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The Arts

BMAC hosts online talk about figurative painting

Curator discusses current exhibition of 10 artists who bucked the movement of abstract expressionism

To participate in the livestream, follow the link from the event posted on the museum website.

BRATTLEBORO—Curator Karen Wilkin discusses the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) exhibition “Figuration Never Died: New York Painterly Painting, 1950-1970” on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m., via Zoom and Facebook Live.

On view at BMAC through Feb. 14, 2021, “Figuration Never Died” highlights a generation of New York artists who absorbed the lessons of abstract expressionism but never abandoned figurative painting.

The exhibit features work by 10 artists: Robert De Niro Sr., Lois Dodd, Jane Freilicher, Paul Georges, Grace Hartigan, Wolf Kahn, Alex Katz, Albert Kresch, Paul Resika, and Anne Tabachnick.

“I’ve long been interested in the stubbornly independent artists of this generation who embraced figuration at a time when abstraction seemed imperative,” Wilkin said in a news release. “I’d already written about many of them, including Wolf himself, Dodd, Resika, Kresch, and Katz.”

Wilkin said the show “had to be tightly focused for installation at the Museum, but we had the luxury of producing a substantial, copiously illustrated publication to accompany the exhibition and extend the life of ‘Figuration Never Died’ for years to come.”

The 120-page book that accompanies the exhibit was published by The Artist Book Foundation and is available for purchase in the BMAC Gift Shop and at

Wilkin added “one sad note” about Kahn, who died March 15 at age 92.

“Wolf Kahn knew about the show and was excited about it. He loaned important works,” she said. “I wish he had lived to see the exhibition installed.”

Wilkin is a New York–based curator and art critic and the atelier head of art history at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture, where she teaches in the M.F.A. program.

She was educated at Barnard College and Columbia University and was a Fulbright Fellow and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

She is a regular contributor to The New Criterion and The Wall Street Journal, as well as a contributing editor for art for The Hudson Review. Her publications include monographs on Paul Cézanne, Georges Braque, Giorgio Morandi, Stuart Davis, Anthony Caro, and David Smith.

Wilkin has organized numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally on modern painters and sculptors, including Davis, Caro, Smith, Hans Hofmann, Milton Avery, Judith Rothschild, and Helen Frankenthaler.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #590 (Wednesday, December 2, 2020). This story appeared on page B3.

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