Page 1

ERNEST BRIGGS Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism

Anita Shapolsky Gallery A.S. Art Foundation 152 East 65th Street New York, NY 10065


ERNEST BRIGGS “Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism”


Front: Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1958, oil on canvas, 94” x 69.5” Left: Ernest Briggs, 1984. Maine. Image courtesy of Bob Brooks


ERNEST BRIGGS

The young Abstract Expressionists were stifled in their quest for artistic self-realization. There were few art schools that accepted new ideas in the 1940s, 50s and even in the early 60s. Many of the artists I have exhibited did not have college degrees, but still taught and imparted aesthetic values, freedom to explore, and energy to their students. It was enough that they were artists respected by their peers.

Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism

What an honor it has been to stand in my gallery all these years and view wondrous works of art by masters who were not simply making paintings but evoking ideas and emotions in the viewer. Briggs and many artists believed in the intangibles of nature that could not be measured but were filtered through the mind. Ernest Briggs is, to me, the epitome of the abstract impulse. In his works, people find deeper meaning because it’s there!

The Anita Shapolsky Art Gallery was founded in SoHo 1982 under the name “Arbitrage”, and in 1997 moved to a charming brownstone on the Upper East Side. I am proud of what I have accomplished over the years in promoting underappreciated artists of the New York School. People forget that the art world had been deprived of many of these artists during World War II. The ones that stayed behind (ie: DeKooning, Rothko, Pollack, and Newman) had the attention of the public, which made it more difficult for the returning artists. A plus for the younger artists was the G.I. Bill that facilitated advanced education and travel. This expanded their horizons.

Briggs met like-minded artists in New York who believed in the idea of American painting “art for art’s sake.” As Dore Ashton related in her book, “The New York School: A Cultural Reckoning” in the late 1940s and early 50s the momentum of the New York School reached that mysterious point in time and place. Art took over—the work of a few individual artists seemed to exist beyond and independent of its conditioning contexts. There were more cultural enthusiasts who added abstract art to their vocabulary. By 1960 it had passed. The myth that the individual artist had to function outside of a system (a myth that Clyfford Still, Briggs, and others believed) was over. This was due to social change which brought about performance, conceptual art, photography, and experimental film. Art is now a global experience. There is an interchange of cultures and more respect for art in developing countries due to advanced technology. The Warhol dictum, “Good business is the best art,” is a prime motivation in our material world. I am happy to have my niche in the art arena, exposing good artists of the most important era of American Art including women, minority and Latino artists. I am also introducing younger artists who are exploring Abstract Expressionism.

“Art is timeless.”

Anita Shapolsky Director, Anita Shapolsky Gallery & AS Art Foundation Representative of the estate of Ernest Briggs

5


Ernest Briggs | Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism The following essay is derived from the words of Ernest Briggs from an 1982 oral history interview with Barbara Shikler for the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

