Open This End: Contemporary Art from the Collection of Blake Byrne

Open This End

Open This End, at theMiriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, features contemporary art from the collection of Blake Byrne, one of the top 200 art collectors according to Art News.  The title comes from a 1962 Warhol painting featured in the show which also includes  painting, sculpture, drawing, collage, photography, video, installation and mixed media of more than 30 artists from the 1960s to the present. Among the artists are: Ed Ruscha,  Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Rita McBride,  Gerhard Richter, Martin Kippenberger,  Marlene Dumas and Paul McCarthy. Despite the number of works featured, the setting is so intimate that you can engage with each work on a very personal basis.

My two favorite pieces in the exhibition were a large mixed media canvas by Mark Bradford and a trompe l’oeil painting by Sigmar Polke.  While very distinct artists, both pieces were similar in that they gave you a different experience when viewing up close and at a distance. Bradford’s layering is very rich but one experiences more dynamism when you stand several feet back.   Polke’s colorful, seemingly abstract piece, is very pleasing when standing right in front of it. But only when across the room do you see his intention to reveal champagne glasses on a tray. It was a lovely illusion.

Open This End is being exhibited in celebration of Byrne’s 80th birthday and is appearing at the schools that he and his family have attended.  A goal of the exhibition, according to the exhibit notes,  “is to inspire others to share their art collections for educational purposes and start an ongoing dialogue about art collecting, philanthropy and ethics.” A symposium on this topic, featuring Blake Bryne, will take place on March 6 at Columbia University’s Uris Hall. The exhibit is on view through March 12

Art From Scandinavia


Situated among the office buildings and hotels on Park Avenue is the Scandinavia House, the leading center for Nordic culture in the United States. It’s the home of the American-Scandinavian Foundation with a gift shop and a restaurant serving foods from the region. But more interestingly, it’s one of the few places in New York City to see art from Scandinavia.

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On view now through February 27 is Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi from SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark.  Hammershøi  was a Danish painter who lived from 1864-1916. His work focused on four main areas —landscapes, unpopulated urban cityscapes, portraits, and spare, sunlight-infused interiors. Some of the portraits are reminiscent of John Singer Sargent. Others evoke the landscapes of the impressionists. The gallery is small and intimate so you can really focus on the paintings.


Master Drawings New York Week


If you are a fan of drawings — as a viewer or a collector — then you can’t miss The tenth annual MASTER DRAWINGS NEW YORK show which will take place January 23 through January 30 at 30 leading art galleries on the Upper East Side.

The concept for the event originated in 2006 as a way to draw upon and reinforce the presence of collectors and museum officials during the January art-buying events, like the “Old Master” auctions and The Winter Antiques Show. But now MASTER DRAWINGS NEW YORK has become an important event in its own right, attracting  influential dealers from around the world.

Exhibitors at galleries from East 63rd-East 86th Streets will showcase important pencil, pen and ink, chalk and charcoal drawings, as well as oil on paper sketches and watercolors by artists from the 16th to 21st centuries.  Each exhibition is hosted by an expert specialist and many works on offer are newly discovered or have not been seen on the market in decades, if at all, according to the event catalog.

New exhibitors this year include:

Allan Stone Projects — with an exhibition entitled “Process and Presence: Mastery in Drawing” and includes figurative, landscape, still life and abstract works by prominent artists such as Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning, Wayne Thiebaud, Franz Kline, and Gaston Lachaise.

Kraushaar Galleries — featuring works by Marsden Hartley as well as Dorothy Dehner, among several important American artists.

Découvert Fine Art gallery of Rockport, MA — with an exhibition entitled “The Feminine Observed, 16th to 20th century, and New Acquisitions.”

Westbeth Annual 2015

show poster

The Westbeth Annual 2015 is a curated exhibition featuring 62 emerging and established artists who make the Westbeth Artists’ Housing  their home. The complex of 13 buildings, formerly the site of Bell Laboratories, was conceived in the 1960’s as a partial solution to the acute need to provide affordable housing and studios for artists and their families. It became one of the first examples  of industrial buildings being reused for artistic and residential purposes.

Westbeth Building on the corner of Bethune Street

Westbeth Building on the corner of Bethune Street

In addition to its residential component, Westbeth also contains large and small commercial spaces, performance and rehearsal spaces and artists studios both individual and communal, such as the Westbeth Sculptors’ Studio and the Westbeth Graphics Studio.

