Erotic Leda, Debauched Boy; Wade Guyton: Lance Esplund
Two spectacular New York drawing exhibitions, on loan from London and Munich, complement and extend each other.
The smaller show is the Frick Collection’s “Mantegna to Matisse: Master Drawings from The Courtauld Gallery.” Yet it’s more finely tuned and awe-inspiring, one ravishing sheet topping another.
The Morgan Library and Museum’s “Durer to de Kooning: 100 Master Drawings from Munich” is a close second, erring only in its uneven mix of Modern and contemporary art’s usual suspects.
Both shows offer a deep bench and wide range. The Morgan has phenomenal drawings by van Gogh, Picasso and de Kooning, as well as Franz Marc’s meaty and erotic “Leda and the Swan,” a perfect whirlwind of feather and flesh.
Don’t miss Titian’s thundering black-chalk drawing of a horse and rider trampling a fallen soldier, Durer’s portrait of a Nuremburg lawyer and Tintoretto’s robust study of a Roman bust.
Also stunning are a Hans Baldung (Grien) Crucifixion, an equestrian portrait of the Duke of Lerma by Rubens and Michelangelo’s creative copy of Masaccio’s Saint Peter in the Brancacci Chapel.
Michelangelo also rules at the Frick, where he competes with masterpieces by Cezanne, Goya, Rubens, Watteau and others.
The museum presents his dramatic black-chalk study of a nude youth engulfed in fantasies of debauchery, as a trumpeting angel descends to rescue him from the world of vice.
It is absolutely breathtaking. Yet there is so much more.
Across from the Michelangelo is Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s pen and brown ink study of a church festival: Amid stippled, sparkling light, dozens of townsfolk and animals play out the complexity of life on earth.
This masterpiece alone transforms the Frick into a destination.
“Mantegna to Matisse: Master Drawings from The Courtauld Gallery” runs through Jan. 27 at the Frick Collection, 1 E. 70th St. Information: +1-212-288-0700 or http://www.frick.org.
“Durer to de Kooning: 100 Master Drawings from Munich” runs through Jan. 6 at the Morgan Library and Museum, 225 Madison Ave. Information: +1-212-685-0008 or http://www.themorgan.org.
Wade Guyton, born in 1972, acknowledges that he can’t draw.
This is evident in his widely hailed, though premature midcareer retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Using desktop computers and scanners, Guyton recycles the work of older, more established artists and designers, from the Romantics, Expressionists and Constructivists to the post- Minimalists and Conceptualists.
Exploiting technological errors such as misprints and jamming, Guyton runs sheets of primed linen through large-format inkjet printers, and he puts blotches, circles and the letters “X” and “U” over altered book covers, reproductions of paintings from art books and photographs from architectural magazines.
At the Whitney, dozens of these vandalized images litter a row of long vitrines. Others are presented as spare abstract paintings, at times mural-scale.
This exhibition also includes “sculptures.” In “Inverted Woodpile,” Guyton leans a heap of found scrap wood upside-down against a wall.
He reshapes the chromed tubular-steel frame of a Modernist chair by Marcel Breuer into a piece suggesting an unbent paperclip.
Lacking any irony or visual formal tension, these appropriated artworks are depressing yet revelatory. Like a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox, Guyton’s conceptual gambits are diluted and lifeless. They represent the natural endgame of the Pictures Generation’s incestuous relationship with art.
“Wade Guyton OS” runs through Jan. 13 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Ave. Information: +1-212- 570-3600; http://whitney.org.
(Lance Esplund is U.S. art critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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