Ernest Briggs | Four Decades of Abstract Expressionist Paintings Ernest Briggs, a second generation Abstract Expressionist painter known for his strong, lyrical, expressive brushstrokes, use of color, and sometimes geometric composition, first came to New York in late 1953. He had been a student of Clyfford Still at the California School of Fine Arts. Frank O’Hara first experienced the mystery in the way Ernest Briggs’ splendid paintings transform, and the inability to see the shape as a shape apart from interpretation. Early in 1954, viewing Briggs’ first one man show at the Stable Gallery in New York, O’Hara said in Art in America, “From the contrast between the surface bravura and the half-seen abstract shapes, a surprising intimacy arises which is like seeing a public statue, thinking itself unobserved, move.” Ernest P. Briggs, Jr. was born on December 24, 1923 in San Diego, California. He spent his childhood and youth in California, and then served in the Army during WW11. He spent about eighteen months in Tampa as part of the Army Air and Signal corps, where he got to read Dali’s Secret Life. He would later serve a year in India. After the service he moved back to San Francisco. As a child, Briggs had taken up drawing and design, and was exposed to and met Mark Tobey. His major influence early in life was Paul Klee’s work. He would carry Sweeny’s book on Klee around with him during his Army service abroad. Briggs was completely lacking in any historical art orientation. After the Army, he had initially intended to attend Cranbrook, but because San Francisco was a beautiful city and environment, and knowing there was an art school locally “up there on the hill”, decided not to leave the area. In 1946-47, while working at Gumps trimming windows, he attended Rudolph Schaeffer’s School of Design, managed by his uncle. Briggs realized that something psychological had occurred, and he knew he couldn’t fit in with those areas of graphic and industrial design. He inadvertently fell into an exciting situation in 1948 where Douglas McAgy had started a program, primarily for WW11 veterans at the California School of Fine Arts. He would study there until 1951. The G.I Bill cannot be underestimated for its help in allowing artists of the period to go to school. They were set free economically, and were allowed to live comfortably with tuition and supplies paid for. The Fine Arts School would last about three years under McAgy. The program took off due to the presence of Clyfford Still, Ad Reinhardt, along with David Park, Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff and others. Most of the students at the school, including luminaries such as Dugmore, Hultberg, Schueler and Crehan, already had some exposure to art through university or art school. But there had been no exposure to what was going on in New York or in Europe in the art world, and Briggs and the others were little prepared for the onslaught that was to come.

The California Years Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1950s, oil on canvas, 64” x 71.5”

6

With the entry of Still, the art program would “blow apart.” It was Clyfford Still who would galvanize the Fine Art School’s art program. Mark Rothko would also arrive in 1949 to teach during the summer


months. Still had been at the School for one semester teaching a design and composition class, and by the time McAgy knew who he was and more about him, Still turned the program over to those working abstractly. Briggs would later recall that the real stimulation, the excitement of the California School was the tension that arose when David Park (and Elmer Bishoff) switched back to figuration. Still and Park were the central figures at the school, and although they socialized together, were not much in agreement on anything in their approach to art. An interesting argument was set up between the disciples of Still, Rothko, and Pollock and the new figurative artists. Park was a taciturn, New England quiet person; Still was a hyper-Romantic, very articulate and historically oriented person. Briggs knew he had lucked out in the mix of the students and that this was the opening phase in his commitment to painting. After one semester, Briggs switched to Still’s class because he had a reputation for having something to say to the students. According to Briggs, Park would just come around, slap the students on the back and disappear back into his private studio. Briggs first started painting in a figurative symbolic style, not really knowing where he was headed. Park, one of his first instructors, said, “We don’t have a model; we don’t have still life; we just paint.” Among the thirty or so students, they all just painted and didn’t look at anything, but they all influenced each other. It was a revelation to Briggs, as he had thought there had to be a “subject”, as in the Ashcan or Regionalist style. The fact that one could include his own imagination as the starting point or as the interpretative or dominant element and that one could just paint was liberating for him. One could start with a stretched canvas, paint big color shapes and just feel his way through the process. His interaction with the other students was sustaining this new process. Students had come from New York, Chicago, Seattle, and various parts of the country, and many had experience in the military. It was an extraordinary time for Briggs. Students socialized and saw each other five days a week at school, and they worked after school and at home. Some had very clear ambitions to get to New York as soon as they could. Others opted to eventually stick it out on the West Coast. About two dozen would go on to continue painting and sculpture. The Fine Arts program would subsequently close due to its focus on abstraction. McAgy’s departure and Still’s move to New York. By this time, the Annuals had begun at the Legion of Honor, and one room would be devoted to the New York School; included would be the works of Still, Rothko, Pollock, Gottlieb, Baziotes, and Motherwell. The California School would be considered the counterpart to the Hoffman School in New York. In a 1982 Smithsonian oral history interview, Briggs noted that Still’s main thrust was similar to his own problem: knowing exactly what he didn’t want to do, but not knowing anything beyond that. His interests ranged all the way from philosophy, psychology, politics, economics, and all the other areas that intersected with art. Briggs didn’t like to talk about anyone else’s work directly. This included other students’ work, which he refused to criticize. He would, however, talk about all the gossip of the moment. His attitude was populist and radical, but not leftist. In fact, Briggs considered it conservative and very stimulating. Still considered his position, his real function, to be an irritant and to get people to question the world and to develop a philosophical approach to art.

