MSB brainstorming

04 January 2014

Painting Back in the Olden Days When It Was (Proclaimed) Dead

First published February 28, 2007

(Dan Christensen Untitled, 1968, 90 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas)

David Reed and Katy Siegel, a painter and art historian, respectively, both of whom I treasure have organized an exhibition at the National Academy Museum. Here is an excerpt from Roberta Smith's review of the show in the NY Times of 16 February 2007.

NY Times: Art Review of "High Times, Hard Times"
"Painting in the Heady Days, After It Was Proclaimed Dead"
Roberta Smith

New York painting from the late 1960s and early ’70s — when the medium supposedly was dead — is one of the biggest elephants in the room of recent art history. The nonpainting trends of those years have been relentlessly celebrated and valorized by museums, art historians and biennials. The multiple strands of Post-Minimalism that ended painting’s dominance — Conceptual, Process, Performance, Earth and video art — have coalesced into a canon and master narrative of their own. The king is dead, long live the king.

But painting? What happened to painting after the final big bangs of Pop and Minimalism, as Modernism wound down, is both exceedingly complicated and relatively unexamined. Enter “High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting, 1967-1975,” a brave if deficient exhibition organized by Independent Curators International, which concludes its three-stop tour at the National Academy Museum.

(...) The show passes over the artists who dominated painting during this period, like Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Brice Marden, Robert Mangold and Robert Ryman. Young Turks of that moment, like David Diao and Peter Young, are here, but the whole project feels a bit hollow at the center, like a time capsule from a time that didn’t quite exist.

Still, with 42 works by 37 artists, "High Times, Hard Times" is a start and should inspire further attempts. It was proposed by the painter David Reed and assembled by the art historian and critic Katy Siegel in consultation with Mr. Reed. Sketchy as the final outcome often is, they and Independent Curators International are to be commended for tackling a job that a flush New York museum should have taken on about 10 years ago. Whatever its problems, this exhibition demonstrates a central truth: far from being dead during the period in question, painting was in an uproar. (...)

(...)In the end, this exhibition would have been better titled “New York Painting, 1967-75: The Untold Story.” Its problem, simply, is that the larger, more familiar story of the painting of this period has yet to be told. But this exhibition, pulled off by a small nonprofit art organization with no gallery space of its own, has taken the plunge, and it suggests all kinds of possible exhibitions: surveys of Ralph Humphrey’s or Ms. Fishman’s career, for example, or of New York painting in the late 1970s and even the ’80s. Perhaps it will remind New York’s big museums to think outside the box of the blue-chip retrospective or the sampling of current gallery trends and examine painting’s neglected recent past in ways that might benefit its present and future.

"High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting, 1967-1975" through April 22, the National Academy Museum, NYC, NY.

Read the whole review here.

National Academy Museum here.

Image: Dan Christensen Untitled, 1968, 90 X 70 inches, Acrylic on Canvas

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