What's on in New York: The British are here

As well as Hoffmann, Kruger, Sultan, Koons, Klein and Kandinsky


“The British are coming! The British are coming!” – or rather, this month in New York, “The British are here!” No less than eight galleries both uptown and down, begin their new years by featuring the work of British artists – some showing in New York for the first time, others veterans of the Gotham City scene.

Among those enjoying their first American exposure is the English minimalist painter – now in his late forties – Alan Charlton. He is showing a single site-specific painting consisting of fifty-eight panels made to the measure of the gallery space and painted – as has his work been for many years – in various shades of grey. Charlton is virtually unknown to New Yorkers, but perhaps that situation will change in the future when a large group of paintings by him, recently acquired by the Guggenheim museum from the collection of Count Panza di Biumo, are displayed in that recently expanded institution. Until then we may acquaint ourselves with his ideas this month at the Louver Gallery.

Rohan Harris, another British painter working with a limited palette (in this case earth colours and white), is also showing for the first time here at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery (15 January to 7 February). Harris constructs supports of various materials, wood and aluminium mostly, then wraps these in cloth or applies papier-mâché. These are then painted. Small in size, none more than 50 cm up or down nor more than 15 cm thick, they hang on the wall, inhabiting a realm somewhere between sculpture and painting.

The John Weber and Christine Burgin galleries are teaming up to present, for the first time in New York, the work of John Murphy (who shows in London at the Lisson Gallery). Paintings and drawings, atmospheric in their semi-abstract imagery, are featured in both shows, which run from 5 to 26 January. At Marlborough, well known over many years for championing British artists in New York, new works by the veteran British abstractionist Hugh O’Donnell may be seen this month and until 2 February.

Figurative paintings, small in scale, by the English painter Jeffrey Dennis will be on view at Salvatore Ala (ending 19 January). This exhibition comprises Dennis’s sixth show in New York.

This month a retrospective of the work of Harry Holland will begin to tour museums across Great Britain. Set to coincide with this event is an exhibition of his recent paintings here at Graham Modern (until 30 January). Holland, trained as a figure painter, portrays humble objects which might otherwise go unremarked (a piece of string, stones, shapes apparently cut out of cardboard), creating a synthesis of figurative and still life concours.

Finally, at Paul Kasmin, two of three artists in a group show are British: James Nares and Julian Lethbridge. The third of the trio is Peter Schuyff, New Yorker and veteran of the East Village scene. Watercolours and drawings by all three may be seen from 8 January until 17 February.

Lee Krasner, Hans Hoffman, Alfred Jensen, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat – none of them is with us any more. But of course their work still lives and breathes, and may be seen this month at four New York galleries. Tony Shrafrazi, the man who invented spray-can graffiti but who now oversees an immense SoHo gallery, presents paintings from the oeuvres of Haring and Basquiat until 26 January, while a few doors away on Greene Street, Pace is showing (until the 23rd) a selection of the crypto-mystical numero-geometric paintings of Alfred Jensen. There are seven works, all of them large, dating from the last two decades of Jensen’s life (1961-80).

Krasner, who at one time attended Hans Hoffmann’s legendary classes in Provincetown, is also represented by a selection of paintings from the 1960s at Robert Miller (ending 26 January).

The Hans Hoffmann show, in the sixth-floor space at Andre Emmerich, is called “The 1950 Chimbote Mural Project”. It consists of seven half-scale paintings made for a proposed mosaic decoration for a bell tower in the small city of Chimbote on the northern coast of Peru. The Peruvian government in the late Forties embarked on ambitious plans to enlarge the town with an elaborate central plaza, the centrepiece of which was to have been an imposing bell tower. Sam Kootz, a dealer who was at that time a major force in the New York art world, became involved in matching some of the artists he represented, Hoffmann among them, with various architects who were involved in the project. Hoffmann agreed to work with Paul Lester Wiener and José Luis Sert on the tower and proceeded to make the studies which comprise the current show. He felt that these had to be at least one-half as big as the final size required so that they might be more faithfully transcribed by craftsmen into mosaics. All of this work took place during the artist’s seventieth year. The project was never realised – but we may study, how it was envisioned at Emmerich until 26 January.

