MASTERWORKS DAVID FINDLAY JR GALLERY
Since the first Findlay Gallery opened in 1870, the Findlay family has dedicated itself to the research and exhibition of important American and European painting and sculpture. At David Findlay Jr Gallery, our mission is telling the story of American art from the late nineteenth century, through the Modernist and Expressionist art of the mid-twentieth century to contemporary art. Today we are part of a relatively small group of galleries that specialize in American art of the mid-twentieth century. In addition to second generation Abstract Expressionism, we are presenting exhibitions lauding the merits of such significant movements or schools as the Transcendental Painting Group, early American Modernism, and the Post War Bay Area and Southern California Abstractionists. Further, our representation of the Indian Space Painters of the late 1940s is singular. As we move through the twenty-first century we are continuing to expand our vision to include critically acclaimed contemporary artists. This, too, will become part of our heritage. Masterworks, the first in a series of publications, presents 34 selected works of American art from the Gallery. David Findlay Jr Lee Findlay Potter Louis Newman
OscaR BluEmnER (1867-1938) Study for Watercolor #43, Tiffany, New Jersey, 1920 Watercolor and gouache on paper 4 x 5 ½ inches Signed and dated lower margin Provenance: Vera Bluemner Kouba (his daughter) Irma Rudin, Great Neck, NY Private Collection Exhibitions: James Graham & Sons, New York, Oscar Bluemner Preparatory Drawings in Watercolor, Colored Pencil and Graphite, 2002. Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York, Bluemner, 2005. Long considered one of the most significant figures in American Modernism, Oscar Bluemner applied rigorous geometry to industrial scenes, developing a distinctive body of color saturated work. Early on, he was befriended by the influential dealer Alfred Stieglitz who displayed his work in two one-man exhibitions. In the ground-breaking Armory Show of 1913 Bluemner was represented by five works. Study for Watercolor #43, Tiffany, New Jersey depicts the New Jersey urban landscape which had become a favorite subject of the artist after his move to the state. Painted with an aim to eliminate illusionistic perspective, the work evinces the artist’s interest in flatness and the treatment of the subject matter as color-shapes. Bluemner’s interest in the red factory buildings may have been inspired by the German industrial buildings of his childhood as well as the mills and industrial structures he encountered in New Jersey. The combination of the red buildings with the blue sky and water, dark trees and pristine white snow was a favorite motif of Bluemner, and he returned to it again and again during his career. Though intimate in scale, the work’s bold colors and simplified geometries result in a powerful image that well represents the qualities of American Modernism. Selected museum collections: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.
JOHn maRIn (1870-1953) Off Deer Isle, Maine, 1921 Watercolor on paper, 13 3/4 x 16 3/4 inches Signed lower right: Marin 21 Inscribed with title verso Provenance: An American Place, NY Private Collection
Throughout his long and productive career John Marin has been acknowleged for his essential contribution to American Modernism. In 1948 Clement Greenberg wrote, “If it is not beyond all doubt that [Marin] is the best painter alive in America at this moment, he assuredly has to be taken into consideration when we ask who is.” In 1909, while living in Paris for four years Marin was introduced to the photographer and famed gallerist Alfred Stiegliz. Stieglitz became Marin’s lifelong patron and friend and throughout the years never faltered in his support of Marin. He showed Marin’s work in almost every exhibition held at his various galleries in New York: Gallery 291, Intimate Galleries, and An American Place. Best known for his watercolors, Marin painted primarily in Maine as well as New York City and Taos, New Mexico. Off Deer Isle, Maine and Sea Movement are excellent examples of his deep love of the Maine landscape where he first ventured in 1912. Here Marin spent several summers investigating
Sea Movement, 1923 Watercolor on paper, 17 x 20 inches Signed lower right: Marin 23 Provenance: An American Place, New York, NY Hirschl and Adler, New York, NY Private Collection
abstraction and exploring ways to compartmentalize and schematize the terrain. The iconic Maine landscape is enlivened by the dramatic use of black lines or force fields which draw the viewer’s eye to the foreground of the picture creating a complex tension and push-pull effect between foreground and background. Speaking of this period of his work, Marin scholar Ruth Fine explained, “Working in a medium traditionally associated with delicacy, Marin was creating what he and his colleagues and critics saw as a rugged American vision of landscape. His inelegant, ‘thundering’ works of the 1920s were a real breakthrough in this regard. The paint is scrubbed into the sheet, layer over opaque layer; subtle modulations no longer were seen as a primary measure of quality and success in watercolor.” Selected museum collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Paul KElPE (1902-1985) Machine Abstraction, circa 1934 Oil on canvas 38 x 26 1/4 inches Signed lower left: Paul Kelpe Provenance: Private Collection
Born in Germany in 1902, Paul Kelpe studied art and architecture, which exposed him to the abstract concepts of Kurt Schwitters, Wassily Kandinsky, and the Russian Constructivists. After immigrating to the United States in 1925, Kelpe settled in Chicago in the early 1930s where he sought employment as a muralist with the Works Progress Administration. In 1937, shortly after moving to New York, Kelpe became a founding member of the American Abstract Artists group. At that time, his style of painting began to embrace non-objective theory. Kelpe was a master at creating paintings that oscillate between abstraction and representation as deftly illustrated in his machinist series of the early 1930s. Machine Abstraction, is a rare example from this innovative series. As industry faltered amidst the Great Depression, Kelpe instilled an optimism for the Machine Age into his art. His factories are free of grime, his workers free of sweat, and his colors bright and fresh. Throughout his career, Kelpe incorporated a range of styles into his art, from Social Realism to Constructivism to hard-edged Precisionism. Machine Abstraction is an inventive convergence of these influences, incorporating the ideology of the solitary workman at the center of an industrial and modern world of wheels, gears, and levers. A work similar to Machine Abstraction is in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum of Art, Washington, DC. Machinery Abstract (#2), circa 1933-34, is identical in size and features a nearly mirrored composition. Selected museum collections: Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Newark Museum of Art, Newark, NJ; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN.
