What's on in New York: Degas, Dow and Diego

Also on show are pastel landscapes at Artemis and high-tech furniture at Barry Friedman


o Coinciding with the series of Impressionist and Modern sales in the auction houses, several dealers will have important exhibitions of artists from the period. Works by Degas are on view in two New York galleries. At Artemis Fine Arts, director Sebastian Goetz has brought together five rare Degas landscapes. First exhibited by the legendary Impressionist dealer Durand-Ruel in Paris in 1892, these pastels and monotypes were executed during the artist’s return to landscapes (he only came back to landscape in the 1890s). Also represented in the exhibition are Cassatt, Delacroix, Monet and Pissarro. There is a Salome oil study by Gustave Moreau that alone is worth a visit to this gallery.

o “Degas: sculptures and works on paper” at Barbara Mathes Gallery, shows a dozen bronzes and seven drawings. All conceived prior to 1917, the bronzes were cast from 1919 to 1932 and they include dancers, horses and a bather. Museums loaning works include the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington and MoMA in New York. The exhibition also includes an interesting scholarly twist: a selection of Edweard Muybridge’s photographic studies of the body, which Degas turned to for inspiration.

o Long-time dealer William Acquavella is mounting a grand exhibition of watercolours by Cézanne. Comprising around fifty works, this is the largest gallery exhibition devoted to the master in almost forty years. Included are studies for some of his most pivotal paintings, such as his repeated depictions of Mont Sainte-Victoire and his sensuous bathers. Museums loaning works include the Metropolitan, the Morgan Library and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. The catalogue which accompanies the exhibition contains an essay by the renowned expert William Rubin.

o The sleek sculpture of Naum Gabo (1890-1970) is the current show at PaceWildenstein uptown. As the first gallery exhibition in this country devoted to the Russian artist in almost half a century, “Naum Gabo: pioneer of abstract sculpture” gives a good overview of the artist’s work. There are sixteen sculptures in bronze, steel, marble and plexiglass, more than a dozen drawings as well as paintings produced from 1916 to 1975. All of the works are from private collections. Most striking is Gabo’s “Constructed Head No. 2” in stainless steel from 1916. Saleroom prices for Gabo sculpture have been spiralling upwards and this show may fuel that trend.

o C & M Arts is presenting a survey exhibition of figurative art from the twentieth century, with a number of key works by artists such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Many of the works are from private collections, so do not expect the standard textbook variety. Of special interest is a vigorous De Kooning bronze, “Seated woman on a bench” from 1972.

o The once neglected early Modernist Arthur Wesley Dow is now enjoying a renaissance with two shows this month. Spanierman Gallery is featuring “Arthur Wesley Dow: his art and his influence”.

Organised by Nancy E. Green, curator of prints and drawings at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum at Cornell University, the show contains not only paintings, pastels and photographs by Dow but also the work of his contemporaries as well as students. Among Dow’s most noted pupils were Georgia O’Keeffe and Max Weber. Because of Dow’s position as a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts Revival, Spanierman has wisely chosen to show his paintings along with pivotal examples of furniture. The work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustave Stickley and Byrdcliffe is represented along with ceramics by Newcomb, Walrath, Overbeck and Marblehead. Work by all of those ceramicists has been achieving record prices in the salerooms. As a painter Dow was particularly influenced by Japanese techniques, and in 1893 he was appointed assistant curator of the Japanese collection at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

o Another important Dow show, “Along Ipswich River: the colour woodcuts of Arthur Wesley Dow” can be seen at Hirschl & Adler Galleries. More than sixty of Dow’s prints plus his original woodblocks are on view, making this the largest body of his work on exhibit since the sale of his estate in 1923. Related paintings, cyanotypes and silver prints (Dow was a prolific photographer) also demonstrate Dow’s debt to Japanese art. Prices run from $1,500 to $7,500, but Dow’s rarer images command $35,000.

o With the restoration of Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center is the topic of the moment and it is an apt time to take in the work of Diego Rivera who worked on a number of murals for the center. Mary-Anne Martin Fine Art is showing watercolours and drawings by Rivera. Amassed from private collections, the thirty works on view have never been exhibited before in this country. Of note is a rare 1934 sketch for Rivera’s Man at the Crossroads that he produced for Rockefeller Center. When Rivera included a head of Lenin, John D. Rockefeller fired him and had the mural destroyed. Prices for Rivera’s brand of social commentary run from $10,000-150,000. The Museum of Fine Arts is also currently exhibiting a travelling retrospective of his work, “Art and Revolution”.

o Continuing in the Modernist vein, the Richard York Gallery will be showing “John Marin: the Mount Desert watercolours”. Here is an opportunity to see, for the first time, close to four dozen watercolours in possession of the artist and his estate since they were painted in 1922. Marin referred to these particular works as his “minute sketches” for the simple reason that he allowed himself exactly one minute to execute a single scene. This series, composed of deft and fluid strokes, was produced on a boat trip to the island of Mount Desert. The majority are small, with the largest sheet being eight by ten inches, and they all display his palette of soft blues and greens.

o Still-lifes painted by Emil Carlson, an often overlooked master, are being exhibited at Vance Jordan Fine Art Inc. “During his lifetime, Carlson was considered the nation’s foremost still life painter and virtually every major museum in the country bought his work,” says Mr Jordan. The Metropolitan, Corcoran and the St Louis Art Museum as well as the Chicago Art Institute all own significant Carlson paintings.

Trained as an archi-tect in his native Denmark, Carlson was an exacting draughtsman yet the objects in his still lifes always have soft edges. Because of his use of tempera bases and layering of paint, there is a glow to his paintings. A number of museums have lent works to this exhibition. Prices range from $285,000 down to $125,000.

o For a truly cutting edge in decorative arts take in the shows at Barry Friedman Ltd: “Euclidean gestures: the architectural furniture of E. Weinberger and S. Schmidt” and “Infinite obsessions: Maurice Marinot and Michael Glancy”. The furniture of Weinberger and Schmidt borrow themes and concepts from Rietveld, Hofmann and Breuer interpreted in new and complex ways. For example, their “winged tri-ped desk” is actually a double cantilevered mass suspended on three legs. French studio glass artist Maurice Marinot (1882-1960) is important because he was among the first to utilise metal inclusions, dense powdered glass and naturally formed air bubbles to give a jewel like effect. His primary form is the flaçon. Today Marinot’s oeuvre can be seen in such major institutions as the Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Interestingly, Marinot began life as a painter and exhibited with the Fauves at the Salon d’Automne in 1905. Glancy’s studio glass incorporates copper grids and rests on base plates with the similar patterns. The artist sandblasts asymmetrical patterns on blown glass for a rich texture. Glancy was a student of Dale Chihuly.

o The plein air tradition gets an airing at Stair Sainty Matthiesen with the exhibition “An eye on nature II—the Gallic prospect: French landscape paintings from 1785 to 1900”. On view are works by Corot and his teachers, Bidauld, Bertin and Michallon, the pupils of Valenciennes, and the show follows the development of the tradition through the rest of the century, concluding with the inevitable Impressionists. Of interest are two Delacroix North African landscapes, painted from memory, of incidents recorded twenty years earlier.

o Impressionism in American dress is the subject of Adelson Gallery’s loan exhibition, “Childe Hassam: an American Impressionist”. Ninety oil and watercolour paintings and several pastels trace the fifty-year career of Childe Hassam (1859-1935), who began under the influence of Monet and continued throughout his working life to manipulate light and colour in the pursuit of beauty.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as "Degas, Dow and Diego"