Art & Antiques Magazine http://www.artandantiquesmag.com For Collectors of the Fine and Decorative Arts Wed, 29 Aug 2018 17:05:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/cropped-artandantiques_red_icon-32x32.png Art & Antiques Magazine http://www.artandantiquesmag.com 32 32 A Good Fit http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/2018/08/john-chamberlain/ Wed, 29 Aug 2018 17:05:44 +0000 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/?p=6167 Continue reading ]]> John Chamberlain found his own art materials where no one else was even looking and assembled them as a poet assembles words.

John Chamberlain, Papalote Goliad, 1974–75

John Chamberlain, Papalote Goliad, 1974–75, painted and chromium-plated steel, 170.2 x 232.4 x 325 cm. THE CHINATI FOUNDATION, MARFA © 2018 FAIRWEATHER & FAIRWEATHER LTD/ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS)

Featured Images:(Click to Enlarge) John Chamberlain, Divine Ricochet, 1991 John Chamberlain, Hillbilly Galoot, 1960 John Chamberlain, Papalote Goliad, 1974–75 John Chamberlain, PEAUDESOIEMUSIC, 2011 John Chamberlain in his studio, 1964 John Chamberlain, The Hot Lady from Bristol

On January 5, 1960, just as the Sixties dawned, John Chamberlain had his first solo show. The 10 sculptures on view at the Martha Jackson Gallery in New York were all made from a startlingly new material, or at least, a material new to art—crushed and twisted fragments of automobile bodies, still with their original industrial paint and chrome trim. Salvaged from junkyards, the pieces were intricately fit together to make up complex abstract forms. Each sculpture was multicolored, the various paints either clashing or complementing each other, or both. Some suggest exotic flowers blooming or the intricate folds of drapery; some spread outward while others reach upward, lightly balanced on a tiny base.

Critics didn’t quite know what to make of these astonishing objects. Were they three-dimensional versions of de Kooning’s canvases? Were they some kind of commentary on America’s disposable car culture? Budding minimalist and part-time art writer Donald Judd saw deeper, noting especially the use of color in Chamberlain’s works, diametrically opposed to the monochrome tradition of both pre-modern and modernist Western sculpture: “The paint is folded into the convolutions of the metal and is unquestionably integral to the work,” Judd wrote in Arts Magazine. “Colored sculpture has been discussed and hesitantly attempted for some time, but not with such implications.”

The implications would unfold over time, as Chamberlain went through various phases of experimentation with materials and techniques. But the essence of his art was in place from the beginning and can be understood under two aspects—collage and material innovation. Chamberlain joined the modernist project of creation by combination, following Braque, Picasso, Schwitters, and many others, but he was quite indifferent to established ideas about which materials were appropriate for art and almost as indifferent to modernist rules about formalism and purity. “I’m basically a collagist. I put one thing together with another thing,” he told an interviewer in his typically blunt way. “I sort of invented my own art supplies. I saw all this material just lying around against buildings and it was in color, so I felt I was ahead on two counts there.” Chamberlain used automotive steel as raw material purely for its plastic and chromatic qualities, without any intention of alluding to the romance or danger of the automobile. Chamberlain considered himself an Abstract Expressionist, and indeed the sculptures are completely abstract. Their component parts are like-wise abstracted, their previous history stripped away.

Chamberlain was born in Rochester, Ind., in 1927, the son of a tavern keeper. His passion for industrial metal showed early; as a boy he was fascinated by aviation, building model airplanes and learning to fly his father’s 1931 Curtiss-Wright plane. After his parents divorced, Chamberlain moved with his mother and brother to Chicago, where he had his first experience of art, seeing Van Goghs at the Art Institute. After dropping out of ninth grade, he hit the road for California in hopes of getting into the movie business. He didn’t make it all the way there and instead ended up in Phoenix, Ariz., where World War II caught up with him. In September 1943 he enlisted in the Navy, at least partly to avoid vagrancy, and served aboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific and in the Mediterranean.

Returning to Chicago after the war, Chamberlain felt the need to start a career and decided on hairdressing and makeup artistry, which he studied with financing from the G.I. Bill. It seems like an odd choice for the famously macho wild-man artist, but while he may have been motivated—as some have suggested—by the belief that it would help him pick up girls, one can also see a certain commonality between shaping hair and shaping sculpture.

By 1949, Chamberlain was taking classes from an artist named Lucretia Malcher, who lived near the salon where he worked, and around that time he made his first sculpture, a cat carved from a bar of Ivory soap—even then, he was finding his own materials.

In 1950, he enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where, he later said, he got more out of the art on view in the galleries than from the instruction in the classrooms and studios. A friend and recent graduate of the school, Joseph Goto, stimulated his interest in welded metal sculpture.

In 1952, Chamberlain left the Art Institute after an argument with a professor who gave him a low grade on a paper in which Chamberlain compared certain Indian architectural columns to nude human bodies, with an emphasis on how the bodies seemed to fit together. This incident is very telling about Chamberlain, not only in reference to his anti-authoritarian personality and sometimes difficult nature, but because the notion of the “fit” became the key to his whole artistic method. The metal elements of the sculptures he would make less than 10 years later were not crushed together; they were crushed before being assembled and then carefully, lovingly put together with an intricacy that is Chamberlain’s signature. “It’s all in the fit,” he would say again and again over the years. And for him, the analogy with the human body was deeply felt: Among his saying were “The assembly is a fit, and the fit is sexual,” and “The sexual decision comes in the fitting of the parts.”

After the Art Institute, Chamberlain continued to support himself by styling hair, while making welded metal (non-automotive) sculptures and trying to get some recognition. A break came in 1954, when one of his pieces was chosen by Robert Motherwell for inclusion in an exhibition at the Institute of Design, Chicago, for which Motherwell was a juror. A few months later, a former classmate from the Art Institute persuaded Chamberlain to enroll at Black Mountain College, the famed Bauhaus-derived modernart incubator in the mountains of North Carolina. At Black Mountain, Chamberlain discovered poetry, studying with such greats as Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, and Robert Duncan. From them, he learned how to combine words in new ways that subvert standard meanings and challenge logical thought.

One text that had a strong influence on Chamberlain there was “The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry,” an essay by the early 20th-century Bostonian art historian Ernest Fenollosa, edited and posthumously published by the pioneering modernist poet Ezra Pound. The essay relates the meanings of Chinese characters to their pictorial aspects, and this got Chamberlain thinking about English words and letters in visual terms and about combining them in ways that appeal as much or more to the eyes as to the mind. This kind of thinking played into Chamberlain’s later penchant for giving bizarre and baffling titles to his works, choosing the words for the way they looked on paper or emphasizing sound over meaning. These titles—such as Coo Wha Zee, Hillbilly Galoot, and WETSTARESCORT—are not descriptive of the works or even of the circumstances of their making. Instead, they are a form of inspired, non-linear wordplay that parallels the physical process of creating the sculptures. The titles are as abstract as the works themselves. For Chamberlain, the lesson of Black Mountain was that he could be like a modernist “language poet” with his “art supplies,” innovatively combining them—fitting them together—much as Olson and Creeley (who became a longtime friend of the artist) did with words. Chamberlain, speaking of his sculptures in HEAARTBEAT, a documentary film that his stepdaughter Alexandra Fairweather made about him not long before his death in 2011, said, “All the parts are to be assembled. And they can be assembled just the same as though they were words. Words fit together; so do these.”

In 1966, Chamberlain decided to move away from found automotive steel and explore other materials, out of curiosity and in order to challenge himself. At the time, he was spending time in Southern California, where his steel pieces were resonating with friends such as Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, and Billy Al Bengston and with the Light and Space and Finish Fetish movements. While staying with the gallerist Virginia Dwan in Malibu, Chamberlain hit on the idea of using polyurethane foam to make sculptures, twisting and tying the pieces to give them form. These small foam works were easy to make quickly, almost “instant sculpture,” and the work process contrasted refreshingly, for Chamberlain, with the laborious nature of assembling and welding steel. In 1969, he used foam to make large-scale works called “Couches,” some of which were as much as six feet in diameter. These were intended to be participatory: “The couches are pieces of furniture that excite a particular kind of attitude about posture, and create multiple seating arrangements at the sixth-grade level,” said the artist. “The couches have to be large. They’re also catchalls, whether for you or your friends, your money, dumping your pockets, magazines, newspaper, clothing, sheets, blankets, pillows.”

During his “laboratory period,” Chamberlain also worked with brown-bag paper, which he painted with watercolor, crumpled, and then coated with resin to preserve the shape. (These “brown paper bag sculptures” recall a bar trick the artist was known for, crushing cigarette boxes in distinctive ways and handing them to friends, many of whom kept them.) He also worked in plain, unpainted galvanized steel and transparent or translucent synthetic polymer resin, both of which he twisted and folded in ways that suggest Classical drapery. In keeping with his Black Mountain background, some of Chamberlain’s experiments from the Sixties didn’t have to do with sculpture at all. One project, never fully realized, was called SniFFter and was described as “an olfactory-stimulus-response environment involving more than one hundred odors” with names such as “mother’s milk,” “Rembrandt painting,” and “photographic fixer.” He also shot some 16mm films and created a slideshow titled Witches and Warlocks, composed of some 900 found images shown on seven projectors and with a soundtrack of readings by John Cage.

In 1974, Chamberlain made a crucial decision—to return to working in automotive steel, but with a difference. Now, instead of finding pieces of car bodies and just using them, he stripped pieces from particular parts of vehicles, such as van roofs, creating long strips of metal which he painted himself and fit together into structures that have a finer-grained feel than his previous steel works. In the 1980s he was using sheets of polished steel, bending them and exploiting the reflective properties of the metal to create an optical kind of “fit.” As early as the 1960s Chamberlain had begun working with aluminum foil, which he wrapped around wadding to create a characteristic forms resembling curving tubes that flare at the ends. Over the following decades he continued to be interested in foil, and in 2007 he started making large-scale works in this medium.

Chamberlain remained extremely active as an artist right up until his death at 84, working out of his studio in Shelter Island, N.Y. Among his last works were a set of nine-foot-high ink-on-canvas “Pictures” made from specially processed, colorized, and juxtaposed photos. The artist took these hallucinatory images with a Widelux, a vintage-looking panoramic film camera that he had been using since the late 1970s. It employs a unique method in which the lens rotates past the film frame instead of the photographer having to pan the camera. In his Widelux photography, Chamberlain literally shot from the hip, making the pictures without bringing the camera’s finder to his eye. The results are typical Chamberlain: disparate elements are combined into one image in a way that defies visual and narrative logic, though there is often an autobiographical element, with the artist and his surroundings included in the picture. Exploiting bright light sources and reflections, as well as the Widelux’s omnivorous ability to squeeze a range of moments into one image, Chamberlain created a kind of distortion that fascinatingly transposes his concept of “fit” into a new medium.


By John Dorfman

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Fighting for the Future http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/2018/08/russian-modern-art/ Wed, 29 Aug 2018 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/?p=6165 Continue reading ]]> At the dawn of the Soviet era, in a revolutionary art school in the city of Vitebsk, two different visions of modernism struggled for dominance.

Vera Ermolaeva, Design for Futuristic Opera “Victory over the Sun”,

Vera Ermolaeva, Design for Futuristic Opera “Victory over the Sun”, 1920, woodcut with watercolor additions

Featured Images:(Click to Enlarge) David Yakerson, Sketch for the Composition “Panel with the Figure of a Worker,” Marc Chagall, Anywhere out of the World El Lissitzky, The Fire Came and Burnt the Stick, Had Gadya Suite (Tale of a Goat) Vera Ermolaeva, Design for Futuristic Opera “Victory over the Sun”, Lazar Khidekel, Suprematist Composition with Blue Square

In the conclusion to his 1902 monograph The History of Russian Painting in the 19th Century, Alexandre Benois—painter, stage designer, writer, and founder of the influential movement and magazine World of Art—gave his assessment of the state of art in Russia at the dawn of the 20th century and what he imagined might follow:

“Generally speaking, all art of our time lacks direction. It is very vivid, powerful, full of passionate enthusiasm, but while being entirely consistent in its basic idea, it is uncoordinated, fragmented into separate individuals. Perhaps we only imagine this, perhaps the future historian will see our general characteristics in perspective and will outline our general physiognomy. But for the time being, this cannot be done; any unsuccessful attempt would be pernicious because it would create a theory, a program, where, essentially there should not be one. Moreover, it is quite probable that the future will not be on the side of individualism. Most likely a reaction stands on the other side of the door.”