DaVID aROnsOn (b.1923) The Medium, 1983 Bronze 15 x 13 x 12 1/2 inches Signed lower left: Aronson SC Edition:15 Provenance: Estate of the Artist Literature: David Aronson: Paintings. Drawings. Sculpture. Essay by Asher D. Biemann. Pucker Art Publications, Boston, MA, 2004, p. 125. Legendary curator Dorothy Miller first introduced David Aronson, a young Boston area artist, to a large audience in her historic 1947 Museum of Modern Art exhibition, Sixteen Americans. Newsweek Magazine responded very favorably to Aronson's works as did a number of collectors and other art world professionals. Through the passing of many trends and fashions since that time, Aronson’s art has endured and his audiences have continued to expand. By the late 1970s, David Aronson was honored with a major retrospective at The Jewish Museum in New York. Aronson's work is immersed in transformation and mysticism. The works convey a timeless, parable-like quality that is often hauntingly beautiful, sometimes playful, and always emotive with an intrinsic sense of spiritual grace and human dignity. Time Magazine states succinctly, “Aronson has succeeded where few contemporaries have dared to try in marrying today's religious concerns with the visual arts.” In an era when much of the art being created is mired in irony and cynicism, Aronson's work is devoted to human aspiration and inspiration. Selected museum collections: Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, DC; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
HERman maRIl (1908-1986) Tranquility, 1977 Oil on canvas 60 x 40 inches Signed lower left: Herman Maril Provenance: Estate of the Artist
Herman Maril had a long and successful career that spanned over six decades. In 1935, early in Maril’s career, he received accolades in American Magazine of Art. Noted artist and critic Olin Dows praised Maril’s “mature point of view” – noting the artist’s “personal and subtle language that is sophisticated and simple.” Maril was just twenty-six years old. Born in Baltimore in 1908 Maril engaged in art from an early age. At sixteen he was captivated by the writings of artist and critic Roger Fry. Maril was so inspired that he misrepresented his age in order to take night classes at the Maryland Institute College of Art. After high school he studied full-time at the Maryland Institute, where he worked with Charles Walther, one of the first American abstract painters. Maril’s early still-life paintings and landscapes reflect the influences of Cubism and Post-Impressionism, as he explored concepts of modifying forms and highlighting the flatness of the picture plane. Duncan Phillips, a major collector and founder of The Phillips Collection, discovered Maril at a 1932 showing of the National Society of Independent Artists in Washington, D.C. Phillips purchased several Maril paintings and exhibited them at his prestigious private gallery. Maril was encouraged to apply for a WPA Public Works of Art Project assignment – an engagement that would lead Eleanor Roosevelt in 1934 to select one of his paintings to hang in the White House. After the war Maril’s very personal style continued to evolve. Working primarily in Provincetown, MA, and Baltimore, MD, his work depicted the surrounding landscapes in a way that is both restrained and daring, while also understated and richly colorful. Charles Parkhurst, former deputy director of the National Gallery stated, “In his later years, Maril’s paintings became more effortless in appearance, broadly simpler, yet in detail more delicate and more balanced, and with color that is more functional in pattern as well as depth.” Selected museum collections: Baltimore Museum, Baltimore, MD; Butler13 Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
HOuGHTOn cRanFORD smITH (1887-1983) Stockbridge, Massachusetts, circa 1943 Oil on canvas 40 1/8 x 50 1/8 inches Signed lower right: Houghton Cranford Smith Provenance: Estate of the Artist
Le Brusc, France, circa 1950s Oil on canvas 27 x 37 1/4 inches Signed lower right: Houghton Cranford Smith Provenance: Richard York Gallery, New York, NY Private Collection Over a nearly seventy-five-year career Houghton Cranford Smith honed a distinctive signature style that resists easy categorization. His work evolved from French Purism to American Precisionism, with roots tracing back to the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. Born into a wealthy family, Smith was able to focus on his painting without the need of outside support. As a result, he rarely sold or exhibited his work. It was only after his death in 1983, when art dealer Grace Borgenicht began promoting Smith’s legacy, that his unique, magical vision came to the greater public’s notice. A purchase of four paintings by the Metropolitan Museum Art in 1991 brought further attention to his art. Stockbridge, Massachusetts and Le Brusc, France were created after a transformative stint in Paris in the 1930s, where Smith studied with French Purists Amédée Ozenfant and André Lhote, as well as Vaclav Vytlacil, a student of Hans Hofmann. Under their tutelage, Smith found the confidence he needed to bring his individual vision more fully to the canvas. He wrote, “Instead of nature dictating to me what to do, I became the boss and decided whatever I wanted. This does away with accidental effects – cast shadows, reflections, etc.” Stockbridge, Massachusetts is an excellent manifestation of Smith’s artistic vision. He presents a Berkshire landscape that is at once familiar and unknown, a patchwork-quilted farmland of graphite and clay. He has left the dappled Impressionist sunlight of his earlier work for a single, focused moment of light on a hilltop. In Le Brusc Smith has distilled nature down to its most elemental components and created a world of which he is indeed the master. Using stylized brushstrokes and unbroken areas of color he has coupled machine-like processing with a pastoral landscape. Smith created surfaces with a texture that could almost be mistaken for woven fabric. This image of southern France resembles part of a Renaissance tapestry. Selected museum collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Butler Institute, Youngstown, OH; Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC; Greenville County Museum, Greenville, SC; Wichita Museum of Art, Wichita, KS.
alFRED mauRER (1868-1932) Two Sisters, circa 1924 Oil on board 21 3/8 x 18 1/8 inches Provenance: Erhard Weyhe, Weyhe Gallery, New York Gertrude Dennis (daughter of Erhard Weyhe) Private Collection Exhibitions: Alfred H. Maurer: Aestheticism to Modernism, Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY, November 30, 1999 – January 15, 2000. Abstract and Otherwise, Graham Gallery, New York, April – June 1991. Literature: Alfred H. Maurer: Aestheticism to Modernism. Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY, 1999, p. 153, pl. 97.
