroque pavilion was the concept Katrín Sigurdardóttir had in mind for the ornate sea of tiles she calls Foundation.

She made the first version of her spectacular floating platform in Venice, in the old laundries of the Palazzo Zenobio, for the Iceland pavilion of last year’s Biennale. Now she has reconfigured it for the last stop in its tour, the former trolley repair facility that houses the Sculpture Center in Long Island City, Queens.

There, its profusion of ornament summons visions of palaces and trade routes and the armies of artisans who maneuvered its intricate puzzle pieces in place. Feel free to walk on it, or maybe dance.

July 7, 2014

Have You Seen My Mom’s Sculptures?

She was the only mom I knew who had an accent and a kiln. 

My mom, the Vienna-born Anne Cembalest, left us in May at the age of 90. Here she is with some of her trompe l’oeil ceramic sculptures, which she fired in our basement and painted in acrylic at a small table in my bedroom. The bottom photo shows one of her proudest moments, when the legendary Gene Moore put her works in Tiffany’s windows, adorning them with bejeweled bugs. 

Mom sold her eye-fooling vessels, bursting with apples, onions, and other fare and sometimes embellished with real sesame seeds and scallion tops, at crafts fairs around Long Island and in galleries including Incorporated on Madison Avenue. I am starting to assemble an inventory. If anyone comes across an Anne Cembalest clay cornucopia, pickle jar, fruit basket, or cheese plate, I’d love to see a photo. 

June 6, 2014

The #ARTnewsshelfie hashtag is taking off!

Laurie Simmons, Jerry Saltz, Xu Bing, and other art insiders took shelf portraits to celebrate the launch of
the summer reading roundup! Check out the #artnewsshelfie hashtag on Instagram and post your own!

April 22, 2014

Cat Art Gets Tough—the Mysterious, Powerful, and Divine Feline Creatures of Jill Levine
Inspired by Mexican art and archeology, ancient cylinder seals, cartoon animation, and more, Jill Levine creates sculptures that are somewhere between totem, mask, and mascot. To create the works in her current show at New York’s Hionas Gallery, she sculpted styrofoam, molded the figures using plaster-dipped gauze and modeling compound, and then painted them in oil. Distant relatives of Hello Kitty, these magical, commanding felines are nothing less than divine. 

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