One of the delights of running a gallery, it might be supposed, is thinking up titles for theme shows that will catch the attention of a public benumbed by importunacy. How does “Idiosyncrasies the Expanded Field” grab you? “Processing Syntax”?, “The Times, The Chronicle and the Observer”?, “Who Framed Modern Art, or the Quantitative Life of Roger Rabbit”? Shows with all of these unlikely, if intriguing, titles are on view here this month.

Tricia Collins and Richard Milano, the team who virtually invented that quintessential Eighties phenomenon, the Independent Curator, stride confidently into the early Nineties with their Roger Rabbit extravaganza at Sidney Janis (10 January - 9 February). Having something to do with juxtaposing Clement Greenberg’s idea of quality with our present day preoccupation with quantity, the show manages to include works by Picasso, Jeff Koons, Josef Albers, Sherrie Levine, Sol Lewitt, Andy Warhol, Kasimir Malevich, Don Judd, Wassily Kandinsky, the Starn Twins, Yves Klein, Fiona Rae, Piet Mondrian, Ross Bleckner and more.

“The Times, The Chronicle and The Observer” appears to have little to do with newspapers but everything to do with the work of Richard Artschwager, Vija Celmins, John Baldessari and Malcolm Morley, some of the artists with works from the Sixties in the show. It may be seen at Kent Fine Art until the end of the month.

The John Good Gallery presents, until 9 February, the work of four young painters in “Processing Syntax”. Those included are James Hyde, David Row, Jonathan Lasker and Nancy Haynes. Postmasters Gallery explores new frontiers of objecthood in its show, “Idiosyncracies in the Expanded Field”. Works included are by Laura Nash, Michael Merchant, Joan Wallace, Geralyn Donohue, Alan Belcher, Michael Scott, Matthew McCaslin and Bill Schwartz.

The theme of Josh Baer’s group show on from 5 January to 2 February is mercifully simple. A possible title might be “Artists I Like”, for it comprises work by each of the artists Mr Baer represents, viz: Nancy Dwyer, Alan Belcher, Nancy Spero, Annette Lamieux, Lorna Simpson, Kevin Carter, Dora Birnbaum, Chris Burden, Leon Golub, Oliver Wasow, Krzystof Wodiczko and Alexis Smith.

Not so much group shows as small three-person exhibitions, by artists happening to inhabit the same venue may be seen this month at Washburn, Jay Gorney, Koury Wingate and Blum Helman. Ms Washburn is presenting (until the 23rd) paintings by Norman Bluhm, Ilia Bolotowsky and Ronald Bladen, an artist known primarily for his sculpture. Mr Gorney shows work by Heim Steinbach, Michelangelo Pistoletto and Joseph Kosuth. New paintings by Serge Kliavang and Dennis Kardon join sculpture by Tom Brokish at Koury Wingate. Both of these last shows run through the end of the month. Blum-Helman shows “Masterworks” by Robert Moskowitz, Bruce Nauman and Joel Shapiro in their second floor space, while their gallery on the eighth floor will feature paintings by a quartet of women reductionists, Marcia Hufif, Mary Heilman, Harriet Korman and Edda Renuff.

“The Personal Portrait Show” is on this month at Anina Nosei. Portrayals by Montesano Watson, Bachelor Smith, Kuitka Galan and Duong may be seen. Duong, until recently famous mainly as a top fashion mannequin, is currently enjoying a vogue in the art world.

More self-portraits, in this case over-scale ones laced with symbolic, mythological and allegorical references by Cheryl Laemle, are on view at the Terry Dintenfass Gallery until the end of the month.