Alfred H. Maurer was a highly innovative artist whose provocative work comprised a variety of styles. Beginning with his elegant Whistlerian-inspired paintings of women painted during the first years of the 20th century, through his embrace of Cubism, Fauvism, and later Expressionism, Maurer remained open to experimentation. Two Sisters is an important example from a series of female portraits that Maurer painted after his return to the United States in 1914 after 17 years in Paris. He would travel to the Shady Brook boardinghouse in Marlboro, New York, where the local girls became inspiration for countless abstracted and stylized figures. As Maurer expert Stacey Epstein has noted: “The most common arrangement was that of two figures, often referred to as ‘sister images’ … because of the models’ striking resemblances to each other. These girls, many of whom may have been related, were frequently shown at three-quarter length, and depicted as physically conjoined in some way, although this rarely seems to yield any psychological interaction between them.” Selected museum collections: Carnegie Museum of Art, Chicago Art Institute, Chicago, IL; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA.
lEOnaRD EDmOnDsOn (1916-2002) Untitled 24, 1949 Tempera on board 14 x 18 inches Signed lower left: Edmondson 1949 Provenance: Estate of the Artist Private collection California native Leonard Edmondson was an influential painter, printmaker, educator and author. His technical treatise on etching, published in 1970, is still an important reference work for artists today. Edmondson was first exposed to Surrealism through the work of Paul Klee, whose work he discovered while serving in Europe with the United States Army during World War II. Upon his return to California in 1947, Edmondson began studying Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook, and the Surrealist master’s concepts of space and reality. These influences from Klee along with the work of Joan Miró, Max Ernst, and Wassily Kandinsky proved instrumental in Edmondson’s development as an artist. Untitled 24 and Untitled XVII, painted when Edmondson was in his early thirties, demonstrate how quickly and confidently he honed in on an individual style. A comparison of the works reveals both Edmondson’s clarity of vision and breadth of focus: they share his distinctive shapes and suspended movement, yet each conveys a dramatically different sense of time and place – Untitled XVII a dark interior, Untitled 24 – an exterior, light-filled space. Selected museum collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; New York Public Library, New York, NY; Norton Simon Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art, Philadelphia, PA; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.
Untitled XVII, 1947 Oil on board 28 x 32 inches Signed lower right: Edmondson 1947 Provenance: Estate of the Artist Exhibitions: Leonard Edmondson: Art of Discovery, California State University, Northridge Art Galleries, Northridge, CA. February 9 - March 23, 2013 Literature Leonard Edmondson: Art of Discovery. California State University, Northridge Art Galleries, p. 15, pl. 3.
GORDOn OnslOW FORD (1912-2003) Favorable Shipwreck (1), 1946 Gouache on paper 22 1/2 x 13 1/2 inches Signed lower right: GOF 9.8.46 Provenance: Estate of the Artist
British-born American artist Gordon Onslow Ford, was originally associated with the Paris Surrealists. In Paris during the late 1930s and early 1940s he thrived in working communally with other artists such as André Lhote and Fernand Léger. Through Chilean painter Roberto Matta, Onslow Ford was introduced to André Breton, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, and other Surrealists. In 1941 he lectured on Surrealism in New York City to an enthusiastic audience that included Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and other young American painters. After travelling to Mexico and later settling in Northern California Onslow Ford became interested in spontaneous creation and such metaphysical concerns as psychologist Carl Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious. He abandoned the pictorial images of his early work and embraced techniques such as psychic automatism. Early on Onslow Ford practiced what he called coulage, a method of pouring paint directly onto a canvas. He lived with his wife, poet Jacqueline Johnson, in Mexico from 1941–47; during which time he formally broke with the Surrealists. Subsequently he moved to Northern California, where Vedanta philosophy, calligraphy, and Buddhism were among the influences he absorbed. Onslow Ford also wrote about what he called a basic visual language of line, circle, and dot; his books included Painting in the Instant (1964) and Creation (1978). Selected museum collections: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; de Young Memorial Museum, San Francisco, CA; Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA; Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Tate Gallery, London, England.
PETER Busa (1914-1985) Mythic Dancers, 1947 Oil on canvas 31 x 36 inches Signed lower right: Busa Provenance: Acme Fine Art, Boston, MA Private Collection Peter Busa played an integral role in the Indian Space movement of the 1930s and 1940s. Busa along with Steve Wheeler, Will Barnet, and Robert Barrell made regular visits to the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the American Indian in New York to study Northwest Coast Indian art. There they found inspiration in what Busa termed “a genuine love for economy of forms and unfettered simplicity of direct statement…a structure of the space [that was] all-positive, without negative space,” which contrasted with the Western tradition that distinguished foreground from background. Busa showed in the ground breaking exhibition 8 and a Totem Pole which opened in New York in 1946 at Gallery Neuf and brought the Indian Space painters to the public’s notice. It was in that year that Busa also had his first one-man show at Peggy Guggenheim’s gallery, Art of this Century . Mythic Dancers came a year after these two seminal events in Busa’s career. The strong palette and directness of form are the work of a mature, confident artist coming into his own. A wide range of influences can be found in the paint: the snaking blue lines speak to the time Busa spent practicing Surrealist automatism with Arshile Gorky, Roberto Matta, and William Baziotes; the figures’ boxy heads emulate the cubist forms of Pablo Picasso, particularly his The Three Musicians, which Busa saw in 1936 and greatly admired; and the all-over flattening of form and space demonstrates his conception of Indian Space. Selected museum collections: Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
sTEVE WHEElER (1912-1992) Untitled (Head), 1942 Watercolor and ink on paper 13 x 11 inches Signed upper right: Wheeler 1942 Provenance: Gary Snyder Gallery Private Collection Exhibitions: The Indian Space Painters: Native American Sources for American Abstract Art, The Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College, New York, NY. November 8 December 17, 1991 Literature: The Indian Space Painters: Native American Sources for American Abstract Art, The Sidney Mishkin Gallery, Baruch College. p. 16. In the early 1940s a new American art style emerged out of Cubism combined with Native American and pre-Columbian motifs. It was first called Semiology or picture language and later coined as Indian Space. The paintings by this loosely affiliated group of downtown New York artists developed concurrently with those of the New York School of Abstract Expressionism and continued into the 1950s. The key figure and forefather of this important art movement was Steve Wheeler. He had taken an interest in Primitive Art via his studies of Pablo Picasso and Paul Klee. As a student of Hans Hofmann he became predisposed to the idea that a painting’s structure was parallel to rather than imitative of the forms and structures of nature itself. Wheeler sought to depict a kaleidoscopic world where images shift from figure to ground creating multiple ways of reading. As New York Times critic Roberta Smith wrote, his contrapuntal treatment of space creates “a sense of multiple narratives, as if, past, present and future were proceeding simultaneously.” Wheeler wrote in 1947, “Although respecting the contribution of abstractionism to the art of painting, I do not share its basic point of view. It is impossible for me to see things simply in terms of plane, rhythm, negative and positive space, tensions, etc., etc. Perhaps that is why I feel the movement of form in a different way …. My forms are a representation of things in the process of generation, corruption, and alteration. In this they are guided by my passions.” Selected museum collections: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Montclair Museum, Montclair, NJ.