Benois’ prediction for the future of art in Russia turns out to have been eerily prescient. After the Revolution of 1917, new approaches to art would explode in the country, with competing factions battling on canvas and in theoretical texts. Indeed, art, particularly painting, toward the end of the 19th century had already seen major changes and the growth of factions, some Russophile and others influenced by modernist developments in Europe. After the Revolution, though, with the a new utopian society in its nascent stage, fundamental questions arose about the function of art and its possible utility. What had been merely theoretical before began to take on a new social and political reality. Movements such as Suprematism, Constructivism, Rayism, and others would attempt to utilize the revolutionary energy and potential of the historically unprecedented situation. Artists and theorists would vie for dominance in texts until, as Benois predicted, this multiplicity of approaches was quashed and art was given a state-mandated form with the final, official imposition of Socialist Realism in 1932.

The post-Revolutionary moment of radical possibility, however short-lived, was a vital one. This relatively short span of time presented a laboratory for new ideas not only in painting, sculpture, design, architecture, and literature but in the organization and dissemination of art education as well. Collectivist ideas were applied to art education, and citizens (the definition of which was newly expanded under protelatarian rule to include Jews) who hitherto would not have been able to study art, now had the opportunity.

Painter Marc Chagall, a Russian-born Jew who had left his homeland to study and work, was elated and intoxicated by the new freedoms the revolution promised. Newly married and enjoying full citizenship, Chagall’s optimism is evident in his 1917–18 oil on canvas Double Portrait with Wine Glass, in which two figures, a man and a woman (presumably Chagall and his beloved wife Bella), one on the other’s shoulders, stand tall, smiling and toasting the new world with an angel close overhead.

After being appointed the Fine Arts Commissar of the Vitebsk region, Chagall seized the moment and established the The People’s Art School in his native city, where local citizens, many of whom were Jewish, could receive art education under the tutelage of established artists free of charge and with no age restrictions. It was to be the realization of a beautiful collectivist dream of art for all and for the good of all, with students and teachers, in some instances, taking their work to the streets of Vitebsk, decorating the town with the “new art” and leaving some inhabitants scratching their heads. The story of the The People’s Art School was not a Chagallian fairy tale, however, but a tragedy of sorts. The school’s fate mirrors that of the avant-garde in Russia, where idealism and ideology would confront each other, and pedagogical and artistic antinomies would sow the seeds of eventual collapse.

The Centre Pompidou in Paris is helping to bring the story of the The People’s Art School, somewhat recently excavated from the avalanche of time, to a wider public by presenting “Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918–1922” at the Jewish Museum in New York (September 14–January 6, 2019). The show which was organized by the Centre Pompidou, in collaboration with the Jewish Museum, allows visitors the chance to learn about Chagall’s idealistic venture through a selection of 120 works and documents made possible by extensive loans from several American and European institutions as well as collections in Minsk and Vitebsk.

Jewish Museum curator Claudia Nahson has been collaborating with the Centre Pompidou to bring the show to New York for over a year, and she explains, “A year and a half ago I was actually working on an exhibition on Pierre Chereau. We received many loans from the Pompidou, and I was in constant in contact with them. I heard about the show and this sounded like a really interesting exhibition for us. It’s an exciting moment, brief but important, that hasn’t been talked about much.”

Of particular rarity and interest are those of the school’s students (some of whom were as young as 15 or 16 years old) which will be seen for the first time by many visitors. The bulk of the show, however, presents the work of the school’s illustrious faculty—Marc Chagall (represented by some 30 works), Kazimir Malevich (showing for the first time at the Jewish Museum), and El Lissitzky. The works by these visionary artists, seen in conjunction and counterpoint, help to illustrate the theoretical, pedagogical, and formal tensions that would characterize the school’s utopian project and ultimately, be its undoing.

Chagall brought in Malevich and Lissitzky as faculty members at the newly formed school, and as Centre Pompidou curator Angela Lampe points out, “Chagall knew he was playing with fire by bringing together figurative and abstract artists.” Chagall was no theorist; his approach was intuitive and individualistic. He believed in the passion and freedom of the Revolution, but, in a sense, lacked a concrete ideological agenda. Lissitzky was an artist whose work Chagall held in high esteem, and beyond that, the two men were friends and both had boyhood connections to Vitebsk. Lissitzky accepted Chagall’s invitation to teach at The People’s Art School, and with Lissitzky’s help, Malevich, Lissitzky’s former teacher, was persuaded to come to the new school as well.

Malevich and Chagall had shown work together in exhibitions before the Revolution, including a show organized by Alexandre Benois under the auspices of his World of Art group. In their respective approaches to the theory of art, however, there was a wide chasm separating the two—namely, Chagall had little, and Malevich had theory to spare. Chagall’s work was often fantastical and folkish, playful and personal, but Malevich’s approach was vastly more abstract and dense. Of his own system of Suprematism (the name seems to say it all), he wrote, “I am only free when—by means of critical and philosophical substantiation-—I can extract a substantiation of new phenomena from what already exists.” His was not exactly a “go with the flow” approach.

Lissitzky, a photographer, designer, and architect, was torn between Chagall’s intuitive, figurative creations and Malevich’s radical Suprematism, which extolled the use of geometric forms almost exclusively and a limited color range. The school’s students, many of whom were quite young, gravitated toward the more structured and theoretically concrete classes of Malevich and Lissitzky, and as Lampe observes, “The students were grateful for this structure and base of theory.” Chagall’s intuitive yet classical approach was based on his own memories and dreams and nurtured by his time in Paris and association with other visionary artists. It ultimately, proved too “old fashioned” and nebulous for the students, many of whom were encountering “fine art” for the first time. “These very young students maybe lacked the internal richness that Chagall could draw from as an adult,” says Lampe, and as result, Malevich gained a group of enthusiastic followers. By 1920 it seems that Lissitzky had found his allegiance as well, writing (presumably exploiting the recently invented “shift lock” function on typewriters), “AFTER THE OLD TESTAMENT THERE CAME THE NEW—AFTER THE NEW THE COMMUNIST—AND AFTER THE COMMUNIST THERE FOLLOWS FINALLY THE TESTAMENT OF SUPREMATISM.”

After Malevich’s ascension within the school, Chagall would leave in 1920, and Malevich and Lissitzky would continue on the path of Suprematism, staging exhibitions in Vitebsk and major Russian cities. By 1922, however, the state began to eliminate artistic movements that did not serve the ideological agenda of the party, Socialist Realism was “on the other side of the door,” and soon the school was defunct, having produced only a single graduating class. The People’s Art School would be lost to history for a time, another shining Camelot that had risen and fallen in the gloriously optimistic revolutionary fervor between 1917 and 1922.

The history of the school caught the attention of Lampe, who hoped to bring this fascinating and edifying moment in the history of art to an audience beyond academics and historians. Nahson worked closely with Lampe to bring the Jewish Museum’s iteration of the exhibition to fruition on a somewhat smaller scale but with some new works on loan from local American sources. Some of the exhibition’s most exciting revelations are works by less-known students and faculty of The People’s Art School; the work of artist David Yakerson (who came to the school at the age of 22) is particularly interesting and illustrative. Yakerson’s move from modernist figuration to Suprematism is emblematic of the school’s shift, and two works seen side by side, his 1918 Sketch for the Composition “Panel with the Figure of a Worker,” on paper with watercolor and ink, and his 1920 pencil and ink drawing Suprematist Composition (Walking Robot) tell the tale. The figures in the former are rounded and folkish, their scale symbolic, the colors cool, moody pastels—in a sense, Chagallian. The Suprematist work created only two years later under the influence of Malevich is a dense maze of geometric shapes, interconnected, forming a mechanical, futurist action figure.

Drawings and paintings like these by faculty and students including Lazar Khidekel, Nikolai Suetin, Il’ia Chashnik, Vera Ermolaeva, and Yehuda (Yury) Pen, help fill in the space between the theories and approaches expounded and the work that resulted. These works make clear that the bridge the school sought to build from reality to utopia was bifurcated, Malevich’s fork passing through the material and Chagall’s through dreams. The destination, however, was in many senses the same. “Utopia is by definition no-place,” says Lampe, “but for a short time, maybe, in Vitebsk Utopia may have found a place.”

As art seems to isolate itself more and more in the logic of its own industry and market, where trends and movements appear somewhat cut off from the world at large and art schools nurture individual practice with only a veneer of utility or political engagement, “Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918–1922” presents an alternative. The moment that reaches out through history to us is a moment of radical and crucial political art that sought to change the way people lived for the better, and to give form to a new way of life that promised, for the first time in history, true freedom and equality. For a span of four years in Vitebsk, theories and practices wrestled, students and teachers were challenged, and the very purpose of art was thrown into question. For Chagall, Lissitzky, and Malevich, at The People’s Art School during those four precious years, the only thing at stake was everything.


By Chris Shields

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In the Shadow of Ararat http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/2018/08/medieval-armenian-art/ Wed, 29 Aug 2018 16:32:48 +0000 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/?p=6161 Continue reading ]]> The Met puts the splendor of medieval Armenian art on display.

Commentary on the Psalms, Kaffa, 1449

Commentary on the Psalms, Kaffa, 1449 , tempera, gold, and ink on paper and parchment; 386 folios , 18.5 x 14.5 x 7.8 cm.

Featured Images:(Click to Enlarge) Bas-Relief of Amir Hasan Hunting on Horseback Church of the White Virgin Cross of King Ashot II Yerkat‘ (the Iron) and Case. Arm Reliquary of Saint Nicholas , Cilicia Commentary on the Psalms, Kaffa, 1449

The Armenian people originated in the highlands around the base of Mt. Ararat, where Noah’s Ark is believed to have come to rest after the flood. Since then, they have spread across the globe as empire-builders, as traders, and most recently as émigrés and refugees. A people of great talents and tribulations, the Armenians have distinguished themselves in the field of art as creators and patrons alike. Thanks in part to the generosity of lenders such as the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Portugal, the Alex and Marie Manoogian Museum in Michigan, the Armenian Museum of America in Boston, and various dioceses of the Armenian Church, a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, on view from September 22–January 13, 2019, will reveal the riches of medieval Armenian art. Titled simply “Armenia!”, the show justifies the exclamation point with the sheer exuberance and sumptuousness of the works on display. Viewers with little or no idea of Armenian history and culture will come away with vastly increased knowledge and appreciation.

More than 140 precious objects will be on view—illuminated manuscripts and printed books, reliquaries, liturgical furnishings, and architectural models—testifying to the cultural flowering of Armenia from the time of its conversion to Christianity in the 4th century through the 17th century. The exhibition was organized by Helen C. Evans, the Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art at the Met, with the support of C. Griffith Mann, the Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, assisted by Research Assistant Constance Alchermes.

Armenia was the first nation to convert to Christianity, in the year 301, but before that, Armenians followed several religions—the cult of the fertility goddess Anahit, Zoroastrianism imported from Persia, and the pantheon of Rome. Located at a crossroads of culture and trade, Armenia was influenced artistically by Rome, Byzantium, and the Ottoman Empire to the west and by pre-Islamic and Islamic Persia to the east. During part of the medieval period, Armenia was under foreign domination, most notably by the Mongols and the Seljuk Turks. At other times, Armenians not only ruled their own land but established a realm outside it—the Kingdom of Cilicia on the southeastern coast of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), from 1198–1375. In later centuries, Armenians conquered not by force of arms but by trade, establishing lucrative routes than spanned from the Philippines to Holland. In the 17th century, the Armenian expatriate community of New Julfa within the Persian city of Isfahan became the last center of the medieval Armenian tradition of art.

The beginning of the Armenian Middle Ages coincides more or less with the invention of the Armenian alphabet by the theologian, linguist, and hymnologist Mesrop Mashtots in the year 405. Some of the most eloquent objects on view at the Met are illuminated manuscript pages in which the graceful script is surrounded and augmented by jewel-like, glowingly colored illustrations of sacred and secular scenes. A page from the Second Prince Vasak Gospel Book (1268–85) shows a purple-clad donor sitting in a purple pavilion, accompanied by his sons and receiving the blessing of the Holy Virgin, who is depicted in a style influenced by Western art. That is not surprising, considering that the manuscript comes from Cilicia, the westernmost outpost of Armenian power. Another very striking page in the exhibition, on a secular theme, dates from 1538–44 and was made by Bishop Zak’ariay of Gnunik’ while on a trip to Rome. It depicts a scene from the Alexander Romance, a 3rd-century Greek collection of mostly fanciful stories about Alexander the Great. The illustration on folios 90–91 shows Alexander’s ship being swallowed by a giant crab that grasps it in its claws. In a separate image off to the right, Alexander is shown leading a donkey, as two Greek-speaking birds fly overhead, telling him to turn back from this land which belongs only to God.

