Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mary Heilmann's Show at the New Museum

2nd\NE Quadrant: The Approval Matrix

By KEN JOHNSON\New York Times

There’s a charming sloppiness about Ms. Heilmann’s paintings, which are on display in an exhilarating retrospective called “To Be Someone” at the New Museum on the Lower East Side. She makes it look easy and fun. Where some artists would neaten up the edges, smooth out the brushy areas and clean up the dribbles, she leaves well enough alone. First thought, best thought. Some paintings are evidently the result of many layers, but the final picture almost always seems spontaneous, and her lively touch gives her works a sensuous intimacy.

Color is the most exciting aspect of her painting. Her palette extends to tarry black, but mainly it goes to bright colors from the 1960s and ’70s: fruity stains; carrot and avocado hues; swimming pool blues; psychedelic Day-Glos; and minty whites. Installed in the museum’s second-floor gallery and lobby by Richard Flood, the museum’s chief curator, and Ms. Heilmann, the exhibition has a wonderfully airy, optically elating effect.

“Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone” runs through Jan. 26 at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, at Prince Street, Lower East Side; (212) 219-1222,

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