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Valery Oisteanu

Victor Brauner (1903-1966): Centennial Celebration

The grand event connected to Victor Brauner’s international centennial celebrations is the collaborative effort of Ubu Gallery from New York and Isidore Ducasse Fine Arts from Paris in creating a rare exhibit of over 40 works, mostly paintings, by this avant-God of Surrealism. 

DADA Lives @ MoMA New York

“What is Dada?” asked Theo von Doesburg. The answer came from Tristan Tzara: “Dada is a state of mind.”

Art & Psyche: The Freudian Legacy

This recent exhibit, curated by Dr. Lynn Gamwell at the CDS Gallery, was born of a book she edited several years ago called Dreams 1900-2000: Art, Science and the Unconscious Mind (Cornell University Press, 2000), commemorating the centennial of Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams.

Close Encounters: Irving Penn Portraits of Artists and Writers

Recently, the Morgan Library & Museum, for the first time in its history, invested in art photography, acquiring sixty-seven black-and-white portraits by Irving Penn, of which thirty-five were direct gifts from the legendary 90-year-old photographer. This collection shines in the museum’s newly renovated space.

Guglielmo Achille Cavellini: Works from 1960 to 1990

Born into an old Tuscan family in Brescia on September 11, 1914, he began to draw during his military service and made caricatures of his fellow soldiers. After World War II, he began to exhibit the works of Vedova and San Tomaso in his home in Villa Bonomese in Brescia.

Dumitru Gorzo In the Corner of My Eye

Live flowers decorate the ceiling and floors of this new gallery, just as they would at a real Romanian wedding—but the party guests are on the walls: the subjects of the provocative portraits of the Romanian painter known as Gorzo.

Irving Norman

Recently, the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery became the exclusive representative for the estate of California artist Irving Norman (1906–1989); in a mini-retrospective/resurrection, the venue is displaying nine large oil-on-canvas works and six drawings on paper from the 1940s through the 1980s.

Matta: Five Decades Of Painting

This exhibition of fifteen oil paintings by Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren is the first major show of the artist’s work in New York City since a 1957 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art.

Martin Kippenberger, The Problem Perspective

Martin Kippenberger: The Problem Perspective is the first retrospective of this prolific and controversial German artist, the bulk of whose work was produced from 1977 until his death in 1997 at age 44.

James Ensor

From time to time a special exhibit comes along that sheds light on an incredible artist whose work is long past due for fresh contemplation. Such a show is this, the first major retrospective in three decades of James Ensor (1860-1949), a singular if hard-to-define figure of the early European avant-garde.

JOSEPH BEUYS: “We Are the Revolution”

Solo exhibitions of Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) are rare, and the focus of curator Pamela Kort for the current show at Mary Boone is on the artist’s iconic “multiples” and “editions,” augmented by a few original masterpieces—altogether more than 175 works that create a partial political and ironic-philosophical time capsule.


In this exhibit the independent curator Therese Lichtenstein explores the complex connection between popular culture, in the form of prints, books, magazines, and postcards, with the emerging movement of surrealism.


In the mid-19th century, a sudden cultural mix of early photography, science à la Darwin and fantasy by way of Lewis Carroll fueled an ironic response from certain educated Victorian ladies, whose pastimes included scrapbook diaries, parlor games (such as exquisite corpse) and—as on vivid display at the Met—photocollaged family albums. Witty, sarcastic, and surreal, the work in these albums comprises a collective portrait of Victorian British aristocracy and a time capsule of the arts, sports and fashions of the era.


Lil Picard was an unusual hybrid of the European and American avant-garde, combining the urban sophistication of a Berlin intellectual of the 1920s and 30s with the American bohemianism of the 1950s and the rising feminist art of the 60s.

ESTEBAN VICENTE Concrete Improvisations: Collages and Sculpture

Of  Spanish ancestry, Esteban Vicente (1903 – 2001) is a lesser-known but seminal member of the New York School. His masterful collages, which follow in the Spanish avant-garde tradition of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Juan Gris, now are reintroduced to the public at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery, in the same neighborhood where the Ab-Ex revolution began (by way of the Cedar Tavern, the 9th Street Show, and the Club).


Since the mid-1990s, the Danish-born, Berlin-based artist Henrik Olesen has used collage, sculpture, and spatial intervention to investigate the social construction of identity and its historiography.

Romare Bearden (1911-1988): Collage, A Centennial Celebration

Romare Bearden (1911-1988) began as a painter whose interest was to communicate “social changes” with a figural approach often inspired by social realism. All that changed during an 18-month-long trip to France and Italy in 1950

JOHN EVANS John Evans: 1984

WOW! Just got back from your opening at Pavel Zoubok’s gallery, and once again your work took my breath away. 1984 invokes the ghost of George Orwell and the East Village of bygone times.

