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Arnold Mesches, ANOMIE 1928: THE SALUTE, 1996, Acrylic on canvas, 80 × 54 inches, Courtesy of the Artist, Photo © Alex Garcia, The Frost Art Museum

SELECTIONS FROM ANOMIE 1492-2006 ARNOLD MESCHES 10.13.2010 - 12.05.2010


Arnold Mesches, ANOMIE 1913; THE EMPEROR’S WAY, 1996, Acrylic on canvas, 66 x 94 inches, Courtesy of the Artist

Arnold Mesches, ANOMIE 1995; UNDER THE TENT, 1995, Acrylic on canvas, 80 x 72 inches, Courtesy of the Artist, Photo © Alex Garcia, The Frost Art Museum

Arnold Mesches, ANOMIE 1940; MORGEN DIE WELT, 1991, Acrylic on canvas, 70 x 106 inches, Courtesy of the Artist

Since late 1989 and until mid-1996, I had been making an imaginary Time Line, paintings and collages that include overt and subtle references to the overlapping histories and multi-cultural aspects of life on our planet. The large acrylic paintings encompassed post modern concepts with old master techniques and structure. In the collages, I drew, photographed, pasted, projected, borrowed and invented. I used past and present images to pose questions I have been unable to answer, historic propositions that seem to have no clear conclusions; I used every technique I know to give form to my ideas. The series began innocently enough: my wife and I were walking on the boardwalk at Brighton Beach one nippy fall day in 1989, when we almost tripped over three standing, lone figurines, a small Aunt Jemima, a somewhat larger headless Christ and a winged Roman centaur, a bit taller, also beheaded. They were mine in seconds, stored for future use in the bowels of my pocket camera, which I long ago substituted for a sketch pad. Two months later, they were weirdly juxtaposed in front of a ghostly pope and bishop, a moody, striped, horizontal sky and a silhouetted Caribbean landscape. I didn't plan it to be a series. I never do. It grew. Parrots watched the Contras and the Guerrillas shooting at each other near a hotel swimming pool in El Salvador, Coney Island merged with Winston Churchill in Cairo in 1921. Collected photos took on new meanings, merged with birds and guards and vintage motorcycles, Moscow flashed in front of merry-go-rounds and figures appropriated from the Renaissance masters, Giotto and Masaccio, symbolized the return of religion in that ancient arena. Skies became interspersed with carnivals, cadavers, helicopters and Cyclops. The paintings were historically dated after the painting was finished, after the painting was a painting on its own. For example, top hatted industrial barons, fronting a fiery steel mill, toast their holdings atop horseless carriages; the painting was then chronologically placed in the series; ie, the invention of steel, I later discovered, took place in 1858. Its title became 1858:STEEL. With 1934:HALOS, a half round flag used in political campaigns combines with circles of lights from old Coney Island to suggest halos behind a Christ-like image from San Francisco's famous longshoreman's strike of that year. In or about 1991, Germany was reunited--in the 75 years of Germany’s existence as a unified state, 75 million people have died in wars perpetrated by that country. NOSTALGIA was dated 1991. Nothing is overt, images move and mingle freely through time, find their place conceptually, independent of actualities, a mannequin from a Los Angeles storefront is coveted by 1919 European soldiers also coveting St. Basil's Cathedral while, behind a complacent 1890 English doll house and a young girl swinging aimlessly, dozens of parachutes float silently earthward in an ominous, blood red evening which, for me, became a painting about the west denying the consequences of the Spanish civil war. Rising above Columbus' ships in 1492:NEGATIVE SPACES is a crowded hillside graveyard, comprised of once great art objects compiled from various periods and different cultures commercially reduced to mediocre lawn sculpture and, similarly, once massive sculptural pieces depicting prominent Soviet and pre-Soviet leaders wind up as knickknacks being sold in a 1994 Italian flea market together with mass-produced copies of Michaelangelo's David, Princess Di, a crowing