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1951, oil on canvas, 143.5” x 57”

Anita Shapolsky Gallery A.S. Art Foundation

Mark Rothko’s arrival from New York was a total shock in terms of personalities. Rothko was the

7


Ernest Briggs | Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism

epitome of the New York Jewish intellectual artist/painter who exuded an entirely different kind of energy. He was urbane, deeply intent, and a quintessential New Yorker. This was a complete contrast to Still’s Puritanism, almost Calvinistic manner. Rothko would pay attention to each student and his work, and would have something to say to each, whereas Still would stand in the room and declaim. The importance of Rothko’s presence was his weekly lecture to the students, not just the painting class, taking questions and getting into conversations with the students. In the studio, his attitude was very similar to Still’s. However, in 1949, their aesthetics and ideology were not yet defined, but they knew what they didn’t like. They were trying to work away from the past, eliminating all temporal images that related to transparency, movement, or space in order to arrive at what was their big image, their big style. Still and Rothko were very tight and were a tremendous stimulus to each other. But it was Still’s influence on Rothko that notably comes out of this period: the arrival of a big style, big form painting, and the confidence to move away from the significant influences of Rothko’s mentor Milton Avery, as well as Baziotes’ and Gottlieb’s works. Briggs was engrossed in the mix. By 1949 Rothko would start his large rectangle paintings with entirely different surfaces. Their attitude was to paint and then reflect on what they had done after the fact. It was totally visual, not conceptual. It was not about finding some novelty but to take one’s life, one’s experience and express what it was all about. While Still and Rothko would subsequently have a falling out, they continued to be lifelong friends and influences on Briggs’ work and career. Briggs first exhibited while a student in San Francisco in 1949 at the Metart Gallery, which he had helped co-found. His work was subsequently included in three San Francisco Museum Annuals and in the 1953 Legion of Honor’s “Five Bay Area Artists”. His painting continued to evolve. He had finished school in 1951, but stayed in San Francisco painting and exhibiting until 1953, working odd jobs as a builder of exhibit display cabinets, contract house painting, and carpentry. He had married by that time, but that was soon to end. After this early, initial success in San Francisco, Briggs saved enough money and wanted to move to New York. Alan Frumkin, a Chicago dealer, offered not only to include Briggs in a group show there, but also to pay the expenses of shipping his art to Chicago and on to New York in the fall of 1953. After landing in Hoboken, he and Edward Dugmore would rent a couple floors above a bar in the Fulton Fish Market. Soon after, he had his first show at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery in the winter of 1954.

The New York Years Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1956, oil on canvas, 110” x 94”

8

Briggs’ arrival in New York late in 1953 was exciting. Fantastic things happened to him in a city where things just clicked, where one was suddenly swept into a whole milieu, meeting dozens of new people in an art world that was very small. Philip Pavia immediately helped him get a job to help with expenses. He also invited Briggs to join “The Club”. This was a scene where artists were still fighting the battle of modern art, where there was a lot still to develop. Abstract Expressionism was at its height, and things were moving fast. There was a pressure and anticipation of showing art


