Category: New York

What is an Art Connoisseur?

To find out whether you are a connoisseur, let’s start with a definition, shall we? According to the dictionary, a connoisseur is “someone who understands the details, technique, or principles of an art and is competent to act as a critical judge.” A secondary definition specifies “one who enjoys with discrimination and appreciation of subtleties.”

Is it sufficient simply to appreciate art to be considered a connoisseur? Not according to the dictionary, alas. Even in the second definition, one is called not just to “appreciate” but to “discriminate”, detecting various subtleties to do so. Love just does not suffice: intelligence is a necessary determinant, as least according to Webster’s.

Before I continue refining this definition, let me introduce myself.  I am an artist and also an author.  In my latest book, “The Joy of Art: How to Look at, Appreciate, and Talk About Art” I set out to give readers a tool kit they can use to gain a better understanding of art that includes a working art vocabulary, general, and specific criteria in evaluating any work of visual art, some answers to basic questions and conundrums, and lots of comparisons of works in a variety of genres.   

My plan was to arm readers, who I imagined already to be art lovers (why else would they be reading?) with that “appreciation of subtleties” the dictionary calls for.  I did not specify that my aim was to make readers into connoisseurs, but perhaps, in the end, that’s exactly what I accomplished. Readers presumably already had the love–all they needed to become connoisseurs were those fine distinctions and the language to describe them.    

What does a wine connoisseur have that the average wine drinker does not? They can probably distinguish the type of grapes used, maybe even the vintage, can surely tell a Pinot from … Click here to read more

Willie Cole

The Future of Art: Willie Cole, a contemporary artist creating unique work and positive change.

Willie Cole has been ­­­making innovative work with unique iconography for over half a century, but talking to him, he sounds like a friendly, smart colleague or neighbor next store. Perhaps that’s why his work is so accessible and inspirational.

The artist, who lives in Mine Hill, NJ, has been the subject of shows at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1998), Bronx Museum of the Arts (2001), and Miami Art Museum (2001). These institutions, some of the biggest in the world, along with private collectors from New York to Los Angeles, see something provocative in his work.

When Art Review City caught up with him, the artist invited us to a visit his home studio where he was finishing the works for the collective exhibition “There’s There There,” curated by renowned American artist Rashid Johnson at blue-chip gallery Hauser and Wirth’s Southampton location. This show invites visitors to reflect upon the pleasures and complex histories of the shapes, movements, and objects that permeate the everyday, and Cole’s ironing board works are clearly the stars of the show. 

Installation view, ‘There’s There There’, Hauser & Wirth Southampton, 2021. © Hauser & Wirth. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Thomas Barratt.

The artist has spent a lifetime working to look at thing differently than most artists. He is most concerned with recycling, green energy, and living a healthy and spiritual life to live at one with Mother Earth. He spent many of his early days in a pew at Sunday School, and later studied Buddhism in high school and college, but today he says he is a “no-frills nature worshipper” which explains a lot about him as a man and as an artist. “Nature, no matter what you call it, is powerful, and it deserves to be admired … Click here to read more

Geoffrey Dorfman

Artist Q&A with Geoffrey Dorfman

In a time when the centrality of painting has been questioned and abstraction appears to have exhausted its possibilities, Dorfman maintains his commitment to oil and brush on canvas. For him, the Abstract Expressionists were a starting point, not an ending point.

Dorfman’s approach is not goal-oriented movement toward some idea or vision. Rather, it is an identification with with the properties of paint, understanding what it can do, and from there to the painting. For Dorfman, the edges of the painting are very important, and his works tend to move out beyond the canvas. At the same time, he puts small “stop signs” in his works, so as the eye pauses and contemplates before it continues on and outward. His strokes tend to “flutter,” in a way similar to the Impressionists, further generating movement and at the same time, anchoring the eye in the moment.

“Zoroaster”, oil on canvas, 42 x 46 in | 107 x 117 cm, 2020. Courtesy of Lawrence Fine Art.

How did you become a professional artist?

Most artists are ex-art students or teachers. They’re still practicing the lessons they learned or else they get diverted into something peripheral, but call it art anyway. I myself didn’t know any different. I had been working summers in the movies as an electrician. I had an ‘in’ through my mother’s brother. In the late 1960’s I worked on several commercials and a few features, including Midnight Cowboy. (I and one other guy lit the set for Sylvia Miles’ bedroom.) Anyway, in 1971 there were openings in the scenic design union. You had to take a test and there was a $2,000 entrance fee. My uncle, who always drove a new Cadillac El Dorado, told my parents he’d front the money and … Click here to read more