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by Robert Mahoney
|The painter Steven Harvey, who in his spare time works as an art dealer at the estimable Salander-O'Reilly on East 79th Street, reminded me the other day that the gallery has a long tradition of museum-level exhibitions. "We have at least one scholarly show a year," he said. "Nothing here is for sale." Thus, "Rembrandt and the Venetian Influence," the gallery's current display of Rembrandts and Titians.
The gallery has gussied itself up with oriental rugs, flowers and dark green walls to accommodate some of its distinguished guests. The elaborate catalogue may argue that Tintoretto's portraits influenced Rembrandt's, but at Salander-O'Reilly the luscious realism of Rembrandt's Flora (ca. 1654), with her bountiful blouse, sparkling pearls and hat, apron and hand filled with flowers -- every surface captured with an incomparable and uninfluenced genius -- by far surpasses a rather stiff Portrait of a Man by Tintoretto. There is also something pinched, not to mention the eyes, in Titian's Portrait of Francesco Duodo.
Tintoretto's The Raising of Lazarus (1573) is more like it, as this master of murals learned well how to create labyrinths of light and dark, and so it does seem plausible that Rembrandt learned from the work. But Flora alone is worth the drop-in, as is any little moment that relieves Rembrandt from the passed-over purgatory of life in the permanent collection. By the way, this gallery opens at 9:30 a.m., a great uptown idea, especially if you love the smell of Rembrandt in the morning. "Rembrandt and the Venetian Influence" is on view through Nov. 18, 2000.
Obrosey is at his best in straight-out cut paper pieces of intricate doilies scaled to the size of record albums, as in Lust for Lace, 1999 ($7,500). The black and white format, a circle with a target-like appearance, has a classic beauty. Lace Fidelity is a version done as an etching, though on a 45 rpm scale. It comes in an edition of 15, eight of which (at $850) were gone at my viewing.
More intricate are drawings on mylar ($2,200), and a few large unique wood engravings ($9,500). Why there is so much art right now characterized by an obsessive attention to detail is a larger question. Graham gallerist Valerie McKenzie said that collectors are responding to "the beauty of execution," but Orbrosey is clearly a major practitioner of the obsessive-detail style. The show closes Nov. 4.
Also on view is an exquisite Edgar Degas, Danseuse Salutant ($250,000). All together, one gets so deeply into the Rodin-Degas-Moore mood that a hearty floor piece by Eric Fischl of a lifesize woman bending over ($135,000) appears surprisingly robust and even sexy. Also choice is a delicate Seated Girl by Elie Nadelman ($35,000) and a rigorous Girl Reaching by '80s star Nicholas Africano ($35,000). The show is on view through Dec. 2.
Unlike Peter Hujar's photos of abandoned buildings, recently exhibited at Matthew Marks in Chelsea, Hernandez's works have a formalism that props up even flooded spaces, and sees them not as hiding places but as passageways leading to others, and still others, making a whole world of ruin beyond the city center. Each photo, most from an edition of five, is $5,500. The show closes Nov. 11.
War Is Over, an anti-war poster by a duo that is oddly labeled "Ono and Lennon,' is also prominently displayed, and Give Peace a Chance, and the last gallery is dominated by a videotape from the 1969 Montreal bed-in.
The best video in the show is also a dual production. In The Fly (1968), a fly crawls over the nude body of reclining model, with a neat buzzy-giggly soundtrack by John and Yoko. Outstanding examples of Ono's own work are few, perhaps because if the truth be told, Fluxus was fading before Lennon came along and derailed her art. Artifacts from Half Gallery (1965) are good to see, but everything else is monochrome (white) and text-based, and gets tiring very quickly.
Of course Cut Piece (1965), a video of Ono having her clothes slowly cut off (well, at least down to her bra), remains compelling, and I agree with one of the male models for Bottoms (1968), a video of butts with audio of studio chitchat, that the idea is "quite a giggle." But other than that, I did not get a sense of a Yoko Ono coming out from behind the shadow of the joined-at-the-hip "John and Yoko" creature of 1968-1972 whose activities, right at this moment, seem ... still too hip.
By the way, recently produced stills from Bottoms are available at Ubu Gallery on East 78th Street. "Yes: Yoko Ono" is on view at the Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street.