“Charlotte Posenenske: Work in Progress”
This show of citified art challenges the assumption that the work of self-taught artists can only be found in rural settings. The exhibition is divided into two sections: “The Art of Business” focuses on folk art pieces that depict New York–based commercial operations, while “The Business of Art” features objects such as weather vanes, carousel animals, and decorative stoneware produced within the five boroughs.
Is there a distinctive black aesthetic? How should art relate to a systematically oppressed community? Are figuration and abstraction equally valid? Should African American artists aim to succeed in the established (and overwhelmingly white) art world, or should they create their own uncompromised alternatives? Given events such as the Watts Rebellion in 1965, should work that is not socially engaged be dismissed as “irrelevant”? These are among the urgent questions faced by black artists in the tumultuous 1963–83 period covered by “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power.” Presenting roughly 150 works by sixty artists, along with documentary photographs and ephemera, the show traces the many variations in black artistic practice between the civil rights era and the heyday of the Black Power movement. Along the way, it investigates black feminism, the extensive use of murals, collectives such as Spiral and AfriCOBRA, black-owned galleries, The Black Panther illustrations, and other related topics. Participants include celebrated figures like Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Betye Saar, Jack Whitten, Lorraine O’Grady, David Hammons, Faith Ringgold, and Noah Purifoy, as well as still under-known artists like Randy Williams and Elizabeth Catlett.
Vincent van Gogh traveled to London in 1873, at age twenty, and resided there for three years. Presenting this as a formative period for his art—even if he would not devote himself to painting until the 1880s—this exhibition features forty works exemplifying the Post-Impressionist’s engagement with British culture. The show also includes paintings by Constable and Millais, whose work he would have seen in London, as well as pieces by postwar British artists who were inspired by his expressive approach, such as Francis Bacon and David Bomberg.
L.A.-based artist Julie Becker, who died at age 43 in 2016, created a heterogeneous body of work that now seems to anticipate such recent art as Samara Golden’s surreal interiors and Bunny Rogers’s explorations of personal and public trauma. Encompassing installation, sculpture, drawing, video, and photography, and blending story lines taken from real life, classic movies, and her own imagination, Becker’s oeuvre offers a disjointed, but nevertheless potent narrative of precarious lives in 1990s Los Angeles.
What to see in Paris: NYU’s Grey Art Gallery director Lynn Gumpert on four shows up now [posted 4/23/19]
What to see in Los Angeles: Artist Gelare Khoshgozaran on three shows up now [posted 3/5/19]
What To See in London: Writer Allie Biswas on “Adam Pendleton: Our Ideas,” at Pace [posted 11/2/18]
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