Narrative images also appear on Armenian textiles. An embroidered cloth used to decorate the front of an altar (known as an altar frontal), made in New Julfa in 1741, depicts the dream of Saint Gregory, in which Jesus Christ descends to earth in the city of Vagharshapat and founds the cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, which is the seat of the Armenian pontificate to this day. Surrounded by a red border with gilt-thread floral patterns and Armenian script, the scene take place against a deep blue background suggesting the night sky. Jesus, flanked by angels, rides a cloud that hovers above the ornate, golden cathedral, while below to the left stands King Tiridates the Great, who made Christianity the national religion. The overall atmosphere of this breathtaking textile is very similar to that of Persian art.

Testifying to the importance of sacred architecture in Armenian visual culture is a group of small stone models of churches that are on view in the Met show. Usually carved from a single piece of tuff, these models fit into what the exhibition catalogue calls “a robust tradition of architectural miniaturization in the South Caucasus.” These models, around two feet or less in height, were often incorporated in bas-relief friezes that decorated the interiors of churches.

Among the other kinds of ecclesiastical objects on view in “Armenia!”, a notable example is an arm-shaped reliquary of Saint Nicholas made of silver with parcel-gilt silver sheet and gemstones, from Cilicia, dated to 1315. The realistic arm-and-hand form of the reliquary, which originated in Western Europe, testifies to the enthusiasm for the Latin world among the Cilician elite, which went so far as to bring about a short-lived union between the Armenian Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The catalogue that accompanies the exhibition is extremely detailed and should satisfy both lay readers and scholars. One feature that is particularly appealing is the selection of gorgeous photographs of Armenian architecture amid the mountainous landscape, made by the Armenian-Canadian photographer Hrair Hawk Khatcherian and his assistant Lilit Khachatryan.


By John Dorfman

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Modernist Material http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/2018/08/viennese-design/ Wed, 29 Aug 2018 16:22:17 +0000 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/?p=6163 Continue reading ]]> A show at the Corning Museum of Glass explores the role of glass in early 20th-century Viennese design.

Installation view of “Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937”

Installation view of “Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937” at the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York.

Featured Images:(Click to Enlarge) Designed by Emanuel Josef Margold, Vase with Lid Designed by Oswald Haerdtl, Candy Dishes, designed in 1925 Designed by Josef Hoffmann, Tableware Set of Nine Blown Vessels Installation view of “Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937” Installation view of “Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937” Designed by Adolf Loos, Vase with Birds

Deeply embedded in the Vienna modernist movement is the notion that applied art could be designed, crafted, and appreciated as fine art. To the designers and craftsmen of the Vienna Secession and Wiener Werkstätte, objects made for everyday use were not to be ghettoized as “low” art. Instead, they thought that applied art objects, with their recurrent presence in users’ lives, could imbue the mundane with beauty and meaning.

Otto Wagner, who became the chair of the special school of architecture at the Vienna Academy of Arts in 1894, wrote in his influential 1895 book Modern Architecture that contemporary architecture and art could create new or evolved forms if they were developed in response to new materials, uses, and human demands. The Siebener-Club (Club of Seven), a group that included Gustav Klimt, Josef Hoffmann, Koloman Moser and several of Wagner’s colleagues and students, was formed with this idea in mind. The Vienna Secession, a spinoff of that group, emerged in 1897, taking inspiration from the Arts and Crafts movement in England while focusing on the development of a sense of modernity that was expressly Viennese (the group famously designed every detail of the interiors of Vienna’s striking Café Fledermaus).

In 1903, Hoffmann and Moser started the Wiener Werkstätte, a workshop and artists’ collective that focused on the applied arts. A 1905 pamphlet about the workshop summed up its genesis: “The limitless harm done in the arts and crafts field by low quality mass production on the one hand and by the unthinking imitation of old styles on the other is affecting the whole world like some gigantic flood…It would be madness to swim against this tide. Nevertheless, we have founded our workshop.”

This thinking extended to glass, which became, theoretically speaking, a vessel for the progressive concepts of the Viennese modernists. Ironically, artists looking to explore ideas with the medium had tradition on their side: fine glass and glass craftsmanship were long established in the North Bohemian provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, both through arts and crafts schools and manufactories. With elevated quality and skill endemic to the region, glass was popular not only as an art form unto itself but as a favored design element of Viennese architects and artists. Wagner labeled glass “modernist material,” and for the modernists working in Vienna, firms like J. & L. Lobmeyr and E. Bakowits Sohne acted as commissioning retailers, helping create and sell new forms of this ancient medium.

“Glass of the Architects: Vienna, 1900–1937,” an exhibition that is on view at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) in Corning, N.Y., through January 7, explores the moment when glass became modern in early 20th-century Vienna. The show, which is a tripartite effort between the CMoG, the MAK in Vienna, and the LE STANZE DEL VETRO in Venice, had runs at the Austrian and Italian museums prior to its move stateside.

Many of the works in the show come from the collection of the MAK. Founded in 1864, it is the second-oldest museum of decorative arts in the world and the progenitor of the University of Applied Arts (Kunstgewerbeschule), a hub for the cross-section of art, architecture, and glassmaking. The MAK gives the show not only 100 pieces but also a bird’s-eye-view perspective, explains Alexandra Ruggiero, Assistant Curator at the CMoG and the curator of the museum’s version of the show. “The MAK has been around since before this period, so they were collecting directly from these artists and manufacturers in real time.” Similarly, J. & L. Lobmeyr, which is still active today, has loaned several pieces of glass and artists’ drawings from the period, giving insight into the design and fabrication process at the time.

The CMoG’s iteration of the exhibition includes some 170 works, 50 of which are additions from its own permanent collection. Loans from a private collection of period works—furniture, textiles, metalwork, etc.—create context and ambience for the glass pieces. “Our audience here isn’t as familiar with this period as they are in Vienna,” says Ruggiero. “There, you can easily see examples of this style of architecture and design, but here we wanted to set the stage for this movement and show how these pieces would be displayed together.”

One standout of the show, a tableware set of nine blown vessels designed by Hoffmann for the Wiener Werkstätte in 1916, comes from the CMoG’s collection. With their spare decoration and striking blue coloration, the mold-blown glass pieces seem almost a precursor to abstract art’s geometric fields of color. Hoffman, who studied with Wagner, excelled at prioritizing form and stripping away extraneous detail.

Another showpiece of the CMoG’s collection is Vase with Birds, a 1916 piece manufactured by Joh. Oertel & Co. and Glasfachschule Haida (Novy Bor). A cylindrical vase that flares to the rim, it is an example of colorless glass that is mold-blown, enameled, stained, and polished. It features an intricate pattern with black birds at the top and columns of yellow spirals and bells toward the base. The interlocking shapes of its decoration, which are at once energetic and restrained, bring Klimt’s work to mind.

Jardiniere, a piece designed by Urban Janke and manufactured by J. & L. Lobmeyr in 1912, showcases the Bronzit decoration style. Hoffmann developed Bronzit, which involved the application of a black or brown coating with a metallic sheen to the glass surface, in 1910. Its motifs married thick geometric forms with vegetal patterns. In Jardiniere, a piece in the MAK collection, a heavy geometric pattern is broken up by animal figures. Developed by Janke and Heinrich Jungnickel, two members of the Wiener Werstätte, Bronzit pieces with animal figures such as this became quite popular.

In Vase with Lid, a cut and cased glass piece designed by Emanuel Josef Margold and manufactured by Carl Schappel, the marriage between the applied arts and architecture in Vienna seems particularly clear. “This piece really ties traditional glass-making techniques with the new aesthetics of the period,” says Ruggiero. “It has such a an architectural quality with its pagoda-shaped lid.” The piece’s roof-like top seems to point upward into a new era of design.


By Sarah E. Fensom

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Light from the East http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/2018/08/traditional-japanese-paintings/ Wed, 29 Aug 2018 16:14:27 +0000 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/?p=6159 Continue reading ]]> Traditional Japanese paintings are an excellent buying opportunity, as well as a portal into a world of timeless grace and beauty.

Katsushika Hokusai, Tiger in Snow, 1849

Katsushika Hokusai, Tiger in Snow, 1849, hanging scroll, ink and color on silk;

Featured Images:(Click to Enlarge) Artist of the Rimpa School, Plains of Musashino With Full Moon Rising Hishikawa Morotane, Seated Beauty Smoking a Pipe, circa 1690–1710 Katsushika Hokusai, Tiger in Snow, 1849 Magnolias in Bloom, circa 1920s–1930s Utagawa Toyokuni, Gathering Herbs at Mimeguri, circa 1816

When Ernest Fenollosa, one of the pioneering Western scholars and collectors of Japanese art, was living in Japan in the 1880s, great Japanese paintings could be had for next to nothing. The daimyos, or nobles, caught up in the modernization of the Meiji Restoration, regarded their traditional art with indifference or even contempt, and this attitude, coupled with financial insecurity brought about by the fall of the feudal system, caused many of them to dump their collections. Fenollosa, who had a good eye and knew as much about Japanese art as many a native expert, was making incredible finds. He bought a great painting by Motonobu, a 16th-century master of the aristocratic Kano school, from an Osaka dealer, and he managed to find a famous ceramic Buddha head in a garbage can. When Fenollosa had amassed over a thousand paintings, he sold them to a Boston collector, C.G. Weld, who donated them to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Fenollosa-Weld Collection is, to this day, one of the two greatest museum holdings of Japanese paintings in the United States.

Today’s collectors can’t replicate Fenollosa’s experiences, of course, but traditional Japanese paintings still represent a great buying opportunity. New York dealer Joan Mirviss explains that several market factors have come together to make the present moment a very good time to collect in this field. For one thing, although museum exhibitions of Japanese paintings are well-attended, the commercial market has weakened over the past 15 or so years, because the top few collectors have either died or exited the field, donating their collections to institutions. That, says Mirviss, “has put an enormous dampener on the field,” which means that prices are at a relative low.

Meanwhile, in Japan, since the economic downturn that began in the mid-1990s, corporate and regional museums have had a difficult time making any acquisitions at all, and even the major national museums have “had their hands tied for some time in terms of having money,” says Mirviss. As a result, there are more good paintings still on the market than there would otherwise be. And finally, Japanese export laws are favorable to Western collectors, and, unlike China, the government is not in the habit of making cultural-patrimony claims on artworks or restricting them from being exported. In the case of paintings, says Mirviss, a work would have to be in the “A+++ category” in order for the government to say that it could not leave the country. “One can still get great things and export them legally,” she says. “That is not true of most of the rest of Asian art.”

Japanese painting dates back to the 8th century A.D., but collectors can realistically expect to find works on the market dating from the 17th century down to the early 20th century. Among the many schools and eras of Japanese painting, there is a distinction made between Japanese style (yamato-e) and Chinese style (kara-e)—although the distinction is a bit arbitrary in that yamato-e, as it developed in the Heian period (794–1185) is derived in many of its particulars from Tang-dynasty Chinese painting. As the terms evolved, yamato-e involves a highly detailed approach to landscape and a narrative aspect, whereas kara-e refers to a looser style derived from Chinese ink wash paintings. No paintings that anyone could collect today are pure yamato-e; rather, they may incorporate elements of it. For example, the great Kano school, which dominated Japanese painting from the late 15th century through the beginning of the Meiji period and produced the large-scale paintings that decorated noblemen’s castles, freely combined Chinese and yamato-e styles.

In terms of genres, Japanese painting can be divided into figurative, landscape, and “bird-and-flower”; the latter refers not only to paintings of those creatures only but also to studies of animals in general and to tabletop still lifes such as depictions of “scholars’ objects.” Ukiyo-e is a subset of figurative painting that is very appealing to collectors today. The term, often misunderstood to mean color woodblock prints, actually means “pictures of the floating world,” the Edo-period world of courtesans, actors, and other denizens of the urban night. Originally ukiyo-e meant pictures of any kind, whether paintings or prints, that depicted such characters and scenes, and by extension it came to refer to populist images that did not fit within the strictures of courtly art.

