WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF JOHN ASHBERY (NY TImes)

From The New York Times:

What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week

John Houck’s visual trickery; Svenja Deininger’s “Crescendo” paintings; Didier William’s eye-catching mixed-media works; and the poet John Ashbery’s demure treasures.

FROM LEFT, JEAN HÉLION'S “EDUARD,” (1943); JANE FREILICHER'S “THE PAINTING TABLE” (1954); RODRIGO MOYNIHAN'S “LIGHT BULBS” (1982); AND HÉLION'S “UNTITLED (CHESTNUTS),” FROM 1955.  CREDITTHE ESTATE OF JOHN ASHBERY; DIEGO FLORES

FROM LEFT, JEAN HÉLION'S “EDUARD,” (1943); JANE FREILICHER'S “THE PAINTING TABLE” (1954); RODRIGO MOYNIHAN'S “LIGHT BULBS” (1982); AND HÉLION'S “UNTITLED (CHESTNUTS),” FROM 1955.

CREDITTHE ESTATE OF JOHN ASHBERY; DIEGO FLORES

The poet and critic John Ashbery described his friend, the painter Fairfield Porter, in a 1983 Newsweek review, as “one of those innovators whose originality can come perilously close to seeming old-fashioned.” It’s an apt gloss for Porter’s 1952 portrait “John Ashbery (Argyle Socks),” as well as for most of the two dozen other demure treasures making up “Works From the Collection of John Ashbery” at Kasmin. (Ashbery died in 2017, leaving instructions that his extensive art collection, only a small portion of it represented in this show, be sold to support experimental artists working now.) 

Showing Ashbery sprawled on a leather sofa in gray slacks and tan sport jacket, with an expression somewhere between ease and irritation, Porter’s painting seems to be in earnest pursuit of a fidelity to mundane appearances, which was out of date even by the ’50s. But Porter’s attention actually cuts much deeper. By treating every small natural force as its own separate problem — registering the drape of his sitter’s pants with long, taut brush strokes, or the reflection from a cheekbone with a spot of pink impasto — he transforms an ordinary portrait into a phenomenal snapshot of the room as a whole.

The high contrast and graphic simplification of Alex Katz’s “Untitled (Rose),” a four-foot-square 1966 painting of an enormous white blossom against a dense, maroon background, let it function as a flat icon despite its buttery highlights, while the shapes that make up the face, fedora and gray lapels of Jean Hélion’s “Eduard” (1943) produce a strange kind of visual pressure very much like depth. But the show’s most daring, undercover masterpiece may be Jane Freilicher’s “The Painting Table” (1954). Its scattering of paint tubes evokes metallic crinkles despite Freilicher’s gauzy style, and the blue and green strokes she’s marked on the palette — are they “daubs,” or simply daubs?

WILL HEINRICH, The New York Times