What's on in New York: From Neo-Classicism to Pop Art

A Rothko double-header at PaceWildenstein and Washburn, Lichtenstein’s brushstrokes legacy at Mitchell-Innes & Nash while Gagosian installs “Brushstroke” at the Seagram building Plaza


Francis Naumann, a widely respected independent scholar, curator, and author, has launched himself into the Upper East Side art world. The inaugural exhibition of Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, “Man Ray in America: paintings, drawings, sculpture and photographs of the New York/Ridgefield (1912-21) and Hollywood (1940-50) years”, makes a convincing case for the serious reassessment of Man Ray’s contribution to the development of American Modernism. The 55 works, produced before his departure for Paris in 1921 and during the 1940s when he lived in Hollywood, come from the artist’s two nieces, other dealers, and Mr Naumann’s personal collection. Highlights of this remarkable show are two metal-cast sculptures from 1918, “By itself” I and II, and “Seated on a curb”, a 1949 photograph of Man Ray and Duchamp. Prices range from $8,500 to $680,000.

The noted art historian and independent curator Klaus Kertess has contributed an essay to the catalogue for PaceWildenstein’s exhibition of the early work of Mark Rothko, entitled “The Realist years”. These rarely exhibited, Depression-era urban scenes, still-lifes and nudes from the 1930s and 1940s have been brought together in order to explore Rothko’s hitherto overlooked early career. Borrowed from the artist’s estate and several private collections, these paintings reveal Rothko’s sensitivity to social conditions of the Depression and acknowledge the influence of his friend Milton Avery on his use of colour and form.

A second exhibition focusing on Rothko’s early career at Joan T. Washburn includes Surreal and mythological works from the collection of his first wife, Edith Sachar. She recalls the intense discussions during the early 1940s between her husband, Barnett Newman, Adolph Gottleib, and other members of The Ten, as they searched for subject matter through the exploration of mythology. All but one of the eight paintings, two watercolours, and a major sketchbook, dating from the 1930s and 1940s, have never before been exhibited. This show is one of a series that the Joan T. Washburn has organised to reconsider the early careers of major 20th-century artists such as Stuart Davis, Jackson Pollock, and David Smith.

The first exhibition devoted to Roy Lichtenstein since 1997 is made up entirely of holdings from the artist’s estate and foundation. The show has been organised by Mitchell-Innes & Nash, exclusive representatives of the artist’s estate. Surveying Lichtenstein’s work over 40 years, the exhibition comprises approximately 30 works, including a number from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation’s archive, seen for the first time. The brushstroke motif is one of the most important in Lichtenstein’s oeuvre. Throughout his career the artist explored and employed the brushstroke as a complex metaphor for his understanding of the history of art.

To complement this show, a monumental installation of “Brushstroke”, a Lichtenstein sculpture of 1996, is given a place of honour at the Seagram Building Plaza. The yellow and black aluminium work measures 32-feet high and is from a series of sculptures that Lichtenstein completed just before his death in 1997. The installation, arranged by the Gagosian Gallery in cooperation with the Lichtenstein estate, will be on display through the Spring of 2002.

The Simon Dickinson Group, the London-based arm of the US Dickinson Roundell, has organised an exhibition of black and white paintings, installations, drawings, and sculptures by a wide-ranging group of postwar European and American artists. The show, called “Black and white”, includes works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Donald Judd, Damien Hirst, and Gerhard Richter.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Garth Clark Gallery offers an exhibition of the much revered ceramicist Beatrice Wood. In 1978, Mr Clark met the then-85-year-old Wood when she was living in Ojai, California. So intense was his commitment to her art that three years later he opened a gallery to show her work. This anniversary homage includes selections from her widely acclaimed “Dinner service for eight”—chalices, figurative plates, pilgrim bottles, and ceramic jewellery. Mr Clark’s lavishly illustrated memoir of Wood, Gilded vessels: the lustrous art and life of Beatrice Wood has been published to coincide with the exhibition. Prices range of works from $3,500 to $85,000.

“Of the newest fashion”, a stunning exhibition of neo-Classical decorative arts, has been organised by Stuart P. Feld and his daughter Elizabeth to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hirschl & Adler Galleries. Appropriately, the exhibition and its catalogue are dedicated to Norman Hirschl, one of the firm’s two founders. The show’s title is taken from the label used by Charles-Honoré Lannuier, whose celebrated and coveted cabinet work is represented by a French bedstead, a pier table, and a recently-discovered centre table. Other cabinet-makers represented are Duncan Phyfe of New York and Joseph B. Barry of Philadelphia. These splendid examples of American furniture, dating from 1810 to 1840, are set off in the exhibition by rare examples of English and American silver, porcelain, metalwork, as well as portraits by John Singleton Copley and Thomas Sully. Prices range from $7,500 to $2 million.