The physical presence of Japanese paintings is quite different from that of most paintings in the West. In traditional Japanese dwellings, artwork was never affixed permanently to walls. That was partly because of the fact that the walls were made of thin materials, but more importantly because of the Japanese belief that paintings should be rotated with the seasons or specially installed to satisfy the taste of a visiting guest. “Because of that predilection towards exhibition on an extremely temporary basis, works have to be able to be stored with great ease and safety,” says Mirviss. Therefore, most paintings were executed in scroll format, on silk or paper, usually hung vertically but sometimes horizontally, and they could easily be rolled up and slipped into purpose-built wooden receptacles for storage. Japanese collectors usually had storerooms or even warehouses off-site, where their artworks would be protected from fires and earthquakes, and paintings would travel back and forth between these facilities and the collectors’ homes.

The best-known format for Japanese painting is the folding wooden screen. Again, this format accorded particularly well with the impermanent nature of Japanese art display. Screens functioned as temporary room dividers, so the paintings that were affixed to them would be seen only on particular occasions. “If you want to make an elegant and inviting interior for your guests,” says Mirviss, “you put out a screen with, say, a snow scene or a harbinger of spring.” The typical format was the six-fold screen, with 12 panels, each about five and a half feet tall by one foot wide. And since screens usually came in pairs, the artist would have designed 24 feet of art. If you see a four-panel screen, it probably means the two outer panels have been lost over time. A much smaller type of screen is the two-paneled “sleeping screen,” around two to three feet high. They usually came in pairs and were put up to give houseguests privacy while sleeping, as well as during tea ceremonies.

The other major Japanese painting formats are the handscroll, the album, and the fan. These are less frequently collected by Westerners because they are more difficult to display and not suitable for decorating homes. A handscroll, which could be 20 feet in length, has to be unrolled bit by bit, so that one cannot view the entire composition at one time. Albums could be by a single artist or compilations of works by many artists; sometimes they contained narratives from classical literature, like illuminated manuscripts in the West. And finally, artists made paintings to be mounted on fans, many of which are not in good condition because of wear and tear through use of the fan. Some fan paintings have been removed from the fans and remounted as hanging scrolls.

A rich variety of Japanese paintings is available on the market today. Mirviss has a six-panel screen by the artist Tani Buncho, a member of the Yamato-e Revivalist School, dating to the period 1804–18. Done in ink and colors on gold leaf, it depicts Mount Tsukuba with trees and a river in the foreground. The use of vivid green and the extensive use of negative space give the painting a distinctive and almost mystical quality. Its companion screen, which depicts Mount Fuji, is in a Japanese museum collection. Mirviss is also offering a hanging scroll painting of a tiger—an important symbol of the yang principle of male energy in Asian art—by Kokei, a Kano school artist who moved more toward naturalism and embraced bird-and-flower painting. Signed and dated 1836, it was executed in ink, color, and gold on silk.

Another hanging scroll in Mirviss’ inventory, dated to an earlier period, circa 1745–48, depicts a flowering plum tree with the full moon in the background, in a nearly monochrome palette. The aesthetic is very Chinese, and the artist, Taiga, made it using the Chinese practice of finger-painting, in which the hand, fingertips, and fingernails and used to create effects supposedly unattainable by the brush. The full moon is given a looser, more colorful, and almost Impressionistic treatment in a 17th-century two-panel screen offered by Naga Antiques in Hudson, N.Y. Done by an artist of the Rimpa school, it depicts the plains of Musashino in rich green with the rising full moon shining white.

“During the Momoyama period (1573–1615) of early Japanese screen painting, this was one of the six very famous subject matters,” says Jim Marinaccio, owner of Naga Antiques. “Later, these same subjects were used as backdrops for Noh theater, and with time, these subject matters have become even more desirable.”

New York dealer Sebastian Izzard is a specialist in ukiyo-e paintings. He points out that these were done by the same artists whose names are famous for woodblock prints, such as Hokusai. The artists started out with book illustrations, then prints, and finally, when they were successful enough, they could make paintings, which were commissioned works. Of course, paintings are far rarer than prints, because prints are multiples while paintings are unique works, and many paintings in any given artist’s oeuvre are likely to have been destroyed or otherwise lost over time. Among Izzard’s stock of ukiyo-e paintings, many are of the typical beautiful, elegantly dressed women, such as Hishikawa Morotane’s Seated Beauty Smoking a Pipe (circa 1690–1710), and hanging scroll in ink, color, and gold on silk. Another scroll, Bewhiskered Man Importuning a Wakashu (circa 1736–44), by Miyagawa Issho, highlights the shadowy realm of nightlife. The older man, seated on a colorful carpet, reaches for the richly embroidered hem of the robe of the wakashu, a young man who inhabited a gender-fluid “third sex” category in Japanese culture.

Ukiyo-e also included vivid depictions of events both contemporary and legendary. The artist Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847–1915) did both. The Great Fire at Ryokogu, in the Princeton University collection, has a journalistic, you-are-there quality. Izzard says the artist “makes you feel he is standing behind the firemen, in the line of fire. It’s very immediate.” Another work by Kiyochika, The Fury of Monk Raigo, in the Met’s collection, also uses a virtuoso treatment of flames, this time to illustrate a quasi-historical event in which the 11th-century monk became enraged during an esoteric Buddhist fire ritual called a goma-e.

Prices for Japanese paintings at the top of the line can be in the seven figures. Izzard says “the best quality Hokusai,” could bring $1.5 million to $3 million, if it were to come on the market. Early ukiyo-e screens from the 17th century could bring similar prices. However, outside of such special works, Japanese painting is still a field in which top-quality works in excellent condition by great artists can be had in the five figures. Late-18th-century to early-19th-century paintings are available in the range of $30,000 to $250,000, depending on quality, rarity, and size (prices can go higher for paintings of this era that are especially large or important). Beginning collectors should be sure to buy from dealers who have expertise and can vouch for authenticity and condition.


By John Dorfman

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Signs and Wonders http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/2018/08/tony-berlant/ Wed, 29 Aug 2018 16:12:45 +0000 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/?p=6157 Continue reading ]]> Whether in his collage-based art or in his activities as collector/scholar/curator of ancient artifacts, Tony Berlant is penetrating into hidden levels of meaning.

Tony Berlant, Backyard, 2018

Tony Berlant, Backyard, 2018, tin collage on plywood with steel brads, 57 x 72 in. IMAGE COURTESY KOHN GALLERY

Featured Images:(Click to Enlarge) Tony Berlant, Haven, 2003 Tony Berlant, Western Addition, 2009 Tony Berlant, Backyard, 2018 Tony Berlant, Self, 2018 Tony Berlant, The Cracked White House, 1967

Anyone unfamiliar with the tin-collaged oeuvre of Tony Berlant could be forgiven if they walked past his sprawling Santa Monica, Calif., studio compound and assumed that this multi-level live-work space was home to some kind of bustling furniture atelier, or simply a never-ending, NIMBY-baiting construction project. But those allowed into Berlant’s cacophonous inner sanctum, at least this summer, happened upon the source of the ruckus: a team of assistants feverishly, though precisely, hammering snippets of curated metal signage—some of it salvaged, but most of it produced from tin that has been digitally painted with photographs taken by the artist —onto plywood. Berlant’s source

photos, which number in the thousands, are kept in piles and in crates labeled with depictions of everything from “Guns/Animals” and “Sassy Ladies” to “Surf” and “Trains/Tractors/Cars.” Once Berlant selects a photo he wants, he traces the image on mylar, preparatory to it being transferred to the metal surface. The result of all this effort is a body of autobiographical collages that comprise “Fast Forward,” Berlant’s first show at Kohn Gallery in Los Angeles, his new dealer after 33 years with L.A. Louver Gallery.

“What makes sense to me now is to make things you’d like to keep,” says Berlant. “That’s the simple way of putting it. If you really want to keep it, then you know it’s good—it’s worth making because it’s satisfying.” Berlant, a towering figure with the gait of a retired football player, strikes a slightly imposing figure that he tempers with a measured baritone, mostly used to deflect conversations away from himself or his practice. “When you’re making collages or assemblages, things fall apart if you glue them, and I like the noise, I like hammering it,” he says.

Born in New York in 1941, Berlant came to Los Angeles at the age of five. After graduating from UCLA in 1961, he went on to earn master’s degrees in painting and sculpture at the university in 1962 and ’63. Although Berlant had already used metal as an art medium, a disused store with old signage that was going to be torn down provided him with inspiration to make a new kind of work. On the store’s façade, Berlant discovered a layer cake of signage—a Chesterfield ad on the front of the display and four rusted signs beneath it going back decades. First he photographed them, and then he began snipping and hammering the signs into collage.

These works quickly drew the attention of top collectors and curators, who exhibited them in shows at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, between 1962 and 1966. Berlant’s early-established signature technique of collaging metal elements onto flat surfaces and three-dimensional shapes (such as houses, cubes, and Classical temples) has remained at the center of his art, though he has also made architecturally-inspired sculptures.

A trio of these architectural pieces, exhibited in the mid-’60s at the Whitney and at the James Corcoran Gallery in L.A., is finally getting a permanent home at the Château La Coste vineyard near Aix-en-Provence, France, after decades of being kept “in the dark in cheap storage with grass growing over them,” as Berlant puts it. “I could have sold the stainless steel one many times, but I wanted to keep all three together, which was kind of impossible,” says the artist as we walk through the vaulted office adjoining his collage studio. He shows me a maquette of the three building-sized sculptures, which will be sited on a hillside above the vineyard with some help from the architect Frank Gehry, a longtime friend of Berlant’s. The hillside also contains ancient archaeological remains, discovered within the last year, from when it was an ancient Roman vineyard.

“When your heroes embrace you, it gives you a green light to go ahead,” says Berlant. While the new projects are clearly intended to help cement his legacy, they are both very personal. He uses the word “personal” often as he shows me through his second-floor residence, where his work is displayed alongside rare pieces by idol-friends such as Billy Al Bengston, Ken Price, Ed Moses, and Chris Burden, who is known for his intensely personal and political performance and public sculpture. Among the images on the metal wall works in the Kohn exhibition are photos the artist took of his wife, Helen, the view from his office, and one of 48 Polaroids of Berlant by Andy Warhol, taken in the early ’70s.

Though Berlant considers his practice more in line with that of “manipulative collage workers” like Joseph Cornell, Kurt Schwitters, and Robert Rauschenberg than with Pop artists like Warhol, he acknowledges that when he was starting out as an artist, in his mid-20s, he was significantly influenced by the Pop movement. In 1963 he was included in “Pop Art USA” at the Oakland Museum of Art, one of the first exhibitions of Pop Art.

In addition to his art practice, Berlant has long been a “fanatical collector” of Native American art and artifacts. In the mid ’60s, he left UCLA, and to replace the lost income from teaching, he began dealing in Navajo blankets. Eventually, he counted among his customers many of the top artists in New York, including Warhol, Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Brice Marden.

Berlant’s obsessions grew to include Mimbres pottery from southwestern New Mexico—functional bowls dating back to around 850–1150 A.D. that were meticulously decorated with paints made from carbon and hematite and used for culinary and funerary purposes—and the hand tools of early man, prime examples of which are scattered throughout his second-floor residence. He pulls a Neanderthal-crafted hand axe from a velvet lined drawer. Depending on which scholar you ask, this alluringly sculptural tool dates back 300,000 to 500,000 years. Berlant explains, “People are driven neurologically to make this shape, and these were made for almost two million years.” His interest in ancient artifacts has grown into a scholarly and curatorial second career, culminating in a book, First Sculpture: Handaxe to Figure Stone, co-authored with the anthropologist Thomas Wynn, and a traveling exhibition of the same name, which debuted at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas this past spring and is tentatively scheduled to travel widely.

These “first sculptures” aren’t the only objects to lure Berlant away from the studio and into the roles of archaeologist/writer/curator. His involvement with Mimbres pottery inspired him to become one of the founding members of the Mimbres Foundation, a conservancy group with which he has conducted copious research. In collaboration with Evan Maurer and Julia Burtenshaw, Berlant came out with another book, Decoding Mimbres Painting: Ancient Ceramics of the American Southwest and an accompanying exhibition that is currently on view at LACMA (through December 2).

The scholarship not only singles out blue-chip Mimbreño artists (such as the so-called “Rabbit Master”) for their styles but also asserts that the imagery on the vessels was a result of days-long hallucinogenic ritual experiences induced by a substance harvested from the seed pods of the psychoactive datura flower. “Many of the depictions on these bowls are abstractions of the datura flower and other psychoactive plants,” says Berlant. Speculating as to why the Mimbreños punctured the bowls, he says, “When you hallucinate, you see a big, white, glowing tunnel, and when you’re seeing this form it’s turning, so there’s a conflation of the flower and the spirit portal, the opening. I think puncturing the hole in the portal is a way of your spirit going into the portal and onto the other side.”

