A young artist recently told me that working from observation was an antiquated endeavor. Why look at a still-life arrangement when taking a photograph of it would do just as nicely? We have, after all, reached a stage in human development when learning from stuff out there is moot. Getting your hands dirty—what’s the point? Read More
By Mario Naves 6/17/08 3:16pm
David Byrne has always been pretentious; that’s part of his charm. From the Talking Heads’ first single in 1977, “Love—Building on Fire,” to his debut as screenwriter and director with True Stories, and to myriad other projects—including, of all things, an opera about Imelda Marcos—Mr. Byrne has proved that faux naïveté, arty self-consciousness and adroitly Read More
By Mario Naves 6/10/08 4:01pm
Whatever else you can say about it, the Chinese artist Zhang Huan’s work, on view at PaceWildenstein’s 22nd and 25th street locations, is perfect tourist fare. Think about it: Chelsea is the hub of the international scene. Its notoriety and commercial clout have extended beyond in-the-know aficionados. Chelsea isn’t the Met, but it is attracting Read More
By Mario Naves 6/03/08 3:43pm
Iran’s worrisome prominence in world events can’t help but cross your mind while viewing “Ardeshir Mohassess; Art and Satire in Iran,” an exhibition on view at the Asia Society. And not only because Mr. Mohassess hails from Iran. His brand of satire is, to put it mildly, skeptical of his home country’s political convolutions. Would Read More
By Mario Naves 5/27/08 4:20pm
Catherine Murphy’s drawings are amazing. As feats of versimilitude, they are without peer in contemporary art—it’s difficult to bring to mind another artist capable of putting pencil to paper with as much concentration and dexterity. Ms. Murphy is unsparing in her dedication to observed fact.
Spill (2007), on display at Knoedler and Company along Read More
By Mario Naves 5/20/08 3:31pm
A painter, with tousled hair and a distant gaze, lies upon a rocky ground. He’s dressed in vaguely 19th-century garb and holds a long brush daubed with yellow. A slack noose placed around his neck is tied to an easel. The canvas on it is bright white.
In the background, a ladder leans upright Read More
By Mario Naves 5/13/08 4:40pm
Drive—aesthetic drive—is rare in contemporary art. Commerce is the thing. And John Dubrow, whose paintings are at Lori Bookstein Fine Art, wants to sell his art as much as the next guy. But viewers will recognize that commerce is the last thing on Mr. Dubrow’s mind when he’s in the studio. His paintings are relentlessly Read More
By Mario Naves 5/06/08 3:45pm
Once, the American painter Philip Guston (1913-1980) was a polarizing artist. It’s the stuff of legend: An esteemed second-generation Abstract Expressionist, renowned for exquisitely honed arrangements of fleshy brushstrokes, turns to a brutish figurative art—a nightmarish realm of Klansmen, endless hangovers and hellish rooms lit by bare light bulbs. Critic Peter Schjeldahl recalls that many Read More
By Mario Naves 4/29/08 3:09pm
A few months back, I bumped into a colleague at the Met’s Courbet exhibition. After a polite disagreement about the merits of the 19th-century French painter—he’s a fan, I’m not—we extolled the Met’s stellar run of historical exhibitions mounted under the guidance of since-retired director Philippe de Montebello: Ingres, tapestries, Velázquez, the Greek and Roman Read More
By Mario Naves 4/22/08 4:19pm
In the past 30 years Thomas Nozkowski’s allusive yet enigmatically abstract paintings have gradually acquired a cultlike devotion. This patient, quietly determined artist is the anti-hype—his paintings are slow.
Lately, however, Mr. Nozkowski has been getting a lot of attention. His paintings were featured at the Venice Biennale last summer; a mini-retrospective at Long Read More