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Alan Wolfson: New York Nocturnes November 17–December 17, 2016

HOLLI S TAG GART GALLER I ES 521 W 26th Street 7th Floor New York, NY 10001

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SEVERAL YEARS AGO I attended the opening of an exhibition at the Museum of Art


and Design near Columbus Circle in New York City. The show featured a group of leading contemporary artists from around the world showcasing masterful creations in various mediums, from sculpture to woodworking to video. To my eye, the standout in the exhibition was a mesmerizing miniature installation of New York urban scenes, complete with lights, abandoned cafÊ settings, a subway station with newspaper vendors, wall tiles, and signs, all incorporating the seemingly infinite variety of everyday elements we experience in a New York minute. I spent a long time crouched down to look inside the various portals, each one a fantasyland executed with precision and perfection beyond anything I’ve encountered before in a three-dimensional work of art. This masterpiece of New York nostalgia was the work of Alan Wolfson. Following in the traditions of other artists like Joseph Cornell and Lucas Samaras, Wolfson brings art and craftsmanship to a new level. His miniature worlds harken back to a simpler time and force the viewer to marvel and reminisce. The painstaking detail in each Wolfson creation is what makes them so enchanting; the realism he creates is otherworldly. Seldom do artists today display such craftsmanship, patience, and a keen eye for observation. I hold Wolfson as an unparalleled and unique artist in his chosen medium, and invite you all to marvel and be transfixed by the spectacular works in this show.

Hollis Taggart

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I WAS A LUCKY KID—my father was an artist. I was always encouraged to be creative. So long as I got my homework done if I wanted to spend my time drawing or building some6

thing, that was fine. I guess my parents realized that I was probably not going to pursue a career as a doctor or lawyer. When I was around ten years old I was taking painting and drawing classes after school, first at the Brooklyn Museum and later at Pratt Institute. Although I enjoyed those classes, painting and drawing were not really where my heart was—I loved building things in three dimensions. I used to get excited in first grade when the homework assignment was to build miniature environments into shoe boxes—dioramas. The topic was usually something like “things you see when you’re walking to school,” things like the grocery store, the barbershop, the police station. Little did I know that this would be the starting point for the work I’ve done all my life. After time in the military I returned to college to study art history. I was inspired by Joseph Cornell and Ed Kienholz’s assemblage, Edward Hopper’s ambiance and Richard Estes’ realism and subject matter. In later years I studied scenic design for the theater along with film production. I soon discovered that I enjoyed building the models for stage sets more than working on the actual stage productions and began to build miniature environments that were narrative in nature. I wanted them to tell a story and not just document the architecture or function as scenery. I have found that the the best way to do this is through the things that people leave behind—graffiti, trash, overflowing ashtrays, a tip left on a table or a door ajar—all evidence of someone having just been there. This allows a viewer to create in their own mind a scenario as to what just happened there. I never include people in the environments because that would only distract the viewer by drawing their attention to the fact that they are looking into a miniature—something not real.

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Most of the environments are not literal representations of existing places but rather a combination of existing and imagined architecture. Almost all of my work is of urban locations. I very often focus on the “darker” elements of the city. I find it more interesting to


stage a narrative in a locale where there’s a greater latitude for people’s behavior. Our imaginations can conjure up many more scenarios happening in Times Square as it was years ago than in the mundane environment it has since become. By the time I go into the studio to start a project, I’ve already been planning the piece in my head and researching it for months. I begin by making a simple sketch of my idea, and then draft the main components of the architecture onto cardboard. Those drafts are cut out and assembled into a rough mock-up of the piece. I add, subtract and move around elements of the mock-up until I’m satisfied with the basic layout, design and sightlines. Next I’ll begin construction using the mock-up as a template. Almost everything is built from plastics. Acrylic (Plexiglas) is used for anything structural and styrene (a thinner, softer plastic) is typically used for the detailing. Additional materials used are wood, soldered brass (for things such as hand railings), as well as various paper products. The graphics are produced in Photoshop. Every element of the piece is completely fabricated from scratch—nothing is storebought. Brick walls are assembled by individually gluing on one styrene brick at a time onto the wall. The lighting is integral to the narrative and mood and is built into the piece. My approach to designing the lighting is the same as that of lighting a stage set or a movie scene. I employ a combination of incandescent, miniature fluorescent, LEDs and fiber optics. I have exhibited my work since 1980 and am included in art collections throughout the U.S. and Europe. Alan Wolfson

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Occupied Hotel Room, 1979, mixed media, 18 x 26 x 26 inches

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Ma’s Home Cooking, 1991, mixed media, 12 ¾ x 15 ½ x 16 ¾ inches

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Street Corner #2, 2000, mixed media, 6 ½ x 10 ¾ x 6 ¼ inches

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Subway Series (#5), 1993, mixed media, 24 x 48 x 7 ½ inches

Subway Series (#1), 1993, mixed media, 24 x 48 x 7 ½ inches

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Hopp’s Luncheonette, 2008, mixed media, 7 ⅝ x 11 ½ x 8 ¾ inches

