ART NEWS, 1951

The 9th Street Show
By Thomas B. Hess

New York’s avant-garde [Ninth Street; to June 10] gathers spectacularly in a 90-foot former antique shop, newly whitewashed (by the exhibitors) for the occasion. An air of haphazard gaiety, confusion, punctuated by moments of achievement, reflects the organization of this mammoth show which, according to one of the organizers, “just grew.” Some pictures were chosen by the artist himself; others picked by small delegations of colleagues. A few entries were accepted because “so-and-so” is “such a nice fellow”; a few because “such-and-such” was a “great help”; several for no conceivable reason whatsoever. Some out-of-town guests were invited; some in-town ones were simply forgotten; a number decided to make their absences conspicuously felt. But such hi-or-miss informality and enthusiasm has resulted in a fine and lively demonstration of modern abstract painting in and around New York—or, more properly, Greenwich Village. Authoritative statements come from De Kooning, Pollock, Franz Kline, Tworkov, Hofmann, Kerkam, Vicente, Brooks, Motherwell, McNeil, Cavalon, Reinhardt, and sculptors David Smith and Peter Grippe. Among the lesser-known painters—whose extensive representation will make this exhibition doubly interesting to specialists—we especially noted Resnick, E. de Kooning, De Niro, Farber and Sanders. A number of the others seemed amateurishly avant-garde, attempting to pick up technique which had been created to express complicated ideas, and simply elaborate cleverly upon it. Their results are pretentious, huge, but nevertheless dainty and feminine, despite all the slappings and dashings. Still other canvases make pleasant wallpaper for the many powerful works presented in this lively manifestation of energy and accomplishment. Prices unquoted.


Joop Sanders

“Death and Entrances” 1951, Collection Milwaukee Art Museum.
Exhibited in The 9th Street Show of 1951.