Remnant Romance, Environmental Works: Idelle Weber and Aurora Robson

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January 14 –February 20, 2021 Essay by Edward M. Gómez

HOLLIS TAG GART 521 West 26th Street, 1st Floor, New York, NY 10001

plate 1 AURORA ROBSON Agneses, 2020 Plastic and paper debris around a rock 24 × 26 × 16 inches ( 61 × 66 × 40.6 cm)


FOR EWOR D Remnant Romance, Environmental Works: Idelle Weber and Aurora Robson brings together two forward-thinking women artists who examine detritus, the waste stream, and the ecological impact of consumption. Using different mediums and creating at distinct points in history, Weber and Robson challenge the viewer to think more deeply about the materials we discard. Placing their works in dialogue, we hope to spark reflection and continue the consciousness-building spurred by the landmark 2019 exhibition Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment, organized by the Princeton University Art Museum. Punctuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of rapid changes to the ecosystem has only become more timely, visible, and pressing.

Although Idelle Weber has been celebrated for her Pop Art paintings of silhouetted figures

that comment on the corporate culture of the 1960s, in the 1970s, she made substantial contributions to the development of Photorealism. Her photographs of rubbish found on New York City streets and on the East End of Long Island became sources for a series of still lifes depicting bottles, boxes with brightly colored logos, and crinkled tissue paper. Spanning the late 1970s through 2014, Weber’s trash paintings offer portraits of the by-products of mass-market consumerism over the course of more than four decades. Despite references to the destruction of nature, such as wilted flowers and dead or fake birds, few critics connected the works with environmentalism. When Weber’s paintings were featured in the 1992 Whitney Museum exhibition Six Takes on Photorealism alongside Robert Bechtel, Chuck Close, Robert Cottingham, Richard Estes, and Audrey Flack and were celebrated solely in the context of that movement. However, the use of dead bird imagery as a symbol for ecological destruction also appeared in Rachel Carson’s “A Fable for Tomorrow,” the opening to her influential 1962 book Silent Spring. Carson described a fictional town where “the few birds seen anywhere were moribund; they trembled violently and could not fly. It was a spring without voices.” The publication, which examined the use of DDT and other pesticides, propelled the environmental movement in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s.

Aurora Robson began working with plastic debris in the early 2000s. Intercepting the waste-

stream, she encourages the viewer to see plastic bottles, plastic strapping, and other packaging not merely as garbage but as raw material that, with thoughtfulness and commitment, can be repurposed to create something beautiful. Her sculptures, reliefs, and installations transform cut, weld, and collage plastic into somewhat magical organic forms. These joyful constructions are enlivened by references to natural systems such as ocean life, plant growth, or single-celled organisms. They capture the awe, wonder, and rejuvenation we feel when we find harmony with nature.

The gallery is grateful to Aurora for her enthusiastic collaboration and for the continued

support of Suzanne Weber, Todd Weber, and Chris Duva. We also thank Edward M. Gómez for his thoughtful essay for this catalogue, which places Robson’s recent works in context and draws connections between the artists. Points of contact include several pieces Robson conceived in response to Idelle’s paintings. The exhibition title “Remnant Romance” reflects an optimistic vision of the future, underlying both artists’ work, in which humanity and the natural world find equilibrium. Hollis Taggart Jillian Russo 5


Aurora Robson transforms consumer waste into objects of beauty, wonder, and urgent social value in a time of crisis. In her Photorealist paintings, Idelle Weber became a consciousnessraising portraitist of pollution. Edward M. Gómez Except to those who insist on blocking out or denying the scientific truth about conditions in the real world, it is no secret that, today, the Earth is in serious trouble. It is fighting for its life in the face of the ever more aggressive, destructive forces of degradation the human species continues to inflict upon it. For all the alarming harm humanity’s injurious behavior has caused, leading to a crisis marked by dramatic, disaster-provoking weather patterns, the fast extinction of species, and the melting of glaciers and the North Pole, among other calamities, in the long history of civilization, the period in which human activity leading to these recent developments evolved has been relatively short. After all, the so-called First Industrial Revolution began in Britain only in the latter half of the eighteenth century; fueling industry’s increasing demands for energy and raw materials, it took humanity’s consumption of natural resources and its resulting polluting of the environment only about two-anda-half centuries to push civilization to its current, life-or-death crossroads. In recent years, for many Americans, the unfathomable distractions of another kind of destruction—of the bedrock values, mechanisms, and institutions of their fragile, awkwardly constructed democracy by an unprecedented fascist regime that sought to decimate that democracy from within the government itself—have been as dispiriting as the magnitude of the planet-survival story has felt overwhelming. Then along came the coronavirus plague. Its worldwide spread was surprisingly swift, adding heavily to the human family’s profound sense of early-twenty-first-century foreboding and gloom. Against the backdrop of such convulsive events and in the context of a growing understanding that the only certainty about the future is that our collective path to it remains more unknowable and more uncertain than ever, how can—or should—contemporary artists think about, produce, and present their creations? Do visual artists have a special role to play in an ever broader,