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The 2015 Westbeth Annual features an eclectic group of art from paintings and drawings to photography and sculpture. It’s an opportunity to see work from both well-known artists and those who are still trying to make a name for themselves. Many of the pieces are for sale.  Westbeth is not too far from the Whitney Museum and the neighborhood is charming. The exhibit is on view until January 2nd and the gallery is open Wednesday – Sunday from 1pm – 6pm. It’s closed Christmas weekend and New Years Day.

The Power of the Line

Two exhibits, as different as night and day, bring to life the power of a line. The first is Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions at the Morgan Library and Museum.

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Martin Puryear is a living American sculptor who works primarily in wood and bronze creating elegant pieces that have subtle impact. This exhibition is the first to highlight the important role that drawing plays in his practice. Featuring about 70 works, the exhibition explores the evolution of Puryear’s ideas across different media. Most of the drawings come from the artist’s collection and have never been exhibited before. His drawings, but even more so his sculptures, use simple shapes and lines that have depth and volume.

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The second exhibit brings to light the exquisite drawings of Renaissance artist, Andrea del Sarto, and can be found at the Frick Museum. Andrea del Sarto: The Renaissance Workshop in Action has nearly fifty drawings — red and black chalk figures, expressive heads, and compositional studies — and three related paintings that explore the important role of drawing in Andrea del Sarto’s paintings. “By showing drawings with their completed paintings and by bringing together works that relate to specific commissions, the exhibition sheds new light on the artist’s creative process,” according to the exhibition notes. The works on display provide insights into the artistic process and serve, almost as a masters class, in drawing.

Both exhibits are on view through January 10, 2016.

Taubman Collection at Sotheby’s

There are just four more days to view the incredible art collection of the late A. Alfred Taubman before the Sotheby’s auction on November 4/5. Encompassing more than 500 works, the collection spans antiquity to contemporary art which Mr. Taubman collected over six decades. There are 123 items for bid in the Modern and Contemporary auction and 77 in the Masterworks auction.

Egon Schiele works

Egon Schiele works

Taubman’s collection includes 24 pieces by Egon Schiele, which alone could form the basis of a museum exhibition. Additionally there are pieces by Balthus, Degas, Matisse, Modigliani, Picasso, Rothko, and Van Gogh among countless others.


Vincent van Gogh, PAYSAGE SOUS UN CIEL MOUVEMENTÉ (oil on canvas)

The Taubman collection can be found on the 10th floor of Sotheby’s and shares the space with another impressive collection that’s up for  auction this week as well. The Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale contains 47 works of art, many from the collection of Louis & Evelyn Franck.

Sotheby’s, on 72nd and York Avenue, is open from 10:00am-5:00pm. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to see great works of art in a highly accessible setting.

Art Galleries of the Lower East Side map map

If you are a NYC art lover then chances are you’ve been to the galleries in Chelsea. Less popular, and not as well known, are the galleries on the Lower East Side.  The art you’ll find there is very contemporary; sometimes edgy; and often just recently completed. A reason to visit may be tied to a specific show. But even more fun is to head down there and just wander in and out of galleries. You’ll be surprised at the unusual and interesting art you’ll uncover. Start by just walking up and down Orchard Street.

Jean Kawecki

Jean Kawecki, The Past Is Always Present


One gallery I dropped into was The 155 Project. A group show called A Conversation in Approaches featured eight artists working in a variety of media. Among them was 89 year old Jean Kawecki, who creates large scale, evocative sculptures from found stone and found wood combined with other natural materials such as bones, coral and bark, Many of the pieces are carved from one continuous found object. Says Kawecki, “Nature provides my medium.  I spend a lot of time wandering through the woods, the quarry or the stone yard. There, I find an abundance of form, color and texture that I can use to express my responses to the many aspects of the human scene.”

Campbell la Pun, Kreme Glaze, Aerosol on Panle

Campbell la Pun, Kreme Glaze, Aerosol on Panel

The Krause Gallery offered a completely different art experience. Campbell La Pun – “Excess Fumes” features 15 aerosol can “portraits” with brand images like Hermes, Nike, Pringles and Lucky Strike.  La Pun, a Melbourne-born, Tokyo-based artist, uses pop culture for much of his work. The show, on view until December 1st, is reminiscent of works by Andy Warhol.

