The Heretic

At the height of the American avant-garde movement, Fairfield Porter’s realistic paintings defied the orthodoxy of Abstract Expressionism— and risked rejection by the art world. But today his true stature is becoming apparent: He may just be the best we have.

 
In his lifetime Fairfield Porter (1907–75) appeared on no one’s list of the greatest American painters of the twentieth century. Although he was respected and admired for both his painting and his criticism from the early 1950s on, Porter achieved neither the popular celebrity nor the critical acclaim that attended the ballyhooed careers of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and Andy Warhol.

It is easy to see why.Read more »

The Artistic Triumph Of New York

World War I made the city the financial capital of the world. Then after World War II a very few audacious painters and passionate critics made it the cultural capital as well. Here is how they seized the torch from Europe.

Mark Tansey is a definitively post-modernist painter. His pictures stand at two removes from nature; not art but art history (or art theory) is his subject. Tansey deals in theories and notions, presenting them with the sort of sharp irony found in editorial-page cartoons. At the major Tansey exhibition at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts last year, the most striking and I think best example of the painter’s work on display allegorizes a world historical event in the annals of modern art.Read more »

The Paintings Of Mr. Otis

A “primitive-moderne” spoofs American art and history.

A new talent burst on the art world a few months ago, a talent which lies somewhere between Jackson Pollock and Gluyas Williams and within shouting distance of Maxfield Parrish. His name is simply Mr. Otis, and he comes from Portland. Oregon. His work is painted laboriously, by hand, with real oil. He was sprung on an unsuspecting public by the Macmillan Company in a book called Mr. Otis.Read more »