in new ways. Galleries were evolving and the whole business of presentation and building reputations was changing. This change reflected the general tumultuous atmosphere of the 1950’s and 60’s. By the time Briggs arrived in New York the abstract art world was evolving into separate manners. Pavia was managing The Club, but it was dominated by Kline and de Kooning. Rothko, Still, and Pollock had moved out to eastern Long Island, while Barnett Newman took another path. Still argued with Newman, Rothko and Motherwell about possibly circumventing the whole gallery system and going straight to the top – to museums and then becoming commercially viable, establishing a career without going through a commercial gallery. He felt that artists had potentially enormous power in the cultural world of the moment, and that they had a chance to really buck the system. Still was willing to pay the dues, and he made enormous demands on his colleagues. Still and Rothko’s actual falling out came when Rothko accepted Sidney Janis’ offer to show, along with Pollock, de Kooning and Kline. While nobody was well served by the conflict, Briggs would observe their “cold war mentality”, paranoia and anxiety – the very characteristic of the individuals involved. Brigg’s 1954 Stable Gallery show was important to his career. Mark Rothko, John Ferren, David Smith, and others came to the opening and were very supportive, giving Briggs the recognition needed to become established in the art world. Several of the pieces in his first show had been done on the West Coast. But looking at de Kooning’s work in New York, Briggs would become aware of the possibility of gesture, quality of color, and using color to eliminate, recapture, and restore some kind of quality to his work. He also hoped to eliminate any decorative aspects. While reading more literary criticism, and trying to educate himself in the activity of the art world, Briggs would turn completely away from any reference to the French School of Bonnard and Matisse. Ward would show Briggs once more at the Stable Gallery in 1955. Her attitude was that it took three to seven years to build a reputation. It entailed a certain amount of critical appraisal and consistent progress to establish an artist’s name in relation to the older generation. But through the intervention of Still, Dorothy Miller from the Museum of Modern Art agreed to look at his work. She ended up including Briggs in her landmark show, “Twelve Americans”, in 1956. Ordinarily, this would have been Brigg’s stepping stone and the launch of his career. However, he still wasn’t making much money, and he was struggling along with menial jobs. He also found the attitudes of both dealers and curators nerve-racking. The work he was producing wasn’t what they wanted. More than anything, Briggs was feeling the the beginnings of the true commercial nature of the art world. He felt it more than most in his generation because he wasn’t afraid to experiment. At times he would make radical changes in his work as a deliberate way to refine his style. During this period Briggs was very much influenced by Clyfford Still’s attitudes about the art world, even thought they had very different experiences. Briggs had a conflicting relationship to society to other artists. Although he found warmth in their acceptance, he also found an awful anxiety and competitiveness with all the gossip that was spreading in places like the Cedar Bar. While there would be drinks and dancing, the discussion inevitably turned toward what was happening to the careers of various artists. However, competitiveness was the reality of the business of art. Kline and de Kooning were being represented and promoted, so everyone felt it could happen to others.

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1952, oil on canvas, 92” x 68”

Anita Shapolsky Gallery A.S. Art Foundation 9


Briggs felt, in his innocence, that he had good work so it could happen to him. But he also felt a foreboding and withdrew from galleries during the late 1950s, continuing to paint and do odd jobs.

Ernest Briggs | Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism

The 1960s Briggs started showing again with Howard Wise in 1960. He had three years of consistently good shows and modest sales, good coverage and reviews. The gallery was quite grand and handsome and was the envy of most other galleries of the era. It set the stage for large, extensive installations. However, the gallery would only last a few years. Briggs felt Wise, while sincere, was not very good at business and the ways of surviving. Wise would switch from representing painting to other kinds of art such as kinetic and pop, and he eventually phased out of the business. Briggs was disappointed and thought Wise made a mistake, and that he should have stuck it out with the financial resources they had and the very fine artists they exhibited, including Dugmore, Resnick, McNeil, and Von Wiegand. Briggs produced large canvasses, generally six feet and up during the 1950’s and 1960’s. In early 1963 he would begin working with acrylics. He made his paint himself out of the basic materials, using dried dye pigments. It was exciting for him to be using a new medium which allowed him to experiment and work on a smaller scale. By 1975 he switched back to using oil paint. In the early 1960s many of the ideas about art were being rethought and questioned, partly by the advent of Pop art, but also because of Minimalism and Hard-edged painting. Those painting in the abstract expressionist and improvisational styles felt the onslaught very significantly. Many abstract artists moved onto hard-edge painting and other styles. The criticism of the time dogmatically attacked Abstract Expressionism. Donald Judd made his reputation with his endless diatribes in his “snotty” reviews against abstract shows during this time. Curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art were saying that painting was an obsolete medium. With this attitude, artists in his circle were backed into a very hostile environment. Briggs would note that some artists had to physically stand in front of their work to protect it. This was also the beginning of the commercial exploitation of the art world. Simultaneously, sources that had been supportive of abstract artists began looking elsewhere. Briggs felt that “well, now that we got rid of abstract expressionism, we can make some money, too.” He found parallels with the “end” of jazz and the beginning of rock and roll, where these musicians started making money. Briggs would chuckle, “thousands of ex-painters and ex-musicians were lolling around the streets of Manhattan.”