One point of intersection between the ancient art that fascinates Berlant and his own work is the idea of shape-shifting. Just as neolithic stone carvers and Mimbreño potters saw shapes in the mind’s eye that are not literally there—whether due to imagination or pharmaceuticals—Berlant invites the viewer to see new things amid the endlessly complex assortments of images and texts he collages together. Among the pieces on view at Kohn are some that feature photographic collages of contemporary street imagery and prehistoric-hand-tool imagery across one side and galaxies of tin-snipped letters across the opposite side. “They’re really like two paintings that are put together,” says the artist, “so it’s more like a sculptural experience, where you see one half and then the other.” Looking at these works, images and associations seem to cohere and disappear, only to be replaced by others equally valid. The essence of Berlant’s aesthetic quest, he says, is “to make what is invisible and strongly felt, seen.”


By Michael Slenske

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A Gentleman and an Artist http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/2018/07/charles-green-shaw/ Tue, 10 Jul 2018 01:36:13 +0000 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/?p=6122 Continue reading ]]> In the period before Ab Ex, the multitalented Manhattanite Charles Green Shaw was a powerful advocate for abstract art in America.

Charles Green Shaw, Biomorphic Seascape, 1936

Charles Green Shaw, Biomorphic Seascape, 1936, oil on board, 12 x 16 in. © The Estate of Charles Green Shaw

Featured Images:(Click to Enlarge) Charles Green Shaw, Nautical Position, 1940 Charles Green Shaw, Signal Man, 1942 Charles Green Shaw, Moon Walk, 1940 Charles Green Shaw, Biomorphic Seascape, 1936 Charles Green Shaw, Untitled (Intersection Trapezoids), 1936

To be an abstract artist in the U.S. between the two world wars was to tread a rocky, lonely path. The modernist avant-garde had a hard enough time finding acceptance on these shores, even after the path-breaking Armory Show of 1913, but even by the 1930s abstraction was still seen by American critics and art audiences as basically a European affair. In 1936, when the Museum of Modern Art’s chief curator Alfred H. Barr, Jr. mounted an exhibition titled “Cubism and Abstract Art,” hardly any of the more than 100 artists was American. Outraged, a number of the “réfusés” got together and formed American Abstract Artists (AAA). One of that organization’s founding members, Albert Eugene Gallatin, a wealthy artist and collector, had been exhibiting abstract art from his own collection under the rubric of the Gallery of Living Art, which was located in a study center at New York University, on Washington Square. In the wake of the MoMA show, Gallatin expanded the project and renamed it the Museum of Living Art, with the implication that it would, if not rival MoMA, then at least fill in the substantial gaps left by the latter’s curatorial program. The only artist to get a solo show at Gallatin’s gallery was a close friend and colleague named Charles Green Shaw.

Shaw was a writer as well as a painter, and he lent his considerable polemical skills to the defense of the abstractionist cause. He was also independently wealthy and well-connected socially. After harshly criticizing MoMA for its myopic view of the American art scene, Shaw was promptly invited to join the museum’s advisory board, where he remained for about five years, until 1941. He confidently asserted the right of Americans to be creative in a mode of art that may have been pioneered in Europe but innately knew no nationality. In 1938, Shaw published an essay in the AAA yearbook, “A Word to the Objector,” in which he spelled out his principles of abstract art.

“Art, since its inception,” wrote Shaw, “has never depended upon realism. Why, one cannot help wondering, should it begin now? Art, on the contrary, is (has been, and always will be) an appeal to one’s aesthetic emotion and to one’s aesthetic emotion alone; not for the fraction of a split second to those vastly more familiar emotions, which are a mixture of sentimentality, prettiness, anecdote, and melodrama.” As to how “aesthetic emotions” could be successfully appealed to, Shaw explained that “honest painting, regardless of its representational or non-representational merits, embraces certain patent fundamentals. One seeks, for example, rhythm, composition, spatial organization, design, progression of color, and many, many other qualities in any aesthetic work.”

In his own art, Shaw worked in two main modes, which might best be described as linear geometric abstraction and biomorphic abstraction, with a definite preference for the former. Early on in his career he arrived at a conception that he termed the “Plastic Polygon,” in which a polygonal figure, often irregular, would be divided into overlapping, interlacing rectangles of different sizes and colors. To the extent that these paintings suggest any “objective” subject matter, it is the jagged skyline of Shaw’s beloved New York. The paintings are completely flat, without any illusionistic space; the effect they have on the viewer is similar to the loss of distinctions of depth that occurs when seeing clusters of buildings from a distance. The term “plastic,” while today it connotes nothing but a manufacturing material, was used by Shaw and other art writers at the time to mean the pure graphic elements of visual art, as distinct from the representational or narrative elements. In abstract art, the plastic aspect takes over completely. An abstract-art journal to which Shaw contributed, edited by Sophie Taeuber-Arp, the wife of Hans Arp, was titled Plastique.

Shaw’s biomorphic-style pieces bear a distinct resemblance to the those of Hans Arp, whom he befriended while on a visit to Paris in 1935 and from whom he purchased some works. He also emulated Arp by making carved and painted wooden constructions in box-like frames, which use shallow relief to add a three-dimensional quality. One of the most charming of Shaw’s efforts in this vein places four abstract shapes, which could be birds spreading their wings, on top of a rich blue background. A reddish circle could easily be the sun. Another amplifies the effect of the Plastic Polygon by taking it one step closer to actual architectural construction.

There is this tendency in Shaw’s work toward frank acknowledgment of materiality, quite at variance with the ethereal, otherworldly nature of much early abstraction, such as the mystical “non-objective” school represented by Wassily Kandinsky, Hilla Rebay, and their followers. He was not seeking access to a Platonic realm of pure ideas; his works were very much of this earth—on occasion he even added sand to his paint to create a gritty texture. In 1936, shortly after the MoMA contretemps, Shaw co-organized an exhibition at Reinhardt Gallery in New York of five abstract artists—himself, George L.K. Morris, John Ferren, Charles Biederman, and Alexander Calder—and coined the term “Concretionists” for the little group because he felt that their works were indeed concrete and that the word “abstract” gave the wrong idea by suggesting that the art lacked physical reality.

Shaw came to art relatively late in life. He didn’t start painting until he was 34, and within just a few years he was showing his work at New York galleries. During the ’20s he was known as a journalist, doing humor and social-observation pieces for arch publications such as Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Smart Set. He counted among his friends such literary luminaries as F. Scott Fitzgerald, H.L. Mencken, Anita Loos, and George Jean Nathan. Cole Porter was a close friend since college days—both were members of the Yale class of 1914.

If anyone was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, it was Shaw. His family inherited a generous portion of the Woolworth’s department-store fortune, and he was brought up in the cosmopolitan Manhattan world that he would later chronicle for the magazines. A tall, elegantly dressed figure, Shaw seems like the archetypal “urban sophisticate” from a ’30s movie, and throughout his life he maintained the same gracious, un-bohemian bachelor lifestyle. His Park Avenue apartment was filled with his own work and with his collections of modern art and folk art. He was especially proud of his collection of cigar-store Indian figures, which was photographed by André Kertész for Town and Country in 1946. Because of their shared upper-class background, Shaw and his friends and fellow artists George Morris, Suzy Frelinghuysen, and A.E. Gallatin would be known to posterity as the “Park Avenue Cubists”—although the “Cubist” part is a bit of a misnomer.

Although he had drawn caricatures, which occasionally were used as illustrations for his articles, Shaw did not apply himself seriously to art until he enrolled in Thomas Hart Benton’s figure-drawing class at the Art Students League in 1926. In 1928, he interviewed Ashcan School master George Luks for a magazine profile, which led to him joining Luks’ art class and working nearly full-time in his studio, where Luks would critique his efforts. During this period, Shaw was constantly visiting galleries and museums in New York and wherever he went, soaking up contemporary art in particular. In the early ’30s he traveled extensively in Europe, basing himself in London and Paris, seeing shows, collecting art, and meeting artists and critics. The culmination of this feverish activity was the breakthrough in 1933 when Shaw created the Plastic Polygon and became a full-fledged practitioner of abstract art, a creator of that which he had long admired.

Shaw was a man of many talents, not just painting and journalism, and it seems as if no sooner did he become interested in a subject that he would produce something worthwhile in that line. In 1937, he saw an exhibition of posters by E. McKnight Kauffer at MoMA and almost immediately came up with an idea for a poster for Wrigley’s chewing gum, which he made and pitched to the company. It was never made, but Shaw eventually designed posters for the Red Cross and the War Bonds drive during World War II, as well as for numerous art exhibitions. Also in the 1940s, he became a children’s book writer and illustrator, encouraged by his friend Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight, Moon. His 1944 book It Looked Like Spilt Milk introduced children to biomorphic abstract forms in the context of an entertaining tale. He got very interested in collecting antique playing cards, tarot cards, and game boards and used them, along with old tobacco boxes and textile fragments, as collaged-on elements in objects he called montages. Though he never exhibited his montages publicly, he installed them from floor to ceiling in his apartment and gave them to friends as gifts. From the ’50s until his death in 1974, Shaw dedicated himself increasingly to writing poetry, publishing several collections.

One of Shaw’s biggest enthusiasms outside of painting was photography, which he took up in the mid-’30s. Camera in hand, he prowled the streets of New York looking for evidences of the earlier strata of city life. In this pursuit he paralleled the efforts of contemporaries such as Berenice Abbott and Walker Evans, who sought out the quirky, half-forgotten sights of the rapidly modernizing metropolis. In 1938, Shaw published a book of his photographs with accompanying text, written by him, under the title New York—Oddly Enough. The forward describes it as “a selection of relics, of remaining shops and dwellings in unpretentious side streets, of that vanished 19th-century town, skyscraperless New York.” The jacket of the book shows a montage or collage of Shaw’s photos, arranged within the outlines of imaginary Art Deco-looking apartment buildings and office towers, against a bold yellow and blue background. The effect is almost like a Plastic Polygon, shapes within shapes, a palimpsest of urbanism in the mind’s eye of the artist, a true lover of old and new New York.


By John Dorfman

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South by Southwest http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/2018/07/santa-fe-2018/ Tue, 10 Jul 2018 01:10:44 +0000 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/?p=6124 Continue reading ]]> This summer, Santa Fe beckons collectors of virtually every kind of art, from ancient American to international contemporary.

Robert Koch, Three Spheres, 2018

Robert Koch, Three Spheres, 2018, mild steel, 32 in. diameter each

Featured Images:(Click to Enlarge) John Yoyogi Fortes, Hell2pay Maynard Dixon, The Palominos, 1941. Walt Gonske, Samovar with Roses, 2012 Robert Koch, Three Spheres, 2018 Dan Ostermiller, Melba; Peter Sarkisian, Registered Driver Flat Series: RED 1963 Ford Pick-Up

There’s no place like Santa Fe, N.M. It’s been a haven for artists and art lovers for a century, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In summer, the Santa Fe scene fills with gallery shows, museum exhibitions, and events that draw tens of thousands of visitors. Here’s an overview of what 2018 will bring.

In addition to being a major art market (the third largest in the U.S., in fact), Santa Fe boasts a museum scene of great depth and vitality. Kicking off the summer exhibition season, “GenNext: Future So Bright” opened on May 5 at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art (750 Camino Lejo) and continues through November 25. It features 50 works by 20 contemporary artists who have found fresh ways to explore historic art forms. Several of the artists have appeared at past editions of the Traditional Spanish Market, which is run by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society, operator of the museum. Works on view include Patrick McGrath Muñiz’s Holy Combo I, which depicts Christopher Columbus and the Burger King, both shirtless and feasting on fast food.

This summer, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (217 Johnson St.) will be mounting the latest exhibition in its “Contemporary Voices” series, “The Black Place: Georgia O’Keeffe and Michael Namingha” (on view through October 28.) Namingha was born into a local artistic family with Hopi and Tewa ancestry and earned a graduate degree from Parsons School of Design in New York. The show examines how the two artists each explored the Black Place, a rugged, forbidding spot about three hours west of Santa Fe. O’Keeffe, who visited the area about a dozen times between 1936 and 1949, had to camp overnight in order to have enough time to capture the Mars-like, nearly colorless landscape. In 2017, Namingha had an easier time getting to the Black Place, which remains pretty much as it was in O’Keeffe’s day, but he had to pass multiple natural gas and oil extraction outposts along the way. Instead of a paintbrush, he brought a drone camera and transformed his images by printing them onto metallic sheets, mounting them on Plexiglas, and shaping and polishing them.

