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New York City

Gallery hopping in New York City

At the Frick today, I saw the drawings of Goya, the master of black, gray, and, not surprisingly, the master of light, because darkness and light are better conveyed when juxtaposed. He did this beautifully in ink and wash. Sometimes, he loaded his brush and created black pools, then, because the artist was not especially enamored with gentle transitions of tone, we often encounter the lightest ink shapes and lines, and the voluptuous cream of paper. Each drawing reflects themes of darkness and light; for instance, one drawing of two old people floating, almost dancing in air, entitled Mirth, depicts each with deathlike faces. We sense their happiness, but for how long?

A few steps away, John Walker paintings are on display at Knoedler. The canvases, some of which depict smoke and fire, seem to be painted with burnt pigment, almost coal like. Walker, like Goya, is an artist who explores darkness, allowing the painting surface of unprimed canvas to speak of light. And, as in the case of Goya, light is anything but bright. An interesting, and sometimes sexy array of Grenfell Press prints and books are on display downstairs.

Lunch at Via Quadronno was exquisite. My open faced sandwich of tuna and artichoke hearts was sweet and mellow-no fishy taste at all. I finished the meal with tiramisu that brought memories of Village cafes with art school friends from twenty years ago. Rich, creamy, with a dusting of cocoa, it was well worth the expense, and the attendant artery hardening. Don’t let the crowd or the wait deter you from visiting this wonderful and friendly eaterie.

I raced through the Grolier Club exhibits, only really taking in an early example of chromolithography used in book publishing and a book of hand colored lithographs of birds of New York in the John Wiley & Sons exhibit, as well as some complicated-looking prints in artists’ books from publisher David R. Godine.

More running to catch the exhibition of photographs from the collection of Laurence Miller at his gallery. I had to slow down because the images deserved a thorough look. This was a nice way to finish the day, as I had started it at Hermes, viewing the photos of Jerry Thompson and Walker Evans. The prints in both shows are artful and brilliant, and should appeal to anyone who loves grays and appreciates the beauty and sadness to be found in photographs of ordinary people.