sTEVE WHEElER (1912-1992) Untitled W026, circa 1950 Oil on canvas 33 x 22 inches Provenance: Estate of the Artist
EnRIcO DOnaTI (1909-2008) Araignee, circa 1945 Oil on canvas 30 x 40 inches Signed lower right: Donati Provenance: Private Collections
Enrico Donati moved to the United States in 1934, where he attended the New School for Social Research and the Art Students League of New York. His first one-man shows were in New York in 1942, at both the New School for Social Research and the Passedoit Gallery. With the personal and professional support of André Breton, Donati’s reputation as a Surrealist grew. Art writer Theodore F. Wolff stated, “[As a painter, Donati] was particularly fascinated by the cyclical process of regeneration, by the passage from life, through death, into life again that occurs regularly in nature but also in art and myth. The relationship between myth and nature had always intrigued him.” A typical work of this period, Araignee contains peculiar organic formations suggestive of underwater life or a vase of flowers floating in an ethereal space. Donati was one of the organizers of the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme held in Paris in the summer of 1947, to which he contributed a painting and two sculptures. In the late 1940s he moved away from Surrealism to a Constructivist phase, from which he developed a calligraphic style. He drew onto melted tar, or diluted paint with turpentine. His work was informed by Spatialism, a movement founded by Lucio Fontana. This began his long fascination with surface and texture, including mixing paint with house dust. Later he would employ sand and crushed quartz. In Le Mistere d’une Naissance (Mystery of a Birth) Donati uses this texture to create a monolithic form onto which primitive symbols are etched. The head-like form appears to be rising up from the ground, again echoing Donati’s fascination with the passage of life. Among the many exhibitions of Donati’s work, two stand out. In 1961 a major retrospective was mounted at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and in 2007 a major survey was held at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Donati was considered by many in the art world to be one of the last of the Surrealists. Selected museum collections: Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.
EnRIcO DOnaTI (1909-2008) Le Mistere d’une Naissance, 1993 Acrylic and ground quartz on linen 36 x 32 inches Signed verso: Enrico Donati, Le Mistere d’une Naissance Provenance: Louis Newman Galleries, Beverly Hills, CA Private Collection
DaVID HaRE (1917-1992) Summer Storm, 1954 Painted metal, brass and stone 76 x 34 x 14 inches Provenance: Private Collection Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco, CA David Hare became closely involved with the émigré Surrealist movement and collaborated closely with these artists on projects such as the Surrealist journal VVV, which he cofounded and edited from 1941 to 1944 with André Breton, Max Ernst, and Marcel Duchamp. He began to experiment with Surrealist sculpture, which soon became his primary focus. His work was exhibited in a number of prestigious venues, including Peggy Guggenheim's The Art of This Century Gallery. In 1948 he became a founding member, along with Mark Rothko, William Baziotes and Robert Motherwell, of the Subjects of the Artist School in New York. Hare continued to be closely associated with influential artists and thinkers throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, counting Jean-Paul Sartre, Balthus, Alberto Giacometti, and Pablo Picasso among his close acquaintances. During the 1960s and 1970s Hare held teaching positions at several different schools, including the Philadelphia College of Art. During this period, he began work on his Cronus series of sculpture, paintings, and drawings, which became the subject of a solo show at New York's Guggenheim Museum in 1977. In subsequent years his work was included in several important Museum Surrealist surveys. Selected museum collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y.
