oes anyone today still believe that landscape can be the subject of great painting? Artists as renowned as Gerhard Richter and Alex Katz have made memorable landscape paintings—albeit under the sign of photography in Richter’s case, abstraction in Katz’s, and therefore ostensibly evading the charge of anachronism. Nevertheless, the unspoken assumption of the contemporary art world is that landscape is old-fashioned, a dusty souvenir of the 19th century. D
Maureen Gallace thinks otherwise. The 12 small paintings of hers from 2013 to 2015 recently exhibited at the 303 Gallery in New York City could probably, from the viewpoint of technique, have been made at any point in the last 150 years. Their size alone—ranging from nine by 12 inches to 10 by 13—all but dares you to dismiss them as minor. And their subject matter is timeless: trees, flowers, the ocean, houses so plain and rendered with so little detail that dating them seems beside the point. Only the white line down the middle of a road flanked by utility poles indicates the automobile age. Yet there is nothing stale or dowdy about these works. Gallace’s self-consciousness about the conventions of painting (her “postmodernism,” I think it fair to say of an artist who was educated in the 1980s and has been exhibiting since 1990) clicks into place with a fresh, ingenuous responsiveness to things observed in a manner that feels new or at least unfamiliar, no matter the kinship you might sense with Edwin Dickinson or Giorgio Morandi, Lois Dodd or Albert York.