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Joe Fyfe

Joe Fyfe is a painter and a writer who lives and works in New York.

Whistler to Cassatt: American Painters in Paris

Whistler to Cassatt illustrates the story of the changes in American art that took place after the Civil War. Many artists turned away from the methodology of the Hudson River School, and it became the norm for literally hundreds of them to train in Paris, with its superior art academies and the Louvre’s masterworks available to study and copy; the entrance to the exhibition includes a wonderfully evocative photo mural of the Eiffel Tower under construction.


In Alix Le Méléder’s current exhibition, only her second solo in New York, there are the types of big, commanding, difficult abstractions that are not so common these days. All the better to see them freshly, and this work is of the first order.

Larry Day & Me

I hadn’t thought of Larry Day or his work very much in the previous fifteen years. This innocuous streetscape in the reproduction was airily peaceful, classicized; Arcadian, even. The workaday Philadelphia I had known might look that way to someone who had served in Iwo Jima (I knew he did, getting through the pauses in battle reading The Magic Mountain). It was evidence of what Day wrote in one of his notebooks: “How we dreamed of the ordinary as ideal when we were in the army.”

John Coplans: La Vie des Formes

In one of the more instructive passages in Minima Moralia, Theodor Adorno observes that well-made texts are like spider’s webs, “Metaphors flitting hastily through them become their nourishing prey”: When things begin to click with your subject, everything of use that gets near it gets stuck in it. One afternoon, reading The Waterfall by the English writer Margaret Drabble she described a real place in England called the Gordale Scar, a roofless cave with an interior waterfall, “a lovely organic balance of shapes and curves, a wildness contained within a bodily limit.” I thought of my ongoing research project on John Coplans (1920–2003). His life and work was very much a wildness contained within a bodily limit.

Walter Sickert: Painting and Transgressing

Out of step with these vitalists is a survey of the career of Walter Sickert (1860–1942) at the Petit Palais. Drawing comparatively negligible attendance, Sickert is one of the most famous yet equally perverse British painters of the late-nineteenth through mid-twentieth century. Thank God he’s here.

Above the Crowds

Did Liz Diller really say that? I am not sure if anyone starts out with the idea that they are going to make something that is idiosyncratic. The character of the intellect is the determining factor.

Nht Minh meets Vinfast

This past week I have been collaborating with the painter Frédéric Dialynas Sanchez, whom I met originally after one of my visits to Vietnam, where I have lived, exhibited several times and met with Vietnamese and returning Vietnamese (Việt Kiều 越僑)artists and produced writing on their work.

Jake Berthot and Me

in my final year of art school in the mid-seventies I was a miserable, wiseass painting major who had been in good shape previously but was again totally lost and confused then one day my assigned painting teacher Warren Rohrer asked us students who we might like to have as a visiting artist and soon after he said he invited the painter Jake Berthot down to Philadelphia and I said to him, yeah, you asked everybody and then you just got who you wanted anyway


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2023

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