BYROn BROWnE (1907-1961) Woman in Sunset, 1945 Oil on canvas 36 x 47 inches Signed lower right: Byron Browne Provenance: Estate of the Artist Kootz Gallery, New York, NY Private Collection Byron Browne enrolled at the National Academy of Design in New York City at the age of seventeen. Before he finished the four year program, he and his good friend Arshile Gorky abandoned academic interests to follow the Parisians; Picasso, Miró, and Braque. By 1930, Browne's work had reached a level which he found distinctive and meaningful. During the 1930s he found support within the Works Progress Administration Mural Division, when the division's head, Burgoyne Diller, began to advocate and organize on behalf of abstract artists. Browne, together with his wife, the artist Rosalind Bengelsdorf, became an activist, lecturing on the importance of abstraction, helping to found the Abstract Artists Association, and supporting many other groups and causes. In Browne’s view the roots of abstraction should be based in the natural world. Abstraction was not to be separated from life. Further, he saw abstraction as an extension of the physical world, rather than arising from spiritualism. The distinction was an important one to Browne. He had little tolerance for the occult mysticism that Hilla Rebay and John Graham often explored. His work was shown at the Museum of Modern Art as early as 1936 and at the Whitney Annual in 1948. By this time his paintings had turned to softer, biomorphic forms reminiscent of Arp and Miró. Browne spent many of his summers in Provincetown exchanging views and experiences with Hans Hofmann, Adolph Gottlieb, Herman Maril and Peter Busa, among others. In the 1950s, in response to the emergence of Abstract Expressionism, his work became more gestural and painterly. However his imagery was never exclusive to only one school; Browne felt free to combine any or all of these elements, depending on his expressive intent. Woman in Sunset is a radiant example of Browne’s mastery of merging representational imagery with Modernist concepts. The painting is dense with Cubist constructions of form and Surrealist lines, but has as its subject the odalisque, one of the most central and long-standing motifs in the history of art. Byron Browne was a charter member of the American Abstract Artists; the Artists' Equity Association; Audubon Artists; the American Artists Congress; and the Allied Artists of America. Selected museum collections: Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, TX; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
sTuaRT WalKER (1904-1940) Composition #112, 1938 Oil on canvas 33 x 29 inches Titled, signed and dated verso: Composition #112, Stuart Walker, 9-38 Provenance: Jonson Gallery of the University of New Mexico Art Museum, Albuquerque, NM Martin Diamond Fine Arts, New York, NY Private Collection David Findlay Jr Gallery, New York Private collection Exhibitions: The Albuquerque Museum, The Transcendental Painting Group, New Mexico, 1938-1941, June 6 â€“ September 12, 1982 In 1925, seeking a milder climate for his ill health, Stuart Walker moved to Albuquerque where he attended classes at the University of New Mexico. In 1929 Walker became president of the newly formed Art League of New Mexico. Walker became increasingly interested in Modernist styles in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He soon developed his own style with Art Deco overtones, which combined geometric forms with more organic ones. In 1938 Walker joined the Transcendental Painting Group which included Raymond Jonson, William Lumpkins, Emil Bisttram, Florence Miller, and Agnes Pelton. Composition #112 is a rare example from Walkerâ€™s most important period of painting with its convergence of planar rhythmic forms and architectural structure. This work, nspired by the New Mexico landscape, seen particularly in his use of muted colors, was created in 1938, the same year that Walker became a founding member of the Transcendental Painting Group. Selected museum collections: New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.
ED GaRman (1914- 2004) No. 276, 1942 Oil on masonite 30 x 30 inches Signed verso: No.276, 9/12/1942, by Ed Garman Provenance: Gift of the artist to Raymond Jonson Martin Diamond Fine Art, New York, NY Ed Garman once stated: “The ideal work of art is in effect an icon of quality with a sacred value, non-religious of course, You may look and enjoy it for its art values, but the painting is also looking back at you asking if your life values are equally clear.” For Garman, and the other members of the Transcendental Painting Group, quality in painting was an important standard to achieve. His unique style of creating dynamic conversations between forms, space and color came from an intense study of philosophy, especially Platonic, which pushed Garman to create “beauty in terms of images that reached beyond the simple circle and square.” Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian were also important influences on Garman in their approach to aesthetic beauty. Garman’s abstractions were apolitical, non-religious and free from any biases, making them perfectly non-objective and open to a unique experience for the viewer. Garman was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to a Mennonite family and grew up in the Lehigh Valley of Eastern Pennsylvania. In 1933 he traveled to New Mexico where he attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. While studying stage design Garman discovered the work of Adolphe Appia of Switzerland and Gordon Craig of England. Both designers advocated a modernist approach to stage design with emphasis on abstraction, simplification of stage structure and the significance of lighting. Garman began applying these concepts to his painting, which were then enhanced by his discovery of Cubism and the writings of Kandinsky. In 1941 he was invited to join the Transcendental Painting Group, founded in New Mexico in 1938 by a group of artists interested in promoting abstract and non-objective art. Selected museum collections: Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.
nIna TRYGGVaDOTTIR (1913-1968) Abstraction (NT-1301), 1953 Enamel on masonite 24 1/2 x 21 inches Signed lower right: Tryggvadottir Provenance: Private Collection
In 1942 Nìna Tryggvadóttir held her debut solo exhibition in Reykjavík, Iceland, before leaving for New York. There she studied first at Art Students’ League and later with Hans Hofmann and Fernand Leger. Her first New York exhibition was at the New Art Circle Gallery in 1945, the same year she produced the scenery and costumes for a performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale at Columbia University. In 1949 Tryggvadóttir married doctor and fellow artist Alfred L. Copley (Alcopley). Just as her New York career was beginning to thrive, Tryggvadóttir was forced out of the U.S., an unfounded victim of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s red scare. In 1952 Tryggvadóttir settled in Paris with her husband and daughter Una Dora. Fortunately, this was the beginning of one of her most prolific periods during which she exhibited extensively. In Paris, she and Alcopley founded the French branch of The Club. In 1957 Tryggvadóttir and her family moved to London where they remained until December of 1959, when she was permitted to return to the United States. As Icelandic writer and philosopher, Oddny eir Aevarsdottir, records, “When Tryggvadóttir finally returned to New York, it was as if her works had themselves overcome the distance and were breathing deeply in reassurance and joy.” In addition to an extensive exhibition history, Tryggvadóttir was honored with three separate exhibitions in her native country at the National Gallery of Iceland. Selected museum collections: Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Musee National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, France; National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland; Reykjavik Municipal Art Gallery, Reykjavik, Iceland; Musee D’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France
JOHn GRIllO (b. 1917) Untitled Mosaic I, 1951 Oil on masonite 14 1/2 x 24 inches Provenance: Estate of the Artist John Grillo is regarded as one of the first and most important action painters in Northern California and one of the most influential members of the San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism. He spent two years at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) under the G.I. Bill developing an advanced, unique, and mature style of abstract painting that was buoyed by the school’s inspirational learning environment. Grillo moved to New York in 1948, a shift that would prove instrumental to his development. In New York and Provincetown, Grillo studied with Hans Hofmann, with whom he developed a lasting friendship. Hofmann and Grillo shared ideas on color and on conceptions of space that led Grillo to create his most recognizable works during this time, his “mosaic” paintings of squares of color placed against one another upon a loose grid. Untitled Mosaic I is a powerful example from this “mosaic” series. Spots of color pulsate against one another, producing an animated and lyrical composition. Grillo stated: “Abstract painting is on a level with music. It’s a physical outburst from your whole being. It’s not the idea that is created and then you start painting. It’s always a challenge to shape something from nothing, to do the impossible.” Selected museum collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY; British Museum, London, UK; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York, NY.