The museum is proud to display a new O’Keeffe acquisition, a 1931 oil on wood painting titled Kachina. The artist made the image of a katsina (kachina) doll relatively early in what would become a long relationship with New Mexico. When she painted it, white people had little awareness of the religious significance that the Hopi and Pueblo communities placed on katsinam. While the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum presents Kachina as an O’Keeffe painting, and while the doll it depicts appears to have been created for the tourist trade and not as a sacred object, the institution is taking care with its presentation. “It does demonstrate her interest and curiosity about the region. We’re walking a line in understanding the object as a Georgia O’Keeffe and portraying objects that are culturally sensitive,” says Cody Hartley, Senior Director of Collections and Interpretation. The work will likely stay on view until October, at least.

On May 29, the O’Keeffe Museum hired Ariel Plotek as its new Curator of Fine Art. Most recently, Plotek was Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the San Diego Museum of Art. Also in May, the museum debuted its new Welcome Center in Abiquiú, N.M., about a four-minute bus ride from the artist’s home and studio. The 4,000-square-foot facility offers a retail store, a video room for screening movies about O’Keeffe, a classroom that seats 28, and a reading area. The center will be open seven days a week, even when the O’Keeffe home and studio is not. “We thought Georgia O’Keeffe deserved better, and Abiquiú deserved better,” says Hartley. “The facility welcomes folks to the museum, and it even welcomes people who might be passing through and want to know more.”

The multifaceted arts institution SITE Santa Fe (1606 Paseo de Peralta) starts its summer with “Michael Rakowitz: Ongoing” (through August 18). The show, mounted in SITElab 10, comprises five works, but several of them contain multiple individual pieces. Among the most striking is The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, a project that began in 2007. For the Invisible Enemy project, Rakowitz, an Iraqi-American artist, creates full-scale replicas of objects and artifacts that were once part of the Iraqi National Museum. After the U.S. invasion of 2003, more than 7,000 pieces left the museum. Some were stolen, some were destroyed, and some were lost. With the help of assistants, Rakowitz creates the replicas from recyclable materials that include Arabic newspapers and regional food packages. He’s finished 850 to date; about 30 will appear at SITE Santa Fe. Rakowitz gives The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist’s dates as “2007–Ongoing” in recognition of the fact that he will probably go to his grave without refashioning everything that was lost. Also on view is May the Obdurate Foe Not Stay in Good Health, a similar ongoing project that he started in 2016 that reconstructs objects looted or destroyed in the current Syrian civil war.

“SITElines.2018: Casa tomada,” the institution’s biennial, debuts on August 3 and continues through January 6, 2019. It takes its inspiration in part from Casa tomada, a 1946 short story by Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, in which a pair of siblings are gradually but decisively ousted from their ancestral home by a mysterious force. (The name of the story translates as “house taken over.”) Irene Hofmann, Phillips director and chief curator at SITE Santa Fe, explains that the Cortázar tale “has the feeling of a horror story but serves as a broader metaphor for many of the ideas curators address in the exhibition—ownership of history, ownership of land, ownership of culture… it’s turning into a timely show, with many complexities in it.” One of the more literal takes on the theme comes from two Venezuela-born artists, Ángela Bonadies and Juan José Olavarría. Their photographic project La Torre de David (David’s Tower) captures scenes of squatters in Caracas, Venezuela, who have commandeered an unfinished high-rise tower that was intended to be a bank. “SITElines.2018: Casa tomada” is co-curated by José Luis Blondet, curator of special projects at LACMA; Candice Hopkins, an independent curator based in Albuquerque; and Ruba Katrib, a curator at MoMA PS1 in New York.

“Frederick Hammersley: To Paint Without Thinking” is on view at the New Mexico Museum of Art (107 West Palace Ave.) through September 9. It’s an ironically-named show in that it provides ample evidence that Hammersley, who lived in New Mexico for more than four decades, thought a great deal before he picked up his brush. Hammersley would first plot his artistic compositions in notebooks, “working out postage stamp-size geometric abstract patterns, moving the color around until he got something he liked,” says James Glisson, a creator of the Hammersley show. The late artist also recorded an astonishing amount of information about his process in his “painting books,” from the date that he stretched a canvas to the date he applied the finishing touches. “There was a real interest on his part with channeling and shaping his creative process with rules,” says Glisson. “What this exhibit does is pair paintings with sketchbooks deposited at the Getty Research Institute.”

Included in the exhibition are nine computer drawings that Hammersley did in the late 1960s. Glisson cannot definitively say that Hammersley was the first digital artist, but he was certainly one of the first. It was a lot more difficult to do digital art then (Hammersley had to use punch cards), and his artistic choices were severely limited. He could make a few basic shapes, and use all the letters of the alphabet and some punctuation, and that’s all. “Within these constraints, I think Hammersley was able to create some beautiful images,” Glisson says. Also on view at the New Mexico Museum of Art is “Patrick Nagatani: Invented Realities” (through September 9). Nagatani, who died last year, was a proponent of what is called the directorial style of photography, which acknowledges the artificial aspect of photographs.

The Center for Contemporary Arts (1050 Old Pecos Trail), which calls itself “an arts and culture hub for northern New Mexico’s diverse communities,” opened “Ricardo Mazal: A 15 Year Survey” on June 15, and it will remain on view through September 23. The Mexican abstract painter and multimedia artist tackles big ideas—life, death, transformation, and the natural world. The first work that visitors encounter on entering the exhibition is Bhutan Abstracto (Bhutan Abstractions), a work comprising paintings, photographs, and a video installation that draws inspiration from the prayer flags of Bhutan. Visitors can write down prayers and dreams on iPads and watch them become part of the show. Another series of abstract works from 2016, Noche Transfigurada (Night Transfigured), is based on photographs of branches taken at night. Having used the color violet in his work for the first time with that series, Mazal was moved to launch another series that showcases and explores the hue. He will debut five large-scale new Violeta (Violet) works in the CCA show.

As always, the gallery scene in Santa Fe will be very lively and diverse this summer. The exhibition “Beginnings II,” which opened on May 11 and continues through August 10 at OTA Contemporary (located at 203 Canyon Road), started on the internet, in a way. Kiyomi Baird, the gallery’s founder and an artist herself, came across sculptor Robert Koch (pronounced Cook) online. “He hadn’t sent a submission. I searched the web. I wanted something that works well with my work,” she says. “It just resonated with me when I saw it. It was really fitting.”

“Beginnings II” pairs about 30 of Baird’s canvases, monotypes, and digital works with a dozen of Koch’s steel and bronze sculptures. The show occupies a significant portion of the gallery’s 3,000 square feet of internal space and spills into its outdoor sculpture court. Koch’s spheres play nicely off Baird’s pieces, which celebrate the circle and its symbolism. “In this show, I try to work with peace and calm—the opposite of what’s going on in the world today,” Baird says.

On May 26, a retrospective of work by sculptor Dan Ostermiller, an artist on the roster of Nedra Matteucci Galleries, opened at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden (SFBG). “Gardens Gone Wild!” which continues through May 11, 2019, features more than 20 of Ostermiller’s bronzes arranged across two and a half acres. Nine months in the making, it builds on shows staged in Kansas City, Mo., in 2014 and Omaha, Neb., in 2015, and contains sculptures created between 1988 and 2016. Dustin Belyeu of Matteucci Galleries and Clayton Bass of SFBG co-curated the show. “The process was fairly easy and pieces really just fell into place,” Belyeu says. One placement that he is particularly happy with is American Gold, a 12-foot bronze from 1988 that depicts a soaring eagle. “It’s placed at a high point in the back of the garden,” he says. “It looks like it is flying right out of the Sangre de Cristo mountains.”

At its gallery location at 1075 Paseo de Peralta, Nedra Matteucci presents “The Art of Walt Gonske: A Retrospective” (through July 21). It’s the gallery’s third one-man show for the painter, 76, who selected the works from his personal collection. The exhibition spans four decades and includes the 2012 oil-on-linen Samovar with Roses. “This painting, a classic floral still life infused with Walt’s unique awareness and expression of color and form, is painted with a keenly developed eye for composition and the skilled technique of experience that is still exploring,” Belyeu says. “It’s a classic that still bursts with creativity.”

Gallery FRITZ (540 South Guadalupe St.), a new, 5,000-square-foot gallery in the Railyard district, started its season on June 8 with a group show simply titled “Grand Opening” (through July 6). It will feature more than 100 works by 15 artists, working in media that range from steel to acrylic paint to felted wool. Participants include Karen Hampton, an African-American textile artist, mixed media artist John Yoyogi Fortes, and gouache painter Jordan West. The show also features Gary Goldberg, who created a series of works that transforms photographs of architecture in Oaxaca City, Mexico, into textiles, and it showcases watercolorist Victoria Carlson, who has created depictions of quirky real people and real landmarks in images that look plausible, but which never happened.

Gallery 901 (555 Canyon Road) hosts “Celebration of the Season,” a show of around a dozen works by Debbie Gold, from June 8–11. Gallery owner Sherry Ikeda is a friend of Gold’s and a collector of her paintings. “She’s constantly evolving,” she says. “I’ve been able to watch her shift. These [the canvases in the show] have a softer quality than earlier works, which had heavier impasto.” A major goal of “Celebration of the Season” is raising funds for ARTsmart, a 25-year-old nonprofit that provides visual arts programs, art supplies, and scholarships to more than 9,000 students annually in northern New Mexico. A percentage of all sales will go to the organization.

“Color Them Wonderful” will take place from October 19–November 9, and will showcase 8 to 10 pieces by R. John Ichter, who works in pastels and acrylics and likes to concoct images of imaginary forests. “There’s a mystical, whimsical feeling in his art,” says Ikeda. “Not abstract, and not realism. It’s in a dream kind of state.” “Moving Into Stillness,” which will have the same dates as “Color Them Wonderful,” will focus on artist Cynthia Reid. Horizons have captured her interest of late. The show will contain 8 to 10 of her oils on canvas. A former oncologist, Reid retired from medicine to return to painting, a pursuit she first took up as a child. Ikeda is also planning a to-be-named October show of roughly 15 oils on canvas by Spanish painter Giner Bueno, an artist in his 80s who depicts scenes of everyday life in Valencia, Spain.

Among the exhibitions at Gerald Peters Gallery (1005 Paseo de Peralta) this summer is “Cross Currents: Peregrine O’Gormley, Penelope Gottlieb, James Prosek” (June 15–July 14). Why put these three artists together? Director of Naturalism Maria Hajic explains, “All deal with the natural world, coming from different angles.” Each artist is contributing six works. Prosek is offering Sockeye Salmon, a piece that will delight his longtime fans. “He’s a darling among fly fishermen. In that community, he’s kind of like a god,” says Hajic.

Charlotte Jackson Fine Art (554 S. Guadalupe St.) bounds into summer with “Color Bites: A Group Exhibition,” which runs from June 29–July 29. It features 15 artists and between 20 and 25 works, all in primary colors. Joining the show as a guest artist is Peter Sarkisian, whose Registered Driver Flat Series: RED 1963 Ford Pick-Up, Large Version (2009) resembles an old-fashioned red pickup truck. “When you walk up to the piece, you see someone driving the truck, and it’s Peter,” Charlotte Jackson says, explaining that a video of Sarkisian is mounted inside the truck’s passenger side window so that he appears to be driving. “On the wall, it’s fabulous. I borrowed it for an art fair in February and crowds were standing in front of it.”

Jackson will follow “Color “ with “Heiner Thiel and Michael Post: The Colorful Side of Things,” which will take place from August 3–September 3. The gallerist has paired the two German artists, who tend to sculpt colorful shapes in metal, three times in the past. “I put them together because they’re best friends,” she says, adding, “we always sell their shows out.” She anticipates showing 30 works in all, with equal numbers from each artist. At the very end of the summer the gallery will present “John Beech: Outside the Drift” (September 7–October 7). Among the 20 works on view will be a so-called “floor piece” sculpture dubbed Utile #5, which is mounted on casters and stands more than 100 inches tall. Jackson says Beech’s floor pieces “are very irreverent, not meticulously painted and made.”

