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Art Letter (3/26/10)

I had the joy of seeing the Matisse show at the Art Institute this week.  Itís 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 Ďfriends.í  Iíve never seen this done before. I donít know if itís 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 Wingís 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Kerry James Marshall paintings has now been replaced by a stunning installation of work by Richard Rezac and the other room dedicated (but unannounced) to Chicago art, formerly Jim Nutt is now a selection of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 Iím supposed to quote Biden here.)

This is
Ed Paschkeís moment - I suppose.  Itís 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 Paschkeís Women, at two galleries;
Russell Bowman Art Advisory and Alan Koppel Gallery.  Art in Chicago benefits from proximity to Ed. And thereís an added benefit because Paschke was part of the Imagists - A Group - that suggests plurality, which by extension implies that perhaps thereís 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, theyíve been going up, constantly. But what is most meaningful to me is how much Iíve missed seeing Edís paintings around.  Throughout his life there were always pieces Iíd see, but suddenly, after the abundance following his death, itís 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 Paschkeís 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 ďhow unfortunate it is that Edís genius has never been properly acknowledgedĒ 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 Hullís 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 Iím talking about - theyíre particularly remarkable, an artist coming of age, experienced and confident. Donít overlook the rest of the show - itís a celebration of successfully realized smaller works leading up to an explosive summary and revelation of new, educated direction. Iíve often said that an artist has to be particularly vulnerable to be good. Hullís exhibited body of work reveals just that.

Paul Klein