Tuesday, September 9, 2014


William Glackens (1870-1938), called by some (rightly and derogatorily, in my opinion) "America's Renoir" started his artistic life as a newspaper illustrator covering the Spanish-American War,  while also depicting crowded city (NYC and Paris) life and painting dark-hued,  vibrantly brushed paintings. This was some of his best work as it balanced reportage,  loose social narrative, and spontaneity into rhythmically resonant drawings and dramatically spare portraits and landscapes.  But it was his infatuation with the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists that brought on his befuddled take on those then progressive styles.  He took the candied stench of Renoir's palette to new heights without imposing any form of innovation on the pictorial surface. His still-lifes are particularly offensive in their dull compositions and sickly sweet coloration. Much of the Parrish show bathes viewers in a received Modernist stink that serves the mediocrity of sunday painters well,  but does little for the darkly dramatic compositions and social conscience that marked the best of William Glackens.  

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