May 13, 2016
What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week
The New York Times By Ken Johnson The American artist Marcia Hafif is highly regarded for the subtly sensuous monochrome paintings she began making in the early 1970s. Her fans are likely to be surprised, as I was, by her exhilarating exhibition of nearly 50 paintingsand works on paper at Fergus McCaffrey. Created in Rome from 1961 to 1969, they are being presented for the first time in the United States.
Most arresting are nine square, boldly frontal canvases ranging from about twofeet to more than seven feet on a side, all from 1966 and ’67. They present simple, organic forms painted in vivid, sharply contrasting colors. Although verging on Minimalist abstraction, the works have a bright, slightly comicalPop Art inflection that encourages reading them as images of objects. The red mound rising from the lower edge against a green background in “161” (all have numerical titles) might be a breast. The blue shape in “159” resembles a portrait of a person with a small, knobby head. Viscous purple stuff appears to be dripping down over a red wall in “157.” Together these works channel the groovy hedonism of their time with terrific panache.
When Ms. Hafif returned to the United States she left this body of work in storage, where it remained unseen for the next two decades. She returned to school and earned an M.F.A. from the University of California, Irvine in 1971. It’s as if she didn’t know — or forgot — what she’d done. Now, thankfully, everyone gets to know. Read More