George Moniel helped to found, in the 1930s, the influential “American Abstract Artists Group” and ever since then he has been steadily working as a painter, for many years in his present Brooklyn studio. He began as a geometrician but moved over the years to a more expressionist mode and in the catalogue of his current show at Hirschl and Adler Carter Ratcliff searches for the underlying geometric impulse in his recent work. The paintings on view reflect this eighty-two-year old artist’s long love affair with the city and bear such titles as “Central Park”, “St Marks Place”, “Kennedy Airport” and “Beaver St”. The show opens on 10 January and closes 8 February.

New work by many other painters may be viewed this month. At the two Sperone Westwater Gallery locations work by Gianni Dessi and the well known art critic Jeff Perone may be seen (from 12 January). Massimo Audiello shows paintings on metal supports by Carl Bronson, opening 19 January and Robert Bordo’s small-format dark, map-like paintings are at Brooke Alexander through 2 February.

Large scale relief paintings by Bo Bartlett are at PPOW and works by Duncan Hannah may be seen at Charles Cowles, both until 26 January. Frederic Matys Thursz, who was born in Casablanca in 1930 and who studied at the Art Scrutents League, shows new large monochromatic paintings this month at Galerie Lelong, while at Salander-O’Reilly Kikuo Saito will show oil paintings in his first exhibition for almost four years – previously he had worked in acrylics. There is a catalogue with an essay by Karen Wilkin and the show will be on all month.

Robert Colescott, widely known for his often hilarious conflations of art history and ethnic stereotyping, has pretty much abandoned the former ingredient in his new work. Now addressing racial and sexual stereotypes more directly, albeit with his sense of humour, his new paintings bear such titles as “Emergency Room”, “Dreaming of a Most Favored Nation”, “White Boy” and “Grandma and the Frenchman - Identity Crisis”. They may be seen at Phyllis Kind Gallery, 12 January-6 February. During the same time-slot at the Krashaar Gallery new paintings by the veteran New York artist Karl Schrag are on view. Paintings from the 1960s by Sigmar Polke are at Michael Werner until 15 January.

New sculptures by Margo Sawyer in bronze, copper and other metals are at Barbara Tell until 26 January and Max Protech is showing Siah Armijani beginning of the 19th of this month. New work in hydrostone, closely relating to human scale and made to be mounted on the wall or on the floor, by Joseph Zito may be seen at Rosa Esman until 2 February.

Donald Sultan, whose paintings have often gestured towards sculpture by way of their complex wooden support systems, tries his hand at pure sculpture in a show this month at Knoedler (12 January-9 February). Playing on the notion of the container and the contained, a great variety of materials are involved, including wood, steel, lead, water, wood shavings, tar and iron.

Lorence Monk Gallery presents an installation work by Alan Scarritt which involves telephones and unlisted numbers, with action triggered by entrance into the gallery space – on until 26 January. Susan Hiller, a video installation artist, will show her latest inventions at Pat Hearn until 2 February.

On five successive Saturdays beginning 12 January the Ronald Feldman Gallery will run bus tours (call for reservations and information) to the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Jersey City, just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Trippers will there view an installation of two paintings by the Russian-born artist team Komar and Melamid. Maquettes and studies for the paintings – ”The Annunciation” and “The Crucifixion” – may be seen at the gallery until 16 February.

Leo Castelli presents a new installation by writing-on-the-wall artist Lawrence Weiner, as well as new works by the rare sculptor, Chryssa. Both Weiner and Chryssa have played with letters on the wall – and so has Barbara Kruger, who papers not only the walls but the ceiling and floor of Mary Boone’s gallery with messages, viewable until the 26th.

Also until 26 January at Sonnabend, the work of six young German photographers are being shown. They are Andy Brenner, Boris Becker, Manfred Jade, Ulrich Cambke, Simone Nieweg and Jog Sassa. Curt Marcus shows the new photographic work of Judy Fiskin until 9 February and Simon Watson presents the elegant back-lit photographs, with text of Donald Moffit (all this month).


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