Wang Hui lived from 1632 - 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that "his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.
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Albany, Texas is about as far away from Tokyo as you can get, but Kana Harada has brought her cherry blossoms to the Old Jail Art Center. For a fleeting period of spring time, the 19th century jail is infused with meditative zen.
Kana moved from Tokyo with her husband, an expatriate from Texas Instruments, to Dallas a decade ago. Starting from 2008, she began to explore three dimensional works with found objects and foam sheet-based installation.
Those foam sheets are nothing unusual. They can be bought at crafts stores like Michael’s. Leather light and soft, the pliant sheets enable the artist to cut, bend or glue shapes into an ensemble of nature wonders. The foam sheets are often dyed or painted, with limited range of pastel colors. One could almost smell that modern Japanese aesthetics — clean, light, animated, while, at the same time, possibly glean the traditional Japanese style underneath – two dimensional imageries with flattened shapes. In particular, the flowers, when observed in close proximity, look rather cartoonish. Their strict geometry speaks of a synthetic nature delineated through cut patterns. Georgia O’Keefe would have disagreed with the lack of subtle transitions in hues and values; but Murakami could see in them the essential liveliness of manga and anime.
What saves the installation from being merely crafts is the oriental succinctness that Kana instills into the works. She exudes fluidity in orchestrating found objects with crafted ones into an organic presentation. Such presentations, like traditional oriental art, carry the efficiency in abstracting the nature into morsels of ordinary elements. As the result, the nature, instead of telling, invites contemplation.
When I walked upstairs and bounced into the blossomed twigs, it triggered the same kind of excitement as seeing solitary flowers of winter jasmine in an early spring excursion (from my childhood in China). Twigs and stem are bare, as are the cases in the installation. Light came through the fenced window and shone on rough-hewed walls. The delicate flowers, like a Calder’s mobile, swung slowly, with a mesmerizing rhythm. Time seemed to have suspended for that momentary quietude.
Whether it is in Japan or Texas, not long do blossoms last – Cherry flowers peak only for a week while Texas’ spring will be gone before one notices it. Thus, in an eerie setting where time would have been irrelevant to the original occupants, the installation could not be more pertinent in expressing the ephemeral nature of life.
Kana Harada’s Anything You Want exhibition will be shown at the Old Jail Art Center in Albany TX until May 19, 2013.
Not once, not twice, but too often have been told by my Dallasite friends that Houston is just ugly. They are not talking about its skyline — a mirage when approached from the highways — but of the sprawling neighborhoods with no zoning restrictions. At Holly Johnson Gallery, a new exhibition of a group of drawings, by Randy Twaddle, who lived in Dallas in the 1980’s and has since moved to live in this charm-challenged Texas city, focuses on the unconventional beauty of distribution lines there.
“I love to drive down Houston streets – especially at dawn or dusk – when the light magically turns these silhouetted utilitarian wires and cables into calligraphic drawings or something akin to alternative music scores. I’m constantly awed by their unintentional beauty and lyricism,” says the artist.
Twaddle’s choice of medium is also unconventional — black ink and coffee. I am not sure they would look agreeable under the scrutiny of any paper conservator; at the minimum, it is a lesser sin compared to what have been added to pictures shown at the Brooklyn Museum in the past: Yogurt (in Hernan Bas) or elephant dung (in Chris Ofili).
The black ink lines are sharp and controlled. At distance, they look rather organic and simulated. In close proximity, the pictures betray that Tawddle has drawn border lines first before he filled in black ink. To say they are calligraphic is to over-emphasize the gestural grandness and to ignore their firm root in realism: tangled or stretched across the murky background, they retain instantly recognizable as the way we see them when heading up — there is nothing between those power lines and the sky. That makes them mesmerizing to observe.