PICASSO Black and White

Picasso Black and White is the first exhibit to explore the master draftsman’s use of black-and-white tones throughout his prolific career.


Paul Delvaux (1897 – 1994) at Blain|DiDonna is a mini retrospective of a major Belgian Surrealist whose last exhibition in New York was at the Julien Levy gallery in 1946 and culminated in scandal.

MAGRITTE The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926–1938

The familiarity of Pop-Surrealism and the instant recognition of Rene Magritte’s paintings is a double-edged sword. On one side it makes the images in his work as easily dismissible as déjà vu, and on the other side it encourages a fresh perspective on an artist who gave ordinary life a hallucinatory lift.

Dada & Surrealist Objects, Blain/DiDonna

Dada and Surrealist Objects at Blain/DiDonna Gallery encompasses a selection of 85 works by key figures from the early avant-garde years.

Italian Futurism, 1909 – 1944: Reconstructing the Universe

Italian Futurism, 1909 – 1944: Reconstructing the Universe is a groundbreaking, mammoth exhibit of 360 works from 80 artists, poets, architects, and designers who had a dramatic impact on art across more than three decades.

Salvador DalÃ?­ (1904–1989)

Salvador Dalí is the subject of a major retrospective, the largest ever of his work, including his best paintings drawn from public and private collections, organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Palazzo Grassi, Venice, on the occasion of the centenary of the artist’s birth.

Projects 85: Dan Perjovschi WHAT HAPPENED TO US?

Recently the Museum of Modern Art offered Dan Perjovschi the Marron Atrium, and he promptly defaced it with nearly the same caricatures he had painted directly on the walls of Lombard-Freid Projects in Chelsea in a show called Back to Back (with Nedko Solakov) in April 2006.


Paul Thek was an avant-god practicing his own religion—complete with apostles (the Artist’s Co-op) and prophecies; much of his work was comprised of self-deprecating, grotesque icons crackling with a spiritual aura, funny, disturbing, and at times bizarre.

JEAN DUBUFFET The Last Two Years

Jean Dubuffet (1901 – 1985) began his professional life as a wine merchant, but by age 41 he had devoted himself full-time to painting—his true passion, and one that had begun years earlier when he briefly attended the Académie Julian in Paris.

Al Hansen

Quick first impressions entering the Andrea Rosen Gallery 2: Al Hansen’s works (36 collages and assemblages) feel sculpturally playful, a kind of “outsider” Pop Art, urban-folkloric with a splash of Fluxus anarchy, sensual neo-Dada and post-Surrealist erotica.

Daughters of Dada

The exhibit at Francis M. Naumann gallery honors a dynamic sextet of artists with an assembly of their artworks and memorabilia. Some of these “avant goddesses” predate Dada, while others barely qualify for Dada membership; but each was strikingly original and all were pioneers.

The Art of the Burning Man

Even before arriving at this year’s Burning Man Festival, I knew that my main interest would be the art of the “Burners.”

Dalí: Painting and Film

Although he once denounced film as an inferior form of expression, few artists have experimented more with the medium than Salvador Dalí. Throughout his career, the artist collaborated with the likes of Luis Buñuel, the Marx Brothers, Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney to create fantastic visions that played out on the big screen—and which are now the subject of “Dalí: Painting and Film.”

Drawing Surrealism

Drawing Surrealism, curated by Leslie Jones of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Isabelle Dervaux of the Morgan Library & Museum, is a scholarly overview of an impressive 165 works on paper by 79 artists who shared the dream visions of Surrealist practice.

Eva Zeisel at 100: A Lifetime of Masterwork in Design

At the recent opening of the Eva Zeisel centennial exhibit at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, a small white-haired women with a playful look in her eye swept in as if it were her own studio—and in a sense, it was.

Ray Johnson En Rapport

“Three things happened that year,” recalled Ray Johnson of 1968. “I was involved in a street fight, muggers tried to stab me in the back, and Andy Warhol was shot. The city suddenly seemed to be a disaster, and I decided to move out.” So came the impetus for Ray to resettle in Long Island, as recalled in “The Locust Valleyer,” Lightworks magazine, no. 22, 2000.

Joseph Beuys

Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) was perhaps the most important artist to emerge from Germany after World War II, and as a teacher and theoretician he was the most influential of the postwar generation. Recently, a selection of artworks from 1953 to 1984—six sculptures and 15 drawings—was assembled at the uptown Zwirner & Wirth Gallery.

GEORGES HUGNET The Love Life of the Spumifers

The talented Georges Hugnet (1906 – 1974) played many roles, including those of poet, editor, publisher, translator, rare book collector, and designer of fine book bindings (not to mention filmmaking and acting), ample evidence of which appears at the Ubu Gallery.

