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THE LIGHT: Current Painting Exhibitions in NYC

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

By John Mitchell


November 29, 2023


It’s a good time to be in NYC if you’re into painting!


Sandra Stone and Alix Bailey’s terrific two-person mother/daughter exhibition at The Painting Center just closed on Saturday. It was a wonderful opportunity to feel the light of Sandra’s paintings made in Rome verses the light of Alix’s paintings made in NYC. Both painters only work with natural light. And there’s still time to see a second exhibition of over 30 paintings by Sandra Stone at THERE Gallery located at 135 West 26th Street through December 16. Open on Saturdays from 12-6 and by appointment only.


Some other terrific current exhibitions include Katherine Bradford at Canada Gallery up through 12/22, Henry Taylor at The Whitney Museum through 1/28, Frank Auerbach at Luhring Augustine on White Street through 12/22, David Diao at Greene Naftali through 1/13, Steve DiBenedetto at David Nolan Gallery through 12/9, Katy Moran at Sperone Westwater Gallery through 12/16, Brett Bigbee at Alexandre Gallery through 12/21, Michiko Itatani at Storage Gallery through 12/30, Max Beckman at Neue Galerie through 1/15, and Making Their Mark: Art by Women in the Shah Garg Collection including a painting that I particularly love by Jacqueline Humphries.


Then of course there’s Manet/Degas and Matisse, Derain, and the Origins of Fauvism at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Plus - The Met just fully opened the European Galleries for the first time since 2018 when they began a massive skylight renovation project. The Met has always been my favorite art museum in the US and among my favorite art museums in the world. But now, it’s even greater! Thomas Eakins called light “The big tool” and The Met has truly embraced that concept. There has never been a better time to visit The Met’s European Galleries than now! Between about 10 AM and 2 PM these days, the light in the galleries is as perfect as I’ve ever experienced light in any gallery or museum.


Check out this video of Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman of the Department of European Paintings, as he provides an overview of The Met’s Skylights Project:



Gerard David The Rest on the Flight into Egypt, ca. 1512-15 oil on wood 21 in. × 15 11/16 in. (53.3 × 39.8 cm)

Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art


There are many other exciting art exhibitions in NYC running through December too (check out Marisol’s wild sculpted portrait of Willem De Kooning in the exhibition “A League of Nations” at The Art Students League Gallery through 11/30), but there are two in particular that I want to focus on here.


It’s an unforgettable moment in NYC and in the whole world that cares about painting when we have the final exhibition of Brice Marden’s new work at Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue. Paintings and drawings worked on in 2023, the year of his death. While at the same time, Brice Marden’s long-time friend, David Novros has an installation of epic paintings at Paula Cooper Gallery at 534 W 21st Street.


David Novros’s four “Asturias” paintings at Paula Cooper Gallery were designed specifically for that space. These paintings are on building scale. The interplay with the ceiling, the light, and the reflective quality of the floor are all such a critical aspect of experiencing the work.


From a distance or from reproductions, one might have the feeling of them being pristine; that all lines have been carefully measured and fitted together and that all edges are perfectly aligned. As you walk up close, it’s surprising to find surfaces and edges that are hand-hewn and lively. These are painterly paintings. They shimmer and breathe.


It’s exciting to have these two exhibitions on view at the same time. Even the distance between the two galleries is fortuitous. In the time it takes to get from Gagosian on Madison Avenue at 77th Street down to West 21st Street or vice versa, there’s time to think about what you’ve just seen. How are these two exhibitions similar? How are they different?


Thinking of Brice and David as “painter-philosophers” who have been great friends in dialog since the early 60’s raises questions. How did they agree? How did they disagree? How did they influence each other? And what are the similarities and differences in this current presentation of their two distinctly brilliant exhibitions?


In 1973, during a talk he gave to a class of students at The New York Studio School, Brice Marden said, “When they say, ‘What more can painting do?’ Well, somebody could make a painting that would kill anybody that looked at it. Could make a painting that blinded you. Could do any number of things. And it hasn’t been done yet.” Then in an interview at MoMA on the occasion of his retrospective in 2006, he said “It’s about trying to keep a certain idea, certain beliefs alive. They’re these beliefs that a painting is more than what it physically is. That you can look at a painting and it can do more to you than what’s just there. I believe there’s possibilities for painting. Such as, you could make a painting that could cure a disease.”


In my mind, that is the highest ambition in painting. And though I’ve never seen a Brice Marden painting, drawing, or print on view at The Met, one deserving of the greatest light.


There is so much bad happening out there in the world these days. An antidote is the serious and seriously ambitious art scene in NYC right now.


David Novros Asturias 2, 2022 oil on canvas 20 panels, overall: 11 ft 3 in. x 15 ft (342.9 x 457.2 cm)



David Novros Asturias 3, 2022 oil on canvas 18 panels, overall: 13 ft 9 in. x 15 ft (419.1 x 457.2 cm)



David Novros Asturias 3, (Detail) 2022 oil on canvas 18 panels, overall: 13 ft 9 in. x 15 ft (419.1 x 457.2 cm)



David Novros

Asturias 4, (With Anki King for Scale) 2022

oil on masonite panel

19 panels, overall: 12 ft 9 in. x 10 ft 3 in. (388.6 x 312.4 cm)



David Novros Asturias 3, (Detail) 2022 oil on canvas 18 panels, overall: 13 ft 9 in. x 15 ft (419.1 x 457.2 cm)



Brice Marden Verve, 2022-23 oil on linen 72 x 96 inches (182.9 x 243.8 cm)



Brice Marden The Dance, 2022-23 oil on linen 72 x 96 inches (182.9 x 243.8 cm)



Brice Marden Blue Painting, 2022-23 oil on linen 72 x 96 inches (182.9 x 243.8 cm)














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