Yet it is the coffee ground that transforms these images into a lyrical statement of urban decay. If utility wires are the melody lines, the coffee ground is their counterpoint of the harmony. They may be seen as representational, echoing shadows of wires, but they grow and sprawl in their own way. Twaddle let washes of coffee forming their diaphanous shapes and boundaries, by chance. They ease the eyes from knots of wires, and in turn, engender images with an romantic rhetoric. To some extent, they remind me of Helen Frankenthaler’s paintings in which turpentine-thinned paint in watery washes was poured onto raw canvas. Yet while Frankenthaler utilized the technique to liberate colors, Twaddle plays down the brown wash to reach a great degree of expressive freedom in our sub-consciousness.
Utility wires are disappearing in urban centers. They were cursed to cause untidiness of street scenes in China. Often, they are the last thing to go in a gentrified neighborhood, but once they are gone, gone with them is the care-free low-key ambiance of those hoods. In variant shades, Randy Twaddle’s coffee stained utility wires drawing recall minds of urban dwellers, at repose.
The show is open through March 16 at Holly Johnson Gallery, located at 1411 Dragon Street in Dallas.
It has been circulated for a while that Spanierman Gallery, one of the leading gallries in New York City specializing 19th and early 20th century American Art, will change its business model to embrace modern and contemporary completely. Although the Doyle Auction catalog has been out for a few weeks, which features paintings from the gallery, it is only today that Ira Spanierman sent a letter explaining his move and what would be on the market.
I still remember vividly during a visit to the gallery, I saw some customer was taken into a show room with adjustable lighting for a painting by Aaron Gorson, a painter specializing romanticized Pittsburgh industrial night scenes. I was, at that time, fascinated by a painting by Ryder. According to the sales person, there were 10,000 paintings in the inventory. I would imagine a noticeable proportion of its inventory focuses on 19th and 20th century American Art. Those 30 paintings on Nov 13 sale could be just the tip of an iceberg.
Here is the letter from the gallery:
Dear Clients, Friends, Dealers, and Museum Curators,
When I opened the Ira Spanierman Gallery over a half century ago, there was little knowledge of, or respect for, American art of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. In the years that followed, the gallery was at the center of a burgeoning movement in which American artists received serious attention in the scholarly and commercial worlds alike. I am proud that our research, exhibitions, and publications were part of this great accomplishment.
As many of you know, in the last few years, the gallery has become recognized as a leading showcase for modern and contemporary American art, especially in the areas of Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting. I am excited to be investing my time in this new area that has already been very rewarding. In the light of our new direction, we have made the momentous decision to consign the gallery’s American nineteenth- and early twentieth-century holdings to Doyle New York. The auction house will be including works from the Spanierman Gallery, LLC, Collection of American Art in its sales over the next couple of years. However, honoring our tradition, we will still exhibit and offer the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century work that is continually consigned to us.
The initial offering at Doyle New York of thirty paintings will be in a featured section of the American Art sale on Tuesday, November 13, 2012. Below is one of the paintings that will be included. This information is also available on the website of Doyle New York. A second group of thirty-six works will be included in Doyle’s November 19, 2012 auction of nineteenth-century American paintings. Future sales will present hundreds of examples of the art that has earned the gallery its reputation as a leader in the field for over fifty years. Please check Spanierman.com and Doyle New York often for information on upcoming sales. Doyle New York’s Director of American Art, Anne Cohen DePietro, formerly Director of Spanierman Gallery at East Hampton, is coordinating the upcoming auctions of the gallery’s collection at Doyle. The prices for the works will be reasonable and enticing, and we wish you good luck with these wonderful opportunities.
