by Julie Baumgardner
In 1969, the charismatic curator Henry Geldzahler, short in stature and large in vitality, persuaded the Metropolitan Museum of Art to swap its Rembrandts and Renoirs for Rosenquists and Rauschenbergs for what proved to be a blockbuster exhibition. Formally titled “New York Painting and Sculpture: 1940 - 1970,” the presentation became known as “Henry’s Show.” It contained nearly 410 works by more than 40 artists: the very catalysts of contemporary art whose fabled exploits composed the history of the New York School. Many of these artists counted Geldzahler as a close personal friend. David Hockney once said: “Henry had a fantastic eye. He wasn't wrong about anything. He was always right.”
Geldzahler’s legacy gets a boost with “The New York School, 1969: Henry Geldzahler at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,” now on view at Paul Kasmin Gallery’s 10th Avenue space, which recreates much of “Henry’s Show” and adds other, related works, such as James Rosenquist’s 1964 piece Floating to the Top. “All these works are very expressive, but not glib or facile,” the new exhibition’s curator, Stewart Waltzer, said, “and that’s what moved us then and what moves us now."