Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Art Expo Chicago: 2016

Willem De Kooning,  1965

Early last year, I had the unpleasant experience of being stopped at the entrance to a commercial art gallery in Chicago and being asked to pay a $20 admission fee.

Who me?  You want me to pay you $20 so I can look at your merchandise and then, possibly, write about it?

The gallerist was adamant. 

Presumably he had qualified me as a non-buyer -- and he was absolutely correct.

On the other hand -- why would I pay a fee to see the work of an artist unknown to me?


For me, art is entirely a viewing rather than a collecting experience.  I don't like to look at the same piece day after day after day.  They turn boring -- then annoying --and finally become as invisible as cracks in the wall.

I wonder what Art Expo would look like if it were entirely funded by  admission fees instead of by sales.

So much of what's shown  seems to be nothing more than Bling -- i.e. expensive baubles intended for the walls of luxury lakefront condominiums.

A very small percentage interests me -- but then, so much is on display -- I am well entertained for a few hours. It's definitely worth the $20.

The highlight of this year's show, for me, was the above oil-on-paper by Willem De Kooning.

It looks like that dedicated Abstract Expressionist just couldn't get accessible, copulating females off his mind.

Delicious in detail as well.

Here's another piece he did in the same year. (it was not at Art Expo).

I like these paintings way, way more than "Excavation", his alleged masterpiece at the Art Institute.

Perhaps it's the subject matter.

Nicholas Africano

Here's another artist who presents naked women -- but more  like how they appear, than like how it feels to be with them.

I love this guy's sculptures - as well as his amazing commercial achievement of creating a market for contemporary classical figure sculpture.

Each of the above pieces were brought to Expo by three separate galleries.
And his pieces have been appearing at these shows every year that I have blogged about them - going back to 2006.

All of his figures are young, trim, handsome, and quiet. Very quiet.

If you're  going to keep attractive young people about the house --it's good if they are quiet.

Armin Boehm, 2009

Here's a young German painter whom I like  -- or -- at least I like this painting. Looking online, he also makes multi-figure scenes that are less promising.

Betty Woodman, b. 1930

I tend to prefer minimalism in ceramics: the simple bowl with a few muted colors.

But this old woman's stuff is an exception. She's a swinging octogenarian.

I found this pot when looking her up on the internet. As my good friend, the potter John Putnam, says: it looks  Tang Dynasty.

And what complement could be more effusive?

Catherine Maize

Cluttered -- but not.

As is the rest of creation.

Catherine remains one of my favorite natural philosophers.

Franz Kline, 1958

Heroic in design, if not in size.

This small piece shows how careful he could be.


Friedel Dzubas, 1975

My first experience with this early ABX painter (born 1915 Germany)

Hans Hoffman, 1952

I'm not especially fond of this piece - it feels too much like a  tossed salad.

But it's always interesting to see what this important teacher was up to.

Harold Haydon

The more I see of this Chicago artist/teacher/critic, the more I like.

He had a theory/gimmick:  "binocularism".

It's silly -- but I like the results anyway.

While the leading Chicago painters were depicting monsters or nightmares -- he painted school children.

So I like him even more.

Andrew Holmquist

A local painter who  continues to get wilder and  crazier - if that were possible.

We just bought our first flat panel television - and experienced the incredible depth, texture, and color that it offers in comparison with the older cathode ray tube technology that we just hauled off to the trash.

It's my theory that young artists like Holmquist grew up with the new kind of television, and that accounts for the manic visual disruption of his paintings.

 Magalie Guerin

Whatever the group show, her pieces continue to jump out for me - with their own defiant and beautiful self determination.

She's Chicago's next Miyoko Ito.


Manuel Mendive (2006)

His 2012 piece in the concurrent "Drapetomania" show  of Afro-Cuban art at the DuSable Museum
did not attract me as much as this one.

Were recreational drugs involved?

Marlborough Gallery

The Marlborough Gallery has finally returned to Art Expo after a long absence (five years?)

They used to bring painters like Vincent Desiderio, Claudio Bravo, and Odd Nerdrum.

Quite a lineup!

This time they just brought sculptural bling.

Very disappointing.

Matthew Carter

Here's a few harlequin patterns so exciting -- I thought they came from a Caribbean Mardi Gras parade.

But indeed the artist came from downstate Illinois and now lives in Los Angeles where he got his MFA.

His work feels both wonderful and effortless.

Morris Barazani (1924-2015)

A fine early piece by one of Chicago's leading Abstract Expressionists.


Ralston Crawford, 1955

Another artist who was new to me.

He started out doing techno industrial landscapes -- like Sheeler -- and then kept doing the same thing in a non representational way.

This painting hung side-by-side with Stuart Davis -- which is where it belonged.

Raphael Soyer, "Melancholia", 1972

Why isn't this mood depicted any more?

Maybe people feel melancholy enough as it is -- who needs any more?

I'm  doubting that this woman will ever have the energy to get dressed.

This kind of figure painting definitely pre-dates the flat screen TV.

Stephen Coyle

A  nice use of photographic material

Steven Assael

Reminds me of the Romantic dramatics of Henry Fuseli.  I can't relate to it, but it certainly stands out as unique in our time.

Vera Klement

This early work,  from about 40 years ago, feels more autobiographic than more recent work.
So it's much more compelling.

Wayne Thiebaud, 1972

Cloud meets mound.

Very funny.

Here's another list of selections -most of which look pretty good now, but somehow escaped my notice at the show itself.


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