cock and a preaching Christ. A Czech doll, circa 1898 folk art, dwarfs Hitler's entourage planning the invasion of Britain in 1940:MORGEN DIE WELT...Tomorrow the World. In 1941, the Nazis divided a defeated France; FLYING BUTTRESSES became that moment in time. Two bearded wrestlers, macho relics from a previous macho era, fight to a wasteful stand-still in a cramped Sassetta interior in 1948:THE WRESTLERS which, to me, suggested the impasse of the Cold War. While painting, 1942:POONTA, BOMBAY, I discovered that the English threw India’s Mahatma Gandhi into the Poonta, Bombay jail in 1942 for his refusal to lead India into the war. I titled #38, 1869:THE WEDDING OF THE RAILS when I discovered that, in that year, hundreds of Chinese and Irish laborers died in a frantic effort to bring two main rail lines together in Utah in the era in American history, called “Manifest Destiny.” In 1920, following the first world war, the League of Nations was formed to insure everlasting peace in the world. My drummers in THE BOY’S BAND commemorated that event. In 1929, the stock market crashes. THE LIGHTER is my comment on that event. In 1947, following its usefulness as a secret intelligence agency during World War 2, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) became the overt spy agency, the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency. #35 became 1947:THE TRAINING BOUT. WINGED VICTORY soon became the carnival atmosphere of the 1991 Gulf War and 1991; TRUE BLUE, the victory march that followed. 1992:LANDSCAPE PAINTING, I soon realized, was me venting my fears about that war igniting into another global nightmare. In THE DREAM OF REASON, Coney Island’s roller coaster, a levitating woman from a magic act hovering precariously over the spike-like images of street repair signs, suggested the 1991 end of the socialist experiment in eastern Europe. JET STAR 2000 is clearly my cynical view of the future at the millennium. CONEY 2001, painted in 1997, is, I feel, a fitting expression of the beginnings of the new millennium. It is now in the Permanent Collection of the Whitney Museum in NYC. There are 49 paintings, 145 collages, over 100 related Polaroids and countless numbers of drawings and color sketches. The series is entitled ANOMIE, the definition of which has to do with "a condition of society marked by the absence of moral standards." In a broader sense, they are the conceptual admixture of reality and the surreal I have been striving for over these 52 years of painting and activism; they incorporate all that I know and believe about past and present painting, about surfaces and content. The series, the more it developed, incorporated pertinent, though often disparate, historical and personal images I had carefully hoarded, remembrances I have purposefully, perhaps even unconsciously, retained, gleaned and made relevant by the infusion of the media and art history. It seems to be a summation of my collected views on the world's madness and inconsistencies, on beauty and ugliness, evil and justice, on life over death. Arnold Mesches, 1997 Addendum, Nov 22, 2001

Arnold Mesches, ANOMIE 1947; THE TRAINING BOUT, 1993, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 54 inches, Courtesy of the Artist, Photo © Alex Garcia, The Frost Art Museum

Arnold Mesches, ANOMIE 1991; TRUE BLUE, 1991, Acrylic on canvas, 80 x 106 inches, Courtesy of the Artist, Photo © Alex Garcia, The Frost Art Museum

Arnold Mesches, ANOMIE 1992; LANDSCAPE PAINTING, 1991, Acrylic on canvas, 80 x 96 inches, Courtesy of the Artist, Photo © Alex Garcia, The Frost Art Museum

CHECKLIST OF THE EXHIBITION ANOMIE 1910; FAMILY PORTRAIT, 1993 Acrylic on canvas 60 x 58 inches

ANOMIE 1947; THE TRAINING BOUT, 1993 Acrylic on canvas 60 x 54 inches

ANOMIE 1995; UNDER THE TENT, 1995 Acrylic on canvas 80 x 72 inches

ANOMIE 1913; THE EMPEROR’S WAY, 1996 Acrylic on canvas 66 x 94 inches

ANOMIE 1951; THE BIG PICTURE, 1990-91 Acrylic on canvas 80 x 90 inches Collection: The Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL

ANOMIE 2006; DOG EARED, 2006 Acrylic on canvas 80 x 74 inches

ANOMIE 1928; THE SALUTE, 1996 Acrylic on canvas 80 x 54 inches ANOMIE 1938; BLIND LIGHT, 1994 Acrylic on canvas 48 x 60 inches ANOMIE 1939; THE BLACK HOLE, 1990 Acrylic on canvas 72 x 88 inches Collection: Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL ANOMIE 1940; FLYING BUTTRESSES, 1994 Acrylic on canvas 60 x 52 inches ANOMIE 1940; MORGEN DIE WELT, 1991 Acrylic on canvas 70 x 106 inches

ANOMIE 1980; NANCY REAGAN'S DREAM, 1992 Acrylic on canvas 80 x 120 inches ANOMIE 1991; TRUE BLUE, 1991 Acrylic on canvas 80 x 106 inches ANOMIE 1991; THE DREAM OF REASON, 1992 Acrylic on canvas 63 1/2 X 84 inches ANOMIE 1991; FULL CIRCLE, 1991 Acrylic on canvas 80 x 96 inches ANOMIE 1992; LANDSCAPE PAINTING, 1991 Acrylic on canvas 80 x 96 inches


The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum

Exhibition Coordinators Debbye Kirschtel-Taylor and Klaudio Rodriquez

Florida International University 10975 SW 17th St., Miami, FL 33199 t: 305.348.2890 f: 305.348.2762 e: w:

Installation of Works Albert Hernandez and Andrew Vasquez

Museum Hours: Tues-Sat: 10am-5pm / Sun: 12pm-5pm / Mon: Closed The Frost Art Museum receives ongoing support from the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Mayor and the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners; the State of Florida; the Steven & Dorothea Green Endowment; Funding Arts Network; Dade Community Foundation; Target; and the Members & Friends of The Frost Art Museum; The Miami Herald 2010-2011 Media Sponsor

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program

Catalog Coordination Jessica Delgado Design and Layout Raymond Mathews

Florida Artists Series: Selections from Anomie 1492-2006 by Arnold Mesches  

Throughout his 65-year career as an artist and professor, Arnold Mesches has woven many narratives into lush and virtuosic paintings. Mesche...

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