Prefabricated Art, Undesirable Surreality

Collage and assemblage are the rebellious twins of the modern revolution, challenging the primacy of painting, provoking elusive experimentation, open to all and revealing to few. Started a century ago as a proletarian cubist-dada technique, it is now used and abused across a broad spectrum, exploited in print media as advertising, illustration, political cartooning, and book covers, and succeeding in the multimedia world as digital collage.

Ray Johnson…Dalí/Warhol/and others…‘Main Ray, Ducham, Openheim, Pikabia…’

The Richard L. Feigen & Co. gallery has unveiled an unseen trove of collages by Ray Johnson, with works by Salvador Dalí and Andy Warhol. Included are the collages Johnson subjected to seemingly endless reworking and overlaying, which were found signed, scrupulously dated (many with multiple dates documenting the ongoing changes) and neatly arranged in his house at the time of his suicide on January 13, 1995.

Marcel Duchamp: The Art of Chess

Marcel Duchamp had a long and intense interest in chess. As early as 1911, he traced patterns of chess pieces in his drawings, on his studio walls (at the rue Larrey, Paris), or on vertically-mounted boards.

Dorothea Tanning: Early Designs for the Stage

Dorothea Tanning, the last surviving vintage American surrealist, is too-often remembered as the widow of avant-god Max Ernst, but she’s so much more. On August 25, she will officially become a centenarian, her laser-like wit and unmatched talent still very much in evidence.

Max Ernst: A Retrospective

The master is back. This major retrospective of Max Ernst (1891–1976) is a triumph, the first such gathering of works in 30 years and probably the best yet. Here are 175 works: collages, paintings, sculptures, Dada books, and memorabilia from private collectors, museums, and galleries around the world.

Neue Sachlichkeit: New Objectivity in Weimar Germany

As you enter the first room of the Ubu Gallery, a large oil painting of a naked man listening to radio-headphones dominates the stage in a powerful painting by Kurt Weinhold.


A more appropriate title for this show could be Ties That Bind—either by destiny or, to be more vulgar, by rope. Such ties are revealed in this edgy exhibition of more than 50 works dedicated to the 15 years of collaborative effort between Hans Bellmer and Unica Zürn, who, in turn, were inspired by the erotica of their surrealist artist and poet friends.

Man’s Men: Portraits by Man Ray

Man Ray’s portraits of famous men comprise an important slice of the avant-garde pie in the pantry of European and American arts and letters, vintage 1920s-1970s.

Richard Oelze: Paintings & Drawings from the 1950s & 1960s

To enter the Ubu gallery is to be immediately surrounded by canvases full of embryonic forms floating through pre-human landscapes. The experience is, in the words of Andre Breton, “somewhat otherworldly,” and it comes courtesy of an artist as mysterious as his works.

Modigliani: Beyond the Myth The Jewish Museum July 2004

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) was born in Livorno, Italy to a well to do family of Italian Sephardic Jews that went bankrupt shortly after his birth.


In less than two decades Jindřich Štyrský (1899 – 1942) influenced surrealist artists and poets in his native Czechoslovakia, Paris, and around the world. A painter, poet, photographer, editor, and collagist, Štyrský was an innovator of arts on both a spiritual and experimental level.

Image in the Box: From Cornell to Contemporary

Entering Hollis Taggart Galleries, the display of boxes feels as all-enveloping as the hoard of a manic butterfly collector or sideshow magician. A closer look reveals unusual, seldom-shown artworks—collages and assemblages tucked into their small enclosures, most of absorbing interest.

DIETER ROTH, BJÖRN ROTH Work Tables & Tischmatten

At the age of 15, Dieter Roth’s son Björn joined his father in his efforts to record a world of creation and wayward ideas in documents / diaries-cum-paintings. But, as Björn makes clear in this exhibit's accompanying catalogue, the elder artist couldn’t shake a feeling of shame while producing his works.

Joan Miró: Painting and Anti-Painting 1927–1937

What is anti-painting? Generally it connotes a way of creating art without using conventional techniques and materials, though many avant-garde artists have defined it differently.

Carolee Schneemann: Painting, What It Became

Painting, What It Became is a mini-retrospective of the pioneering work of Carolee Schneemann. This multimedia show was curated by Maura Reilly, founding curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, and is accompanied by a small color catalog.

Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu: Life on the Block

Recently at the Randall Scott Gallery in DUMBO (Brooklyn), an expressive slice of New York City life unfolded in a series of black-and-white photographs titled Life on the Block. The photographer, Barcelonan artist Adriana Lopez Sanfeliu, spent six years (2002-2007) observing the milieu on 103rd Street in Spanish Harlem, documenting the lives of young Puerto Rican women, their boyfriends and children.