One-of-a-kind and privately commissioned works by the internationally revered cabinetmaker, Jean Royère, are on show at the Galerie de Beyrie. These examples of Royère’s genius were purchased by gallery owners Catherine and Stéphane de Beyrie from the original owners or their children and have never been on the market. Pieces of special appeal are the studded bar and coffee table, made in 1956 for the Shah of Iran, a five-piece mahogany and silk bedroom suite of 1937, and the whimsical “oeuf” chair of 1951. Most of these works are illustrated in the book Jean Royère, published by the Beyries and Jacques Ouaiss. Prices range from $9,000 to $85,000.

To coincide with the this month’s opening of the Neue Galerie, the first New York museum dedicated to Austrian and German art (see p.9), Galerie St Etienne, the oldest gallery in the US specialising in this subject, has mounted an exhibition devoted to Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. The show, featuring works on paper by three of the foremost draughtsmen of the 20th century, seeks to define the subtle differences between Austrian and German Expressionism.

In his third show since joining Marlborough Gallery in 1993, Richard Estes offers 12 new paintings in which he continues to examine his quintessential subject matter, the urban landscape. Unlike his fellow Photorealists, Estes does not project an image onto canvas to be painted flatly, but uses several different photographs of a particular scene to compose the painting free-handedly in the vedute manner of Canaletto and Guardi. Two paintings that stand out are “Amsterdam at 80th Street”, measuring 5 x 8 feet, and a portrait of I.M. Pei, commissioned by the National Gallery for its East Wing Building.

“Man Ray in America: paintings, drawings, sculpture and photographs from the New York/Ridgefield (1912-21) and Hollywood (1940-50) years” at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, 22 East 80th Street, New York 10021, Tel: +1 212 472 6800, fax +1 212 472 6866 (until 5 January)

“Mark Rothko: the Realist years” at PaceWildenstein, 32 East 57th Street, New York 10022, Tel: +1 212 421 3292, fax +1 212 421 0835 (until 24 November)

“Mark Rothko: the Edith Sachar Collection of works from the 1930s and 1940s” at Joan T. Washburn Gallery, 20 West 57th Street, New York 10019, Tel: +1 212 397 6780, fax +1 212 397 4853 (until 1 December)

“Roy Lichtenstein: brushstrokes, four decades” at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, 1018 Madison Avenue, New York 10021, Tel: +1 212 744 7400, fax +1 212 744 7401 (until 12 January)

“Brushstroke” at the Seagram Building Plaza, 375 Park Avenue (between 52nd and 53rd Streets), New York 10022 and Gagosian Gallery, 555 West 24th Street, New York 10011, Tel: +1 212 741 1111, fax +1 212 741 9611 (until spring 2002)

“Black and white” at Dickinson Roundell, 19 East 66th Street, New York 10021, Tel: +1 212 772 8083, fax +1 212 772 8186 (2 to 28 November)

“Beatrice Wood: gilded vessels” at Garth Clark Gallery, 24 West 57th Street, New York 10019, Tel: +1 212 246 2205, fax +1 212 489 5168 (6 November to 1 December)

“Of the newest fashion: masterpieces of American neo-Classical decorative arts” at Hirschl & Adler Galleries, 21 East 70th Street, New York 10021, Tel: +1 212 535 8810, fax +1 212 772 7237 (24 November to 2 February)

“Jean Royère: Catherine and Stéphane de Beyrie Collection, part II” at Galerie de Beyrie, 393 West Broadway, New York 10012, Tel: +1 212 219 9565, fax +1 212 965 1348 (1 to 30 November)

“Gustav Klimt—Egon Schiele—Oskar Kokoschka” at Galerie St Etienne, 24 West 57th Street, New York 10019, Tel: +1 212 245 6734, fax +1 212 765 8493 (20 November to 5 January)

Richard Estes at Marlborough Gallery, 40 West 57th Street, New York 10019, Tel: +1 212 541 4900, fax +1 212 541 4948 (until 24 November)

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'A Dada launch for Naumann'