Zlotowitz writes that the show "[takes] the artist’s creative evolution and exposition as its starting point. Initially starting his career painting in the Impressionist style, this exhibition of Mondrian’s work dedicates itself to showcasing the artist’s career and subsequent development of his unique stylistic innovations. With over 50 drawings and paintings, the journey through Mondrian’s career is exposed through his many lenses and creative phases."
The show, Whitfield notes, addresses two issues: "Should Bonnard be seen primarily as an easel painter, as fully engaged in the twentieth century as Matisse or Picasso? In which case these decorations, dislodged from their original period settings, tend to muddle the story. Or should the artist be seen as a painter who began, and to some extent remained, a painter immersed in the Nabi pursuit of the ‘decorative’?"
Crehan writes: "Taking the artist’s 1947 visit to the United States as its starting point, the show reflects both Miró’s irrepressible energy and the return of his own stylistic innovations in the work of his American counterparts, inspiring his own work anew. Miró was ecstatic over the loose freedom of the abstract expressionists and their rugged approach to the painterly gesture, and would take that energy into his own canvases, opening new creative pathways in his already well established techniques."
McNay writes: "As the artist put it: 'What I am searching for is neither the real nor the unreal, but the subconscious, the mystery of what is instinctive in the human race.' Modigliani’s figures therefore blend the life model or muse with the sculpture, the present with the past, the 2D with the 3D, the marble with the flesh. Without much recourse to shading, it is Modigliani’s exploitation of negative space that gives both weight and volume to his bodies – and this is the negative space both without and within the figures."
Beckers writes that the curatorial idea "works around the question: 'Can we create an exhibition that presents a journey through the artist’s life?' And the main themes presented here do just that. Chagall’s connection with Jewish culture, the iconography of the shtetl (small Jewish market towns that existed before the second world war), folk traditions, and his exploration of 17th-century literature, light and use of colour are all represented here ... [curator Claudia] Zevi’s exhibition centres around four main parts and, although neither unique nor innovative, it does offer the visitor a good overview of Chagall’s oeuvre, which shows signs of strong influences, such as cubism, symbolism, fauvism and, at a stretch, surrealism."
Harry Thorne reviews Serge Poliakoff: Silent Paintings at Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, on view through February 21, 2015.
Thorne writes that the "works [exhibited] pose a strong defence to any claims that Poliakoff’s abstraction – and all abstraction for that matter – is nothing but the visual reification of the random. Each canvas is perfectly weighted, judged and executed – far from simple, spontaneous or accidental... These works do not allude to exterior concepts or draw inspiration from physical forms. Rather, they exist solely within their frames. There is nothing to grasp on to, no hints, no clues, and, as a result, the mind sets to work. Shapes are relegated, promoted, sidelined. Links are drawn only to slacken. Colours become bolder and fade to nothing. Akin to Kazimir Malevich’s much-lauded Black Square (1915), the works are ground zero. They provide absolutely nothing, and in doing so inspire the mind to jump into action. Before you know it, an hour has passed and the works have fully spoken for themselves."
Considering Picasso's variations after Delacroix, Schwabsky writes: "With the series of Women of Algiers (After Delacroix) ... Picasso entered a new phase of his art. He had always been an avid and able pasticheur of past styles, willingly giving the lie to the myth of progress that so many had read into his and Braque’s research in Cubism. But the Women of Algiers paintings are different: a kind of return to the intensive research paradigm of the heroic years of Cubism before the Great War, which Picasso now deployed to revisit, revise and sometimes explode the past with the full force of his profound ambivalence. In his essay for the Pace catalog, Jonathan Fineberg compares this effort to Beethoven’s in composing the Diabelli Variations, 'obsessively reinventing' his source (even though Diabelli’s harmless little ditty was easy prey for Beethoven’s pummeling), unlike Delacroix’s orientalist masterpiece. In the Algiers paintings, Picasso attempted to fragment and artificially recompose not just space and its objects (as in Cubism) but time and its beings as well. He was tearing Delacroix’s work apart and reconstructing it with fascination, ardor and hostility all at once."
Mugar writes that "There is no doubt from Deborah Rosenthal’s introduction ... that Helion was a major player in the movement of abstraction and instrumental in introducing European abstraction to an American audience. I was intrigued by the level of self-awareness he expresses with the questions he raises about notions of lineage. What was the essence of Abstraction? Is it found in the relation of reduction to complexity and growth? Are they mutually exclusive or can reduction lead to complexity? The questions all appeared to me to be crucial to any self-awareness of an artist painting abstractly ... [Hélion's] wanted to achieve what he called 'the maximum' in painting, a word he was fond of and something he found in Poussin. It is strange this haunting of the real that pursues abstract painters like the hound of heaven... Helion seems to say that the road to reduction can only go so far... The title of the collection of essays 'Double Rhythm' refers to the dynamic that should exist in a 'maximum' painting between the parts and the whole. Poussin is quoted by Helion as having said : 'I have ignored nothing.' "
Fyfe writes that "there seems to be a logic to Matisse’s advancement to cut-paper. From his codification of the impersonal brushstroke mark to the introduction of a mediating tool like the scissors, his work comprises a further obliteration of the boundaries of color and drawing. Matisse’s use of scissors anticipates Pollock, Hans Hartung, Simon Hantaï, Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis, among others, in the use of an intermediary process (such as pouring paint or folding the canvas) in order to distance the artist’s hand and brush from the picture... he inventiveness and innovation on display at MoMA is astounding. Technically, it is also somewhat surprising that each cut-out is unique. Matisse really was painting with scissors. The longer one looks, the painterliness and Impressionist light arrives. The cuts do not follow the form; they surround mass and locate it in atmosphere." Fyfe also comments on Matisse's legacy and influence on the work of Richard Tuttle and Ellsworth Kelly.
Schwabsky writes that after seeing the show of Matisse cut-outs in London, that he "couldn’t help but feel that Matisse’s extraordinary late-life reinvention had come at a high cost: it had opened up a new imaginative world to him, but only through the loss of what, to the very end of his life, he believed was the source of his art—its relation to experienced reality... What made me suspicious of the cutouts in London is precisely what seemed so inspiring about them in New York: the sense that Matisse had tried to free himself from gravity. I could see more clearly that, miraculously, he’d succeeded. 'You have no idea how, during the cutout paper period, the sensation of flight which emanated from me helped me better to adjust my hand when it used the scissors,' he once said. 'It’s rather difficult to explain. It’s a kind of linear and graphic equivalence to the sensation of flight.'"
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.