The Evolution of Art: Artworks That Advanced Our Understanding of the Medium, Part I

Today, art can be almost anything. But there was a time in the not-so-distant past when abstraction was inconceivable, and it was believed that art could only represent something that already existed in the real world. There was a time when an object couldn’t be considered art unless it showed evidence of the artist’s touch. And until […]

An Eye-Popping Mid-Century Apartment Filled With Pollocks, Klines, and de Koonings

If you had Ben Heller’s eye, you’d have picked 50 straight Derby winners, or signed 100 future Hall of Fame ballplayers when they were 17. “When I think of my old apartment on the Upper West Side,” says the tall, spry Heller, who is 91, “even I’m shocked.” In the mid-1950s, the talent he was […]

Famous Abstract Artists that Changed the Way We Think About Painting

Abstract artists fast brought different genres and sub genres of abstraction into the dominant painting style of the 20th century. This influential avant-garde direction in painting derived from the request for “pure art”, non-figurative, non-objective and nonrepresentational artwork. The earliest movements toward contemporary abstraction were seen in Romanticism, Impressionism and Expressionism, where artists put a […]

An Ambitious Survey of the Titans of Abstract Expressionism

BAC:  We saw this exhibition during Frieze week in London, and it is one of the best exhibitions we have ever seen – bar none. This expansive AbEx show is brash, irreverent, and unconstrained, just like the period it aims to express. The titans of Abstract Expressionism are on view now at The Royal Academy of […]

Talk – Collecting Contemporary Art, Audain Art Museum, Whistler, Canada

Laing Brown is an art collector who is interested in ideas. Brown, chair of the Audain Art Museum acquisitions committee and an external advisor to the acquisitions committee of the National Gallery of Canada, has just returned from Britain, where he went to check out Frieze London, where 160 of the world’s top commercial galleries […]

Abstract Expressionism review – crammed in a room with the big men of US art

There are beautiful, marvellous and terrifying things in the Royal Academy’s much-trumpeted survey of Abstract Expressionism. What more could one ask in a show including the explosive and tender Jackson Pollock; De Kooning swerving and jumbling and dismembering his frightening figures of women; Rothko’s tangy brightness and trembling, tremulous darkness;Barnett Newman’s zips and planes and […]

Public Talk: Collecting Contemporary Art

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” – Sir Winston Churchill Join Laing Brown, a noted art collector, Board Member and Chair of the Audain Art Museum Acquisitions Committee, for a public multi-media presentation where he will discuss his Top 10 Collecting Rules for contemporary […]

How Abstract Expressionism changed modern art

What did the artists associated with Abstract Expressionism do so differently? And how is their work still relevant today? As the first survey of Abstract Expressionism for nearly 60 years is staged in Britain, co-curator David Anfam answers key questions. 1. How was Abstract Expressionism different to what came before? Crucially Abstract Expressionism, or ‘Ab […]

What Was Abstract Expressionism? A Paint-Splattered Primer on America’s First Major Art Movement

You don’t need to be an art insider to hear the term “Abstract Expressionists” used to describe the inspiration behind all manner of contemporary painting, but what was the original movement all about? Hint: it’s more than just Jackson Pollock drinking and tossing paint on a canvas. In this brief essay from Phaidon’s Art in Time: […]

The Met and the Now

America’s preëminent museum finally embraces contemporary art. Gertrude Stein’s famous remark that “you can be a museum or you can be modern, but you can’t be both” sounds archaic today. Every self-respecting urban center has its museum of modern art, and climate-change-denying business leaders will spend lavishly to get their name on its walls. The […]

Know Your Critics: What Did Irving Sandler Do?

Irving Sandler is an artists’ art historian. In contrast to other prominent midcentury art critics—like the New York Times’s John Canaday, who warned him against fraternizing with artists for fear of impairing his critical distance—Sandler purposefully immersed himself in his subjects’ milieu, first in his days as a young reviewer for Artnews and later as […]

Know Your Critics: What Did Leo Steinberg Do?

If you could have dinner with just one 20th-century art historian, you might want to choose Leo Steinberg (1920-2011). Known for delivering garrulously wide-ranging lectures and papers that were as lucid as they were revolutionary, he was also admired for his wit, dropping in enough jazzy lines that Woody Allen could have cherry-picked them for material. The following is […]

Know Your Critics: What Did Meyer Schapiro Do?

Although Meyer Schapiro (1904-1996) was one of the most influential art historians of the 20th century, his legacy is hard to quantify. He was a professor at Columbia University from 1928 until his death; he also lectured at New York University in the early 1930s and thereafter at the New School. For an academic, Schapiro had a uniquely extensive reach through his […]

Know Your Critics: What Did Harold Rosenberg Do?

Known for his support of “action painters”—his term for the Abstract Expressionists—Harold Rosenberg (1906-1978) was, along with Clement Greenberg, at the center of mid-century American art criticism. Together, these two critics developed the vocabulary and analytic tools to understand Abstract Expressionism, and to explain its advancements to the rest of the world. There was, however, a catch: […]

Know Your Critics: What Did Clement Greenberg Do?

Possibly the most renowned art critic in American history, Clement Greenberg (1904-1994) held sway for years in the postwar period over not only the popular perception of contemporary art being made in this country but also how the artists themselves thought about it and brought it into being in their studios. While his reign eventually came to […]

The Best Artworks of Art Basel 2014 – Artspace’s view

With an overwhelming array of booths by top international galleries filling two full floors, Art Basel presents so much first-rate art that it’s hard to believe such visual splendor is only on view for a few days every June, to be immediately dispersed onto the walls of collectors around the globe. Artspace toured the fair to tease out […]

Georg Baselitz, Gagosian Gallery/British Museum

Georg Baselitz, the veteran German artist who likes to bait, provoke and raise hackles, most recently with an interview in Der Spiegel in which he said women artists couldn’t paint (he mentioned the few exceptions, which was generous of him), is enjoying a triple billing in London. His new paintings at the Gagosian Gallery adopt the Abstract […]

Georg Baselitz: Farewell Bill, Gagosian Gallery, review

At the Gagosian Gallery in King’s Cross, one Hans-Georg Bruno Kern, who changed his name to Baselitz after the Saxon village of Deutschbaselitz where he was born in 1938, also presents Farewell Bill, a suite of impressively large and loose self-portraits in honour of the great Abstract Expressionist painter Willem de Kooning. If Baselitz is […]