Hanging around New York: Collector-patrons for Knoedler’s 159-year history

Picasso for the blind at Wildenstein and a bevy of Latin American paintings exhibitions


o Knoedler & Company, which has had a long and rich 154-year history of serving many of the nation's most celebrated patrons such as Henry Clay Frick and Paul Mellon, is launching a two part exhibition, "The collector as patron in the twentieth century". This show focuses on post-war art from the collections of five collector-patrons, as well as an archival section detailing the history of the gallery's role in the development of patronage from the early twentieth century onward. Viewers cannot but be impressed by the sheer scope of paintings placed by Knoedler, from seven Vermeers to more than 150 works by Cézanne now in American museums. The paintings on view are from such noted collectors as Agnes Gund, Marieluise Hessel, Bebe and Crosby Kemper of the Kansas City Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Mary and James Patton, as well as Beatrice and Philip Gersh. Artists include Jackson Pollack, Milton Avery, Willem de Kooning and Jasper Johns.

o Salander-O'Reilly Galleries is mounting an exhibition of predominantly Florentine Renaissance sculpture that is worthy of an international museum. Featured are nine works on loan from collector Michael Hall, while Salander vice president Andrew Butterfield has curated the show. He is the author of a recently published Yale monograph on Andrea del Verrocchio, one example of whose work, a terracotta bust of Christ after the sculptor's 1487 Christ and St Thomas at Orsanmichele, is on view. There is a sizable and vigorous bronze centaur attributed to Cellini, as well as a Donatello stucco, a bas-relief of the Madonna and Child. Other treasures include a Mino da Fiesole idealised terracotta bust of a young woman. Also there is the 1570 terracotta self-portrait by Johan Gregor van der Schardt, once court sculptor to Emperor Maximilian II and lavishly praised by Vasari. Viewers will find this piece in an all'antica manner stirring. A complete catalogue is available.

o The blind are generally totally disregarded by the gallery world, but Wildenstein & Co. has developed an innovative exhibition of thirty cancelled etched plates by Picasso to reveal his genius to those who cannot see. Along with the copper plates of the painter's illustrations for Ovid's Metamorphoses are "tactiles", raised-line graphics that duplicate the plates, plus descriptions in Braille so the blind can feel the quality of Picasso's linear draftsmanship while reading the text. For these tactiles, Wildenstein recruited Denise Lasprogata, director of the Wynnewood, Pennsylvania-based Touch the Arts, which also produces materials for the Barnes Foundation. Sighted Picasso enthusiasts will appreciate the plates particularly because only a single edition of the cancelled etchings was printed. Decorative-arts buffs will enjoy the framing which is haute Art Deco. Each plate is gilded for preservation and framed in silver with lapis lazuli corners dating from 1930.

o For an allied exhibition, turn to Ursus Books to examine books not only illustrated by Picasso, but also from his own collection. Picasso illustrated an astounding 156 volumes and his output spanned his entire career. On view are some thirty books, spanning the years 1920 and 1966, which previously belonged to the artist's grandson, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso.

o The Latin American painting sales have spawned a number of gallery shows, including one devoted to Esteban Lisa at Hirschl & Adler. Born in Spain, Lisa spent his life in Buenos Aires, where he founded an art school. This show shows the artist shift from subtle, chromatic landscapes to later geometric, figural works and finally to abstraction. By the 1950s, Lisa applied soft washes with oil paints on paper freely. Although Lisa has been exhibited in provincial museums in both Spain and Argentina, this is the first exhibition of his work in North America. Prices are moderate, from $7,000 to $25,000.

o Mary-Anne Martin Fine Art is featuring "Latin American masters". Artists represented include Matta, Botero, Armando Morales and Claudio Bravo. There are a number of Diego Rivera watercolours new to the market, including an icon-like example of a woman carrying calla lilies. Later in the month is a show devoted to Mexican painter Elena Climent, whose work is featured prominently in the current El Museo del Barrio exhibition, "Latin American still-life". Ms Climent paints with traditionally bold Latin colours, yet creates intimate interiors. Prices for watercolours go up to $6,000, while oils are from $8,000 to $50,000.

o The work of Cuban-born Luis Cruz Azaceta is the focus of an exhibition at Galeria Ramis Barquet. While Azaceta is best known for his series of boat paintings depicting the sometimes-sorry state of exile and migration, his most recent work is semi-geometric abstractions and predominantly a play of black and white.

o The Marlborough Gallery is showing the first major New York dedicated to Uruguay native Ignacio Iturrio. The forty-odd paintings completed within the past year depict scenes of everyday life in Montevideo. Iturrio uses the palette knife heavily to create a three-dimensional build up in earth tones.

o The Jack Shainman Gallery is featuring the work of Brazilian sculptor and photographer Edgard de Souza. Many of the images are concerned with reflection of one self, so, there are self-portraits facing a mirror and sculptures in bronze and plaster of two connected figures.

o Illustration is too tame a category to apply to painter Walton Ford whose latest watercolours are the subject of a show at the Paul Kasmin Gallery. Although following in the tradition of James Audubon, Ford takes his rendition of animals to fanciful heights. On view is his largest and most complex creature to date: a life-size male Indian elephant, 12’ x 18’. Birds of various breeds are lighting on the beast in his decidedly surreal world.

o On view at Galerie St Etienne is an examination of turn-of-the-century portraiture in Austria and Germany. The portraits by George Grosz, Alexej Jawlensky, Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Emile Nolde and Egon Schiele reveal the transition from academic treatment to full-blown Expressionism with the depiction of the psychological revelations. Interestingly, many Expressionist portraits, like those by Käthe Kollwitz, were actually self-portraits, the artist's response to the sitter.

o With the Jean Royère exhibit at the Musée des arts decoratifs this winter, the French designer's work is in great demand now. In appealing to the vogue for Royère, galerie de beyrie is presenting an exhibition of some sixty pieces of his furniture from 1938-58, in style from Louis XV to abstract. There are his signature pieces, such as a metal floor lamp and coffee table with diamond shapes in metal. Prices are from $7,000 to $150,000 for a 1950 sofa demonstrate just how trendy Royère has become. "But prices here are comparatively less here than in Paris," points out Stephane de Beyrie.