Art Letter

March 2010 Archives

I had the joy of seeing the Matisse show at the Art Institute this week.  It's an insightful, informative and stunning exhibition. Towards the end of the exhibit were some splendid, reductive, abstract paintings.

I wandered over to the Modern Wing and was pleasantly shocked to see that just about every room had one painting or one wall reinstalled.  What fun to see the rooms energized differently, to see new, thoughtful relationships with pieces that had become 'friends.'  I've never seen this done before. I don't know if it's a normal elsewhere or an innovation here, but I found it really fresh - just like when a few weeks ago I was there on Guard Appreciation Day and
Jim Cuno was hanging out in the Modern Wing's Griffin Court chatting with a guard.

Those were the smaller changes.  More significant is that the installation of
Kerry James Marshall paintings has now been replaced by a stunning installation of work by Richard Rezac and the other room dedicated (but unannounced) to Chicago art, formerly Jim Nutt is now a selection of profound paintings by Christina Ramberg.  (I think I'm supposed to quote Biden here.)

This is
Ed Paschke's moment - I suppose.  It's not as if Ed is alive to appreciate the glory presently and appropriately being bestowed upon his art

Ed was always about helping others.  He was humble, sincere, generous and confident. It is Chicago art and artists that benefits most from the sequential openings - first in New York and tonight in Chicago at one show, titled Ed Paschke's Women, at two galleries;
Russell Bowman Art Advisory and Alan Koppel Gallery.  Art in Chicago benefits from proximity to Ed. And there's an added benefit because Paschke was part of the Imagists - A Group - that suggests plurality, which by extension implies that perhaps there's something intrinsic to Chicago that had an impact on Ed Paschke. Which means, of course, that more people will come to ArtChicago and take a closer look at Chicago artists while they are here.

I can tell you what Paschke prices have been doing for the past decade.  Concisely, they've been going up, constantly. But what is most meaningful to me is how much I've missed seeing Ed's paintings around.  Throughout his life there were always pieces I'd see, but suddenly, after the abundance following his death, it's been a while.  And with the hiatus and the ability to see the work anew, what I see is honesty and compassion and talent. I appreciate Ed Paschke's paintings now more than ever. 

The way I hear the story is that a couple of years ago
Jeff Koons (a former Paschke student) was in town planning for his MCA exhibit and chatted with the perspicacious Russell Bowman. In the discussion, the notion of "how unfortunate it is that Ed's genius has never been properly acknowledged" arose. And here precisely were the two people to do something about it - which lead to the New York Paschke exhibition at Gagosian Gallery and the two shows in Chicago. Bravo!

Richard Hull's new exhibition at Western Exhibitions reveals perceivable progress. The two last paintings made in the show - the two that look decidedly different, while acknowledging their antecedents, are the ones I'm talking about - they're particularly remarkable, an artist coming of age, experienced and confident. Don't overlook the rest of the show - it's a celebration of successfully realized smaller works leading up to an explosive summary and revelation of new, educated direction. I've often said that an artist has to be particularly vulnerable to be good. Hull's exhibited body of work reveals just that.

Paul Klein

3/19/10 Art Springs Forth

First and foremost: It's friggin' fantastic that Ed Paschke is having a one-person show at Gagosian Gallery in New York City. Thank you Jeff Koons for the appropriate prodding. Very nice to see a Chicago artist's prices at $145,000.

It's also great to see the eponymous
Tony Wight Gallery back, in a new, handsome space, after a several month hiatus to make the move. Inaugurating the new gallery is an impressive show of new work by Jason Salavon.  Here, the artist's work is transitioning from averaging to postulating, from compiling existing data to combining and melding data from divergent sources (like DNA from a human, a wild boar and a bear) to generate a rotating, morphing skull that is disarmingly real. Salavon is one of Chicago's more significant artists and there's ample evidence in the show to grasp his broad appeal.

Works by two great artists open in one exhibit at
N'Namdi. Romare Bearden's collages defined a people and a culture for decades. His art is both lyrical and anchored it is a treat to see pieces of his at all - and especially those images that are new to us.  Also on view are works by Jacob Lawrence, a gifted artist in his own right, who too often suffers from being paired with and compared to the perpetually superior Bearden.  Better to consider them separately. They changed history.

The shows that are opening now will be up through
ArtChicago.  It is safe to assume that what the galleries present locally is indicative of how they want to be seen by a broader audience. The weather has improved. These are the days to go look at art.

Thank you,
Paul Klein