Vasily Kandinsky

Every twenty years or so since 1945, a retrospective of Vasily Kandinsky has appeared at the Guggenheim Museum. This latest installment, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the museum, is truly a major event, an assembly of 99 of the artist’s most significant canvases (from 1907 to 1942) and 66 works on paper, selected from the three largest collections of Kandinsky on the planet—the Guggenheim itself, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau in Munich—an unprecedented joint project for these three institutions.

Painters and Poets

The Visible and the Invisible (from a time zone, a long time ago) O’Hara, O’Hara, I think of you on a Saturday, New York City, at dusk, where you once worked and wrote.

CLAES OLDENBURG The Street and The Store and Mouse Museum/Ray Gun Wing

An American born in Sweden in 1929, Claes Oldenburg is a true pop-surrealist. Of his early work, contemporary critics variously classified it as pop-expressionism, installation art, and “Happenings’ props and sets.”

John Evans

Nearly 40 years after they were painted, John Evans has finally unveiled his mysterious canvases of geometric designs at the Pavel Zoubok Gallery, where they are hung alongside Evans’ colorful paper collages, each medium aesthetically complementing the other.

Isamu Noguchi: Master Sculptor

Celebrating the centennial of the artist’s birth, the retrospective Isamu Noguchi: Master Sculptor is at the Whitney Museum and the outdoor sculpture garden, a collaborative effort with the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, curated by Valerie J. Fletcher.

The Writer's Brush: Paintings and Drawings by Writers

As I entered the Anita Shapolsky Gallery, it seemed like the space was actually a sophisticated writer’s studio, complete with a collection of artwork and books, a backyard patio, and an upstairs studio for painting and sculpting. But upon closer inspection, I discovered a treasure trove of the most unusual kind, a show that could be called “Art by Writers.”

Metamorphosis Victorianus

“Modern Collage, Victorian Engravings & Nostalgia” is the subtitle of a scholarly exhibition that serves as a concise intro to the history of “paste-ups” from 1929 through the mid-1990s. More than 120 works from nearly seven decades of “oneiric-collage” are on display in the intimate setting of a Dada salon, contributing to a dream-narrative dredged from the subconscious.

Beyond the Visible: The Art of Odilon Redon

Symbolist, member of the Decadence group, and a proto-Surrealist, Odilon Redon (1840 – 1916) was a native of Bordeaux, a painter and graphic artist, who composed his enigmatic art works sort of “like music.”

The Ghost in the Dreamachine

Brion Gysin (1916 – 1986), Ab-Ex painter, surreal novelist, experimental sound-poet, performance innovator, and Shaman of Magic Art had many tricks up his sleeve, sur-techniques ranging from cut-ups and frottage to scrachitty-slide projections heightened by richly textured soundtracks.

FRANK MOORE Toxic Beauty

This double exhibition is the first and most comprehensive review of the work of Frank Moore (1953-2002), an elusive artist called, among myriad other things, a visual essayist.

Alberto Burri

The exhibit at Mitchell-Innes & Nash is an overview of the lifelong work of the late Italian avant-gardist Alberto Burri, a mini-retrospective of one of the most mysterious members of the Arte Povera movement. Burri’s collage-paintings have an immediate 3-D effect, as they are made from patched and stitched brown burlap, mailbag canvases, cracked mud, burned plastic, discarded wood and other found materials.

Out of the Furnace: Martha Wilson's Feminist Critique

Although Martha Wilson is one of the most important figures in experimental art and a famous conservator of avant-garde art in New York, she kept her own pioneering conceptual photo/text work to herself, in the proverbial “suitcase under the bed,” rarely exhibiting it except for an occasional group show.

The Mythology of Desire: Masterworks from 1925 to 1945

The second floor of the Carlyle Hotel is the site of Blain|Di Donna, where a magical rendezvous with 34 works by an artist/philosopher invites us to surrender to a trance state of mind. André Masson (1896-1987), whose early works are on view here, was a key figure in Surrealism.


For the first time in Belgium, the art of its native “genius surrealist” gets the royal treatment in a one-man museum similar to those established for van Gogh in Amsterdam, Paul Klee in Berne, Picasso and Miró in Barcelona, and Dalí in Figueres.


Marcel Broodthaers (1924 – 1976), the Belgian surrealist-conceptualist-minimalist, was a poet, photographer, filmmaker, and artist who throughout the 12 years of his very short career challenged the role of art, the artist and the art institution, and is now recognized as one of the most important artists of the last century.


Once upon an avant-garde time, three poet-artists collaborated on a one-of-a-kind artists’ book of 33 photomontages done in the spirit of the cadavre exquis. Together they discovered a completely new yet universal language of sexual symbols, radical juxtapositions, the sublime, and the grotesque.

LUCAS SAMARAS Offerings From a Restless Soul

Lucas Samaras: Offerings from a Restless Soul is a sophisticated multimedia exhibition by a reclusive artist that features more than 60 works drawn from the Metropolitan Museum’s large contemporary collection.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2023

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