The top 10 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings in NYC
New York may be the epicenter of the contemporary art world—or at least the market that buoys it up—but it’s also a treasure house of earlier work. Lovers of Impressionist art in particular are extraordinarily well served by museums in NYC; the Metropolitan Museum of Art owns 37 paintings by Monet alone, and there are stellar works, too, by Cézanne, Manet, Renoir, and others at the Museum of Modern Art and Brooklyn Museum. This loose-knit group of painters was in thrall to urban life—bustling streets and cafés occupy as much canvas as water lilies and haystacks—so the pairing of art and location makes perfect sense. Here’s a Top Ten, listed chronologically, to get you started.
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“Jessica Stockholder: The Guests All Crowded Into the Dining Room”
Jessica Stockholder’s latest show, “The Guests All Crowded into the Dining Room,” suggests the organic flow of a bustling house party, an apt association for work that brings ultra-diverse ingredients into animated conversation. The reference to an architectural interior makes sense too: The show’s eponymous installation, a large wooden ramp snaking around the gallery, is not only a piece in its own right but also a pedestal for a sculpture and a viewing platform for drawings pinned to an adjacent wall. Stockholder’s fondness for hybrid forms is further evidenced by two “Assists”—sculptures supported by other objects (here it’s a pair of armchairs to which the works are unceremoniously strapped). While Stockholder’s practice is sculptural insofar as it revolves around physical elements in space, it’s also strongly painterly, emphasizing color and surface. In Blanketed Crowd Development, for example, a piece of white sheepskin is slathered in candy-pink oil, making for a deliciously uncomfortable clash of textures. Stockholder uses found or purchased components, and a neat friction exists between their functional origins and their refashioned roles as parts in abstract compositions. Shoulder bags, driveway mirrors, furniture feet, ice cube trays—Stockholder has corralled them all into the liveliest visual shindig of the new season.
Jesse Krimes, “Marking Time in America: The Prison Works (2009–2013)”
It’s hard not to feel that an artist trumpeting the fact that his work was made in prison might be exploiting his own misadventures, but Jesse Krimes (the name is too perfect) seems to have had no misgivings about doing just that. The work in this small but grandiosely titled (“Marking Time in America”) exhibition was made while he served six years for “a nonviolent drug offense.” While the project may have its issues, there’s no denying the extraordinary dedication and resourcefulness required to produce it. On display are two major bodies of work, “Purgatory” and Apokaluptein: 16389067, along with some newer, less affecting material. The first series, created while Krimes was in solitary confinement, is a set of several hundred ghostlike portraits made by transferring images from magazines onto slivers of prison-issue soap, secreted inside packs of playing cards. The second is an ethereal multipanel landscape, rendered by a similar technique onto cut-up prison bedding—shown here in a smaller, reworked version. Of the two, “Purgatory” is the more memorable. But both are highly individual responses to an extreme situation—one in which an increasing number of Americans find themselves.
Corinne Wasmuht, “Alnitak”
Corinne Wasmuht describes herself as “an archaeologist, bringing scraps and fragments of the past to light, excavating sediments of memory and experiencing déjà vu.” In her latest show, the Berlin artist continues to explore this psychological and temporal web in a suite of paintings picturing crowds in airports, shopping malls and corporate lobbies. Using manipulated digital photographs as source material, Wasmuht depicts these scenes as liminal zones of reflection, refraction and translucency. Wasmuht’s approach is labor-intensive—the panoramic Pehoé Towers (2013) took more than a year to complete—and while her paintings’ blizzards of heightened color and texture certainly offer plenty for the eye to explore, they feel fussed-over, their vortexes of detail resulting in diminished returns. Beyond a certain point, the quasi-psychedelic agglomeration of imagery in paintings like Oberbaum (2015) becomes oddly deadening, collapsing into formal exercise and threatening to merge with the anonymous urban realms they presume to critique. Sporadically intriguing and unquestionably a technical feat, Wasmuht’s compositions are finally as elusive as the wraithlike figures that populate them.