ever more complex discussion of the economic, social, cultural, and historical forces that have shaped and continue to influence current conditions both in particular locales and on a global scale? As Aurora Robson’s highly original art has become internationally recognized in recent years, along with the sense of awareness and palpable sense of passion that have informed and shaped it, this Canadian-born artist has secured a firm position in the vanguard of today’s most creative visionaries. Robson may be counted among a league of contemporary art-makers who have seized upon the challenges and complexities of our time, finding inspiration in what is most daunting and satisfaction in creating works in a range of genres and media. Like the thinking and activism out of which they emerge, they are provocative, alluring, and unabashedly engaged. “For more than a decade, I’ve been working with debris for making art,” Robson noted in an interview conducted prior to the opening of Remnant Romance, Environmental Works: Idelle Weber and Aurora Robson, Hollis Taggart’s two-person exhibition, which places her most recent sculptural creations in a thematic dialog with some of the later works of the American artist Idelle Weber (1932–2020), who passed away last year at the age of 88. Weber was known for her innovative contributions to the central themes and formal language of Pop Art. In her later, Photorealist paintings, she documented with precision and grace an otherwise overlooked and, from the mainstream art establishment’s point of view, seemingly unworthy subject— the ubiquitous piles of trash that are to be found every day, in urban settings and just about everywhere. With technical skill and a sympathetic eye, Weber became a portraitist of the used-up and the cast-off—beer bottles, candy wrappers, broken furniture, and even the occasional dead bird (see East End Bufferin, 1990, pl. 2). She embraced the detritus of insatiable consumer culture even as her Pop and Photorealist peers could still sometimes be seen as celebrating the soulless mass production and consumption their work purported to critique—never mind the detached irony their representations of pop culture and consumerism’s hard-sell glitz and pizzazz supposedly purveyed. So, too, has Robson made a practice of creatively reconsidering trash. She noted, “As an artist, I’ve tried to figure out the best methods for handling the many different types of paper and plastic debris that is everywhere and that I find offensive—all the junk mail and glossy packaging that try to make us believe that the frozen food we’re buying is going to be lovely and delicious just by


plate 2 IDELLE WEBER East End Bufferin, 1990 Oil on linen 50 1/8 × 65 1/8 inches (127.3 × 165.4 cm)


virtue of the photographs and fancy graphics that are used in its advertising and packaging to seduce consumers.” Like a documentary photographer, in her paintings, Weber depicted what she discovered out in the urban landscape. In her own way, of course, she was a documentary photographer, one who used the photos she shot herself as source material for her Photorealist paintings. In effect, their compositional structures were those of the random scenes she discovered and documented on film for later reference back in the painting studio. To examine the palettes, layouts, and visual textures in Weber’s Photorealist pictures is to recognize and appreciate the many design decisions she made in the process of producing them—starting, of course, with how she chose to crop each complex image, implicitly determining which colors, shapes, and compositional rhythms would play leading roles within each one. Robson became familiar with Weber’s broader body of work and, in particular, with her trash-themed Photorealist paintings while working on the new sculptures featured in the current exhibition. She was especially interested in some of the colors that figure prominently in Weber’s highly detailed pictures. For example, Robson said, “Weber’s use of cadmium yellow prompted me to create Buckle Up Buttercup (see pl. 3), whose title refers to the concepts of ‘velocity,’ which has to do with the money supply, and ‘growth’ in contemporary economics—ideas that are linked to consumption and have helped lead us to today’s environmental quandary. Some of my works play off well against the frenetic compositions in Weber’s paintings.” For viewers encountering Robson’s two-dimensional, collage-based works or her remarkable, mixed-media sculptural creations for the first time, such confections may seem to have sprung in whole form from the most fervid, inventive imagination. Often compared to wildly growing plant forms—the kind of unfamiliar vegetation an explorer might find in the underbrush of some otherworldly jungle—Robson’s sculptures, like all of her art, seem to exude a sense of organic wholeness—a discernible, self-possessed unity—of the kind championed by the ninteenth-century British aesthete John Ruskin and thinkers of the Romantic era. Like the early, explosive, mixed-media installations of the American artist Judy Pfaff or the oddly shaped, energetically patterned, boldly colored paintings of Pfaff’s generational peer, Elizabeth Murray (1940–2007), Robson’s



