Black and White

There's a lot of great work in Chelsea and the Lower East Side right now--more than I can report on in individual posts--so I'll be offering a few roundups. The first is this one: a look at a range of work in black and white. Some of the exhibitions are still up; others have closed or are about to.

Melissa Meyer, New Work, at Lennon Weinberg, up through May 7
Here, Draw the Line, 2015, oil on canvas, 72 x 96 inches

Melissa Meyer is best known for her large-scale paintings that feature chromatic skeins of line and shape, but two splendid paintings--one large, the other a small diptych--reveal just how calligraphic the artist's line is. View the online catalog here.

Small diptych with detail below

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Tamar Zinn , At the Still Point, through May 7 at Kathryn Markel Fine Art

Tamar Zinn practices a particularly elegant form of what I would call contemplative geometry. She lays dark and light rectangles on top of a deep achromatic field (in which there are hints of russet, rose or yellow). The geometry is "intuitive," says Zinn, and each painting develops in a tango of plan and chance. View the online catalog here.

At the Still Point 4, 2016, oil on dibond, 20 x 16 inches

At the Still Point 1, 2016, oil on dibond, 20 x 16 inches

At the Still Point 14, 2015, oil on dibond, 20 x 16 inches

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Ellsworth Kelly, Photographs, at Matthew Marks Gallery 
through April 30

A different kind of contemplative geometry is on view in the black and white gelatin silver prints of Ellsworth Kelly, striking images of barns, doors, shadows whose shapes reflect those of his paintings. I first saw prints from this series at Kelly's retrospective at the Guggenheim in 1996. I am not a big fan of Kelly's painting and sculpture, but the photographs I loved. One has to wonder if the photographs informed the work for which he is known, or if it's the other way around. A catalog will be available.

The first of three large gallery rooms of Ellsworth Kelly photographs

More Kelly photographs. I inquired the price. "They're only being sold to museums," I was told.

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Rob de Oude, Tilts and Pinwheels, at dm contemporary, through April 24
Here, Bromide, 2014, oil on canvas, 32 x 32 inches

Rob de Oude paints grids, layers of grids in one painting. Each layer shifts slightly so that a moire pattern emerges. Depending on the colors he uses and the angle of the shift, De Oude creates pattern in infinite variety. His solo at dm contemporary featured many chromatic works as well.

Bromide with three 12x12 inch works, shown below

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Robert Ryman at Dia Art Foundation in Chelsea, through July 31

This long-running exhibition at the Dia Foundation's space on 22nd Street features the work of Robert Ryman. A master of white, Ryman is also a master of material. The five small paintings in the image above are enamel on metal, for instance, while the slightly larger painting at right, also shown below, is oil on aluminum. I had a little accident with my iPhone camera--I accidentally deleted pictures before they were fully uploaded to my desktop computer--so I cannot show you the range of what I saw. I pulled these two from the Internet. Read Roberta Smith's review here, where you will see additional good pics. The works are illuminated by daylight only, which promises more hours of overhead light as we move into summer. 

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Judith Braun. Homeostasis, at McKenzie Fine Art, through April 24

Homeostasis is an organism's ability to remain stable despite fluctuations in the forces that act upon it. Our internal body temperature, indeed, our health, depends on this process. I wonder if Judith Braun's recent experience with and defeat of breast cancer suggested the title. Certainly her fingertip drawings--particularly the murals she is known for--are an assertive record of her presence. Speculation aside, Braun's works, strongly symmetrical and materially tangible (she works in graphite or charcoal on Duralar or paper) feel at the same time compellingly spiritual.

Above: Symmetrical Procedure NE-21-4; below , Symmetrical Procedure NE-21-3, both 2014, graphite on Duralar

Installation with Symmetrical Procedure FB-30-2, 2014, charcoal on paper, 26 x 26 inches, on far wall
Closer view below

Installation wall. More views here
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Ted Larsen, Industrial Park, at Margaret Thatcher Projects through April 23
Here, Certain Risk, 2015; salvage steel, marine-grade plywood, silicone, vulcanized rubber,  chemicals, hardware, shown in situ below left

Ted Larsen is one of those artists who turns straw into gold, or more specifically, salvaged materials into refined forms.  The works in this series--more of which you can see here--feature rounded forms, some playful, others, as above, seriously sensuous. An ongoing hallmark of Larsen's work is his meticulous construction of multiple planes, which provides visual pleasure of a different sort. 

Installation view with Cerain Risk, left, and Stop Action, right


The Illusive Eye at El Museo, Part 2

Judith Lauand, Brazil: Untitled, 1959, tempera on board

Welcome to Part 2 of my report of The Illusive Eye at El Museo del Barrio in New York city, a splendid exhibition curated by the museum’s director, Jorge Daniel Veneciano. While I loved the entire exhibition, I respond more strongly to the galleries you see here. In part that’s because we are led into them by Carmen Herrera's black and white tondo, and we get to see the work of Judith Lauand, Lolo Soldevilla, Gego, Antonieta Sosa, Maria Friere, Zilia Sanchez, Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, Maria Appolonio and Fanny Sanin. See the pattern here?

