TERENCE LA NOUE's exhibition at the Andr'e Emmerick Gallery here is an unqualified success. It not only presents a number of his best works to date; it also celebrates his move to a gallery long associated with some of the best and most adventuresome art of recent years. Mr. La Noue's large, colorful, and profoundly contemplative modernist paintings are both beautiful and challenging, and they manage to refute the charge so often heard these days that modernism is dead. I'm pleased by his success - partly, I must confess, because I ventured several years ago to predict that La Noue would one day end up in the art history books, a prediction that now seems likely to come true.
La Noue, I suspect, is one of today's relatively few artists of whom the original modernists - as well as the great figures from 1905 to 1950 - would have approved.
He not only has a deep understanding of what they preached and produced, but has also carried the best of their tradition forward into a period of creative and critical confusion none of them could have anticipated. Significantly, he has done so without recourse to dogma or orthodox formalism, but has trusted to the spirit, values, and ideals of modernism to help him evolve his personal style.
He has, of course, also looked long and hard at the work of his modernist predecessors and at that of older and foreign cultures, and has thoroughly assimilated what he saw. La Noue, in short, comes totally into his own with this exhibition.
Not everyone, of course, will respond favorably to his work. Some may find it too abstract, dense, or demanding. And, paradoxically, others might find it too seductively beautiful or even too decorative. Should any of these reactions occur, I can only suggest that the offending paintings be given time and careful study. For, if they are, I'm certain they will shortly begin to work their own special kind of magic.
At the Andr'e Emmerich Gallery through Jan. 31. An excellent catalog with text and six color plates can be ordered for $8 postpaid from the gallery at 41 East 57th St., New York, NY, 10022. FREDERICK BROSEN, whose minutely rendered watercolors of urban views can be seen at the Staempfli Gallery here, is an altogether different kind of artist from La Noue. For one thing, he's a dedicated realist, and for another, his imagery depends for its impact on precise draftsmanship rather than on color or formal inventiveness.