plate 3 AURORA ROBSON Buckle Up Buttercup (detail), 2020 Plastic debris 20 × 21 × 13 inches (50.8 × 53.3 × 33 cm)

sculptures are both clever and sophisticated in form and construction. They can simultaneously feel rollicking and stately, funky and fun. Their character is eloquent, and often the size of a smaller-scale Robson sculpture belies its potential as a bigger, monumental statement. They are, to put it plainly, strangely beautiful objects. They celebrate in every curl of a plastic protuberance here or twist of a plastic tail there the touch of their maker’s skilled, knowing hand and the expressive, communicative power of fine craftsmanship—defying the now-tired dictates of doctrinaire postmodernist critical theory that still dismiss the value of such technical prowess. “I love to add beauty and light to the world,” Robson observed, referring to one of her guiding artistic principles. She explained, “Darkness, gravity, and entropy in the world today—they don’t seem to need any help. I see my work as an artist as an exercise in rational optimism and anti-discrimination: I’m thoroughly addicted to it and I think it even makes me kinder and smarter when I have time to practice my work in earnest. Waste to me represents a contemptible lack of grace. My work is an effort to add some measure of grace to the world.” Many viewers of Robson’s works might be surprised to learn that her artistic vision was partly born of some unsettling, early-life experiences, whose collective impact helped shape her worldview. But like the most thoughtful—and enterprising—artists, Robson rarely has let the lessons gleaned from her life’s journey go to waste. Not being wasteful is the very essence of her art-making ethos. Even her personal experience with COVID-19 seems to have affected her abiding sense of purpose; earlier this year, Robson and her husband, and their two young daughters, all fell ill with the disease. They all survived, but now the artist seems more determined than ever to produce art whose warnings about excessive consumption and needless waste may be conveyed as effectively as possible in a not-so-subtle celebration of life itself. Robson was born in Toronto in 1972 and moved to New York when she was eighteen years old. There, she studied metal welding, became a certified welder, and began making metal sculptures. Although, earlier, she had not finished high school, she passed the entrance exams for admission to Columbia University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in art history and visual art, graduating with honors. She studied with the artist Jon Kessler,


who was known for his mixed-media, kinetic works combining analog and digital components. Kessler’s art critiqued technology itself. Robson once noted, “Kessler taught me that art about art was boring.” More recently, she observed, “I’m interested in the idea of learning through serious and playful inquiry as opposed to tortuous drudgery or other ways of learning. I’m interested in art as serious play and as a form of cultural service.” As a young artist exploring new materials and art-making techniques, Robson became deeply concerned about pollution, consumer-generated waste, and the various kinds of harm the human species had caused and was continuing to inflict upon the natural environment. I first met Robson just over a decade ago at her former studio, in Brooklyn, while she was constructing What Goes Around, Comes Around (2008), an inventive, even audacious sculptural work whose voluminous, serpentine form measured some 65 feet in length. Designed to be suspended from a high ceiling, it was almost 20 feet tall. At that time, I was astonished to learn that, except for the tiny metal rivets the artist had employed to join together its many thousands of meticulously cut plastic parts, all of the materials used in the assembly of this monumental concoction had been, as she likes to say, “rescued from the waste stream.” The entire sculpture, which bulged and twitched rhythmically like a gigantic, multi-limbed beast, had been made from different kinds of cast-off plastic bottles, which Robson had cleaned using an ecologically sound process and then painted using non-toxic, water-based colors. The range and diversity of cut-plastic elements she had produced in large quantities to serve as the components of the massive sculpture were as unexpected as they were impressive: the big work was made up of tubular segments, crab-shell-shaped bowls, and spoon-like protrusions in an eruption of romping sculptural form. With its bright, translucent colors—red-orange, yellow, green, and a lustrous, milky white—Robson’s grand, exuberant creation seemed to glow from within. (When working on such large-scale projects, Robson sometimes trains assistants in her method of washing and preparing salvaged bottles and other plastic refuse for use in art-making; she also teaches them how to cut such material using special scissors or other tools to make the thousands of identical pieces she needs to construct her sculptures.)


