Old World, New Country: The Art of Joseph Garlock October 15, 2004 - January 15, 2005 Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art
His grandchildren said that his motto was “Everything in moderation,” but Joseph Garlock’s artistic output was an exuberant and prolific expression of his two cultures.
Born in 1884 outside of Minsk, Russia, Garlock arrived in the United
States in 1904 at the age of twenty with his wife Anna, settling down in Manhattan, where many Jewish immigrants lived. He moved to Bloomfield, New Jersey in approximately 1905, where he worked privately as a bus driver and then an owner of a fruit and vegetable market, supporting five children.
When he retired from a lifetime of hard work at age sixty-five in 1949,
Garlock experimented for fifteen years with a variety of artistic styles, techniques, and media. His subject matter reflects a special bridge between turn-of-the-century Russia and post-World War II America. While his two countries were locked in cold war, Garlock was passionately melding his contrasting cultural experiences together. Regardless of the subject matter, his paintings often convey an overriding sense of loneliness and solitude: empty highways, serene landscapes, still-lifes, travel and nature images, portraits and self-portraits, memory scenes of his native country, and depictions of Jewish life and culture. Although he spent his life in crowded circumstances, both in Russia and with his growing family in America, Garlock lived alone for nearly 10 years, being looked after by his children. Artistically, these were prolific years for Garlock. His daily life was quiet, but his world on canvas was expansive.
It is unlikely that Garlock owned any art history books, and it is believed
that his replications and alterations of modern masterworks derive from reproductions in magazines, such as the copies of Life(1), published as a weekly from 1936 to 1972. Garlock’s outdoor scenes frequently reveal a small person dwarfed by a massive and beautiful mountain or natural wonder. In many cases, the landscapes take on a strong abstraction, perhaps a nod to the abstract art that was championed by the publishers of Life as a representation and cultural symbol of American freedom(2).
Although his many high-contrast black and white paintings drew
upon the magazine illustrations he saw, Garlock was also a proficient and highly intuitive colorist and used many different media, including oil, watercolor,
gouache, and colored pencils. He would paint on canvas and Masonite, as well as on common household materials such as cardboard, wallpaper, oilcloth, and tablecloths. He made his own frames or salvaged them from discarded pictures. Garlock experimented with many styles, such as impressionism, abstraction, and realism, as well as more individualized techniques, such as cartooning, a “stained glass” format, and a device of vivid rainbow patterning emanating from figures and objects.
Many of the artist’s works celebrated America and its public spaces,
including bridges, highways, and beaches. These were the free and marvelous wonders of America. He created images of a thriving and booming postwar country. Garlock’s life experience was limited to his small village in Russia and the New York and suburban New Jersey area. He journeyed to Coney Island in Brooklyn with his family and his beach scenes are some of his most inspiring works.
The story of Garlock’s art cannot be told without stressing the impact and
influence of his oldest daughter Rose, who encouraged his artmaking activities and preserved his body of work. Just a few years after he started painting, Garlock was recognized in April 1950 with a one-man show at the Albert Van Loen Gallery in New York City. He was also featured in an article in the Newark Star Ledger in the 1950s and in other local newspaper articles, but received no major public recognition after this show.
For years after Garlock died in 1979, his children and grandchildren
believed everything their grandfather had created was accounted for in their homes and in Rose’s Woodstock cabin. In the spring of 1999, however, his grandchildren pried open a shed on the Woodstock property and found it packed with hundreds of Garlock’s sculptures and paintings. The discovery brought to the surface a forgotten world. Garlock made each image his own and communicated his visual insights in a highly personal way. Although he believed himself a hobbyist, he transcended this modest role with his intense persistence and innate talent. After a lifetime of work, he found a way to present the beauty of his dual worlds— Old and New— as he wished to experience them, in a solitary way. —Martha Watterson, Exhibition Curator
Nannette V. Maciejunes, “Self-Taught Artists and the Old Masters,” in Joseph Garlock: Paintings and Sculpture (St. Louis: Cecille R. Hunt Gallery, Webster University, 2003), p 5.
See Erika Doss, ed., Looking at Life Magazine (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001).
Martha Watterson would like to thank Joseph Garlock’s grandchildren: Ann Frazier-Winfield, Stefana Paskoff, and Gregor Sirotof; as well as James Cox of James Cox Gallery in Woodstock, New York for providing biographical information on Garlock’s life for this essay and for their support of this exhibit.
