The Return of Martín Ramírez

Light Fare

“The Seduction of Light: Ammi Phillips/Mark Rothko Compositions in Pink, Green and Red,” also at the American Folk Art Museum, attempts to locate commonalities between the 19th-century folk painter Ammi Phillips and Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko. It’s a stretch—palette and “soul-thirsting” aren’t flexible enough to accommodate it. As it is, Phillips’ crisp and brilliantly mannered portraits make a hash of Rothko’s dour pretensions. The irresistibly mischievous dog skulking in several Phillips canvases all but makes you forget the fuzzy rectangles nearby.

Until March 29.


Chilly Affectation

Garish, slack and hapless, Elizabeth Peyton’s paeans to adolescence, celebrity and Kurt Cobain would shame the marginalia in a high-school notebook. Would that she were as starry-eyed and precocious. Instead, fey portraits and louche mise-en-scène reveal an artist incapable of differentiating teendom’s enthusiasms from their wan approximation. An artist who can’t paint, draw or trace, Ms. Peyton fails to redeem her chilly affectations.

“Live Forever: Elizabeth Peyton” is at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, 235 Bowery, until Jan. 11.


Dull Dazzle

Beatriz Milhazes’ abstractions are beautiful without being seductive, over the top but not swoon-inducing. Layering stylistic motifs gleaned from Islamic art, modernist painter Sonia Delaunay and a hothouse palette influenced by her native Brazil, Ms. Milhazes contrives radiating fields of pattern—ornamental fireworks. The craft is appealingly secondhand—Ms. Milhazes paints on plastic sheeting and transfers the results onto canvas, but the work’s dazzle is routine and somewhat dulling.

“Beatriz Milhazes” is at James Cohan Gallery, 533 West 26th Street, until Nov. 15.

The Return of Martín Ramírez