plate 4 IDELLE WEBER Musical Chairs, 2014 Watercolor on paper 17 3/8 × 22 1/2 inches (44.1 × 57.1 cm) (image size)


plate 5 IDELLE WEBER Swan, 1994 Watercolor on paper 14 1/4 × 14 inches (36.2 × 35.6 cm)


In an interview published in Art in America in 2009, the artist told me, “I’m a big fan of structure and of understanding how forms function. I read a lot of Buckminster Fuller.” At that time, she also revealed that all of her work is rooted in recurring nightmares that she experienced as a child; she referred to that essential aspect of her art-making history again during our more recent conversation. In those disturbing dreams, she recalled in the interview, she felt herself to be a tiny creature in a landscape in which, she said, “[I was] trapped in a knot that surrounded me, from which blobs that were diaphanous, gelatinous, and larger than me emerged. Maybe this landscape was related to [my] childhood. My idea was to take something negative and turn it into something positive, an idea that has become the philosophical foundation of all of my work.” More recently, she reiterated, “I always return to the well of my childhood nightmares in some way, shape, or form—as a way of honoring the system of my practice and my personal history, which has brought me here to this moment.” The path to the new mixed-media works Robson is presenting in Remnant Romance winds through the past several years of the artist’s experiments with the expressive power of her distinctive sculptural language and the craftsmanship that gives it concrete form. During this time, she has created both large-scale, site-specific, room-filling installation works for large spaces (such as The Great Indoors at Rice University in Houston, in 2008, or Be Like Water at Skybox in Philadelphia, in 2010) and smaller pieces that can stand alone or be presented alongside other works of the same character to reinforce an understanding of their shared formal or thematic concerns. Robson has experimented with internal lights to make some of her sculptures more literally luminous. Her art’s unique vocabulary of forms—all of the curlicues, leaf or shell shapes, cones, tubes, and plant-like protuberances that she fashions from repurposed plastic trash to make her assemblages—has expanded and become more diverse, and Robson continues to devise new composition-building units. In her search for ways to assemble her sculptures without producing any additional waste, more recently she has begun using a set of new tools that have allowed her to stop using tiny metal rivets to hold together her assemblages’ constituent parts. These tools include an injection welder, an ultrasonic welder, and an industrial sewing machine. In effect, as Robson’s art-making