Through July 22, TAI Modern (1601 Paseo de Peralta) is presenting “Three Generations of Wada Waichisai,” which unites 16 bamboo works by the Japanese father, son, and grandson, whose careers spanned the 19th and 20th centuries in Osaka, where modern bamboo art sprang into being. “Wada Waichisai I is known, but appreciated for having students who founded substantial lineages of their own,” says Margo Thoma, director of the gallery. “The second and third were well-regarded in their time but are almost forgotten about today. We wanted to shine a light on their work.”

The gallery has also planned shows for two contemporary Japanese bamboo artists. “Honma Hideaki” will be held from July 27–August 25, and “Morigami Jin” takes place from August 31 through September 23. “Honma Hideaki” is the gallery’s first solo show with the artist, whom it has represented since the early 2000s. “It’s an important show for him. He wanted to have it to mark 30 years as an artist,” Thoma says, adding that Flowing Pattern, a large sculpture from 2016, is “immediately recognizable as a Honma Hideaki work. He uses a certain type of bamboo that grows on the island where he is from. Many of the shapes in his work seem to reference the ocean in some way.”

Morigami Jin weaves his mesmerizing bamboo works entirely freehand, with no help from computers. “His works tend to have a light, almost airy quality,” Thoma says. “No armatures are used. With Galaxy II [a 2014 sculpture in the exhibition], he probably started with the cylinder in the center and formed the shape around that.”

Around July 18 —the local holiday known as Raymond Jonson Day—Addison Rowe Gallery (229 E. Marcy St.) will open “Raymond Jonson & Ed Garman: Abstraction in the Southwest” (through August 31). It will contain about 30 works, primarily from Jonson and Garman, but a few from their compatriots, as well. While the two men overlapped at the University of New Mexico in the 1930s, Jonson as a teacher and Garman as a student, they were always peers. Both artists remained interested in abstraction throughout their careers. As gallerist Matthew Rowe explains it, “There are a lot more patterns and repetitions in Garman’s work. Jonson is more asymmetrical. His lines cut across the canvas in unexpected ways.” Rowe hopes that the show will clarify and distinguish the contributions of Garman, who sometimes found himself in Jonson’s shadow. “They’re two guys standing next to each other rather than leaning on each other,” he says. “This exhibition gives us the opportunity to really show the contrasts, visually showing the difference between the artists and what was unique about them.”

“Refined Design, Aesthetics, and Details in Plains Art” opens at Morning Star Gallery (513 Canyon Road) on August 8 and continues through September 3. It represents a departure of sorts for the gallery. Instead of focusing on a group of similar objects or pieces from a specific tribal community or time period, “Refined Design” revels in the beauty and the details of each piece. It features about 35 objects created by unknown craftswomen from Plains tribes between 1850 and 1880. “Often, when I look at an object and present an object to a client, or we discuss an object, we talk about the little details that make a big difference,” says Henry Monahan, director of the gallery. “The small details are what I focus on when I look at something. Why not share that with everybody else?”

The show includes an Upper Missouri matching knife case and belt pouch set from the 1860s that boasts two different types of quillwork—plaited and wrapped—which Monahan says represents “a lot of work, and a lot of painstaking work at that” and is among the best he’s ever seen of its type. It also has a circa-1870 Lakota toiletry bag, used to carry a mirror, which is beaded with a striking four-color checkerboard design. “This is one of my favorite pieces of beadwork of all time,” Monahan says. “It’s like contemporary art, in a way. The powerful graphic of the bag is mesmerizing.”

And it contains several Southern Plains strike-a-light bags, or bags that would have held devices that are the ancestors of the Zippo lighter. Every Plains woman would have worn one on a belt around her waist. Decorated with buttons, tin cones, beading, and fringe, the strike-a-light bags, which date from circa 1875–80, become even more interesting when you realize that women made them for themselves or other women to wear, and not to provide status symbols for their husbands. “There’s a lot of pride in the manufacture of these things,” Monahan says. “They wouldn’t want a sloppy article. They’d want it to look good.”

Monroe Gallery (112 Don Gaspar Avenue) has a 50-print retrospective of the work of the late photographer Bill Eppridge up through September 16. Eppridge captured some of the most gripping events of the 20th century, including the Beatles’ 1964 arrival in New York City and the presidential campaign of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, which he covered for Life magazine. It was Eppridge who took the June 1968 photograph of the fatally wounded Kennedy lying on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel’s kitchen as a busboy, Juan Romero, cradles the candidate’s head. Kennedy was the last politician Eppridge chose to cover. “I could never find another Bobby,” he explained. Eppridge died in 2013 at the age of 75.

The 2018 edition of Art Santa Fe takes place from July 12–15 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center (201 W. Marcy St.). At least 50 exhibitors will participate, including Contemporary Art Projects (CAP) of Miami, Fla., which will showcase the work of Ricardo Cárdenas. The Mexican artist left a career as a construction engineer for art, but not completely; he makes building materials his medium, and he made some of his more recent works from the rubble of earthquakes that hit his country. “When we first saw his work three years ago at Art Santa Fe, CAP had just picked him up at that point. He’s really developed since then,” says Linda Mariano, managing director of marketing for the Redwood Media Group, which stages Art Santa Fe. “He was at Red Dot Miami in December and all his works sold out. He’s definitely in demand.”

Mia Feroleto and New Observations Magazine of Manhattan will make their Art Santa Fe debut with a display centered around industrial hemp art, and it promises to be memorable. One of the artists who has confirmed that he will conduct demonstrations, Terrence Boyd, creates embroidered hemp paper works with a bow and arrow. “He threads a specially constructed arrow, fires it at the stretched material, and brings it back again and again,” Mariano says. “I’ve not heard of anybody who does anything quite like this. You could call it, at least, innovative.”

Other galleries that will appear include Sammoun Fine Art of Quebec, Canada, which will show post-Impressionist canvases by Samir Sammoun, and Gallery Edel of Osaka, Japan, which will offer works by the legendary Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama. New for 2018 is the [SOLO] Project, a selection of 18 independent exhibitors chosen by the show’s internal curation team.

The 15th annual edition of the International Folk Art Market is scheduled for July 13–15 at Museum Hill in Santa Fe. Billing itself as the world’s largest folk art festival, it will feature more than 160 masters from more than 50 countries. Among them will be Porfirio Gutiérrez, an expert weaver from Mexico who favors natural dyes and sustainably sourced materials. Last year, dyestuffs from his family were added to the Forbes Pigment Collection at Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, Mass.

Another great Santa Fe summer tradition, the Traditional Spanish Market, returns to Santa Fe Plaza on July 28–29. About 250 woodcarvers, potters, weavers, jewelry- and furniture-makers, tinworkers, ironworkers, and other masters from New Mexico and southern Colorado will participate. On July 27, El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe (555 Camino de la Familia) will host the Market Preview, where the award-winning artwork for 2018 will be revealed. Market artists will also attend the preview. This year marks the 67th edition of the event.

The Objects of Art Santa Fe show takes place at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe (555 Camino de la Familia) from August 10–12, with a gala benefiting New Mexico PBS on August 9. More than 70 exhibitors will appear, as well as two special exhibitions, one devoted to George and Mira Nakashima and the other to Maynard Dixon.

“An Exhibition of George and Mira Nakashima Furniture” will feature 25 to 30 works, about half by Mira and half by her late father, George. All will be for sale, according to Objects of Art Santa Fe show co-producer John Morris. Furnishings on display will include an extraordinary Tsuitate sofa, which has a backboard made from a plank of Oregon maple root. Mira, who took over the Nakashima studio following George’s death in 1990, designed the sofa in 2013. She explains that tsuitate is a Japanese word that translates to “standing piece” and denotes something used to divide a space within a Japanese home.

“Maynard Dixon’s New Mexico Centennial” takes place 100 years after the artist’s work was first shown in the state. It will feature at least 75 pieces, some of which will be for sale. Works include The Palominos, a magnificent 1941 study for the last mural Dixon ever did, which is in a post office in greater Los Angeles. “We put together two great artists who never actually met each other, but who are very similar,” says Morris. “George and Mira’s furniture and Maynard’s paintings will go very well together. They’ll fit amazingly.”

Shortly after Objects of Art Santa Fe finishes, the 2018 edition of the Antique American Indian Art Show will open in the same venue, El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe. The opening gala, set for August 14, also benefits New Mexico PBS, and the show itself is scheduled for August 15–17. More than 65 dealers and galleries specializing in art and artifacts by Native Americans will appear at the five-year-old show.

Its special exhibition, “Germantown Weaving: First Modern Art—1870–1900, contains about 20 exceptional Navajo textiles, all of which are for sale. Co-producer Kim Martindale says he has been assembling the display for about 10 years. Germantown weavings represent a happy collaboration between east and west. Around 1870, trading posts offered the best Navajo weavers dyed yarn imported from America’s East Coast. The material provided the weavers with a broad new color palette, and they seized it with the excitement of a child given a huge new box of crayons—except they had the talent and the discipline to make the most of it. “It was an explosion of self-expression by the Navajo weavers,” Martindale says. “All of a sudden, they had every color in the rainbow.”

The weavers, all of whom were women, integrated new colors into traditional patterns and invented other geometric patterns that caught the eye and held it. “This is the time period when the Impressionists were painting. They were not playing with geometry the same way, with colors the same way,” Martindale says. “When the Navajo got these colorful yarns, they started doing all this stuff. It’s incredible what they were making in 1870.” The white consumers who bought the textiles may not have held them in the same regard as the art of the day, but it’s clear that they realized they were special. “I very rarely see pictures of early Germantown weavings on the floor. They’re usually used as wall hangings,” Martindale says. “They had a certain status from the very beginning.”

On August 11, the Santa Fe Art Auction will conduct an online-only sale on its Bidsquare platform. The online auctions, which began last year, focus on lots with estimates of $10,000 and under and are themed. The August auction, which closes on August 26, is devoted to Western decorative arts and objects. It will contain at least 150 lots of furnishings, textiles, works on paper, paintings, and pottery, including Cochiti Pueblo Storyteller with 11 Children, a circa-1973 ceramic figurine by the late Helen Cordero and estimated at $5,000–7,000.

The annual live Santa Fe Art Auction will be held November 10 at 1011 Paseo de Peralta. Among the 250-or-so lots is Taos Maiden, an oil on board by E. Martin Hennings, estimated at $80,000–120,000. The auction marks its public debut; Hennings painted it as a wedding gift for his daughter, and it has remained in the family ever since. The auction will also include paintings by Clark Hulings, Richard Schmid, and Henry C. Balink, as well as a stone sculpture by Allan Houser.

The 97th annual Santa Fe Summer Indian Market, presented by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts, will be held August 18–19 in and around Santa Fe Plaza. Almost a thousand North American native artists will appear, and roughly 120,000 visitors are expected. The artists include Hubert Candelario, a San Felipe Pueblo member who makes modern-looking ceramic works; Michael Two Bulls, an Oglala Sioux printmaker who comes from a large family of artists; and Kwani Povi Winder, a Santa Clara Pueblo member who paints plein air landscapes and images of Native American people. The event will be proceeded by a Best of Show ceremony and luncheon, along with a preview of award-winning art, on August 17 at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center (201 E. Marcy St.).


By Sheila Gibson Stoodley

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Chiaroscuro Prints: Lights and Shadows http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/2018/06/chiaroscuro-prints/ Thu, 28 Jun 2018 18:27:36 +0000 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/?p=6073 Continue reading ]]> Revealing the subtle fascination of Renaissance chiaroscuro prints.

Niccolò Vicentino, after Pordenone, Saturn, circa 1540s

Niccolò Vicentino, after Pordenone, Saturn, circa 1540s, chiaroscuro woodcut from 4 blocks in light tan, gray-tan, dark gray-tan, and black, state i/iii, 12 5/8 x 17 3/8 in.

Featured Images:(Click to Enlarge) Attributed to Antonio da Trento or Niccolò Vicentino, after Parmigianino, printed by the Vicentino workshop, Circe Drinking (Circella), circa 1540s Ugo da Carpi, after Parmigianino, Diogenes, circa 1527–30 Niccolò Vicentino, after Pordenone, Saturn, circa 1540s Andrea Andreani, after Giovanni Fortuna (?), A Skull, circa 1588 Domenico Beccafumi, Apostle with a Book, circa 1540s

While to most art enthusiasts, chiaroscuro (Italian for “light and dark”) refers to the use of strongly contrasting lights and darks in a composition in any medium, the term has another meaning. To initiates of the hermetic world of print collecting and print scholarship, chiaroscuro is a technique of woodblock printmaking, most popular in the 16th century, that gave an effect of heightened three-dimensionality coupled with subtle gradations of hue, more characteristic of a wash drawing than a print. Since chiaroscuros required multiple blocks to make, they were labor-intensive, expensive, and aimed at a sophisticated audience of print connoisseurs. Comparatively few were produced, and a large percentage of those have not survived. As a result, chiaroscuro woodcuts are little known and little understood.