In some ways, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is similar to the Brooklyn Museum. Both are encyclopedic, multi-cultured institutions founded in the gilded age. The original buildings were both designed by McKim Mead and White; yet neither eventually achieved the grandiosity of the Beaux-Arts that was planned. The Brooklyn Museum finished one sixth of the initial plan while MIA finished about one seventh. There is as much fame in the Egyptian Art in the Brooklyn Museum as in the Asian Art in MIA. Both have kept their period rooms and in one particular case, both have one room from the Joseph Russell house of Providence, Rhode Island. Continue Reading »
The current exhibition George Grosz’s Flower of the Prairie at the Dallas Museum of Art centers at four oil paintings and seventeen watercolors by the artist, commissioned by Leon Harris Jr. in 1952, to celebrate department store A. Harris & Company’s 65th anniversary. These works, nonetheless, were not what Grosz was famous for. Grosz, who fled Germany at the onset of the rise of Hitler is most noted for his satirical political illustrations of roaring twenties. Had the artist had his own choice for a retrospective show, the Dallas images probably would not have taken the center stage — according to the artist, he sold himself for the commission in the time out of a pure need for money.
The art scene in the 1950’s Big Apple was not all accommodating for painters from the old world who once flourished in the Weimar Republic and began to be marginalized when Abstract Expressionism put New York the center of the art world. In January 1952, Grosz was first contacted by Leon Harris, the young vice President and art connoisseur of A. Harris & Company, to document the progress and burgeoning urban scenes of Dallas. He visited Dallas for five days in May, 1952, 60 years ago this year. However, most of the works in the series were produced after he returned to his studio in Huntington, New York over a period of five months. They were then exhibited in October 1952 at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (the predecessor of DMA, located in Fair Park) and later New York City in 1954. Continue Reading »
Patinamania is not enough for describing the dominant theme in the 23rd street Armory Show. The obsession with surface and paint has already stirred up interests and prices in many folk art areas, such as dower chests or weathervanes; now dealers must prove that collect-ability and bargains can still co-exist, in an antiques show.
At the 23rd Street Armory, we found many windmill counterweights. Made of cast iron, they look sturdier, humbler, and more restrained, like the mid-westerners who relied on them for their daily living in the first two decades of the 20th century. Anita Holden of Holden Antiques, from Naples, Florida said they were price-wise more affordable compared to weathervanes from the Northeast, which have gone up in price and out of reach for many collectors. She showed me an unpainted counterweight bull from Fairbury Windmill Company of Nebraska. Continue Reading »
The Philadelphia Antiques Show has a new look. Certainly the brand new Pennsylvania Convention Center better serves the show with its central location and super-wide aisles, but more importantly the vetted show has adopted a more flexible standard on what can be brought in. Many new faces, together with “newer” merchandise liberate the show from its traditional polished brass formality. Continue Reading »
The first question of a visitor who enters T. J. Griffin’s current exhibition “Remove Your Mask,” at Ro2 Downtown Gallery, is naturally about the title: what are the identities that have been masked?
Pictures of burly grown men with masks and costumes, often set in a fantasy world, fill the room with a kind of queerness. The artist found most models from photos online. Many are portrayed with a direct look that invites viewers to look through their masks. If masks were removed, they might be figurative paintings of everyday Americans. Middle-aged, slightly bald, with a gut buldging from too many burgers and drinks, they speak of the opposite of American grandiosity and heroism. Continue Reading »
“The Youthful Genius” – four paintings by John Singer Sargent from the Clark Art Institute, current exhibited at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, is mini-scaled show mixed with monumentality and intimacy. All painted by Sargent when he was aboard, between the age of 22 and 27, the artworks are extraordinary for painters of any age; yet the prenominal virtuosity demonstrated at such a young age only proves a hopeless conclusion that genius cannot be taught or passed on.
While Eric has discussed “Portrait of Carolus-Duran” before, “A Street in Venice” is a painting that testifies Sargent’s dashing confidence in venturing away from conventionality in his twenties. Had he not wanted to live “well” by catering his high society circle, perhaps he would have been more revolutionary in the art history. Continue Reading »
The rain almost stopped on the opening night of the current 500X gallery exhibition. At least it didn’t dampen the young vibe that is so characteristic of galleries in Deep Ellum. The fact that both Scott Hilton and John Nicholas Hutchings are art teachers attracted so many students that the overhanging Bohemian atmosphere surely kept the GCB away. Continue Reading »