ModernHouston.net re-post of my article back in June 2012.
When you look at a Maxwell Hendler painting, you might want to compare the work to a trendy car finish. New York critics have categorized Hendler’s kind of art as belonging to the ‘fetish finish school of Minimalism.’ And I can see how the Pop art colors mixed with the Minimalist art intersect, but really these descriptions act to obfuscate the impact these works have on a viewer. I respond a great deal to the reflective qualities these works produce. Like a mirror with a bright colored lens, you are absorbed into the painting along with your surroundings. I compare it to the moment I first walked up to a Rothko painting. I swear, I almost kept walking right into the painting and off into a mist of his other world. Instead of another world, Hendler seemed to help me reflect upon myself with an almost cheery optimism. Rather than the transcendent quality that Rothko invokes, Hendler just made me feel happy to be present in the space I was occupying.
Maxwell Hendler’s titles give an ironic Post-Modern wink and a nod to anything serious I felt in the paintings. Light hearted titles like, ‘Dude,’ Love’s Attire,’ and ‘Perfectly Normal’ helped to further lighten my mood. The ‘Dude’ is this nice mustard yellow that feels almost edible, in fact, almost all the pieces make you a little hungry for something sweet or spicy. I am happy he allowed for the sides of the paintings to reveal the exposed wood. The paint can be about ‘Painting’ and not about just plain objects.
To say Maxwell Hendler is an accomplished artist is an understatement to say the least. He was the first contemporary artist to be featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art back in 1975. Reviewing his past work is like seeing a retrospective of art movements in the past fifty years. Like Picasso, his style of art production reflected or ushered in each trend. You could try to label him as Minimalist now, but this would not help you get the full picture of his depth and breadth of works. Personally, I was marginally aware of his work before this show, but as I have read more and more about him, I am surprised he has not become better known. The history of art during this period hasn’t been written yet, but it seems to me Maxwell Hendler is a likely candidate to be among the canonized artists.
The Texas Gallery will be displaying Maxwell Hendler’s paintings until August 18th. Taste his rich colored works with your eyes.
ModernHouston.net for more images.