Tag Archive: Luca Massimo Barbero

Vasily Petrenko Conducts the San Francisco Symphony in Barber, Rachmaninoff, and Shostakovich, with Sa Chen, Piano

Vasily Petrenko. Photo Mark McNulty.

Concerts this good have become our norm and good fortune in twenty-first century America—especially in San Francisco. We are used to charismatic conducting, to fine piano debuts, to engaged orchestral playing and the rediscovery of great neglected symphonies. What differs from time to time is the realization that a performer may not only be accomplished, or even inspiring, but one of a kind. I begin to think Vasily Petrenko is such an artist.

Adolph Gottlieb. A Retrospective, at The Guggenheim Collection, Venice through January 9, 2011

This exceptionally important and beautifully realized exhibition is not only the first retrospective of the work of Adolph Gottlieb in Italy, it is the first full retrospective of his work anywhere in quite a few years. One can hardly say that Gottlieb is a forgotten artist, because there has been a steady flow of exhibitions following his death in 1974 through the eighties, nineties, and up to the present day, more at major private galleries rather than museums, and none as ambitious or as scholarly as this. On the other hand it appears that Gottlieb’s reputation has weakened in recent years, especially among the general public, among whom Jackson Pollock has become a sort of louche patron saint of Abstract Expressionism, or “Ab Ex,” as MoMA now encourages us to call it, more through biographical scandal and sensational controversies over his oeuvre than a serious appraisal of his work — not that the Boston College exhibition about the Matter sketches was not serious and important work. Hence, in our conversation about the show, Philip Rylands, the director of the Guggenheim Collection, was surely right in pointing out that the principle goal of the exhibition is the re-assessment of Gottlieb’s pre-eminence among the “Abstract Expressionists” — something that was never in doubt during the peak years of both the movement and his career.

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