Done The Met? MoMA? The Whitney? Maybe It’s Time for 730 Fifth Avenue

For several years now I’ve built art trips to the City around my dentist (or lately, my dentists – plural). It’s one of the privileges of aging teeth.

Published December 19, 2015 1:48 PM
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art-thFor several years now I’ve built art trips to the City around my dentist (or lately, my dentists – plural). It’s one of the privileges of aging teeth.

By Allen Clark

art1For several years now I’ve built art trips to the City around my dentist (or lately, my dentists – plural). It’s one of the privileges of aging teeth.

Most of the action takes place in midtown New York City. So, before I get in the dentist chair or after or both, I go to a nearby museum, auction house, or an occasional gallery. Not to buy, just to look. The added culture soothes a bit of the dental pain (which is mostly money).

Last week, I decided to follow up on a New York Times article about a showing of an artist named Thomas Fransioli. The show was at Hirschl & Adler Galleries in the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue, between 56th and 57th streets.

There are many galleries in this landmark building. As you enter, ask at the desk for a gallery list, then take the elevator up to the top and work your way down. The variety of art on display is as good as a trip to a museum with the added pleasure of peace and quiet and not having to peer over or around other visitors. In my experience the staff at most galleries is happy to answer questions and provide information, even if you aren’t in the market. Right now, there are two exhibits I highly recommend – both artists totally new to me.

art2Let me start with the one already mentioned, titled “An Architect’s Dream.” Hirschl & Adler has for nearly three decades been quietly gathering works by the “enigmatic” contemporary American Magic Realist Thomas Fransioli (1906–1997). The galley quotes MoMA curator Dorothy Miller in 1943, Magic Realism is “in the main, pictures of sharp focus and precise representation, whether the subject has been observed in the outer world – realism – or contrived by the imagination – magic.”

There are approximately 30 Fransioli works on display, not all for sale, as well as another room of paintings by some of his contemporaries. Fransioli’s crisp, etched style, accented by strong light (full sunlight) or the absence of light (a defining darkness or shadow), coupled with his imagined arrangement of real buildings and other scenery in his own envisioned tapestry, make for highly involved viewing.

Then, I recommend visiting D. Wigmore Fine Art, where you will discover Sally Michel, Milton Avery’s wife. Like her famous husband, Michel’s 30 oils display simplified forms, thin brush strokes, and a similar palette – often pastelly tones, muted colors with emphasis on blue-greens. Her depictions, while tending toward the abstract, are perhaps less so than Avery’s, but compatible, it seems to me. This is a special opportunity to meet an artist in a first-time showing of this collection of work from the Avery estate. All of these works are for sale, although some have already been accounted for.

As noted in the gallery’s aptly titled “Rhythms of Light and Color” catalogue, Michel and Avery “formed an indissoluble unit” until Avery’s death in 1965. “She had no problems having him seen as the front man in their artistic relationship.” She had her own career as a commercial illustrator, providing her husband the freedom to explore his art. With this show, her talent and accomplishments are there to be appreciated.

There is much more to see in 730 Fifth ( a wonderful show of 60 Picasso etchings just came down last week at the Adelson Galleries). You can easily spend over an hour and a half on just these two (at least I did). The peace and quiet of each gallery is a welcome respite from the crush of holiday traffic, so I recommend a visit if you are in the City between now and the New Year. The Hirschl & Adler exhibit ends December 31, but much of it will continue to be up through mid-January; the Wigmore is open until February 13.

 

 

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