a new exhibit on post-war american art

Bell_figure_group_with_bird_1991_625Jed Perl at The New Republic:

A truly expansive account of postwar American art forces us to see everything in a new light. What has been described as a return to reality in the work of some artists in this show was in fact a continuation of concerns that preoccupied key figures among the Abstract Expressionists, including Hans Hofmann and Willem de Kooning; at the end of his life Hofmann spoke of once again painting from nature, and de Kooning upset many admirers of his abstract paintings of the late 1940s by switching to figure painting for a time in the early 1950s. A great show about this period would be extraordinarily moving, revealing a heterodox New York School that is hardly even whispered about, except in writings on websites like Painters’ Table, The Silo, and artcritical. The School of New York always delighted in reimagining reality after the experience of abstraction—and vice versa. The clearest expressions of this emboldened double vision included in “See It Loud” are Leland Bell’s daringly simplified, ecstatically colored canvases of two figures in a bedroom, which would be unimaginable without the geometries of Mondrian and Arp, abstract artists revered by many in New York in the 1940s and 1950s. (By the way, I suspect that the later—and greater—of the two Bell bedroom scenes in the show is misdated by as much as a decade. So much for scholarship.)

more here.