“The Invitational” at the Academy of Arts & Letters
An antidote to the hypertension of the Whitney Biennial is to be found 150 blocks north at the American Academy of Arts & Letters at the “Annual Exhibition of Visual Arts,” on view through April 9. Selected by a committee of academicians, these are, very literally, artists’ artists. But don’t be deceived by the tasteful installation in gracious McKim Mead & White-designed galleries and the lack of polemic or theme binding the display, the Invitational is anything but a sedative. Featuring a multi-generational range of artists in different styles and mediums, the Invitational takes the temperature of American art. Reading hot this year is Walter Robinson, for instance, whose “Macy’s 60% Off” (2015) is pictured here. Robinson is a beneficiary of the Art Purchase Program, a well-endowed fund, created from bequests of works by Childe Hassam and other successful academicians of the day, that buys works out of the exhibition to present to museums across the country. The awardees were announced last week along with the winners of nine prestigious prizes of $10,000 a piece.