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After bursting on the art scene in the late 1940s, Abstract Expressionism dominated American art, criticism, and commentary throughout the 1950s. Artists of the revolutionary Abstract Expressionist School rejected the widely accepted values that ruled post-war America and looked to emotion, rebellion, spontaneity, and movement for inspiration.

AB-EX / RE-CON: Abstract Expressionism Reconsidered, which is now on view at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn, New York on Long Island, explores both the best-known and less familiar artists of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Organized by the museum’s director, Karl Emil Willers, AB-EX features over 80 works by 50 artists including those readily associated with Abstract Expressionism such as Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1933), Hans Hofmann (1880-1966), Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011), Franz Kline (1910-1962), Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), and Mark Rothko (1903-1970).

However, it is the inclusion of the lesser-known Abstract Expressionists that sets AB-EX apart. The exhibition features the works of Jon Schueler (1916-1992), a student of Diebenkorn who explored landscapes through the lens of abstraction; Fritz Bultman (1919-1985), who studied under Hofmann and favored bold, gestural forms; and often overlooked female Abstract Expressionists such a Grace Hartigan (1922-2008), Perle Fine (1908-1988), and Judith Godwin (b. 1930). The comprehensive exhibition illustrates the breadth and diversity of a single movement that is often reduced to a handful of artists and stylistic approaches.

AB-EX / RE-CON: Abstract Expressionism Reconsidered is on view through June 16, 2013.

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Friday, 28 December 2012 03:56

Long Island Retreat

The high ceilings and light-filled space of the entry reflect the relaxed mood of the house. Of the ensemble by the doorway, the wife claims she had no set theme but that the elements “just kind of work.” “I would find things and pull them together,” she says. “For parties we light up the torcheres.” The clock face was from a bank in St. Louis. “We set the hands to the time of the birth of our daughter.” It hangs over an early seventeenth-century Spanish refectory table. The rooster and tea tins are from two pubs in England. About the transferware vase the wife notes that she is always looking for something interesting for flowers from the cutting garden.

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Earlier this month the Parrish Art Museum opened its new 34,400 square-foot building in Water Mill, NY to the public. Founded in 1898 by New York lawyer, Samuel Longstreth Parrish, to house his growing art collection, the museum had been a staple in Southampton, NY before moving to its new location that boasts seven sky-lit galleries and three times the exhibition space than that of the museum’s former home.

Now that the $26.2 million move is complete, the result of years of painstaking fund-raising, the Parrish hopes to become the area’s artistic epicenter. Designed by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & Meuron in collaboration with the landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand, the new Parrish building sits on 14 acres of land right off of the Montauk Highway. The building is meant to blend into the landscape and consists of connected, stretching barn-like structures that sit under a white corrugated metal roof. Large sections of glass allow the line between the natural and artificial worlds to blend.

An American art museum with about 2,600 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper in its collection, the Parrish pays extra attention to the art of the East End of Long Island. The former Southampton location was simply too small to exhibit many of the exemplary works from the museum’s permanent collection that spans from the 19th century to the present. Now, American Impressionist William Merritt Chase and the realist Fairfield Porter each have their own permanent galleries and there are three galleries just for temporary exhibitions.

Inaugurating the space is Malcolm Morley: Painting, Paper, Process, an exhibition devoted to the English-born artist known for exploring paper’s many artistic possibilities including watercolors, scale models, and freestanding sculptures. Approximately 50 works from the 1980s to present will be on view through January 13, 2013.

The Parrish’s new building also includes offices, a café, an expanded lobby, and a theater where film screenings, lectures, and performances will be held.

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Yesterday, Artnet Magazine reported on the controversy surrounding the decision by Keszler Gallery and Bankrobber Gallery to bring two Banksy stencils from Bethlehem to the Southampton Village Power Plant, where an exhibition of reconstituted street works and prints opened Aug. 20, 2011. Banksy fans argued that the artist intended the works for the West Bank and the galleries had no right to remove them. What’s more, only one of the seven works on view, Banksy, Laugh Now, 2002, originally a commission for a nightclub in Brighton, has been certified by Pest Control, Banksy’s authentication office, according to Keszler Gallery.

In an email today, Pest Control said that it has not authenticated any of the Banksy Street Art works in the exhibition. As a rule, Pest Control refuses to evaluate any Banksy works that have been “removed from their original context.” The Pest Control spokesperson did not know if Keszler Gallery or its collaborator, Bankrobber Gallery in London, had received permission from local building owners in Bethlehem to remove the works.

Ultimately, the office issued an admonishment to the gallery: “We have warned Mr. Keszler of the serious implications of selling unauthenticated works but he seems to not care. We have no doubt that these works will come back to haunt Mr. Keszler.”

So are the galleries worried? “Not in the slightest,” said Robin Barton, owner of the London-based Bankrobber Gallery. “The works are completely represented in timeline photography, and they appear on Banksy’s website. The evidence has to be bulletproof, if you’ll excuse the pun, to do something like this.”

Besides, the galleries did not themselves physically remove the works from their original sites as originally thought, Barton said. Rather, several years ago a group of Palestinian entrepreneurs paid the owners of the properties -- a local butcher in the case of Stop + Search and the county jurisdiction for Wet Dog, which was stenciled on a highway bus stop. According to Barton, the Palestinian owners excavated the works and had intended to sell them on eBay. Instead, they ended up abandoning them three years ago in a stone mason’s yard (outside of public view) when they realized it would be too difficult to move the two-and-a-half-ton works across tightly monitored border controls. “The whole project just overwhelmed them,” Barton said.

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