Ernest Briggs, Mask, 1965, acrylic on canvas, 22.5” x 20”

10

In 1961, Briggs began regularly teaching, initially at Pratt, then a year at Yale with stints at Florida, Penn, Hopkins and Maryland. This provided income that allowed him to continue painting. He would continue exhibiting at various galleries and invitational’s throughout the 1960’s and 70’s. He jumped at the chance during these years when he had an opportunity to show, even though there probably might not be commercial prospects in the effort. In 1980, Briggs joined the Gruenebaum Gallery where he had two shows with decent financial success prior to his death in 1984.


The Anita Shapolsky Gallery has been exhibiting his work since 1991. As he infused the New York art scene with Still’s raw and spirited technique, he explored, reworked, and developed a multiplicity of compositional arrangements and painterly strategies. His work is distinguished by its bold, sensual use of form and color. Briggs exposed his intentions with the crushing, heavy technical structure of his material, freeing his work from conventional forms to reach the highest level of conceptual expression. Raw, heavy pigment smeared across unprimed canvas exposed the image-making process and the rugged intensity of human nature, going beyond beauty and reason in illusionary impulse. At times he erupted into lyrical outbursts, while other times he brooded with dark forces interrupted by brilliant flashes. He was inspired by the fundamental forms of nature, architecture, and Asian calligraphy, references which can be found throughout his work. Firmly grounded in the fundamentals of the Abstract Expressionist tradition, Briggs’ active involvement in the development of the scene has had lasting influence on successive generations. His final works were permeated with a deeply reflective personal metaphor. These penetrative works provided satisfying dignity to his final years. He died of cancer at age 61 in New York. He was survived by his wife, Anne Arnold Briggs, his father, Ernest Briggs, Sr., and a sister, Susan Torres.

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1983, oil on canvas, 42” x 32”

Anita Shapolsky Gallery A.S. Art Foundation Image courtesy of Anne Arnold

11


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

12

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1940s, gouache on paper, 19.25” x 22.5”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1949, oil on canvas, 37.5” x 31.25”

13


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

14

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1950, oil on canvas, 72” x 68”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1951, oil on canvas, 71.5” x 70”

15


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

16

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1951, oil on canvas, 64” x 70”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled (Diptych), 1953, oil on canvas, each measures 69.25” x 53.25”

17


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

18

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1953, oil on canvas, 78.5” x 69.25”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1955, oil on canvas, 77” x 47”

19


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

20

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1957, oil on canvas, 57.5” x 83”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1957, oil on canvas, 113” x 70”

21


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

22

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1958, oil on canvas, 30” x 25”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1958, oil on canvas, 31” x 25”

23


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

24

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1959, oil on canvas, 83” x 68.25”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1959, oil on canvas, 113” x 70”

25


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

26

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1959, oil on canvas, 94” x 69.5”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1959, oil on canvas, 101” x 70”

27


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

28

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1959, oil on canvas, 107” x 70”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1959, oil on canvas, 82” x 74”

29


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

30

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1959, oil on canvas, 82” x 73.5”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1959, oil on canvas, 89" x 70"

31


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

32

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 51" x 40"


