Of Artists and CEOs

Boca "realism" exhibition shows the weight of corporations in the art world

One of the show's most striking pieces is also realistic -- at a remove. The artist, Mark Tansey, starts with photocopied images that he reinterprets in other media. His Discarding the Frame (1993) is a large oil painted almost exclusively in tones of teal and aqua, with a few white highlights that suggest a light from an unknown source. The setting appears to be a cave with a waterfall into which two men are tossing a large frame, and the scenario is made all the more surreal by the color scheme, which has a neon-like vibrance.

What really distinguishes the Boca UBS exhibition is a handful of etchings by Lucian Freud, grandson of Sigmund and one of the titans of 20th-century art. Freud is best-known for his fleshy oil portraiture, often unflattering to his often-nude subjects, including himself and his family and late performance artist Leigh Bowery. But Freud, who was born in 1922 and is still working, is equally adept at etchings.

Included here are seven such harsh portraits, including The Painter's Mother (1982), Lord Goodman in His Yellow Pyjamas (1987), and Self-Portrait: Reflection (1996). They're stark reminders of how long overdue a touring Freud retrospective is for America. (A 2002 retrospective at Britain's Tate Museum -- sponsored, coincidentally, by UBS Warburg -- traveled only to Barcelona and Los Angeles.)

Chuck Close: Step back 25 feet and the blobs start to come into focus.
Chuck Close: Step back 25 feet and the blobs start to come into focus.


On display through March 28 at the , 561-392-2500.
Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton

Ultimately, this show is confirmation that corporate-sponsored art is here to stay -- in a big way. How good or bad that is for the art world remains open for debate.

After the highs of "Return to Realism," the Boca Museum's other major show, "Frederic Remington: Illustrator, Sculptor, Painter -- Artist of the Old West," is at first glance mostly a letdown. And at second glance as well.

Remington, who died of appendicitis in 1909 at age 48, was much in demand a century ago as a commercial illustrator. But it was his two dozen or so sculptures of cowboys on horseback that established his reputation as an artist. This show of nearly 40 photographs, sculptures, paintings, and drawings includes a handful of those earlier works, which have not aged especially well.

The milieu of cowboys and Indians as portrayed by Remington, a New Yorker who first made his way west in the late 1880s, is responsible for much of our shared vision of the Old West. That may be why so much of his work seems trite today -- we've seen so many variations of it that monotony quickly sets in.

A few exceptions: The pen and ink drawing The Noonday Halt (1887) captures a trio of soldiers snoozing under some trees with an arresting immediacy -- it's as if Remington dashed this one off on location. And late in his short career, the artist turned to painting atmospheric oils of structures back in his native state. The ones included here -- Boat House at Ingleneuk (c. 1903-07), Studio at Ingleneuk (1907), Pete's Shanty (1908), and Endion (1908) -- are better than any of his more acclaimed western works.

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