One of the most iconic works of postwar American art, F-111 (1965) has recently been reinstalled at the Museum of Modern Art. It was one of the first paintings regarded as a form of protest against the Vietnam War and is perhaps James Rosenquist's masterpiece. Comprising 23 panels, the 86-foot-long composition begun in 1964 caused a sensation when it debuted in 1965 at Leo Castelli's New York gallery, then located at 4 E. 77th St. The painting, which covers four walls, contains a succession of photo-based images, including a fighter plane, a cherubic child under a hair dryer, the mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast and military insignia, which together constitute a potent critique of American militarism.
One of the giants of the postwar European avant-garde, Antoni Tàpies died at his home in Barcelona on Feb. 6, after a long illness. He was 88. Best known for his richly textured paintings in a muted palette, he frequently used unorthodox materials such as sand and rope and incorporated in his compositions graffitilike markings as well as found objects. In his most successful efforts, Tàpies merged the somber colors and austere, epic vision associated with Spanish masters such as Zurbarán and Goya with the raucous egalitarian approach of contemporary movements like Arte Povera and the Zero Group, with which he was associated for a time in the early 1960s. A keen student of non-Western art, and especially Asian art and philosophy, Tàpies made precise, Zen-like gestures, aiming for a meditative quality in his work. Read More
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, a longtime proponent of Latin American Art, recently made a new 10-year commitment to champion the cause. The museum, in collaboration with its research institute, the International Center for Arts of the Americas (ICAA), has earmarked $50 million for the endeavor, which includes a massive online archive assembled by hundreds of researchers in 16 cities in the U.S. and throughout Latin America. The debut installment, which launched last week, features more than 10,000 primary source materials gathered by hundreds of researchers in 16 cities throughout the Western Hemisphere. It is available worldwide and free of charge.
I anticipated sitting through no more than a half-hour of Ragnar Kjartansson's 12-hour Mozart marathon, Bliss
, a Performa 11 commission presented at New York's Abrons Arts Center on Saturday, Nov. 19. Kjartansson is a fascinating artist, but as described by the advance press material, "Bliss" sounded like a nightmare. The production is a full staging (including sets and costumes) of Mozart's 1786 opera The Marriage of Figaro
, but cast and orchestra continuously repeat from noon until midnight a less than three-minute excerpt from an aria in the opera's final scene. Audience members were invited to come and go as they pleased. Read More
The London-born painter Howard Hodgkin turns 80 next year, and in spite of rather delicate health continues to dazzle and provoke audiences in equal measure. A spirited and colorful mix of show-stoppers and head-scratchers fills his current exhibition of 21 recent paintings at Gagosian's Madison Avenue gallery in New York, through Dec. 23]. There's classic Hodgkin, such as the intimate and moody Dark Evening
with a centralized image that suggests a nighttime seascape, overpainted with more or less evenly spaced circular daubs of blue and white. Works like this could be counted among the best of Hodgkin's long career. Then there are some surprising, experimental efforts, including the spare And the Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day
(2007–08), which, at nearly 7 by 9 feet, is one of the largest Hodgkin has produced. In Action Painting fashion, the expanse of bare wood is interrupted here only by feverishly applied green brushstrokes clustered near the top of the composition. The motion of the artist's body is evident, and the work thereby conveys his presence. Read More