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What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week

LOIS DODD

With their frequently scant brushwork, marks and indications of natural phenomena, the 10 landscape paintings and three graphite drawings in “Lois Dodd: Early Paintings” at Alexandre Gallery form a real eye-opener. Ms. Dodd, who is 89 and has only lately been receiving the attention she deserves, made these works between 1958 and 1966. This show is probably their biggest reunion since then.

The gathering reveals an ambitious, sometimes awkward painter devoted to working in the open air who felt compelled to respond to Jackson Pollock and the radical allover compositions of his abstract drip paintings. Alex Katz had done something similar in the early 1950s in paintings in which he worked the branches of bare winter trees into black crisscrossing networks.

Ms. Dodd found a different solution: the dispersion, sometimes across nearly empty backgrounds, of discrete brush strokes that sometimes but not always hint at leaves, grass, trees, rocks and streams, along with a couple of tiny fairylike figures. The freest, most notational works are two titled “Figure in Landscape” (1962-63 and 1963) and a third, “Yellow Pond” (also 1963). But abstraction was ultimately not in Ms. Dodd’s game plan. She circles it with marvelous aplomb in two fuller but still scattered compositions, both titled “Pond,” from 1962.

In several other paintings, cows enter the picture, most decisively in “Cows and Clouds” from 1961, in which two animals seen from awkward perspectives lead into a wonderfully painted, relatively conventional vista. With the 1966 “Apple Tree,” all seems resolved. The representational style that Ms. Dodd has since explored comes into focus with paint handling and abbreviation yielding their own abstract forms. This is a great show for painting students and also for students of painting.

ROBERTA SMITH