Art in Review - CHARLOTTE PARK
By ROBERTA SMITH
Published: November 18, 2010
It is probably too late for Charlotte Park, now over 90 and suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, to witness her ascension into the ranks of widely known Abstract Expressionists. A natural painter and gifted colorist, she is as good as several of the artists — both men and women — in the Museum of Modern Art’s current tribute to the movement, which was drawn almost entirely from its collection.
At this point the Modern does not own any work by Ms. Park, who was born in Concord, Mass., in 1918 and graduated from the Yale School of Fine Arts in 1939. This may be because she decided to let her career take a back seat to that of husband, the painter James Brooks (1906-1992), who is represented by one canvas in the Modern’s show. One day an art historian may unravel some of the tangle of circumstance, personality and affection behind that choice.
In the meantime, the paintings reward attention. The 30 here were made mostly from 1950 to 1957. They suggest an artist picking and choosing from influences that included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Mr. Brooks himself. She experiments with blocky compositions in black and white in 1951 but is at her best when she adds two or three jewel-like colors to the mix, as in “Jubilee” (around 1955), where dark orange and red are bolstered by touches of blue and green. As this canvas attests, Ms. Park effortlessly reconciled painting and drawing, deriving a lively formal vocabulary from clusters of loops and spheres. Its compositional roots lay in still life, which she was not afraid to revisit. In “Untitled (Red, Pink, Orange and Black)” the strong, clear colors easily dominate intimations of fruit and platter. And in “Zachary,” the shapes dissolve into to an energetic back and forth between blue and green, cascading down a field of white. This painting in particular deserves prominent placement in a museum.
Read this review on the New York Times website.
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