methods have evolved, they have become more self-contained and less waste-generating in their own right. Now, thanks to these tools, Robson can manipulate with even more agility the various thicknesses and cut-shape pieces of plastic she normally handles in creating her sculptural works. She has combined different materials, such as scraps of product packaging and found plastics, in such three-dimensional works as Agneses (pl. 1) and Buckle Up Buttercup, whose fluffy, flowing forms recall the illusionistic depths and cascades of color in the two-dimensional collage drawings she has made over the years using repurposed junk mail— advertising flyers and cards, and direct-marketing printed matter. These new works literally give Robson’s collages fuller and, well, plastic form, to use, in its purest sense, the word most associated with her art. Now, with the appearance of these genre-busting new works, the formal and thematic relationships between all of the main modes of expression she has developed over the years have never been more evident. In such pieces as Plantpocalypse and Doughnut Economics (both from 2020, pls. 8 and 6), with their respective green, blue, and white, or black palettes, Robson’s ultrasonic welder has allowed her to fuse her components together without the visual interruption of metal rivets. Robson noted that she developed Doughnut Economics partly as a result of “looking at the shiny, plastic trash-bag references in Weber’s paintings, as well as the black asphalt that can be seen beneath the debris she depicted.” Ding Dang (2017, pl. 7), the current exhibition’s big anchor piece, renders ancient Chinese philosophy’s yin and yang symbol, which alludes to the concepts of opposing forces and dualism, in bulbous, glowing tear-drop forms made with welded plastic debris and LEDs. Each half of Robson’s sculpture is composed of tear-drop-shaped tiles that overlap to create scaly surfaces, which the artist has modeled to craft two matching rotund, tapered spheres. Meanwhile, as a piece of safety headgear, Plantpocalypse can actually be worn as a hard hat, and Doughnut Economics functions as a welding helmet. In Plantpocalypse, thickets of textured, packing-tie strips, bottle caps, and transparent cup lids bring to mind the luxuriously odd costumes of regal characters in fantasy films, or the experiments, in the 1960s, of the Spanish-born fashion designer Paco Rabanne, who famously used plastic and found and industrial materials to make women’s haute couture dresses. Sometimes


plate 6 AURORA ROBSON Doughnut Economics, 2020 Plastic debris, hardware affixed to the artist’s old metal welding helmet 24 × 25 × 16 inches (61 × 63.5 × 40.6 cm)


referred to as fashion’s Jules Verne for the futuristic character of his unconventional garments, Rabanne turned his industry on its head with his presentation in Paris, in 1966, of a collection dubbed “Twelve Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials.” The remarkable buoyancy that Robson teases out of her material—sometimes her compositions’ varied parts are pliable; sometimes they are more rigid—becomes the center of attention in these sensuous forms, in which the spout of a liquid laundry-detergent container is recognizable here, or the base of a shampoo-bottle’s cap comes into focus there. With every new group of sculptures, Robson introduces new compositional elements. In her Remnant Romance works, for example, wide, flat-plastic strips cut to create long, floppy fringes add to each piece’s multi-layered textures. (An interesting affinity of which Robson was hitherto unaware: In Japan, the young self-taught artist Yuki Fujioka has become known on the contemporary Japanese art brut scene for his sculptural works consisting of similar, finely cut, shaggy fringes. They are made with found paper.) Elsewhere in her latest works, Robson toys with spherical and other forms that seem to generate themselves, spilling forth like wild, creeping vegetation spreading out energetically to commandeer the space they occupy. All of her sculptures seem to share classic modernism’s fascination with the expressive power of pure form. “These newest pieces integrate all the ways of sculpting and working with debris that I’ve experimented with and found effective over the course of my practice as an artist so far,” Robson observed. In her latest sculptures, she explained, “I mix plastic with other packaging, and sewing with welding. I see these combinations as a metaphor for unity—for our need to unify our approaches to solving global problems in a fractured and fragmented time.” Conceptually, in her Photorealist paintings, Idelle Weber transformed her subject matter, effectively dignifying the ignored and unmentionable— human-generated trash—by choosing it as the worthy subject of serious art. At once anthropological and aesthetic, her transformative action owed the strength of its impact as much to how she regarded her subject matter as it did to the quality and character of the effort she made to portray it. Robson also deals in transformation; like so many artists whose productions have attracted and enchanted audiences throughout art’s long history, the allure of her


plate 7 AURORA ROBSON Ding Dang, 2018 Welded industrial plastic debris, LEDs 72 × 72 × 108 inches (182.9 × 182.9 × 274.3 cm)


plate 8 AURORA ROBSON Plantpocalypse, 2020 Plastic and paper debris on found hard hat 21 × 19 × 19 inches (53.3 × 48.3 × 48.3 cm)


