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World-Class Art

Thomas Hoving Picks a Collection of American Artists Who May Be the Picassos and Monets of the 21st Century
Thomas Hoving
From the Print Edition:
Jack Nicholson, Summer 95

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Eric Fischl. The beautifully crafted images of this exceptional painter, like the one on page 215, are compellingly enigmatic. This is a man who dares to paint the nude and does it as well as any artist in American history. He is far from a contemporary realist but is more a dynamic classicist who instills in his works the disturbing tones of today's world. I am convinced that, in several generations, Fischl will be counted among the most important artists of the second half of the 20th century. Mary Boone Gallery, 417 West Broadway, New York, New York 10021, phone (212) 431-1818

Kim Dingle. Her work is wild, sometimes undisciplined and richly diverse, ranging from installations to constructions to oil paintings. More often than not it depicts young girls or disturbing babies like this installation titled "The Priss Room" . There's a nasty and invigorating edge to her pieces. They never fail to stick in one's mind. They are extraordinary exemplars of trouble, malaise, wounds and illness--which amount to important statements about mankind. Jack Tilton Gallery

Richard Maury. He's a splendid realist working in Florence. His works are particularly moving, primarily because of the electric excitement he imparts to his interiors, his vivid portraits and his studies of objects of everyday life. Maury expands our visions and perceptions. He achieves an uncanny poetry in his thoughtful and fresh works. With every clean and entrancing painting, he's making new discoveries in the realist style. Gerold Wunderlich & Co., 50 West 57th Street, New York, New York 10019, phone (212) 974-8444

Wayne Thiebaud. He's great, primarily, because he defies being categorized. He was once mistakenly even branded a pop artist. Thiebaud is a painterly magician who transforms the most banal objects--things like mens' ties, round cakes or candy apples--into adventurous admixtures of the real, the abstract and the mysterious. The ties are far more than a jumble of colorful cravats; they form a turbulent environment, a cluster of ravines and sharp cliffs one might encounter in the back country of northern Arizona. And his landscapes of San Francisco are vertiginous, cruel and dramatic impressions of the urban scene, rich surges of painterly bravado, as unnerving as the first shocks of an earthquake. The 1993 oil on canvas on page 215--a full five feet by four feet--is a heady example of his incomparable portraits of one of the world's unique cities. Wayne Thiebaud, 1617 Seventh Avenue, Sacramento, California 95818, phone (916) 447-4980

Jennifer Pastor. There are hundreds of artists out there who make enormous constructions out of plastic, paper, wood, glass, bronze bits--you name it--but few have any inner passion. Pastor does. Richard Telles Fine Art, 7380 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, California 90036, fax (213) 965-5579

Rez Williams. He paints out of West Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard, but he's about as far from one of those sticky-sweet chroniclers of island life and times as one can get. His scenes of the Vineyard smash into your eyes like crescendos. The spaces warp and move. The colors clash and rebound. You gaze at something like "Gay Head Light" for a few seconds and you get out of breath. Williams is light-years beyond the Vineyard, yet no one has distilled it better. Rez Williams, P.O. Box 3143, West Tisbury, Massachusetts 02575, phone (508) 693-1253

Matthew Barney. The artist is one of the most bewildering, inchoate, agonizingly frustrating image-makers in the world today. As the art writer Jerry Saltz has so aptly pointed out, Barney is a kind of "athlete-aesthete who crafts psychosexual works" of the most gripping quality. Writes Saltz: "It's as if Rube Goldberg, Charles Atlas, Paul Bunyan, Audie Murphy and the Marquis de Sade teamed up to make art." Barbara Gladstone Gallery, 99 Greene Street, New York, New York 10012, fax 212-966-9310

Catherine Opie. She creates photographs of the most arresting variety--troubling, dark, yet gifted images of flesh engraved and wounded, such as her self-portraits in the guise of afflicted and outcast members of American society who don't seem to care in the least. Her works are arresting and curiously universal for all their arcane weirdness. Stuart Regen Gallery, Inc., 629 North Almont Drive, Los Angeles, California 90069, phone (310) 276-5424, fax (310) 276-7430

Gary Simmons. One of the most important artistic forms of this decade is social and political protest and commentary. Simmons' work stands out as profoundly fierce and moving, with installations such as the one in the Whitney 1993 biennial in which eight pairs of gold-plated sneakers were placed in a police lineup wall, or a 1994 work titled "Step in the Arena (The Essentialist Trap)," which represents a whitewashed boxing ring with seven pairs of black wing-tip shoes hanging on the ropes and, on the canvas, a chalked-in series of steps. Simmons can be lyrical, too, as his "erasure drawings" such as the one on page 222, "Wall Drawing," 1992, so admirably demonstrates. Metro Pictures, 150 Greene Street, New York, New York 10012, fax (212) 219-2027

Fred Wilson. He uses casts of Greek classical and ancient Egyptian sculpture in mock museum installations to make the point that Western civilization is truly a combined African and European ancestry. But the objects he brings together are striking and evocative on their own, and his installations are indelible. Metro Pictures

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