Déjà New

There they were at the Boca Museum, just as I had pictured them

I've complained in the past that the All Florida has included too few artists -- two years ago, the show featured only 16 -- and has been weighted heavily in favor of South Floridians. The Boca Museum has gone a long way toward remedying that. More than three dozen cities from all over the state are represented. And a posted introduction claims that the show includes about 100 pieces by 61 artists; I counted 108 works by 73 artists; and the exhibition brochure lists 113 by 85. But forget the numbers and just check out the show.


The museum often supplements its main shows, including the All Florida, with smaller exhibitions that showcase works from local private collections. This year is no exception. "Boca Raton Collects: Modern and Contemporary Masters -- Selections from the Collection of Isadore Friedman"presents nearly four dozen pieces by 21 artists, ranging from 19th-century French lithographs to classic American photography to contemporary works.

This sampling of Friedman's collection includes a few historically interesting posters by such Frenchmen as Jules Chéret and Théophile Steinlen, as well as half a dozen lithographs by Toulouse-Lautrec. There's also an impressive selection of black-and-white photographs of New York City by Berenice Abbott, Ilse Bing, Walker Evans, Andreas Feininger, Ruth Orkin, and Brett Weston.

But it's the contemporary work that's most compelling. A handful of pieces by American artist Larry Rivers, who died last year, reflects a range of influences from Eugène Delacroix to Willem de Kooning. Another handful of mixed-media constructions by Red Grooms is representative of the artist's irrepressible whimsy, and a pair of Roy Lichtensteins are a reminder of how deftly he manipulated the most basic ingredients.

But it was a single color photograph by the young American Gregory Crewdson that left the most indelible impression on me. Crewdson creates meticulously staged compositions that he then photographs, and the untitled piece here, a picture of a woman looking pensively out the window of a suburban house, is a perfect example of how he can make even the most mundane material somehow otherworldly. The image, from his well-known "Twilight" series, left me hungry for more of Friedman's collection, which, according to the show's catalog, is vast.

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