Expo Chicago 2013
I had a game plan for this year's show:
to go to my favorite gallery first
(while my mind was still fresh)
and then methodically go down each aisle
so as not to miss anything.
And as noted a few years ago
my favorite gallery is Paul Thiebaud (San Francisco)
whose booth had been banished to the distant northeast corner of the hall.
(while the two blue-chip Chicago galleries, Richard Gray and Rhona Hoffman
were in the center near the main entrance)
He may have made his reputation as a pop artist
painting cartoonish junk food,
but as a gallerist
he's devoted to contemporary observational painting.
Here's another new one that he brought this year
Here's an anomaly: a contemporary figure drawing selling for $2800.
And it wasn't even done by David Hockney or any other superstar.
It doesn't really appeal to me -- neither its values nor its forms feel all that strong.
It was probably drawn in a dim natural light, where everything kind of dissolves.
But I hope it sells -- and observational figure drawing gets a little more gallery wall space.
Alfred Leslie (b. 1927), 1962
the glory of this show
is the non-figurative painting.,
including the above,
done before the artist turned to the human figure.
Andre Lhote, (1885-1962), 1959
This artist recently came to my attention
as an important influence on
Leon and Sadie Garland ,
two young Chicago painters from the 1930's.
This is the first time I've seen one of his paintings,
and I fear that his two Chicago students
never realized this intensity of beauty.
Helen Frankenthaler,"Strength of the Sea", 1968
(unfortunately, a table surrounded by people
precluded a front-on view of this work)
Robert Watts, 1958
This is the same Robert Watts (1923-1988)
who became a pioneer in Pop-Art and Fluxus.
I wish he'd stayed with this less conceptual kind of art.
Joan Mitchell, "Autumn Mist", 1976
This lively triptych,
done when ABX had been passé for a decade,
would be better titled
"Autumn in Hell"
She's doing a simultaneous parody of two styles
which, though outdated, have yet to disappear.
Milton Resnick, 1958
Several galleries showed pieces by this artist
who painted how he was feeling,
and often he must have felt bored.
But this time
he was feeling frightened.
This must be how it feels
to climb down to the tracks
and wander through the New York subway tunnels.
I once reviewed this painter
and I still enjoy following him.
He just seems to enjoy the thrill of looking,
so he gives the eye a nice workout.
Monique Van Genderen
Here's another contemporary painter
who gives me the same kind of enjoyment
Monique Van Genderen
Ahhh -- chaos!
The artist gave it a humorous title
(something about selling the car and selling the kid)
because it's so upbeat
even if the world is spinning out of control.
It should hang in the office
of a financial speculator.
There was a wall of Motherwell collages
Norman Bluhm (1921-1999), 1962
Here's a Chicago artist
who was totally new to me.
Robert Natkin (1930-2010), 1957
And yet another Chicago painter
completely new to me.
Anyone with about a million dollars to spend
could have built a very nice collection
of African American art at this show.
The white streaks in the black marble,
as shown above,
make the piece so dreamy.
Charles White, "Oh Mary, Don't You Weep"
Some heroic figuration
Jacob Lawrence, 1938
A nice scene from a 21-year-old painter
Archibald Motley, 1948
Wow -- a wonderful painting of a lady of culture.
I'd be surprised if a more elegant portrait
was done in Chicago in the 40's.
Bill Traylor (1854 - 1949)
Lively folk art
combined with the compelling story
of an 85 year old homeless man
who made drawings on the street
and was born into slavery.
And now we move into the contemporary figurative artists
Like some of the abstract painters shown above,
this young artist is mostly about
what can be done
to entertain the eye
and capture the imagination
of a nineteen year old.
This drawing was not in the show,
but I thought I'd post it anyway.
It's in that early 20th C. Viennese tradition
of young women flaunting their sexuality.
Carly Silverman, "Mr. Unavailable"
I wrote about her paintings of childhood last year,
and now it looks like her subject matter is a few years older.
It's very weird for a contemporary artist
to enjoy the little dramas of a happy, healthy, ordinary
middle class life.
But that's kind of weirdness I like best.
Daniel Lezama (b. 1968)
This modest painting
accompanied a display
of horrific, nightmarish visions
executed in the heavy handed manner
of Aztec mythology as often found in low end Mexican restaurants.
David Park (1911-1960)
"I believe that we are living at a time that overemphasizes the need of newness, of furthering concepts".
I like the quotation -- and I like the painting.
For whatever reason,
the Bay Area painters of 50 years ago
took modern figuration
in a classic rather than surrealistic direction.
Perhaps it was their proximity to Hollywood,
where the most effective figurative imagery
in America was being made.
Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993), 1966
Here's another example
No figures here but....
A ghost-like figure
does finally emerge
Harold Haydon, (1909-1994), 1931
Here's an early painting
(apparently plain aire)
done by the noted Chicago art critic and teacher.
He is better known for his goofy double-vision theory paintings,
but I've yet to see any later work
that was better than this view out the window.
Alex Katz, 2012
The personal inner life of his subject feels so hidden,
Katz might be called an Orientalist.
Milton Avery (1885-1965), 1941
A delightful little scene.
Robert Schwartz (1947-2000)
I had never heard of this guy.
Gallery signage linked him to the Chicago Imagists,
There is nothing freaky, creepy, or nightmarish here,
but I still have no idea what is going on,
especially in the background.
This is a very large work on paper
depicting an art class.
I was shocked
when I saw this exhibit at the Art Institute
earlier this year.
What was classic observational sculpture
doing in a gallery devoted to avant garde art ?
The only thing confrontational about the small sculpture of Tomoaki Suzuki
was that it was placed directly on the floor
so was difficult to see.
But these pieces are up on pedestals.
This is work that might just as well
have been carved a hundred years ago
- except that the person depicted belongs to our time.
And I don't remember any historic word carvings
that exploited the effects of a feathered edge.
And here's a contemporary sculptor
who seems to have returned to the 19th C.
Oops -- I showed this same piece
in my post about the 2011 art fair.
I guess it still hasn't sold.
Looks just a model
who has plopped down on an easy chair
to take a break from posing.
Again -- naturalistic, observational, classical sculpture
has sneaked into an exhibition of contemporary art.
Here's one of the giants
of 20th C. American sculpture.
My photo does not do justice
to its commanding presence.