Now, thanks to an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), this refined and startlingly beautiful kind of printmaking is coming out of the dark and into the light. “The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy” (through September 16), organized by LACMA in association with the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., is the first major exhibition on the subject ever presented in this country, gathering together over 100 prints from the collections of 19 museums. It also embodies important new research on chiaroscuro woodcuts. Naoko Takahatake, Curator of Prints and Drawings at LACMA and the organizer of the exhibition, says, “With its accompanying catalogue, the exhibition documents a decade of research that advances scholarly understanding of a broad range of critical questions—from attribution and chronology, to artistic collaboration, materials and means of production, publishing histories, aesthetic intention, and audience—forming a clearer view of the genesis and evolution of this captivating and complex medium.”

To explain it as briefly as possible, a chiaroscuro was made by using multiple blocks of wood to print a single image. One, called the key block or line block, usually bore an outline that would be printed in black or dark gray ink. A second, called the tone block, would print a background color, usually blue, green, or reddish-orange, with portions left blank so that the white of the paper beneath would provide highlights. Further tone blocks could be used, in different shades of the background color, to add more shading and modeling. The technique was invented in 1508 by a German, Hans Burgkmair, court artist for the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, but it fell to an Italian printmaker, Ugo da Carpi, to launch chiaroscuro as an art-world phenomenon. In 1516, Ugo petitioned the Venetian senate for a patent on what he referred to as a “new technique” for printing “in light and dark.” While he may have inferred the method by looking at some Northern prints, rather than being taught it (and Ugo was, in fact, basically a self-taught artist), his pretention to invention was false, and he was probably as much pirate as pioneer. Nonetheless, he was a man of great skill and vision, and what he envisioned was a collaborative venture between artists who would conceive designs and himself, the printmaker, who would translate them into a reproducible medium with a whole new look.

Unusually for an artist, Ugo came from an aristocratic background, and he thought of himself as master, not servant. Unlike the reproductive printmakers who worked for artists’ studios making mass-produced versions of paintings, Ugo approached artists for original ideas that were not already paintings, paid them for them, and then took control of the process, signing his prints with his own name rather than that of the designer. He worked with such luminaries as Raphael, Titian, and Parmigianino. One of Ugo’s most famous chiaroscuros, Diogenes (circa 1527–30), is from a Parmigianino design. Described by the discerning Vasari as a “most beautiful print,” it shows the Greek philosopher in a bold pose, modeled by shadows and light, in a style that seems to eschew the busy detail favored by most printmakers at the time in favor of broader strokes and a softer finish.

This effect of chiaroscuro printmaking led to some misconceptions about it in later eras. For various reasons, chiaroscuros fell out of fashion after the 16th century, and when they were rediscovered by print collectors in the 18th century, they were uniformly described as imitations of drawing or painting. This was partly because using printmaking techniques to “mass-produce” drawings was prevalent at that time, especially in England, where the interest in chiaroscuros was greatest. And some late practitioners of chiaroscuro, notably the Dutch artist Hendrick Goltzius, did delight in effects that border on trompe l’oeil. But the truth, as the researchers involved in the LACMA show have discovered, is that during its heyday, the chiaroscuro print was intended to deliver a unique print experience, not an imitation of any other kind of art. This was a subtle, yet bold kind of beauty best appreciated by seasoned print connoisseurs, who could marvel at the technical aspects as well as absorbing the aesthetic ones.

While chiaroscuro has been called the first color printmaking technique in the West, that is also a bit of a misconception. In the Renaissance, there were color prints—that is, black-and-white prints that were hand-tinted with watercolors. Because these were intended for a mass audience, and many of them were devotional objects, color prints came to be seen as vulgar. While someone as ingenious as Ugo—or, for that matter, fellow Italian practitioners such as Niccolò Vicentino and Domenico Beccafumi—could probably have come up with a multi-block method for printing in full color, like Japanese ukiyo-e, there was at least one very good reason not to: The painters’ guilds resented any challenge to their business, and chiaroscuro printmakers trying to horn in would likely have faced legal action.

So they instead concentrated on perfecting a uniquely monochromatic approach to color. One of the delights of contemplating chiaroscuros is seeing the same design rendered in different colors—first in a cool greenish palette, then perhaps in a warm orange. And one of the challenges is figuring out how the printmaker did it; often the design is spread over more than one block, so that the dichotomy of line block versus tone block breaks down. “The Chiaroscuro Woodcut in Renaissance Italy” could help create the next generation of connoisseurs.


By John Dorfman

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Deeper into the South http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/2018/06/southern-female-artists/ Thu, 28 Jun 2018 18:22:28 +0000 http://www.artandantiquesmag.com/?p=6077 Continue reading ]]> A current exhibition celebrates the vibrant women artists of America’s South.

Ida Kohlmeyer, Rondo #2, 1968

Ida Kohlmeyer, Rondo #2, 1968, oil on canvas.

Featured Images:(Click to Enlarge) Betsy Stewart, Bioverse No. 3, 2011 Dusti Bongé, Circles Penetrated, 1942 Shawne Major, Eating Cake, 2008 Jacqueline Humphries, Red and White Abstraction, Untitled #3, 1995 Marie Hull, Pink Morning, c 1960 Ida Kohlmeyer, Rondo #2, 1968

“I’ve been working with this collection for over 11 years, and I know it well,” says Bradley Sumrall, Curator of the Collection at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. “And just by getting to know it, I noticed it had a really strong collection of female artists.” The Ogden Museum’s founding donor, Roger Ogden, had an affinity for women artists, Sumrall explains, and he was aware that Southern art in particular has a lot of strong female voices. The New Orleans-based museum is currently staging “The Whole Drum Will Sound: Women in Southern Abstraction” (through July 22), a show that draws primarily from these rich holdings.

Several iterations of female-centric museum shows have popped up around the country as of late. Some more recent ones have been spurred on by the MeToo movement, others by the notion that many works by female hands in museum collections have been under-seen by the public. That women artists have been marginalized and underserved in art history and the art world at large is resoundingly and shamefully true, and thus seemingly any reason to promote these artists is a good one. But nevertheless it’s important that these exhibitions not feel like gimmicks, or worse, cheap gestures meant to fix inequality in one fell swoop.

Sumrall is fully aware of the delicacies of staging such a show, and has developed the exhibition with them in mind. “Initially I said ‘I hate to do a women’s art show—these aren’t women artists, these are artists,’” says the curator. “I didn’t want this to be seen as me defining a ‘feminine aesthetic’—I’m not sure there is one and I’m certainly not the one to define it, but I was reading the French author Amin Maalouf’s In the Name of Identity, from which we take the show’s title, and I wanted to put a quote from it out in front of the exhibition to show that we’re just celebrating strong voices—these aren’t ‘women artists,’ they’re not purely ‘abstract,’ they’re not just regional artists, they’re strong, important voices.”

The quote from Maalouf that Sumrall refers to reads: “A person’s identity is not an assemblage of separate affiliations, nor a kind of loose patchwork; it is like a pattern drawn on a tightly stretched parchment. Touch just one part of it, just one allegiance, and the whole person will react, the whole drum will sound.”

One of the pillars of the exhibition—and of abstraction in the South—is Dusti Bongé, a Biloxi, Miss.-based artist. The show features the force-field-like geometric abstraction Circles Penetrated (1942, oil on canvas) and the sultry, totemic Swamp at Midnight (n.d., oil on canvas), which lives on the abstract side of the street but saunters towards landscape. Both were gifted to the Ogden by the Dusti Bongé foundation. Bongé is an interesting example of the South’s interaction with Abstract Expressionism, a primarily Northern phenomenon that shifted the art world’s center to New York from Paris in the middle of the 20th century. She moved fully into the style in the 1950s, after flirting with Surrealism throughout the ’40s. During this period, Bongé, who remained in Biloxi raising a son alone after her husband, Arch Bongé, a Nebraska “cowboy artist,” died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in the mid-1930s, began showing at the famed Betty Parsons Gallery in New York. She had her first solo show at the gallery in 1956 and was represented by the dealer for some 20 years.

The Summit Group—the trio of Bess Phipps Dawson, Halcyone Barnes, and Ruth Atkinson Holmes—were exposed to Ab Ex at the Southwest Texas Junior College in Summit, Miss., in the early 1950s. Their instructor, Roy Shultz, brought the tenets of the movement to their classroom in rural Mississippi, sparking a new sense of freedom in the practices of the three artists. About this time, Dawson is quoted as saying, “Roy Shultz absolutely captured us. His enthusiasm for abstract expressionism spilled over on all of those who came in contact with him…Roy encouraged us to experiment. It wasn’t long before we had abandoned magnolias and shacks. We were doing daring new pieces and expressing ourselves for the first time in our lives.” Roger Ogden collected works by the three artists, and they are prominently featured in the museum’s exhibition. Standouts include Dawson’s Red Glow (1959, oil on masonite), an energetic study in color, Holmes’ intricate and textural Dégagé (1950, mixed media on board), and Barnes’s minimal Variation #1(1955, oil on canvas), an incredibly bold and arresting canvas that would be at home in a collection of Rothkos.

Mark Rothko, as it turns out, plays an interesting role in the exhibition. Ida Kohlmeyer, whom Sumrall calls “the queen of New Orleans art,” let Rothko use her garage as a studio while he was staying in the Louisiana city in the 1950s. The two were close, and his influence, as well as Hans Hofmann’s, helped shape what would become a dreamy, almost spiritual, style of abstraction. Rondo #2 (1968, oil on canvas) is a highlight of the Ogden’s show. The mandala-like work blends Rothko’s color fields with the mystic, visionary style of the early abstractionist Hilma af Klint.

The Dallas-based contemporary artist Sherry Owens, who has worked with many materials but is widely known for her sculptures with crape myrtle wood, has a special place in the exhibition. Heavily influenced by the self-taught Abstract Expressionist sculptor Clyde Connell, Owens made several pilgrimages to visit the late Louisiana artist—a relationship that plays out in the Ogden’s show. “Owens went and sat at the feet of her master Clyde Connell,” says Sumrall, “but she’d never shared a wall with her.” Setting out to change that, Sumrall encouraged one of the museum’s patrons to purchase a specific piece of Owens’ work, Mother Nature Throwing Up Her Hands (2017, crape myrtle, baling wire, paint, dye, and wax), for the Ogden’s collection. “‘This is our role,’ I told the patron,” he says. Owens’ piece joins Dancer and Dancer No. 4 (both 1985, cedar, hydrostone, wax and ink) by Connell.

The South’s strong tradition of self-taught art is highlighted in the exhibition not just by Connell, but also by Minnie Evans. The South Carolina artist used pencil and crayon to draw visions she believed came from God and the lush foliage she saw while working as the gatekeeper of the Airlie Estate, a public garden. Work by Evans is juxtaposed with that of Shawne Major, a formally trained Louisiana artist who uses found objects and references quilt-making to create a unique vernacular style. Major’s Eating Cake (2998, mixed media), a dense patchwork of glittering trinkets, melds the energetic cacophony of a Pollock canvas with the materials of a crafter’s supply closet.

Lynda Benglis’s Minerva (1986), a bronze, nickel, and chrome sculpture that manages to seem heavy and extraordinarily delicate at the same time, take pride of place in the show, as does MaPo Kinnard’s metallic, biomorphic ceramic Stormy (circa 2015, oil on bisque fired ceramic). Dorothy Hood’s Florence in the Morning (circa 1976, oil on canvas), a moody work with fields of poured color that seem to sink into the canvas, is joined by Marie Hull’s Pink Morning (circa 1960, oil on canvas), which features thick swaths of dripping paint.

The exhibition also includes work by Vincencia Blount, Lin Emery, Margaret Evangeline, Cynthia Brants, Shawn Hall, Jacqueline Humphreys, Valerie Jaudon, Bonnie Maygarden, Anastasia Pelias, Betsy Stewart, Ashley Teamer, and Millie Wohl. It certainly weaves together a patchwork of artists, their stories, and their communities.


By Sarah E. Fensom

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