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Brooklyn Bridge Station, 2008, mixed media, 8 ⅝ x 12 ½ x 11 ¼ inches

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Casbah Club, 2008, mixed media, 8 ¼ x 7 ¼ x 7 inches

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Wall St. Subway Platform, 2008, mixed media, 7 x 6 x 5 ½ inches

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Canal St. Cross-Section, 2009–10, mixed media, 27 x 23 ½ x 19 ½ inches, private collection , United Kingdom

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Prince St. Subway Platform, 2016, mixed media, 7 x 6 x 5 ½ inches

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Katz’s Deli / Closing Time, 2012, Mixed media, 11 Ÿ x 22 x 21 inches, private collection

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Paradise-Playhouse, 2014, mixed media, 9 x 12 ¼ x 12 ½ inches

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ALAN WOLFSON b. Brooklyn, NY, 1948


2016 2014

2008 2001 2000 1999

1995 1993 1991 1989 1986 1985 1984 1983 1980



EDUCATION BA, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA


SOLO EXHIBITIONS Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, NY Alan Wolfson: Retrospective / New York Urban Visions, Musée Miniature et Cinéma, Lyon, France OK Harris Works of Art, New York, NY Bernarducci.Meisel Gallery, New York, NY Molly Barnes Gallery, Santa Monica, CA Alan Wolfson’s Mean Streets of New York, Kaye Museum of Miniatures, Los Angeles, CA Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY Margulies-Taplin Gallery, Boca Raton, FL Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY The Urban Art of Alan Wolfson, New York State Museum, Albany, NY Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY Jacqueline Anhalt Gallery, Los Angeles, CA


SELECTED EXHIBITIONS OTHERWORLDLY: Optical Delusions and Small Realities, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lille3000, Lille, France; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY World in a Box, Allan Stone Gallery, New York, NY


2001 2001

2001 1998 1997 1997 1996 1996 1993 1992 1990


Group Show, Gallery Henoch, New York, NY Collector’s Choice, Vero Beach Art Center, Vero Beach, FL Selections from the Daniel Hechter Collection, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel Contemporary American Realism III, M.A. Doran Gallery, Tulsa, OK Trains of Thought: The Railroad in Contemporary Art, Suzanne H. Arnold Gallery, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA Interiors Observed, Bernarducci.Meisel Gallery, New York, NY Ryman Program Benefit Art Exhibit, Walt Disney Imagineering, Glendale, CA After Effects, Available Light Ltd. Gallery, Burbank, CA Carole & Barry Kaye Museum of Miniatures, Los Angeles, CA Group Exhibition, Koplin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA After Midnight, Tatistcheff-Rogers Gallery, Santa Monica, CA Interiors, Tortue Gallery, Santa Monica, CA New York: City By Day/City By Night III, Galley Henoch, NY American Art Today: The City, The Art Museum, Florida International University, Miami, FL New York: City By Day/City By Night, Gallery Henoch, NY


1988 1987 1987

1986–87 1986

1984–85 1984 1983 1983

1983 1982 1981 1979

20th Anniversary (15 in Soho)-Artists & Movements From Our First Two Decades, Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY Art in the Armory, New York, NY The Best of Nashville, Metro Nashville Arts Commission Gallery, Nashville, TN Urban Visions: The Contemporary Artist and New York, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY Diner: An American Art Form, Castle Gallery, College of New Rochelle, NY Night Visions, OK Harris Works of Art, NY Places, Here and Now, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC 9th Annual Small Works Show, 80 Washington Square East Gallery, New York University, New York, NY New Realism, Robert Kidd Gallery, Birmingham, MI Return of the Narrative, Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, CA Contemporary American Realism, Foster Goldstrom Gallery, Dallas, TX Green County Arts Council, Catskill, NY Art in the Upstate, Albany State Plaza, Albany, NY Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY Louis K. Meisel Gallery, New York, NY Jacqueline Anhalt Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

This catalogue has been published on the occasion of the exhibition “Alan Wolfson: New York Nocturnes,” organized by Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, and presented from November 17 to December 17, 2016. ISBN: 978-0-9800745-8-1 Jacket, front: Subway Series (#1), detail, 1993 Jacket, back: Subway Series (#5), detail, 1993 Page 2: Katz’s Deli / Closing Time, detail, 2012 Pages 4–5: Paradise-Playhouse, detail, 2014 Publication copyright © 2016 Hollis Taggart Galleries All rights reserved Hollis Taggart Galleries 521 West 26th Street 7th Floor New York, NY 10001 Tel 212 628 4000 Fax 212 570 5786 Reproduction of contents prohibited Catalogue production: Ashley Park Design: Russell Hassell, New York Printing: Meridian Printing, Rhode Island Photography: Josh Nefsky, New York

HOLLI S TAGGART GALLER I ES Chelsea 521 W 26th Street 7th Floor NY, NY 10001

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Private Viewing 18 E 64th Street 3F NY, NY 10065

212 628 4000

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Alan Wolfson: New York Nocturnes  

​Published on the occasion of the exhibition "Alan Wolfson: New York Nocturnes" held at Hollis Taggart Galleries from November 17 through De...