JOHn FERREn (1905-1970) The Witch Doctor, 1963 Oil on canvas 65 x 59 inches Signed verso: Ferren, The Witch Doctor Provenance: Estate of the Artist Over a four decade career John Ferren was important not only for his artistic accomplishments, but also for the role he played in art history. His artistic involvement in pinnacle cultural moments of the mid-20th century ranged from attending Gertrude Stein’s famed Parisian salons in the 1930s, helping Picasso to stretch the canvas for his monumental Guernica, serving as a charter member and later president of the legendary The Club (the legendary New York hub for Abstract Expressionists) and collaborating with Alfred Hitchcock on the film Vertigo in 1958. Ferren’s influences progressed from Zen Buddhism to Constructivism to Abstract Expressionism. He also made several shifts between painting and sculpture during his career. Through these developments, a brilliant understanding of color remained his hallmark. In 1969 New York Times critic Hilton Kramer praised his “exquisite deployment of color.” The Witch Doctor is an exuberant example of Ferren’s expressionist work. He deftly mixed loud and soft brushwork, pastel and primary colors. The painting is both spontaneous and meditative in its construction, and these layers of thought join to produce a blooming explosion of color. Selected museum collections: Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC.
KYlE mORRIs (1918-1979) July 20th, 1960 Oil on canvas 63 x 48 inches Signed lower left: Kyle Morris 62 Provenance: Estate of the Artist A well-known member of the New York School, Kyle Morris had his first major one man show at the legendary Stable Gallery in 1955. In that same year he also organized a groundbreaking exhibition entitled Vanguard 1955 which brought together works by twenty one American painters for the Walker Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This event showcased early on the works of such artists as Richard Diebenkorn, Angelo Ippolito, Charles Cajori, Helen Frankenthaler, Michael Goldberg, Jon Schueler and Joan Mitchell among others. Morris was subsequently represented by the renowned art dealer, Sam Kootz. (Kootz, also a respected author was among the first to write sympathetically about the Abstract Expressionist movement.) H. Harvey Arnason comments in The History of Modern Art that during the 1950s, Morris worked in a manner that was at once romantic and gestural while becoming more spare and minimal. By the 1960s Morris’ work “had transformed into large color shapes sometimes balanced by expressively brushed area.” Always inventive, Morris’ intent was to convey images that were provocative rather than descriptive. As the artist states in his own words in the 1958 Whitney Museum of American Art catalogue, Nature in Abstraction, “However unexpected my resulting images may be, I do assume it taps a common reservoir of human experience and that my own experience has become accessible to others.” July 20th is an effective example of Morris choosing color juxtapositions – vibrant pink forms and rich sienna bands are matched with rosy whites and deep blues and browns – and through expansive brushwork, shaping paint into a captivatingly emotive image. Selected museum collections: Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
HERman cHERRY (1909-1992) Cave of Black (Black Painting #6), 1954 Enamel and coffee grounds on canvas 61 x 49 3/4 inches Signed verso: Cherry, Cave of Black, ‘60 Provenance: Estate of the Artist Herman Cherry’s sixty year painting career demonstrates his intense scrutiny of color and his understanding of color harmony. In a 1984 article on Cherry, Helen Harrison remarked, “His colors become characters that act out roles relative to each other, according to their own scenario – sometimes dramatic, sometimes mysterious, and occasionally even humorous – as directed by the master’s hand.” Early in his career Cherry studied with Stanton MacDonald Wright in Los Angeles. In 1931 he set up a gallery at the Stanley Rose Bookstore and subsequently mounted the first solo exhibitions of work by Philip Guston, Reuben Kadish and Lorser Feitelson among others. Cherry’s first solo show at the gallery was in 1934. In the late 1930s he studied with Thomas Hart Benton at the Art Students League in New York City and assisted him on Benton’s famous WPA mural, America Today. By the early 1950s Cherry had settled into his own artistic language - an expressive, non-representational abstraction that emphasized color and texture. He exhibited at several New York galleries including the Tanager Gallery, the Stable Gallery, and the Poindexter Gallery. While travelling through Europe in the 1950s, Cherry was one of the first Americans to view the prehistoric cave paintings in Lascaux, France. Cave of Black (Black Painting #6) is a major work from a series of works inspired by this trip. It is at once moody and luminous – from the glowing ember of orange, smoky blues and intense reds, to the mix of coffee grounds in the paint to create a dense medium. Cherry remarked, “I want the surface to live.” In 1984 Cherry received an award for painting from the American Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1989 Ball State University mounted a major retrospective of his paintings. Selected museum collections: Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY.
