Top 5 Monday, July 22–Sunday, July 28
While midcentury New York’s art scene is long gone, these black-and-white images by Italian photographer Ugo Mulas bring the era back to life with candid portraits and behind-the-scenes views of legendary figures such as Marcel Duchamp, Barnett Newman, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. Newman, for example, is seen pacing in front of a blank canvas, while Johns and Lichtenstein joke around in their studios. Warhol is pictured at The Factory, silk-screening a Campbell’s Soup Can painting with the help of Factory regular Gerard Malanga. The insider tenor of these photos is all the more remarkable when you consider that Mulas was an outsider who captured these fascinating documents of a vanished milieu during three visits to New York between 1964 and 1967.
Believe or not, there was once a time when The Hamptons were affordable enough for artists to spend their summers mixing sun, fun and studio time along the South Fork shoreline. That was more than half a century ago, but this show revisits those lazy, hazy, crazy days with a look at a group of painters who left steamy downtown Manhattan for an East End idyll that inspired the landscapes, still lives and abstractions (by such noted figures as Helen Frankenthaler, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell) on view here
This summer group is based on the premise that the worlds of boxing and art are somewhat similar—at least in terms of just how quickly professional fortunes can turn for artist and pugilist alike. One day you could be a champ and the next day, a bum, as Marlon Brando puts at the end of the most famous line in On The Waterfront (from whence this exhibit derives its title). Of course, boxers rely on bodies that, once injured, make comebacks difficult. Artists on the other hand, can keep making their work, even if they slide into obscurity, with the hope that it will be rediscovered some day. But while boxing and art may not be exactly the same, the ups and downs of reputation are certainly worth pondering, as “I Coulda Been A Contender” does with works by a roster of contributors that includes Susan Rothenberg, Richard Artschwager, Charles Hinman and Rick Prol.
Chicago artist Barbara Kasten was a pioneer of the genre known as set-up photography, in which models or other contrivances staged in the studio served as subjects for the camera. Though long commonplace in commercial photography, studio set-ups became a means for artists to question photography and its supposed objectivity as a representational medium. In this series of enlarged Polaroids from the early 1980s, Kasten uses mirrors and other reflective surfaces to build geometric compositions that are at once abstract and trompe l’oeil, owing to the fact that much of color seen in the images are actually bounced into the frame from off-camera. Combining the formal and the metaphysical, Kasten’s “Constructs” seem like an unlikely combination of El Lissitzky and Giorgio de Chirico.
The children of artists sometimes resent their parents enough to become lawyers or Wall Street types, though others often follow in mom and/or dad’s footsteps. Such is the case with March Avery, whose father Milton and mother Sally were painters of renown during the heyday of the New York School during the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. The younger Avery grew up around famous figures such as Mark Rothko, Adolf Gottlieb, Barnett Newman and Marsden Hartley, though style-wise, the apple didn’t fall from the tree: Indeed, Avery’s art is remarkably similar to that of her parents in the way that figures and landscapes are rendered as flat shapes that play host to soft interactions of color and brush stroke. This show, which spans 50 years of work, is the artist’s first NYC solo outing in in nearly 20 years.