Coffee urns. And humans, too: Hopper's Study for Nighthawks
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Coffee urns. And humans, too: Hopper's Study for Nighthawks

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'Hopper Drawing'
Whitney Museum of American Art
945 Madison Avenue
212-570-3600, whitney.org
Through October 6

Cecily Brown
Gagosian Gallery
980 Madison Avenue
212-744-2313, gagosian.com
Through June 22

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The advantage that great painting—figurative, expressionist, abstract, take your pick—has over other mediums is what Frank Stella termed "working space," a fusion of form, texture, scale, color, and application, which gives even his notorious Black Paintings (as well as Morris Louis's graceful runnels of pigment) a tangible presence that entwines itself physically, mentally, and emotionally with the viewer. For all Brown's energetic smears, her work lacks passion, carnality, or smarts. To quote Gertrude Stein, that connoisseur of the ambiguously palpable from Cézanne to Picasso: "There is no there there."

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