Spring Art Cleaning: Out with the Junk-Yard Aesthetic and In with the Small Paintings

Can you smell the roses and linseed oil? There's a linen-fresh and sometimes, new mossy scent in the spring art air this week, a sign that this season's winter of artfully messy assemblage has started to off-gas a little and will soon be dragged back to the street from whence it came. At least that's the smell I'm picking up from the big boys and girls of New York's art critical print press, many of whom are publicly exhaling their weariness with the Unmonumentals and Whitneys of our late winter's discontent and are now bathing in the refreshing glows of Olafur Eliasson and elsewhere, all the small paintings. Smells like teen spirit!

Evidence abounds:

• "Stand Still; A Spectacle Will Happen," a review of the Olafur Eliasson retrospective at MoMA by Holland Cotter (and an excellent use of the semi-colon in headline, btw) for The New York Times.
Quote: "What a relief. Near the end of a decade crammed with junk-art collectibles geared to junk-bond budgets, and a museum season of ragbag sculptures and wallpapered words, we get bare walls and open space in the Olafur Eliasson survey..."

• Peter Schjeldahl's review of the Eliasson exhibit at MoMA for The New Yorker is titled "Uncluttered," signaling that the antidote to Unmonumental has arrived. Schjeldahl describes Eliasson's wall of moss as "exotic (and odorous)."

• "Wasted Youth," a review of Dan Cohen and Nate Lowman by Jerry Saltz for New York Magazine:
Quote: "looks too much like too many other shows—many of them excellent, some at Maccarone—to be taken as anything other than bad-boy shtick and hammy caricature. It radiates hipness and camaraderie, and is a warning that artists need to be wary of the point where influence turns into derivativeness."

• Roberta Smith's "Is Painting Small the Next Big Thing?" for The New York Times. Smith looks at the new phenomenon of petite abstract paintings in reviews of several painters.

You want to see wonderful small paintings by a major contemporary artist? Stay tuned for my review of Elizabeth Peyton's new small portraits at GBE on Greenwich Street. Roses, oil, linen canvases, and a portrait of Bob Dylan. Hmmm...nice...In comes the good air...hold, hold, hold....release gently....now exhale deeply....ahhhhhh.

See related posts from Walking Off the Big Apple:
Pack Arts Journalism in the Age of Un-Art: Writing About the Whitney Biennial
Unmonumental at the New Museum: Just Like Your Messy Friend's Place

No comments: