Art Expo 2012
There was less of everything in this scaled-back version of the annual Chicago international art fair, but still I'm finding many things to enjoy -- especially that previous generation of abstract painters who liked to spill their guts on the canvas. Jack Roth (1927-2004), a professor of mathematics, was one of them. I've later seen his work from the 60's and can't stand it. But, happily, by the 80's he was creating a delightfully measured visual world.
Claudio Bravo, 1979
It was sad to note that Claudio Bravo (1936-2011) has died since I last saw his work at the Chicago art fair back when the Marlboro Gallery still had a booth.
This piece still seems to revel in the world of human activity, but his images kept on getting more mysterious as he got older. The later paintings that I saw ten years ago represented nothing more than crumpled wrapping paper.
Here's a nice tribute to him, but I think the author has made some mistakes in chronology. Here's his own website that shows work from every decade.
Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874 – 1939)
Forum Gallery is the only gallery left in the Chicago art fair that specializes in figure painting. Usually, their tastes in contemporary realism are too dark for me - but here's a bright, sunny painting from a hundred years ago that they brought to the show. The girl looks quite pensive - despite living in such a beautiful world.
And here's a sculptor who does what I do -- i.e. keep the focus on the song of mass and space, while incorporating the gestures of living creatures.
She prefers cats -- I prefer people.
Regarding those cats, she has some distance to go to compete with the ancient Egyptians. But then ... an even greater distance separates me from the ancient Greeks.
The presence of this large pastel portrait jumped right off the wall, so I was a bit surprised that it's not a pastel at all. It's a digital print that was enlarged more than 100X the size of the computer tablet that Hockney used to draw it.
Michael Goldberg (1924-2007), 1960
One of the main delights of these fairs is the opportunity to see the work of non-iconic, but very good, ABX painters.
Here's a fascinating interview, including this quote about the heyday of ABX:
"Around that time, 1954 or 1955, everybody and his cousin was doing gestural work; a lot of wishful art was being made. People thought that if they whipped it up a lot, sooner or later they’d find something to hang a painting on, something redeeming. Those years produced some of the worst shit I’ve ever seen.
Here's a bit of self reflection:
I consider myself an old-fashioned modernist in that I think painting could change the world. And the desperation is about the fact that I know it can’t.
and finally, this little question/answer:
What is uppermost in your mind?
The burning condition of our world.
Michael Goldberg, 1956
Back in the early 50's, the director of the Cincinnati Art Academy asked my father to teach this kind of sculpture - he refused, and he never had a full-time job again.
But still -- I can't help liking these pieces that seem to be balletic figures even if they're chunks of construction lumber.
And more than once, I've stared at construction leftovers and felt that they were well on the way to being sculpture.
Here's a sculptor who is already featured on my web site, and I'm glad that I finally got to see his work in real space -- though it does feel kind of creepy -- like a rubber chicken.
Here's his own website.
Ted Gahl (b. 1983)
Here's a young abstract painter whose work I enjoyed.
Milton Resnick (1917-2004), 1957
And here's one of the original 10th Street ABX painters.
A few weeks ago I read this reminiscence from a student who remembered that his appearance was so shabby, he was mistaken for a homeless beggar by his students on the first day of class.
My kind of guy!
This small piece did feel grim and gritty -- but still I enjoyed it.
This is one of the several perceptual artists that the Thiebaud Gallery brings to the Chicago international art fair every year. (and they are the only such gallery, besides Forum, in this event)
(an interesting visit to her home/studio can be seen here )
No surprise that she says Corot, Constable, and Turner are her favorite painters.
How can anyone look at this image and not feel damp, cold, and eager to sit by the fire ?
Here's a large Picasso that an investment-grade art gallery from Montreal brought to the show. Regretfully, I forgot to note the date it was painted - I'm guessing it was around 1960.
I haven't really been attracted to these later works. They seem to have been dashed out without a whole lot of care.
But this piece compares so well with all the other funky abstract paintings in Art Expo. It's on the other side of powerful.
News Flash: I've just found this piece on the internet
It's called 'Les Dormeurs", it was painted in 1965, it is said to have hung for several years behind the desk of the renowned art historian and dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler .
Its current owner has been hauling it around to art fairs at least since 2002