Roberta Smith remarks that by a certain point in the show “it becomes clear why [Félix] Vallotton is not considered a first-rate painter. Perhaps he was excessively skilled with too many options at his fingertips.”
It struck me as a wry dilemma to have to cope with excessive skill, but perhaps I divine her point. She describes the Swiss painter and printmaker as “an intriguing, talented but slippery artist.”
[The exhibition] reintroduces an artist who achieved early greatness in the relatively modest medium of prints and then either failed or declined to follow a single path in painting.
(Roberta Smith, “When He Was Good, He Was Breathtaking,” NYTimes, 1-6-20)
Side note: A substantial part of this article describes paintings that are not shown. It teases the reader and makes him wish the gorgeous verbiage were illustrated by its subject.
(c) 2020 JMN
Typical contemporary art criticism applied to much earlier work. Nowadays we are anti-skill, and what the art is should signify a single idea about art that any pinhead can wrap the apex of their head around. How utterly insipid!
Personally, I used to find Vallotton bland, but I’m much more forgiving these days of more mainstream painting, much less so of mainstream criticism.
LikeLiked by 1 person