unusual creations lies both in the intriguing freshness of her ideas and in the skillful, almost magical way in which she gives them tangible form. To some degree, contemporary-art audiences have caught up with the concerns and the sense of urgency about them that Robson has been examining and expressing through her art for many years. However, unlike so many postmodernist artists who merely appropriate objects, photographs, or even other works of art and, simply by presenting them in the unexpected context of an art exhibition, purport to imbue them with novel, “recontextualized” meanings, through painstaking handiwork, Robson literally transforms her raw materials into artworks whose curiousness, drama, and grit (for they are as assertive as they are delightful) demand more of viewers than the one-trick gimmickry of pomo entertainers. Robson often says that she hopes her work will inspire others to create art out of refuse, too. Along with reveling in the joy of “serious play,” her art, like its creator, has some serious messages to convey, however nuanced her elegant collages, paintings, and sculptures may sometimes appear. Taking a broad view of her position as a member of the human family and of current conditions on the planet it calls home, Robson is quick to point out that she has dutifully absorbed—and learned from—life’s uncertainties and challenges, including her recent, potentially fatal bout of COVID-19. Despite such alarming public-health crises and the economic and political instability that have shaped the tenor of our times, she remains, as she says, “rationally optimistic.” “We’re realizing that, fortunately, the current pandemic probably won’t last as long as it would have lasted in an earlier, pre-Internet age,” Robson said. “Today, scientists, the medical community, and so many people around the world are more closely connected and sharing ideas and information faster than ever before. We’re entering a time in which it seems that many of us need or could get by with less—but with better, including fewer ego-driven activities and more opportunities for self-actualization leading to real, rewarding, personal bliss.” Robson hesitated to suggest that a new Age of Enlightenment might now be dawning but she did add, hopefully, “A reset is in progress—and I hope that, somehow, my work may contribute to it in positive ways.”


plate 9 IDELLE WEBER Lust Set, 1978 Oil on linen 33 × 65 5/8 inches (83.8 × 166.7 cm)



plate 10 IDELLE WEBER Poland Spring, 2009 Oil on linen 23 7/8 × 36 inches (60.6 × 91.4 cm)


plate 11

plate 12

AURORA ROBSON New Game, 2020

AURORA ROBSON New Rules, 2020

Plastic debris

Plastic debris

11 1/2 × 10 1/2 × 7 inches (29.2 × 26.7 × 17.8 cm)

19 × 11 × 10 inches (48.3 × 27.9 × 25.4 cm)


plate 13 AURORA ROBSON If, 2020 Welded plastic debris 16 × 10 × 10 inches (40.6 × 25.4 × 25.4 cm)


plate 14 IDELLE WEBER Vita Coco, 2012 Oil on linen 32 × 39 inches (81.3 × 99.1 cm)


plate 15 IDELLE WEBER Wrinkle Free, 2010 Oil on linen 32 × 40 inches (81.3 × 101.6 cm)


plate 16 AURORA ROBSON Infinite Content, 2020 Wraparound “corner relief,� plastic debris pieces Variable dimensions


AUROR A ROB S ON (b. 1972)

I DELLE WEBER (1932–2020)

is a multi-media artist known predominantly

was born in Chicago and was raised there and

for her meditative work intercepting the

in Beverly Hills, California. As a teenager, she

plastic waste stream. Her practice is about

won a Scholastic Art Award, among other

subjugating negativity and shifting trajecto-

regional competitions. She pursued art while

ries. Her work formally references recurring

a student at Scripps College and UCLA, where

nightmares she had as a child, hybridized with

her instructors included Millard Sheets and

forms in nature. Robson was born in Toronto

Stanton Macdonald-Wright. Weber taught

and grew up in Hawaii. She lived and worked

briefly in Los Angeles before moving to New York

in New York City for over two decades during

in 1957 at age 25. That year, a drawing was

which time she studied art history and visual

included in the Museum of Modern Art’s

art at Columbia University. Recently Robson

Recent Drawings U.S.A. and Gertrude Mellon

moved to the Hudson Valley to raise her

bought the piece from the show.

two daughters. Robson is a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Grant, a New York Foundation

In 1958, Weber studied at the Art Students

for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture, a TED/

League with Theodoros Stamos and Ralph

Lincoln Re-Imagine Prize and a National

Humphries, and her first silhouette paintings

Endowment for the Arts Art Work Grant.

developed from her work there. The silhouettes

She has exhibited her work internationally in

depict types—businessmen, office workers,

museums, galleries and non-traditional

couples, brides, families—in quotidian activi-

spaces since 2002.

ties. Offset by brightly colored or patterned back grounds, the archetypal quality of the

