August 24, 2008 |
In an unassuming gallery on the first floor of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a special exhibition is showcasing two of the greatest works ever created by artists in America. Both are inextricably bound to the cultural history and identity of Philadelphia - and both nearly disappeared from the city in recent years via out-of-town sales. But Thomas Eakins' The Gross Clinic (1875) and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Angel of Purity (1902) remain here, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of museum president Anne d'Harnoncourt, who died unexpectedly in June.
May 26, 2006 |
Having recently seen the University of Pennsylvania's annual master-of-fine-arts student show at the Icebox Project Space, as good a litmus test as any of the trends that have currency among young artists, I'd say geometric abstract painting is not the flavor of the moment. Cartoony, or at least image-driven, work reigns for now, as anyone who visited the Whitney Biennial noticed. Contrarians might argue, then, that this is an excellent time to be making abstract geometric work.
April 3, 2005 |
The role of collectors in preserving our art heritage needs to be acknowledged occasionally, and the Main Line Art Center has done just that with its fresh and lively new exhibit, "Main Line Collects: Distinctive Choices. " This display of post-1950 art borrowed from 19 private collections stretching from Bala Cynwyd to Berwyn features 37 works in all media, most of them praiseworthy. Four of these collections were lent anonymously. To the guest curator, Mary Anne Dutt Justice, a former Philadelphia Museum of Art staffer, goes credit for putting the display together.
December 7, 2001 |
Exhibitions of artists' books, which are made as art, are typically frustrating experiences, because the books can't be handled and usually can't be displayed in a way that provides reasonable access. However, the gallery at Arcadia University offers devotees of the genre full immersion, with the most imaginative and satisfying show of artists' books I've ever seen. "Desire Admire Acquire" consists of 150 books published during the last 40 years, displayed on a table-high shelf that rings the gallery.
November 1, 1998 |
The enormous, multicolored wall sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly that for decades peered through the plateglass front of the old Greyhound office building at 17th and Market Streets has been privately purchased and given to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The Kelly work - a staccato series of 104 anodized aluminium rectangles and curvy trapezoid panels strung out over 64 feet - became the first piece of abstract public sculpture in Philadelphia when it was commissioned (by architect Vincent Kling)
September 20, 1996 |
Painter Jay DeFeo (1929-1989) was always highly regarded in the San Francisco Bay area, where she lived from her college days in Berkeley to her death from lung cancer at the age of 60. But although she had appeared in the landmark show "Sixteen Americans" at the Museum of Modern Art in 1959, her reputation didn't travel much beyond the San Francisco art world. ("Sixteen Americans," organized by MoMA curator Dorothy Miller, also included Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ellsworth Kelly and Louise Nevelson, which turned out to be prestigious company.
April 14, 1988 |
In addition to such artists' cooperatives as Momenta, the recent proliferation of exhibition spaces in Philadelphia has produced several galleries set up by artists on their own premises. One of the newest of these "labor of love" galleries is Red Column Studio, run by Yarrott Benz at 2101 Lombard St. Another, a few months older, is the Larry Becker at 43 N. Second St., operated by Becker and Heidi Nivling. Both galleries' public hours are limited, although you can get in by appointment - or, most of the time at Becker, by ringing the bell.
November 6, 1987 |
The first two major sales of contemporary art since the Oct. 19 stock market crash produced mixed results Tuesday and Wednesday. Works by nine contemporary artists set sales records at Wednesday's auction at Sotheby's, but 64 works auctioned Tuesday at Christie's netted a disappointing total of $7.8 million, about $5 million less than the auction house's pre-sale estimate. Of the 64, 14 fetched bids below the reserve minimum set by the owners and therefore failed to sell. Sotheby's Wednesday sale brought in $17,661,600, reportedly the second highest total for a sale of contemporary art at auction.