Dana Frankfort: Bellwether

By O'Neill-Butler, Lauren | Artforum International, November 2007 | Go to article overview

Dana Frankfort: Bellwether


O'Neill-Butler, Lauren, Artforum International


"DF," Dana Frankfort's second solo exhibition in New York, presented ten thickly layered, restlessly gestural paintings, each featuring a word or phrase scrawled messily across its surface. Grappling with the history of abstraction, Frankfort's canvases are marked by an engagement with text; by vibrant, lustrous colors; and by energetic brush-work. The artist's work appeared in more than one group show this summer. GUTS (yellow/gold) (all works 2007), for example, her contribution to "Late Liberties" at John Connelly Presents, is a vivid and uncompromising canvas that confronted viewers with a seemingly metaphorical treatment of the titular word, ensuring that they would be hard-pressed to disagree with curator Augusto Arbizo's claim that "for a young artist to be making work at this moment in what could be called an abstract or nonrepre-sentational manner ... is ... a highly personal and political act." In the current phlegmatic climate, it takes guts indeed for an emerging artist to make subjective, expressive paintings.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

While Frankfort's work seems to eschew some of this historical weight in favor of a nuanced linguistic playfulness suggestive of the paintings of various other artists, including Ed Ruscha, Mel Bochner, Suzanne McClelland, and Kay Rosen, it nevertheless both engages with the physicality of paint and retains a certain conceptual directness evocative of Louise Fishman's groundbreaking "Angry Paintings" from 1973 (recently included in the exhibition "WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution" at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles).

The strongest works in Frankfort's show push the tension between verbal language and painterly gesture to an extreme. …

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