PHILIP GUSTON at Hauser & Wirth

Philip Guston, Rite, 1957, oil on illustration board, 24 x 35 in.

Philip Guston: Painter 1957-1967 at Hauser & Wirth in Chelsea is a watershed exhibition and a revelation. It is astounding that such a show could be assembled almost immediately after Guston's estate moved from the McKee gallery, bringing together more than 50 major works from what I consider to be Guston's most important period. These paintings have long been regarded by many as transitional, from the color field abstractions of the early '50s to the infamous figural work of the '70s, and as such have been generally undervalued in Guston's oeuvre. They are indeed agonizing paintings in which the artist's existential struggle is laid bare on the canvas, and through which he finds his way to his "breakthrough", to a new kind of figuration. The magnificent import of these works lies precisely in that struggle and its metaphorical embodiment in abstract form. With an unparalleled rawness, these paintings convey the gut wrenching tensions that hold and build through a charged decade of searching and speculating about the nature of being, and the nature of painting. Here we see Guston squared off, facing the canvas, painting his way through a mortal battle between his deepest desires and his most dogged preconceptions, pushing his notion of abstraction to a precipice.  

Philip Guston, Untitled, 1958, oil on canvas, 64 x 75 in.

 Philip Guston, Painter, 1959, oil on canvas, 65 x 69 in.

 Philip Guston, Turn, 1959, oil on panel, 22 x 28 in.

Philip Guston, Turnabout, 1959, oil on paper mounted on panel, 22 x 30 in.

Philip Guston, Untitled, 1959, oil on paper mounted on panel, 18 x 24 in.

Philip Guston, Alchemist, 1960, oil on canvas, 61 x 67 in.

Philip Guston, Path II, 1960, oil on canvas, 62 x 71 in.

Philip Guston, Slope II, 1961, oil on paper mounted on canvas, 40 x 30 in.

Philip Guston, Accord, 1962, oil on canvas, 68 x 78 in.

Philip Guston, Painter III, 1963, oil on canvas, 66 x 79 in.

Philip Guston, The Three, 1964, oil on canvas, 80 x 91 in.

Philip Guston, The Year, 1964, oil on canvas, 78 x 107 in.

Philip Guston, May Sixty-Five, 1965, oil on canvas, 70 x 80 in.

Philip Guston, Installation, 2016, Hauser & Wirth, NYC


THORNTON WILLIS at Elizabeth Harris

Thornton Willis, step over, under and through, 2016, oil on canvas, 70 x 61 inches

Thornton Willis is presenting a diverse and powerful group of recent paintings at Elizabeth Harris Gallery (through May 7, 2016). As with every new body of work, here Willis continues to push his paintings into new territory, constantly refining and expanding his vocabulary, while also releasing himself from his own rules and assumptions. The most distinctive new development is a sort of dissolution of the structures, so that rather than being contained or cropped by the edges of the rectangle, in the newest work, the shapes and configurations float in a continuous field of color. The effect is one of buoyancy, of hovering in a constantly shifting space. There is a translucence created by the intensity of the color field and the open placement of various sized rectangles within it, heightening the ambiguity and mystery of the configuration. The color ranges from high key, almost acidic, to soft pastels, and is utterly intuitive with no apparent system other than the internal poetry of the painting. As always the surfaces are juicy, with an offhanded and direct approach to the paint which belies the precision of the compositions. These are masterful works by an artist who has achieved a radical freedom.

Thornton Willis, step around, 2015, oil on canvas, 77 x 61 inches

Thornton Willis, spin step, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 77 x 61 inches

Thornton Willis, totem #1, 2014, oil on canvas, 77 x 61 inches

Thornton Willis, three painters, 2014, oil on canvas, 77 x 61 inches

Thornton Willis, impingement, 2015, oil on canvas, 77 x 61 inches

Thornton Willis, totem #2, 2014, oil on canvas, 86 x 70 inches

Thornton Willis, carousel, 2014, oil on canvas, 77 x 61 inches

Thornton Willis, three soldiers, 2015, oil on canvas, 70 x 61 inches

(Images from the gallery website)


Recent Paintings at David Findlay Jr Gallery

Steven Alexander: Recent Paintings
724 Fifth Avenue, 8 fl
New York City
Through April 23, 2016 


PAUL CORIO at McKenzie

Paul Corio, Sugar Beach, 2015, 92 3/4 x 66 1/2 inches, acrylic on canvas

This is the last week to see Paul Corio's exhibition of new paintings at McKenzie Fine Art, through March 13, 2016. This vibrant and beautifully installed show explores the capricious nature of color, employing both chance and intuition to create configurations that trigger full tilt chromatic dynamism. There is an element of obsessiveness in the complexity of Corio's compositions, and the depth to which he explores the nuances of color relations. But more prominent is a sense of playfulness, of reveling in the realization of endless possibilities. To this end, Corio masterfully devises systems as frameworks within which Cagean operations can be set in motion. The results are startling and beautiful arrays of seemingly random color relations, activated by their integration into clearly organized rhythmic structures. In this way, these works mirror and amplify natural, cognitive, and technological processes -- making visible some of the fundamental impulses of existence. 

Paul Corio, Fuchsia Swing Song, 2015, 60 x 48 inches, acrylic on canvas 

Paul Corio, Moscow Rules, 2015, 72 x 42 inches, acrylic on canvas

Paul Corio, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, 2015, 48 x 36 inches, acrylic on canvas


Paintings in New York
January and February

While demands of the studio, and preparing for my upcoming show have not left time for blog posts, there has been a steady stream of great painting visible in New York since the beginning of the new year. So here is an abbreviated rundown of some of the highlights... and more in the coming weeks.

Robert Ryman at Dia

 Amy Sillman at Sikkema Jenkins

Amy Sillman - one from a wall of black & white paper pieces

Doug Ohlson at Washburn

Logan Grider in a group show at David Findlay Jr

Matt Phillips at Steven Harvey

Emily Berger at the UBS Building lobby gallery
One of many wonderful works in The Onward of Art: American Abstract Artists 80th Anniversary
curated by Karen Wilkin

Terry Winters in a group show at Matthew Marks

David Row at Loretta Howard

David Row - Detail

Al Held at Cheim & Read

Al Held - Detail




Steven Alexander Studio, January 1, 2016


Some Notable Shows from 2015

Bret Baker at Elizabeth Harris

James Biederman, Eating Painting at 156 Project Space

 Mark Bradford at Hauser & Wirth

 Suzanne Caporael at Ameringer McEnery Yohe

 John Ferren at David Findlay Jr

Keltie Ferris at Mitchell Innes & Nash

Louise Fishman at Cheim & Read

 Clare Grill at Zieher Smith & Horton

 Alison Hall at Steven Harvey

 Eric Holzman at Lori Bookstein

 Jason Karolak at McKenzie (image from gallery website)

 Daniel Levine, Painters/Paintings at 57W57 Arts (image from gallery website)

Stephen Maine at Hionas

 Brice Marden at Matthew Marks

 Giorgio Morandi at David Zwirner

Helen O'Leary at Leslie Heller (image from gallery website)

Blinky Palermo at David Zwirner (image from gallery website)

Susanne Phillips at Lori Bookstein (image from gallery website)

Kazimira Rachfal at Janet Kurnatowski (image from gallery website)

(about 1/5 of) Frank Stella at the Whitney

Don Voisine at McKenzie (image from gallery website)

John Walker at Alexandre