The Pathos of the MFA, part I

I RECEIVED THE OFFER OF A TEACHING JOB, accepted it, and resigned all in the same day. Yesterday, I opened my computer to find an invitation to teach a graduate class called Art and Culture in a New York art school’s MFA program. It meant leading a weekly 90-minute seminar on assigned readings and attending, together with students, guest lectures by artists chosen by the department. Sounded good. The opportunity to guide and play devil’s advocate to young artists in their twenties and thirties who are committed to painting the figure appealed to me. Continue Reading
Wayne Thiebaud, Plato at the Dairy Queen

THE REOPENING OF PAUL THIEBAUD’S uptown gallery is a welcome event. Established on the West Coast, the gallery launched a New York branch in 2005. Four years later, the gallery closed the shutters and hung up a “by appointment only” shingle. Hearts dropped among those who loved the quality of its exhibitions and the pleasure of viewing them in the intimacy of a brownstone setting. Happily, it has opened its doors again with a splendid show of recent paintings by Wayne Thiebaud, father of Paul. Continue Reading
Christopher Blyth at Pelavin Gallery

CHERYL PELAVIN FINE ARTS, established nearly three decades ago, has changed its name. It is now simply Pelavin Gallery, under the directorship of Todd Masters, newly aboard as co-owner. Masters, an experienced gallerist, is the founder and CEO of Black Umbrellas, his own fine art consultancy. In its three decades under Ms. Pelavin, gallery inventory leaned toward floral motifs or diaphanous abstractions. Work was dominated by the kind of gossamer sensibility we think of, like it or not, as feminine. It is a bit soon to know for sure, but judging from the choice of Christopher Blyth for the this inaugural show, Masters brings with him a more robust—can I say masculine?—aesthetic. Continue Reading
The Art of Saving the Planet

THE ARTS ARE SHORT ON PRACTICING CHRISTIANS AND JEWS but long on vegetarians. Even longer on environmentalists. The two go together, like a statue of Mary on one side of a Catholic altar and Joseph on the other. Earlier in May, Victor Davis Hanson wrote that “radical environmentalism died this year.” Well, why not. If Philip Larkin could place the beginning of sexual intercourse at 1963, this is as good a year as any for the death of Gorism and vegan piety that attaches to it. Continue Reading
Sangram Majumdar in Jerusalem

By Heddy Breuer Abramowitz SANGRAM MAJUMDAR, A YOUNG PAINTER from the U.S., was the Jerusalem Studio School’s visiting artist for its eleventh Jerusalem Landscape Painting Marathon. He  brought with him 13 small paintings and several larger drawings for exhibition in the school’s Hall of Casts. His gallery talk drew an over-capacity audience. It was squatting-room only when Israel Hershberg, the school’s founder and director, introduced him. Hershberg opened with an acknowledgment of the death of Avigdor Arikha. An ex-pat Israeli living in Paris, Arikha came to prominence by abandoning abstraction in its heyday and returning to depiction. Continue Reading