ROBERT RIcHEnBuRG (1917-2006) Push, 1956 Oil on canvas 77 x 57 inches Signed verso: Robert Richenburg Provenance: Private Collection Robert Richenburg drew great acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s for his vibrant Abstract Expressionist works. He was an early member of The Club, the influential group of abstract painters that included Willem de Kooning, Barnett Newman, Franz Kline, and Robert Motherwell. In 1951, Richenburg was invited to participate in the Ninth Street Show, the exhibition that helped to establish the New York School. Richenburg was particularly known for ominous paintings in which fields of black were punctuated by bursts of color and line. “This painting must symbolize the most terrifying aspects of metropolitan life,” a critic wrote about one work in a 1959 solo show at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery. Richenburg supported himself by teaching at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, but he resigned in 1964 after a dispute with the school’s administration over academic freedom. Richenburg took a job teaching at Cornell University, moving upstate with his wife and son to Ithaca. While he found it difficult to tend to his New York art career, his paintings were collected by major institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Push, painted in 1956, comes from an intensely creative and successful time in Richenburg’s career. It was in 1956 that Richenburg turned to an increasingly brilliant palette and began using the fiery and jewel-like tones for which he is now known. The painting is fueled with a strength and vitality that speaks to a range of Richenburg’s life experiences, from the bright lights of New York City to the warfare and violence the artist experienced in World War II. Richenburg was fearless in his process and constantly experimented with method and material. He remarked, “To be true to myself, I had to try the most powerful way to get an image, to do it differently each time.” Selected museum collections: Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, VA; Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC; Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.
JOHn OPPER (1908-1994) 21-80-82, 1980-82 Acrylic on canvas 60 x 66 inches Signed lower right: John Opper Provenance: Private Collection John Opper merged elements of Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting to produce large, powerful paintings that, in the words of author and artist Lee Hall, “praise the materials and processes of painting as well as the driving human forces that insist on art.” Academically trained at the Cleveland School of Art and the Chicago Art Institute, Opper was not an abstractionist until the mid-1930s, as a result of studying under Hans Hofmann in New York. In 1936 Opper became a founding member of the American Abstract Artists. By the 1940s his work was frequently included in museum exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. From the early 1960s until his death in 1994, Opper’s work held to a signature composition of steady, columnar forms of closely toned colors. 21-80-82 signifies a shift Opper made in the early-1980s towards a more vibrant, high key palette. The monolithic and moody colored forms present in the works from the 1970s were thinned out into vibrant vertical striations that vibrate against one another. Selected museum collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
PHIlIP PaVIa (1912-2005) Untitled, 1948-49 Bronze 9 x 15 x 28 inches Signed lower : Pavia 2/9 Provenance: Estate of the Artist Philip Pavia played an essential role in perpetuating New York’s mid-20th century avant-garde art. In 1961 Thomas B. Hess, founder of Art News Magazine and noted authority on the Abstract Expressionists, deemed Pavia “a soul and leader to the community that has produced the most important cultural force in the world today.” Pavia was a founding member of The Club, an artist’s hub for artistic expression and discourse. He remained active in the group through 1955. He then went on to create It Is; A Magazine for Abstract Art, the periodical equivalent to The Club, publishing the art and ideas of many of the members from their ongoing discourse. Pavia rejected the dream-based art of Surrealism and other European schools, and after a flirtation with Zen rejected Eastern schools because "they had nothing on Western philosophy." Influenced by the writings of William James, he saw art as an inner reflection of the direct and tactile experience of life. Beginning in the 1950s Pavia regularly showed in New York at Samuel Kootz and Martha Jackson Galleries. Untitled holds elements of the figural. Pavia’s tilting, textured lines of bronze are momentarily limb-like and have a sense of movement reminiscent of a figure walking. At the same time the work carries at its core an abstraction in the use of voided space, symmetry, and line. Hess further wrote about Pavia’s work: “[His] images dream of symmetry – of the upright man, the balanced face, the turning planet in its orbit. In his sculpture, symmetry is approached and avoided – summoned and dismissed.” Selected museum collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Newark Museum, Newark, NJ; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
JOn scHuElER (1916-1992) Winter Storm (58-9), 1958 Oil on canvas 79 x 66 inches Signed verso: Jon Schueler Provenance: Estate of the Artist Jon Schueler is often associated with the second generation of Abstract Expressionists. In the late 1940s he studied under Clyfford Still and alongside Richard Diebenkorn, Mark Rothko, and Ad Reinhardt at the California School of Fine Arts. Schueler, however, is distinctive among that generation as an artist who, in merging the landscape tradition of such masters as J.M.W. Turner and John Constable with the abstraction of his contemporaries, produced emotive and atmospheric works unique to the milieu. Schueler gained acclaim in 1957 following a solo exhibition – the first exhibition at the newly opened Leo Castelli Gallery. In 1975 the Whitney Museum of American Art mounted a solo exhibition of Schueler’s work.In subsequent years, Schueler would be included in many exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 1957, Schueler set up a studio in the small fishing village of Mallaig, in rural Scotland. This experience would lead to a decades-long romance with the land, and from the 1970s on, he painted there for several months of every year. Schueler described the influence of the Mallaig skyscape upon his art, “I found in its convulsive movement and change and drama such a concentration of activity that it became all skies and even the idea of all nature to me…Time was there and motion was there – lands forming, seas disappearing, worlds fragmenting, colors emerging or giving birth to burning shapes…” Schueler’s paintings, though carefully executed, exude a dynamic, improvisational quality. They convey an atmosphere that seems ever changing. Three elements are thus in play: the sky-world, with its constant shifts, that was Schueler’s abiding subject; the artist’s mercurial engagement with the sky in a passionate, shape-shifting tussle; and the viewer’s attempt to capture and engage with the wild vitality of the work on view. Selected museum collections: Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI; and Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland.