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1960's, oil on canvas, 69" x 52"

33


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

34

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 106� x 89"


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1960, oil on canvas, 46.5” x 43.5”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1962, oil on canvas, 34” x 32”

35


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

36

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1960, oil on canvas, 110.25" x 94.25"


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 51” x 41”

37


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 64” x 49”

38

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 59.5” x 48”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 105” x 89”

39


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Untitled (“Dancing Girls”), 1960s, oil on canvas, 24” x 24”

40

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1960s, oil on canvas, 47” x 44”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 47” x 44”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 105” x 94.5”

41


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

42

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 64” x 49”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 47” x 44”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 51” x 40”

43


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

44

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1961, oil on canvas, 105” x 94.5”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1962, oil on canvas, 64” x 78”

45


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

46

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1962, oil on canvas, 87” x 69.5”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1962, oil on canvas, 69” x 52.25”

47


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

48

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1962, oil on canvas, 86” x 70”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1962, oil on canvas, 106” x 86”

49


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

50

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1963, oil on canvas, 105� x 93.75"


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1963, oil on canvas, 52.25” x 70.25”

51


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

52

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1963, oil on canvas, 93.75” x 103.5”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Palermo, 1964, oil on canvas, 32” x 38”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1964, acrylic on canvas, 25” x 28”

53


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Grid, 1964, acrylic on canvas, 16” x 18”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1965, acrylic on canvas, 46.5” x 54”

54

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1964, oil on canvas, 52” x 46”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 35” x 37”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1967, acrylic on canvas, 34.5” x 37”

55


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

56

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1968, acrylic on canvas, 57.5” x 86”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled (#200), 1968, oil on canvas, 17.5” x 16”

Ernest Briggs, Couple, 1968, acrylic on canvas, 29.75” x 20”

57


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

58

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1968, acrylic on canvas, 51.5” x 92.25”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 83” x 113.5”

59


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1968, acrylic on canvas, 28.5” x 41.5”

Ernest Briggs, Couple II, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 12.5” x 15.25”

60


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1969, acrylic on paper and canvas, 52.5" x70�

61


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

62

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1968, oil on canvas, 61.5” x 51.75”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1969, collage and acrylic on canvas, 83” x 113”

63


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1972, acrylic on canvas, 69.5” x 80”

64

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1970s, acrylic on canvas, 70” x 82”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1970s, oil on canvas, 36” x 34”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1970s, oil on canvas, 34” x 36”

65


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Untitled IV, 1972, oil on canvas, 53” x 70”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1973, acrylic on canvas, 67.75” x 67.75”

66

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1974, acrylic on canvas, 69” x 80”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1974, oil on canvas, 15.5” x 18”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1974, acrylic on canvas, 35” x 36.5”

67


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

68

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1976, oil on canvas, 81” x 91”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1975, acrylic on canvas, 50” x 67”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1975, acrylic on canvas, 51.5” x 68”

Ernest Briggs, Dipgate, 1977, oil on canvas, 33” x 38.5”

69


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Roseghost, 1977, oil on canvas, 29” x 31”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1975, oil on canvas, 63.5” x 79”

70


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Livna, 1977, oil on canvas, 84” x 69.5”

71


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Black & White, 1978, oil on canvas, 16.5” x 20.5”

72

Ernest Briggs, Terra Rosa, 1977, oil on canvas, 70” x 52.5”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Shift, 1977, oil on canvas, 69.5” x 59”

Ernest Briggs, Ritual Cow, August 1978, oil on canvas, 40.5” x 33”

73


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1978, oil on canvas, 45.5” x 34”

74

Ernest Briggs, Meta No. 2, 1978, oil on canvas, 58” x 50”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Last Gate, 1979, oil on canvas, 54” x 67.5”

Ernest Briggs, In the Garden, 1978, oil on canvas, 24” x 30”

75


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Storm Trouper, 1978, oil on canvas, 45.5” x 34”

