This is one of the best shows currently on in London. How could it not be when the list of artists reads like a virtual Who’s Who of American names from the 1950s and ’60s? Consisting of some of the most significant pieces from the private collection of Reinhard Onnasch – a former gallerist in New York – Re-view occupies all three of Hauser & Wirth’s London galleries, runs through virtually every major art movement of the period – from abstract expressionist painting, to early conceptualism – and features some truly stunning pieces.
Highlights include Ed Kienholz’s crazy junk-sculptures in the Assemblage-themed Piccadilly space, and one of Richard Serra’s vast, precariously balanced slabs of steel in the Minimalist selection at Savile Row. There’s also room for art that evades neat classification, such as William Copley’s wonderfully kitsch, cartoony paintings. In short, the whole thing feels like a historically themed museum show, complete with informative wall texts for every artist.
Except, of course, it’s not. Hauser & Wirth is a commercial gallery – and while these loaned works aren’t for sale, it’s hard to shake the nagging suspicion that part of the point is to generate a sense of historical gravitas for the gallery. You start to notice some odd omissions. That’s inevitable given that the show is based on one collector’s taste. Yet the lack of women, in particular, is striking – with only one, Hanne Darboven, out of almost 30 artists. And while that’s partly a reflection of the art world of the time, there’s clearly an overtly masculine sensibility – from the macho gesturalism of Franz Kline, to Jim Dine’s tool collages. Such peculiarities aside, though, the works themselves remain thrilling, and the show an absolute must-see.