Let's pick up where we left off in the previous post
From left: Lolo Soldevilla, Judith Lauand, Josef Albers; foreground: Gego. At right: sculptures by Antonieta Sosa, Lygia Clark, and Maria Friere. In the distance, right: works on wall by Edgar Negret and Carmen Herrera

Foreground,. Gego, Venezuela via Germany: Reticularea, 1969-1970, iron wire
Detail below. I love the angular and linear relationship it shares with the paintings that flank it

Josef Albers, United States via Germany: Structural Constellation: F.M.E. 5, 1962. Here's a surprise: It's machine engraved plastic laminate mounted on wood

Antonieta Sosa, Venezuela and New York: Stable Unstable, from the series Seven White Objects, 1967/2014, wood and formica

Lygia Clark, Brazil: Bicho-Carruagem Fantastica (Beast-Fantastic Carriage), 1960, ten attached modules in anodized aluminum

With Clark's Bichos behind us we make a panoramic sweep of the opposite wall here in what I'm calling Gallery Four

From left: Maria Friere, Uruguay, sculpture; Zilia Sanchez, Cuba, shaped painting; Manuel Espinosa, Argentina; Alberto Biasi;  Jesus Rafael Soto

Alberto Biasi, Italy: Gocce (Gotas, Drops), 1969
Detail below

Jesus Rafael Soto, Antonio Asis, Ivan Contreras Brunet, all shown individually below. (We'll look into that mysterious room beyond in a moment)

Jesus Rafael Soto, Venezuela and Paris: Escritura Hurtado, 1975, paint, wire, nylon cord on wood
Closer view below

Antonia Asis, Argentina: 8 circulos blancos, 8 circulos negros (8 white circles, 8 black circles), 1969, acrylic, wood, metal

Ivan Contreras Brunet, Chile: Neuf cercles mobiles (Nine Mobile Circles), 1968, grillage [some kind of netting], acrylic, wood

From Gallery Four, with the Brunet  construction at left and Gego sculpture to the right, we look into a small black-walled space (which I'm galling Gallery Five), that seems to contain a hovering form . . .

. . . which appears spatially unstable . . .
Marina Appolonio, Italy: Spazio ad Attivazione Cinetica (Space to Kinetic Activation), 1966-2015

. . . but is in fact flat, as a museum guard was willing to show

Just outside the room with Appolonio's spatial experience, Judith Lauand's painting orients us to where we are. Before we enter Gallery Six in the distance, we stop to view a small dark painting at the end of the wall . . .

 Lolo Soldevilla, Cuba: Untitled, 1956, oil on board

Soldevilla leads our eye into the backmost gallery, which I am calling Gallery Six, where the emphasis is on color and form, or Concrete Art

Panorama of the gallery (click to enlarge)

Carlos  Cruz-Diez, Venezuela: Transchromie Dames A, 1965/2009, Plexiglas and stainless steel

Freddy Rodriguez, Dominican Republic: Un problema de estado III (A problem of the state III, 1974, acrylic on canvas; Mario Carreno; Helio Oiticica, Brazil: Relevo Expacial/6,  1959/1991, painted wood

Mario Carreno, Cuba and Chile: Untitled, 1954, oil on canvas

Fanny Sanin, Colombia: Acrylic No.7, 1978

With the Sanin at our left shoulder, we turn to view the other side of the gallery, which is where we entered. 
At left, an installation by Lygia Pape, Tteia, 1976-2004, gold thread against painted wall
Detail below

From left, Abraham Palatnik, Brazil: Object Cinetico CK-8 (Kinetic Object CK-8), 1966/2005, stainless steel, industrial paint, wood and motor;  Judith Lauand painting; Sandu Darie, Cuba via Romania: Untitled, undated, mixed media on Masonite and wood sticks

Now we begin our exit. With the Darie at center, you can see the small gallery with Appolonio's installation at right, and Gallery Four in the distance (which also contains a doorway to the installation)

As we walk through Gallery three (with the Frank Stella at our back, if you recall from Part One), we pause to see the optically kinetic piece on the right wall by an artist who studied in Paris and was introduced to the work of Victor Vasarely

Matilde Perez, Chile: Untitled, 1982, acrylic and metal

In Gallery Two, Wojciech Fangor, Poland: MI, 1969, oil on canvas

A final view of  Gallery One as we turn left and walk past the Cruz-Diez in the anteroom before leaving the exhibition

Post script: 
Each work in the museum is described by a brief wall text that helps create a context for the individual works and the way they relate to one another the exhibition. While the artists included in the exhibition are from at least two generations and about 20 countries, many lived and worked or studied in Paris or New York--two great non-geographical Latin-American cities--and some knew (or knew of or studied with) each other. The Illusive Eye is up through May 21. There is no catalog. If you are interested in optical, geometric, kinetic or concrete art, you owe it to yourself to see this show.