76

Ernest Briggs, The Castle, 1978, oil on canvas, 68.5” x 52”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1979, oil on canvas, 81.5” x 70”

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1978, oil on canvas, 90” x 68”

77


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1978, oil on canvas, 45.5” x 34”

78

Ernest Briggs, Turquoise Life, 1978, oil on canvas, 45.5” x 34”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Interiors, 1979, oil on canvas, 40” x 32”

79


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Small Pleasures, 1979, oil on canvas, 72” x 50”

80

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1979-80, oil on canvas, 90” x 68”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1979, oil on canvas, 50” x 65.5”

Ernest Briggs, Sa Kaeo, 1980, oil on canvas, 92” x 69”

Ernest Briggs, Mist, 1980, oil on canvas, 32” x 41.5”

81


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

82

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1980, oil on canvas, 69.5” x 52.5”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1980, oil on canvas, 68” x 53.5”

83


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Bluenote, 1981, oil on canvas, 32” x 41.5”

Ernest Briggs, Homage, 1980, oil on canvas, 70” x 60”

84

Ernest Briggs, Coast, 1981, oil on canvas, 64” x 78”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1980, oil on canvas, 70.25” x 59.5”

85


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1980, oil on canvas, 64.25” x 77.25”

86

Ernest Briggs, Light, 1981, oil on canvas, 38” x 30”

Ernest Briggs, Relics, 1981, oil on canvas, 91” x 68”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Phallicon, 1981, acrylic on canvas, 68.25” x 54.5”

87


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

88

Ernest Briggs, Sketch for a Crucifixion, 1981, oil on canvas, 69.5” x 67.5”


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Triad, 1981, oil on canvas, 32” x 40”

Ernest Briggs, Saints, 1982, oil on canvas, 42.75” x 32.5”

89


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

Ernest Briggs, Sweets, 1981, oil on canvas, 32” x 41.5”

Ernest Briggs, Reverend, 1982, oil on canvas, 44” x 34.5”

90


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs, Untitled, 1983, oil on canvas, 44” x 34.5” Ernest Briggs, Angels, 1982, oil on canvas, 71.5” x 68”

91


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

ERNEST BRIGGS Selected Collections

Biography

(1923-1984)

1923

Born in San Diego, CA

1943-46

US Army Signal Corps in India during 1945-46

1946-47 Studied at Schaeffer School of Design, San Francisco, CA 1947-51 Studied at California School of Fine Art, San Francisco, CA 1953 Moved to New York, lived and worked in NY and Maine 1984

Died in New York, NY

Whitney Museum of American Art Hirshhorn Museum, Smithsonian Institute Laguna Art Museum, Blair Collection of Bay Area Abstract Expressionism

92

Selected Solo Exhibitions

San Francisco Museum of Art

1949

Metart Gallery

San Jose Museum of Art

1954-55

Stable Gallery

Carnegie Institute

1956

San Francisco Art Association Gallery

Oakland Art Museum

1960-63

The Howard Wise Gallery

Portland Museum of Maine

1968

Yale University Art Gallery

Ciba-Geigy Corporation

1969

Alonzo Gallery

Michigan State University

1973

Green Mountain Gallery

Rockefeller Institute

1975

Susan Caldwell Gallery

Walker Art Center

1977

Aaron Berman Gallery

Anita Shapolsky Gallery

1980

Landmark Gallery

A.S. Art Foundation

1980,82,84

Gruenebaum Gallery


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Solo Exhibitions (cont.) 2004

Ernest Briggs: Paintings of the 50s and 60s,

2012

Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Ernest Briggs: Three Decades of Abstract

Expressionist Painting, Anita Shapolsky

Gallery 2018

Ernest Briggs: Four Decades of Abstract

Expressionism, Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Selected Group Exhibitions 1956

Twelve Americans, Musuem of Modern Art

1955-61 Whitney Museum of American Art Annuals and Biennials 1962

Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art

Contemporary Art Exhibition, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 1963 Directions-Painting-USA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 1967

