Contemporary Painting: Forever Now

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John Haber reviews The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, on view through April 5, 2015. The show features works by works by Richard Aldrich, Joe Bradley, Kerstin Brätsch, Matt Connors, Michaela Eichwald, Nicole Eisenman, Mark Grotjahn, Charline von Heyl, Rashid Johnson, Julie Mehretu, Dianna Molzan, Oscar Murillo, Laura Owens, Amy Sillman, Josh Smith, Mary Weatherford, and Michael Williams.

Haber asks: "If artists can sample anything thanks to the Internet, than why does 'The Forever Now' keep coming back to gestural abstraction?" He adds: "The exhibition may feed the hype, or it may feed skepticism of abstraction everywhere, and no wonder: for all the raiding of styles, much of it could come from a single artist… It captures the revival of painting, years after cries that 'painting is dead,' along with the feeling of many painters that a savage revived market excludes them… O.K., but is the cure worse than the disease? At the very least, the diagnosis is missing something. 'Zombie formalism' is plainly too narrow to encompass art today, with its decidedly informal breakdown of genres and media, and it has a way of labeling whatever among the multitude of abstract artists one does not happen to like… Abstraction is alive and well, thank you, if not at the wealthiest dealers—and if not always urgent and original… Painting truly is back big time, and it has my thanks. Yet that still leaves the question of its future."

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