Art Notes


Twentieth-Century Bounty: Bask in Braque and marvel in Magritte with these extraordinary shows that don%26rsquo;t sacrifice intimacy for the import of ballyhooed blockbusters. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, cubism co-pioneer Braque gets his day in a retrospective organized by the Pompidou, installed with verve in the luminous spaces of the MFAH%26rsquo;s Law Building Upper Brown Pavilion. Watch for some of the world%26rsquo;s first collages, with modernist still lifes from 1912 that foreshadow the Jazz Age (through May 11). Then The Menil Collection boasts not one, but two peeks into Surrealist king Magritte (through June 1). While you%26rsquo;re there, contemplate Lee Bontecou in the artist%26rsquo;s first-ever drawing survey, organized by Menil curator Michelle White, which conjures the macro and micro, from deep space to the interiors of human and plant bodies (also through May 11).

Speaking of Abstraction: Texas-based second-gen ab ex master Tony Magar pairs with Cecil Touchon of the Yves Klein-inspired cyan paperworks in a double-header that posits a fresh look at mark-making at Laura Rathe Fine Art (through March 22).

Mexico Now: Mexico City-based Melanie Smith solos in two shows. The smart video artist, one of the stars of the contemporary Mexico show recently on view at Fort Worth%26rsquo;s Modern, also headlined at the Venice Biennale. Sicardi Gallery presents Smith%26rsquo;s take on a 1920s Ford town in the Amazon rendered in hypnotic, veiled paintings (through April 19), while Contemporary Arts Museum Houston rolls out her video, including a work filmed in Edward James%26rsquo; Surreal fantasy land of Xilitla (March 22 %26ndash; June 15).

Sultan of Painting: The king of abstracted reality, the talent who can take latex and tar and make it heroic, solos at Meredith Long. Catch Donald Sultan now on view (through March).%26nbsp;

The Lens of the Arab Avant-Garde: Prepare to roll up your sleeves and take in 5,500 images, as FotoFest unfurls its 15th biennial with%26nbsp;a first-ever Arab-world theme; many of the 49 participants from 13 countries have never before shown in America (see our definitive preview, page 61; March 15 %26ndash;%26nbsp;April 27).

New Arrivals: Speaking of FotoFest, this biennial marks the first for new executive director Steven Evans, who melds credentials as an artist with Texas connections (past director of the Linda Pace Foundation, San Antonio) and an acclaimed tenure as managing director of DIA:Beacon. Founders Fred Baldwin and Wendy Watriss, the guiding lights of this photographic nonprofit, remain on to continue its artistic vision %26hellip; Welcome, Bonna Kol, the new director of Asia Society Texas Center. Cambodian-born Kol comes to Asia Society from top positions at Catholic Charities and KIPP Schools, and will work side-by-side with deputy director John Bradshaw Jr. on taking the Taniguchi-designed building and its programming to a wider, more diverse audience and amplify its vision.

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