I had grand review plans for Andrea Rosen’s exhibition Willem de Kooning, Lucio Fontana, and Eva Hesse, but continually put it off on account of the fact that I haven’t devoted my entire life to studying the work of these artists. Would I be able to write something substantial on this exhibition without having read countless books on their work? I’ve decided I don’t care. I left Andrea Rosen gallery twice this month wondering if Eva Hesse is underrated, and even if the answer to that question is no, the fact that the show inspired such a thought seems significant enough to at least warrant the mention.
Having never seen Hesse’s paintings, the aforementioned thought occurred while looking at a gorgeous green and coral abstract work on canvas [pictured above]. Hesse clearly spent a good amount of time looking at Arshile Gorky, her own work distinguished by a more liberal application of paint, and of course, a uniquely fine wrist.1. Her paintings are nothing short of incredible — certainly they rival those of de Kooning — which is why I wondered if she might not have achieved enough recognition for her work.
Of course, the point of this exhibition is to draw attention to the lesser known work of these major artists. A number of beautiful small figurative de Kooning watercolors are on display as well as multiple Fontana sculptures which seem like renderings of abstract expressionist paint in three dimensions. Meanwhile, the themes underscored are a little more familiar. Undoubtedly a connection drawn by the gallery’s curators, each of the artists allude to the idea transcendence; a white crucifix shaped Fontana sculpture with gold flecks provides a particularly strong example, Christ’s life, death and rising as powerful as the metal flowing through the figure, while de Koonings glowing yellow figures seem to emanate life. Similarly a yellow ochre painting by Eva Hesse clearly depicting a crucifix reveals a connection to the sculptures of Fontana.
From a commercial stand point, the exhibition can be viewed as an attempt by the gallery develop a market for lesser known work, an aspect of the art business that’s only interesting when a compelling argument has been made. Given the quality of painting and sculpture in Andrea Rosen’s Hesse, De Kooning, and Fontana show, I can hardly imagine building a stronger case.
- A visiting artist whose name I no longer remember told me Alice Neel had used the term “good wrist” to describe a painter whose brushstrokes look appealing [↩]