Artnet.com's gallery center now showcases approximately 40,000 individual artworks from galleries all over the world. I'm not sure how many of these are paintings. Suffice it to say that there are a lot -- many included in new exhibitions opening this month, exhibitions that can be viewed right here online.
Begin with the Neil Jenney show at Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York, Mar. 9-Apr. 13, 2001. Titled, not without some wit, "The Bad Years, 1969-70," the show features an incredible 25 of the paintings that launched the so-called "Bad Painting" movement of the 1970s (plus three new ones and some new prints featuring Neil Jenney aphorisms). Eight of the works -- which in fact aren't that badly painted at all -- can be viewed online.
The paintings come from a brief span of Jenney's career, marked by a burst of artistic energy that moved his work out of Minimalism and into simple, straightforward narratives. Many of the images embrace a kind of Cartesian dualism, with titles like Husband and Wife, Schmuck and Schlemiel and Plow and Plowed.
For the exhibition, Gagosian borrowed works from museums (the Met, MoMA) and collectors (Eli Broad, Ed Broida), and -- as is widely known in the business -- bought many of the paintings at recent auctions (for prices ranging between $50,000 and about $100,000). The accompanying catalogue features an essay by Paul Gardner.
Art-worlders with long memories will remember the wild fashion shows put on in the late 1970s by the artist Robert Kushner, events that were distinguished by scanty costumes consisting largely of fruits and vegetables (I seem to recall seeing a photo of the artist himself, clad in little more than a bunch of bananas!). Since then, he has become one of the contemporary art world's most accomplished "decorative" painters.
Kushner's complex images of flowers, employing gold leaf and glitter along with sparkling colors in oil and acrylic, mend Fauvism and Pop, Post-Impressionism and Japonisme. His new exhibition at DC Moore Gallery in New York, Mar. 6-31, 2001, is titled "Hot." Among the selection are several paintings started in Hawaii, notable for their "equatorial sense of luxuriance and brilliant chroma."
Art-worlders with still longer memories may recall the triumphs of "Greenbergian" painting in the 1960s and '70s, when Andre Emmerich Gallery showed the brilliantly hued works of the Color Field painters and the Washington Color School, as they were loosely called. Kenneth Noland's stripes and targets and Morris Louis' poured veils were among the leading examples of an art that reduced its elements to their sensual essence.
In the 1960s, the German-born New York painter Friedel Dzubas (1915-1994) left Abstract-Expressionism behind and began making simple, jewel-colored abstractions with Magna acrylic. Ameringer/Howard Fine Art (which has succeeded the retired Emmerich in his enthusiasm for this painting) presents a show of his works of the 1960s, Mar. 15-Apr. 21, 2001, in its New York gallery in the Fuller Building, and also presents "Friedel Dzubas: Square Format Paintings" at its branch in Boca Raton, Fla., Apr. 5-28, 2001.
The SoHo gallery Lehmann Maupin is presenting a dynamic project born of a collaboration between veteran abstract painter Terry Winters and the celebrated Postmodernist architect Rem Koolhaas, Mar. 9-Apr. 28, 2001. With a tip of the hat to the Russian Constructivists, the project involves the development of a scheme for the mutable display of a large number of works. For the show, Winters has produced a set of 60 canvases that function both independently and as part of the larger construction. A concurrent, five-year survey of Winters' drawings opens at Matthew Marks Gallery in Chelsea, and a retrospective of the artist's prints opens at the Metropolitan Museum in June.
The new work by New York artist Lynton Wells at Rebecca Ibel Gallery in Columbus, Oh., Mar. 1-Apr. 14, 2001, are truly fantastic images, the likes of which I dare say have never been seen before. Done in a kind of hallucinogenic Photo Realism with raw pigment and resin, Wells' pictures show things like a frog made of paisley arabesques and a pair of dandelion-like sensory systems engaged in what the painting titles as Sex. No surprise, then, that these works have caught the attention of Las Vegas critic Dave Hickey, who has supplied an essay for the accompanying catalogue.
The paintings of Jimmy Ernst (1942-1983), son of the Surrealist Max Ernst, are on view at ACA Galleries in Chelsea, Mar. 1-31, 2001. The survey covers more than 40 years of the artist's work, and is the first major exhibition of his painting since 1984. A new monograph on the artist has also been published, with an essay by the critic Donald Kuspit (also an Artnet Magazine contributor).
After all this, perhaps a little classicism is in order. The finely crafted new paintings by Harry Holland, on view at Mineta Move Art Gallery in Brussels, Mar. 4- Apr. 27, 2001, depict contemporary subjects like a woman climbing a stair and use classic modes like the still life. Holland's work was included in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition last year, where he was short-listed for the Charles Wanacott Award.
Finally, it's impossible to end this brief survey of current painting shows without mentioning the exhibition of abstract works from the 1940s by Nell Blaine at Tibor de Nagy in New York, a show which runs Jan. 27-Mar. 10, 2001, and so is all but closed. Blaine, who is much admired for her sophisticated Long Island landscapes and interiors, experimented with abstraction immediately following World War II while she was in her 20s (she was born in 1922 and died in 1996).
So this show, simply titled "The Abstract Work," comes as a pleasant revelation. The artistic investigation of plastic form that carries through from picture to picture is palpable, as is the shifting reference to precedents like Leger and Stuart Davis, her teachers Jean Helion and Hans Hofmann, and prevailing modern movements like Purism, Neo-Plasticism and Biomorphism. The gallery has published an indispensable catalogue, full of illustrations of the work along with a charming photo of the young painter herself and a quite good essay by the artist and writer Stephen Westfall.