Johnson Museum at Cornell University

Large-Scale American Painting, Jewish Museum 1970

San Francisco 1945-50, Oakland Art Museum

1976 California Painting and Sculpture: The Modern Era, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art 1977

Bay Area Update, Huntsville Museum of Art

Group Exhibitions (cont.) 1992

The Tradition, Anita Shapolsky Gallery

1994 New York-Provincetown: A 50s Connection, Provincetown Museum 1996 Two Painters and a Sculptor, Anita Shapolsky Gallery 1998 Abstract Paintings from the 1950s to the 1970s, Anita Shapolsky Gallery 2001

Artists of the Fifties, Anita Shapolsky Gallery

2007 Nassos Daphnis & Ernest Briggs: Opposing Forces, Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Selected Bibliography 12 Americans, 1956, Dorothy Canning Miller. The New School: The Painters & Sculptors of the Fifties, 1978, Irving Sandler. The San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism, 1996, Susan Landauer. New York School Abstract Expressionists: Artists Choice by Artists, 2000, ed. Marika Herskovic. American Abstract Expressionism of the 1950s: An Illustrated Survey, 2003, ed. Marika Herskovic. Artists’ Estates: Reputations in Trust, 2005, ed. Magda Sakvesen and Diane Cousineau. American Abstract and Figurative Expressionism Style: Is Timely Art Timeless, 2009, ed. Marika Herskovic. 93


"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

ERNEST BRIGGS Selected Bibliography (cont.)

ARTnews, 1992, “In the Tradition,” Sue Scott. ARTnews, October 1994, Sue Scott. ARTnews, October 1994, “Ernest Briggs, Clement Meadmore, Erik van der Grijin, Seymour Boardman,” Anita Shapolsky. The New York Review of Art, Summer 1994, JCW. San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism, 1996, Susan Landauer. New York Times, Friday, October 26th 2001, Grace Glueck. New York School: Another View, January 24-March 20, 2005, Opalka Gallery, The Sage Collages, 140 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY. Art in America, May 2002, Gerrit Henry.

San Francisco and the Second Wave : the Blair collection of Bay Area Abstract Expressionism, 2004, Crocker Art Museum & Laguna Art Museum (Laguna Beach, California).

Art Matters, December 2004, “At Last, Obscure Briggs Paintings Unearthed,” Ellen Slupe.

“The Artist’s World in Pictures,” 1960, Fred W. McDarrah.

Art in America, September 2007, “Nassos Daphnis and Ernest Briggs at Anita Shapolsky.”

“Painting and sculpture in California, the modern era,” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, September 3-November 21, 1976, National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., May 20-September 11, 1977. “A Period of Exploration,” Mary Fuller McChesney, 1973, Oakland Museum. “Sunshine Muse,” Peter Plagens, 1974, Praeger Artforum, February 1970, Robert Pincus-Whitten. “Ernest Briggs interview,” 1982 July 12 - Oct. 21. Mark Rothko and His Times Oral History Project, Barbara Shikler. “Ernest Briggs,” August 6th 1984, Lawrence Campbell, Grunebaum Gallery Memorial Exhibition, October 1984. New York Times, June 14th 1984, “Ernest Briggs, Artist and for Two Decades a Teacher at Pratt”. 94

Art in America, February 1992, Lawrence Campbell.

Art in America, June/July 2005, “Ernest Briggs at Anita Shapolsky.”

Art in America, March 2011, Faye Hirsch.


Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Copyright Š 2018 by the Anita Shapolsky Gallery & A. S. Art Foundation Original catalog by Karina Masolova, 2012 Updated and redesigned by Eve Erickson, 2018 Photography by Petra Valentova All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or trasnmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechnical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

95


Anita Shapolsky Gallery A.S. Art Foundation 152 East 65th Street New York, NY 10065

Profile for Anita Shapolsky Gallery | A.S. Art Foundation

Ernest Briggs: Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism  

Ernest Briggs: Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism  

Advertisement