At the Denny Gallery I saw Emily Noelle Lambert’s colorful abstractions  which were engaging and full of energy. The exhibition features paintings and sculptures  that are “in dialogue with each other, exploring dimensional and pictorial space,” according to the gallery notes. Lambert’s sculptures are made mostly from found or discarded wood, foam, steel, and other objects. This exhibit is on until December 1st.

Ofri Cnaani: Wrong Tools

front window

It’s hard to categorize Wrong Tools, the  Ofri Cnanni show at the Andrea Meislin Gallery. The exhibit includes a participatory performance piece as well as a series of cyanotypes —  a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print.


My "reading"

My “reading”

The Cnnani performance is like a spiritual “reading.” It “expands on the idea of visuality, visibility and vulnerability in the image-saturated digital culture, highlighting fundamental paradoxes of the media era,” according to the exhibition notes.

For my reading, I selected two items from a collection of objects in Cnnani’s window “office.” Then I chose a Tarot card – mine read “unlimited,” and contributed a personal item — a red pen. Cnanni added other objects and composed my “reading.” You could watch her on a large screen projected in the gallery and outside. A photo copy was printed and signed, providing a very personal involvement with the artist and her art.

Ofri Cnaani Blue Print (OC real and fake hands) #1, 2015 Cyanotype

Ofri Cnaani
Blue Print (OC real and fake hands) #1, 2015

Also on view at the gallery are a series of cyanotypes Cnnani created using real and fake hands, as well as other objects. This form of “photography” is typically used by engineers as a simple and low-cost process to produce blueprints. In Cnani’s hands, the photos created are reminiscent of Matisse’s blue cut-outs

The title of the show — Wrong Tools — underscores Cnaani’s working methods. She deliberately misuses technologies, and chooses low-tech, imprecise techniques to create distinct visual stories.

Cnnani, an Israeli born artist and educator, has had solo exhibitions and performances around the world including:  The Metropolitan Museum of Art, PS1/MoMA, The Fisher Museum of Art in L.A., and the Haifa Museum of Art in Israel. Wrong Tools will be on view through October 24.


Art To See Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is a last chance to see some major exhibitions around the city. If you haven’t seen these yet, then now’s the time:

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art – China Through the Looking Glass (closes 9/7). The museum will stay open until midnight, Friday (9/5) and Saturday (9/6) nights.

At MoMA – Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series

At the Guggenheim – Story Lines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim (closes 9/9)

At the Neue Gallerie – Gustav Klimt and Adele Bloch-Bauer: The Woman in Gold

At the Morgan Library and Museum — Life Lines: Portrait Drawings From Durer to Picasso  The Morgan, not normally open on Mondays, will be open on Labor Day. The exhibit closes September 8th.

Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit in New York City

Labor Day weekend is also a great time to check out The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit. It takes place over two weekends: Sept. 5, 6, and 7, and Sept. 12 and 13. The event showcases fine arts and crafts from around the New York metropolitan area, the nation and the world. This isn’t a street fair but rather a sidewalk art exhibition. It runs from University Place, starting at East 13th Street, and continues south along the east side of Washington Square Park to West 3rd Street.  The southern end of the show encompasses Schwartz Plaza between NYU’s Shimkin Hall and Bobst Library.

Jacob Lawrence: A Visual Story Teller

There are many reasons to visit the new Whitney Museum including enjoying the art in the spacious and inviting galleries; the Renzo Piano architecture; and the views from the 7th and 8th floor terraces.  But what I was not expecting was to see Jacob Lawrence’s War Series.  Lawrence (1917-2000) was an Africa-American painter known for his depiction of African-American life. He’s best known for his narrative collections that he painted in story format using blacks and browns juxtaposed with vivid colors.

Lawrence served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II.  The fourteen panel War Series describes his first-hand  “sense of regimentation, community, and displacement” that he experienced during his service.  The “story” alternates between vertical and horizontal formats, literal and abstract depictions; and individuals and groups. The series supports Lawrence’s belief that one cannot “tell a story in a single painting.”

I’m not sure I would have examined these as closely had I not experienced Lawrence’s equally compelling Migration Series on view at  the MoMA. Created in 1941, The Migration Series tells the story of the Great Migration, the multi-decade mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North that started around 1915. The series is comprised of 60 small tempera paintings with text captions that read like a children’s story book. The color palettes in the two series are very similar, but the text in the Migration Series is much more evocative. It’s the first time all 60 panels have been shown together.

The Migration Series is only on view until September 7th while The War Series is, for now, in one of the Whitney’s permanent galleries.