The Columbus Dispatch (OH)

October 23, 2011

Rich show reunites modernists

Melissa Starker For The Columbus Dispatch  

During more than 30 years in business, Keny Galleries has placed numerous works by masters of modernism in museums and private collections.

For the show "Contemporary Cadences: The Modernist Impulse in American Art," 25 of the pieces have returned to the gallery on loan -- joined by about 50 others. 

Together they offer an expansive survey of the movement, from pioneers in art photography to members of the Ashcan School and those who have helped shape pop art and postmodernism. 

In the latter category, Kara Walker's Restraint adds torturous, shacklelike headgear with thorns and bells to a black subject rendered in a traditional silhouette form -- all shape, no expression. Given the placement next to Roy Lichtenstein's intense, fearful-looking Crying Girl, the subject of one piece almost seems to represent the pain of both.

 In other sections of wall space, works by contemporary central Ohio artists are paired with those by national stars in thoughtful juxtapositions. 

In one such pairing, Lowell Tolstedt's virtually photo-realistic colored-pencil explorations of shape and texture in everyday objects generate playful tension with a self-portrait by Chuck Close in uniformly sized dots. In another, Eric Barth offers new landscapes that blend easily with Andrew Wyeth's farm portrait Olsons. 

Abstract-expressionist works range from the translucent watercolor hearts of 1970s-era Jim Dine to ink-and-crayon pieces from 1944 by the highly influential Hans Hofmann and pastels that Joan Mitchell made shortly before her death in 1992.

Dipping further back into the 20th century, Unemployed -- a 1938 tempera painting by Ben Shahn -- fits well today. 

George Bellows' Dempsey and Firpo (1931) displays the artist's gift for evoking the sweaty, no-holds-barred energy of boxing. 

Placed together, an untitled 1942 gouache work by Arthur Dove and the 1923 Louis 

Lozowick cityscape New York present a shared sense of motion in vastly different styles. 

Another section of the gallery is dedicated to photography by instantly recognized names. 

Among the photos are Margaret Bourke-White's immortalization of the blinding sparks from an early-20th-century-steel foundry in Otis Steel Co. and Paul Strand's clean study of industrial form, Lathe, from 1923.

Dorothea Lange captures a woman stranded with her child and tubercular husband in 1935. A Walker Evans image presents a scene of lighter weight: several gents gathered outside a bar.

The oldest works come from Alfred Stieglitz. The Steerage, a groundbreaking 1907 photogravure, documents class differences on the levels of a ship bound for Germany from America. Shot in 1903, The Flat Iron provides a striking early look at an iconic New York skyscraper.

* "Contemporary Cadences: The Modernist Impulse in American Art" continues through Nov. 7 at Keny Galleries, 300 E. Beck St. Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Call 614-464-1228 or visit



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