Robson is also the founding artist of Project

forms suggests standardization or commer-

Vortex, an international collective of artists,

cialization, an implication underscored by

designers and architects who also work in

crisp outlines that resemble advertisements.

innovative ways with plastic debris. Recently

Whether critique or celebration of American

Robson has been developing and assisting

culture, the graphic appeal of the silhouette

with the implementation of a college course

works reflected her engagement with Pop

called “Sculpture and Intercepting the Waste

Art. By the early 1960s, Weber was represent-

Stream” designed to foster creative steward-

ed by gallerist Bertha Schaefer and her work

ship through academia.

was exhibited widely at venues including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the American Federation of Arts, and the Dwan Gallery. In 1963, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery purchased a piece. Later in the 1960s, Weber began working with Plexiglass to create wall sculptures in three dimensions.


EDWAR D M. G ÓM E Z In the late 1960s, Weber started painting a

is an arts journalist, critic, author, curator,

realist series from photographs she had taken

translator, and graphic designer. He is the

of New York City storefronts. Over the next

senior editor of the international, London-

few years, with the encouragement of

based outsider-art magazine Raw Vision and

gallerist Ivan Karp, Weber developed this

a critic and writer for the American arts-and-

approach, painting fruit stands and curbside

culture magazine Hyperallergic. He is also a

trash. The first presentation of her Photoreal-

contributing writer for Nikkei Asian Review,

ist works at Hundred Acres Gallery in 1973

the English-language edition of Nihon Keizai

established her reputation as a key figure in

Shinbun, Japan’s leading financial-news

the movement alongside Chuck Close, Richard


Estes, and Audrey Flack. Her paintings were subsequently exhibited at OK Harris Gallery

Edward has written and provided photography

and featured in Real, Really, Real, Superreal;

for The New York Times, The International

Directions in American Realism at the San

Herald Tribune (Paris), The San Francisco

Antonio Museum of Art (1981) and Six Takes

Chronicle/S.F. Gate, Art & Antiques, ARTnews,

on Photorealism at the Whitney Museum of

Art in America, Art + Auction, Metropolis, Folk

American Art (1992). In the following decades,

Art Magazine, The Japan Times (Tokyo),

Weber focused on images of discarded

Reforma (Mexico City), and many other

bottles, boxes and other refuse, as well as

publications. He is the author or co-author of

foliage, flowers, pebbles, and other natural

numerous books including, among others,

subjects. Her artwork is held in many public

Cathy Ward: Liberty Realm (Strange Attractor

collections including the Metropolitan Museum

Press), As Things Appear (Ballena Studio),

of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the

Genqui Numata (Franklin Furnace Archive),

Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum

Dictionnaire de la civilisation japonaise (Hazan

of American Art, the Harvard Art Museums,

Éditions), Yes: Yoko Ono (Abrams), and The

the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the

Art of Adolf Wölfli: St. Adolf-Giant-Creation

Brooklyn Museum, and the Chrysler Museum

(American Folk Art Museum/Princeton

of Art, among many others. Weber passed

University Press). Valton Tyler: Flesh Is Fiction,

away on March 23, 2020 at the age of 88.

Edward’s film about the Texan outsider artist Valton Tyler, produced with Chris Shields, was released in 2017.


This catalogue has been published

A portion of the sales from this exhibition will

on the occasion of the exhibition

be donated to support the environmental

“Remnant Romance, Environmental Works:

advocacy organization Riverkeeper. For more

Idelle Weber and Aurora Robson”

information on this organization, please visit

organized by Hollis Taggart, New York,

and presented from January 14–February 20, 2021. All Artwork © Estate of Idelle Weber All Artwork © Aurora Robson Essay © Edward M. Gómez ISBN: 978-1-7333303-4-3 Publication © 2021 Hollis Taggart All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents prohibited. Frontispiece: Idelle Weber, Lust Set (detail), 1978 (pl. 9) Hollis Taggart 521 West 26th Street 1st Floor New York, NY 10001 Tel 212 628 4000 Fax 212 570 5786 Catalogue production: Kara Spellman Copyediting: Jessie Sentivan Design: McCall Associates, New York Printing: Point B Solutions, Minneapolis Photography: Joshua Nefsky for Idelle Weber; Marshall Coles for Aurora Robson

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