Grotto of Curatorial Mysteries
Braque Chagall Dine Hockney Johns Kadar
Kitaj Maillol Motherwell Picasso Rivers Stella Vuillard
continuing through August 27, 2011
Jim Dine, The French Watercolor Venus, 1985, soft-ground etching in black overlaid with extensive hand coloring, 41 5/8 x 31 3/4 inches
The works in the New Acquisitions show at Leslie Sacks Fine Art, Brentwood, span very nearly the entire history of modern art, from a Vuillard still life of 1910, and a stellar 1911 proto-cubist Braque etching, to a 2005 Kitaj charcoal portrait of the school of Paris master, Jules Pascin, whose passion for painting and parties lit up the Parisian avant-garde in the early 20th century.
This show also includes a large, detailed Larry Rivers colored pencil drawing in art deco style entitled, Hollywood, a study from History of the Jews (right), which illustrates the creative Diaspora that led from Europe (more specifically London as indicated by the Savoy Hotel in the background, which was the gathering place for writers and entertainers in London in the 1930s), to New York (more specifically Broadway), and westward (ho!) to Hollywood. In this image a showgirl, or perhaps a star of the day, cakewalks down the Great White Way, the New York skyline seeming to sway as though its skyscrapers were a conga line.
A period piece ca. 1930-1940 by the preeminent Hungarian modernist Bela Kadar reinforces focus on pre-WWII high style with a portrait on paper of a well coiffed woman wearing an intensely red hat, set against a deeper red background. This Kadar relates nicely to Hockney's Celia with Green Hat , which is not merely similar in subject but likewise colorful, with a European feel, and rendered in an almost cartoonlike style akin to certain mid-20th century Picasso portraits.
There are also three truly elegant Hockney still life prints in the show: Pretty Tulips 1969 (left), Lilies 1971, and Potted Daffodils from 1980, the latter done in the artist's transitional style of that time, combining loose, evocative lines inspired by Matisse (which would inform much of Hockney's work in the 80s) with the tight yet equally graceful academic treatment of a draped tablecloth in quintessential Hockney style of the 70s. Suffice it to say, this man can really draw.
New acquisitions from the 70s and 80s also include an extremely rare Jim Dine, which may well be his finest Venus print -The French Watercolor Venus (above) of 1985. This extensively hand colored image is from an edition of only 8 (plus 4 artist's proofs). One of Dine's most recent Venuses,Women and Water, also appears, along with Little Heart in a Landscape 1991 which is a superb example of printmaking, combining several types of etching and a crimson chine colle heart.
A classic Jasper Johns Corpse and Mirror litho (below) from 1976 and an equally classic, outrageously colorful Frank Stella print,Estoril Five II from Circuits of 1982 round out the selections from the 70s and 80s. Though Stella first earned his art historical stripes in the late 50s as the father of minimalism, his work since then has become increasingly complex and unrestrained; his use of color in particular going well beyond any art that came before, with the possible exception of the black light posters that hung in college dorms and head shops in the late 60s and early 70s.
Also strewn about the grotto are ceramics by Picasso, a Chagall monotype and a large Motherwell lithograph and screenprint with collage, Hermitage (spelled out in Cyrillic on a "Motherwell red" ground). For summer fun or serious collecting, explore New Acquisitions: Grotto of Curatorial Mysteries, another roadside attraction in Brentwood, at Leslie Sacks Fine Art.