JOnâ€ˆscHuElER (1916-1992) Skywards (69-53), 1963 Oil on canvas 34 x 58 inches Signed verso: Jon Schueler Provenance: Estate of the Artist
laRRY POOns (b.1937) Untitled, c.1974 Acrylic on canvas 84 x 36 inches Signed verso: L Poons 1976 Provenance: Knoedler Gallery, New York, NY Private Collection Larry Poons is one of the most noted abstract painters working today, holding an important place in the history of 20th century American art. Ever since his emergence on the New York art scene in the 1960s, Poons’ works have maintained a high profile. From his carefully planned Op-Art lozenge paintings of the 1960s, Poons moved towards a more experimental approach to painting in the early 1970s. On the advice of Agnes Martin, he picked up acrylics and, in the legacy of Jackson Pollock, allowed gravity and chance to play a larger part in his creative process. Poons flung paint at canvas hung on walls, poured paint on canvas stretched out on the floor, and even swept still-wet paint across the canvas with a broomstick. Untitled is a celebratory result of these experiments. Unabashedly physical paint streams down the canvas. As if after a storm, colors merge into a rainbow of lavenders and turquoises, with moments of white and yellow sparking out to illuminate the field. The painting is a testament to Poons’ deep understanding of color. In an interview with Robert Ayers in 2009, Poons remarked, “The only tool a painter has – or ever had – to make paintings is color. It’s all color.” Selected museum collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York, NY; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada; Tate Gallery, London, England; Van Abbemuseum; Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
GEORGE mcnEIl (1908-1995) Rose and Black Configuration, 1952 Oil on canvas 30 x 24 inches Signed lower right: McNeil 52 Provenance: Private Collection George McNeil was among the most important and influential New York School artists of his generation. In 1936, McNeil was a founding member of the American Abstract Artists. Underscoring his vital role in American art the Artists’ Choice Museum’s 1984 retrospective confirmed the enormity of his influence upon a younger generation. McNeil was deeply respected by his peers, including Willem De Kooning, who suggested that McNeil’s work was not sufficiently appreciated in his lifetime because of the artist’s introspective nature and his determination to stay out of the limelight. McNeil’s art evolved throughout his six-decade long career, developing alongside each historic moment in American 20th century art – from Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s to the Figural Expressionism of the 1960s and 1970s and subsequently to the Neo-Expressionism of the 1980s. Impressively, there is not one period of McNeil’s work that is not highly regarded and not one period in which a passing style caused the artist to lose sight of his personal vision. McNeil valued authenticity and integrity above all else. Two of his masterworks, Rose and Black Configuration and Diablo Disco, though painted thirty years apart and reflecting distinct moments in American culture, nonetheless share the visceral energy and, as the artist himself put it, “sensate excitement,” that characterize McNeil’s best work. Selected museum collections: Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of America Art, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.
GEORGEâ€ˆmcnEIl (1908-1995) Diablo Disco, 1986 Oil on canvas 78 x 64 inches Signed lower right: McNeil 86 Provenance: Private Collection
nORman BluHm (1921-1999) Untitled (#379), 1976 Acrylic and pastel on canvas 48 x 38 inches Signed lower right: Bluhm 76 Provenance: Estate of the Artist
For the five decades that Norman Bluhm painted, his work became increasingly spiritual, sensuous and personal. He is now among the most admired and collected American artists of the 20th century. Bluhm’s work emanated from a powerful intellect as well as a physique that used painting to express his inner conflicts and inspirations. Frank O’Hara, the critic and poet who collaborated with Bluhm, wrote in 1962, “Bluhm is the only artist working in the idiom of abstract-expressionism who has a spirit similar to that of Pollock, which is to say that he is out – beyond beauty, beyond composition, beyond the old-fashioned kind of pictorial ambition.” Bluhm grew up in Chicago, Illinois and Florence, Italy. At the age of 16, he studied architecture with Mies van der Rohe at the Armour Institute of Technology (now the Illinois Institute of Technology) in Chicago. With America’s entry into World War II, Bluhm joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. Flying life-threatening bombing missions as well as losing his brother in combat had a profound effect on Bluhm’s understanding of nature and mortality. He lived and studied on the GI Bill in Paris from 1947 to 1956 where he became close friends with Joan Mitchell and Sam Francis and easily mixed with the Parisian avant-garde. Bluhm moved to New York in 1956 and became an active member of The Club, spending time with de Kooning, Kline and Motherwell at the Cedar Tavern. These associations were of interest to Bluhm in so far as discussing the future of abstraction, but his painting’s composition, brush work and imagery were more informed by his interest in architecture, Matisse, and his own physicality. The confidence and power evoked in these works brought critical attention to Bluhm. Leo Castelli gave Bluhm solo exhibitions in 1957 and 1960. In 1969 he had a one person exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Leaving New York in 1970, Bluhm settled in Millbrook, NY. With this move came a transformation in his work seen in larger format canvases and a more vivid palette. Allusions to the female form are apparent . These spontaneous, brightly colored and curvaceous works herald an evolution from his Expressionist work to a less aggressive, more buoyant style of painting. As curator James Harithas wrote about Bluhm in 2007, “Each body of work represents a new stage in his spiritual growth, beginning in his search for himself and his own style and ending in a profoundly personal realization of unity of all things in his mature paintings.” Selected museum collections: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
David Aronson 13 Oscar Bluemner 6 Norman Bluhm 69 Byron Browne 36 Peter Busa 25 Herman Cherry 50 Enrico Donati 30, 33 Leonard Edmondson 20, 21 John Ferren 47 Ed Garman 41 John Grillo 45 David Hare 35 Paul Kelpe 10
Front cover Image: John Opper (1908-1994) 21-80-82, 1980-82 Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 66 inches Inside front cover (detail): Herman Cherry (1909-1992) Cave of Black (Black Painting #6), 1954 Enamel and coffee grounds on canvas, 61 x 49 3/4 inches Inside back cover (detail): John Marin (1870-1953) Sea Movement, 1923 Watercolor on paper, 17 x 20 inches
Herman Maril 15 John Marin 8, 9 Alfred Maurer 19 George McNeil 64, 67 Kyle Morris 49 Gordon Onlsow Ford 23 John Opper 55 Philip Pavia 56 Larry Poons 63 Robert Richenburg 53 Jon Schueler 59, 60 Houghton Cranford Smith 16, 17
Essays: Lee Findlay Potter Janay Wong Louis Newman Isabelle Bird Design: Dallas Dunn Photography: Jeffrey Sturges Printing: Project Graphic Management, Long Island City, NY All rights reserved. Publication copyright © 2014 David Findlay Jr Gallery David Findlay Jr Gallery 724 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10019
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