Gallery Review

Nineteenth & Twentieth-Century Prints at Fitch-Febvrel Gallery

Weekend, The New York Times, Friday, January 6, 1984, by John Russell

The Fitch-Febvrel Gallery has long had two specialties. One is the turn-of-the-century French illustrative print, with all that those words imply in the way of minutious craftsmanship and recurrent impropriety. The other is the revival in recent years of printmaking that has that same niggling, superfine craftsmanship, give or take the impropriety.

The visitor must therefore expect to read, and not merely to scan, the winter miscellany that is now on view. There are big names to be found from the last century — Odilon Redon and J. J. Tissot among them. The current high fashion for Max Klinger (1857–1920) makes itself felt in the presence of one of the more delirious of Klinger's "Intermezzo" series of 1881. Manuel Robbe (1872–1936) is another house favorite, well represented by the image of an amply built Parisienne, who half sits and half lies down as she waits for something or someone to turn up.

Among living artists, Peter Milton (born 1930) is one of the few Americans to gain admission. His work, up to the minute in its technical virtuosity ("photo-sensitive ground etching and engraving, with direct photographic transfer" is all in the day's work to him), seems to this observer to be getting altogether too complicated for its own good. His new series, "Les Belles et la Bête," does not, for instance, have the simplicity and spontaneity of his earlier variations on Henry James. Nor do the incidental improprieties convince me that in that regard Mr. Milton is "doing what comes naturally."

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