(fig. 1) (snow scene with children, with sleds and horse), 1951 Paint on canvas 23” x 23” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 2) (autumn trees), 1954 Gouache on board 24” x 21” Collection of Russell A. Howard (fig. 3) (waterfall with figure), 1953 Oil on canvas 28” x 30” Collection of Daniel S. Berger, MD and Matthew Piechowski (fig. 4) (yellow train), Oil on canvas 16” x 26” Collection of Russell A. Howard Courtesy Lindsay Gallery (fig. 5) (winter scene with train on inclined trestle), 1950 Paint on board 19.5” x 25.75” Courtesy Marna Anderson Gallery, New Paltz, NY (fig. 6) (Niagara Falls), n.d. Gouache on board, 1961 16.25” x 21” Collection of Jan Petry (fig. 7) (ice skaters), 1959 Mixed media on board, 11.25” x 15” Collection of Bob Stana and Tom Judy Courtesy Lindsay Gallery (fig. 8) (landscape with yellow, blue and turquoise), n.d. Gouache on paper 10” x 16” Courtesy James Cox Gallery
(fig. 9) (landscape with purple mountains), 1954 Paint on canvas 9” x 13.25” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 10) (farm scene – barn wagon wheel and bloom), c. 1950 Paint on canvas board 16” x 12” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 11) Scouts, 1956 Gouache on board 11” x 16” Collection of Russell A. Howard Courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery (fig. 12) (boys flying kite with “Shelter” version III), 1957 Gouache with plaster relief on board 20” x 20.5” Courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery (fig. 13) (red rocks), 1963 Mixed media 22” x 31.5” Collection of Russell A. Howard Courtesy Lindsay Gallery (fig. 14) (pink mountains with lake), 1954 Paint on canvas 27” x 26.75” Courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery (fig. 15) (Plymouth Rock), 1954 Paint on canvas 18” x 26” Courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery
(fig. 16) (island), 1957 Paint on board 21” x 27” Collection of Judith and Patrick Blackburn Courtesy Lindsay Gallery (fig. 17) Storm, 1956 Gouache and enamel on board 13” x 13.5” Courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery (fig. 18) (dark seas), 1956 Gouache on board 17.25” x 26.5” Collection of Russell A. Howard Courtesy Lindsay Gallery (fig. 19) (gorillas), 1955 Gouache on board 18” x 20.5” Collection of Larry E. Dumont, MD (fig. 20) Redwood, CA, 1958 Gouache on board 20” x 24.5” Collection of Thomas A. Wagner Courtesy Lindsay Gallery (fig. 21) (hiking in the woods with a yellow lion), 1955 Paint on canvas 18” x 22” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 22) Sugar Hill, 1954 Paint on oilcloth 29” x 34” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 23) (couple on balcony admiring seascape), 1954 Paint on furniture panel 14” x 28” Courtesy James Cox Gallery
(fig. 24) (seaside beach), 1950 Paint on board 15.5” x 20.75” Collection of Judith and Patrick Blackburn Courtesy Lindsay Gallery (fig. 25) (Coney Island), 1952 Oil on canvas 29” x 29” Collection of Mark and Taryn Leavitt (fig. 26) Asbury Park, c.1955 Oil on board, 17” x 21.25” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 27) Black Mountain, U.S. 70, 1957 Gouache on board 22.5” x 33” Collection of Frank Maresca (fig. 28) (florida boardwalk), 1958 Paint on canvas 27” x 29.75” Collection of Audrey B. Heckler (fig. 29) (school bus on mountain road), 1954 Paint on canvas 12” x 16” Courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery (fig. 30) (old world scene), 1956 Oil on canvas 20” x 24” Collection of Judith and Patrick Blackburn Courtesy Lindsay Gallery (fig. 31) (golden Madonna and child), 1953 Paint on canvas 28” x 22” Courtesy James Cox Gallery
(fig. 32) (Hanuka in yellow room), 1953 Gouache and graphite on cardboard 11” x 12” Collection of Barbara Zausner (fig. 33) (Bar Mitzvah), 1951 Gouache, graphite and ink on cardboard 11” x 15” Collection of Marna Anderson Gallery, New Paltz, NY (fig. 34) Museum (landscape with white border), 1958 Oil on canvas 20” x 21” Courtesy Ricco/Maresca Gallery (fig. 35) (vase and coffee), 1950 Gouache on board 20” x 20.5” Collection of Carrie and Nicholas Haddad (fig. 36) (still life with pink flowers and red background), 1954 Paint on canvas 25” x 28” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 37) (cityscape with artist), 1951 Gouache and watercolor on board 11” x 9.5” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 38) (female nude with vase and flowers), n.d. Paint on board 12” x 16” Collection of Barbara Zausner
(fig. 39) (zoo with seal on rocks), 1951 Gouache, watercolor, and graphite on board 9” x 12” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 40) Together but Separated, 1950 Gouache on board 12.5” x 10” Collection of Judith and Patrick Blackburn Courtesy Lindsay Gallery (fig. 41) (Grace Kelly), n.d. Gouache on board 14” x 8” Collection of Kim and Richard Skupski (fig. 42) Bright World, n.d. Gouache on board 13” x 10” Courtesy Lindsay Gallery (fig. 43) (penguin or dinosaur), 1959 Carved, painted wood (black and white) on painted base 11.25” x 5” x 1” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 44) (skier), c. 1950 Assembled branches, polychromed 12” x 12” x 4.5” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 45) (profile of an auspicious man), 1959 Carved polychromed stone on wooden base 9” x 5” x 3.5” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 46) (organ grinder), 1961 Carved and assembled polychromed wood 19” x 12” x 6” Courtesy James Cox Gallery
(fig. 47) (movie star in strapless dress), 1953 polychromed wood 8.75” x 7.5” x 1.5” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 48) (lady luck), 1954 Carved and polychromed wood 25” x 9” x 4.5” Courtesy James Cox Gallery
(fig. 49) (woman with billowing hair),1953 Painted stone and wood 7.5” x 6” x 2.5” Courtesy James Cox Gallery (fig. 50) (Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods Before Me), n.d. Carved and polychromed wood with tin tablet 15” x 9” x 7” Courtesy James Cox Gallery
(fig. 51) Inside front cover: (self-portrait with book, brush and photograph), 1955 Paint on canvas board 16” x 12” Courtesy James Cox Gallery Front cover: Detail of (fig. 13) Back cover: Detail of (fig. 35)
Intuit would like to thank all the lenders to this exhibition and those that contributed to the printing of this checklist: Daniel S. Berger, MD and Matthew Piechowski, Judith and Patrick Blackburn, James Cox, Audrey B. Heckler, Taryn & Mark Leavitt, Jan Petry, and Thomas A. Wagner. Intuit would also like to thank its sponsors: The Alphawood Foundation, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs CityArts 3, The Donnelley Foundation, John R. Houlsby Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Polk Bros. Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts, Sage Foundation, Sara Lee Foundation, and the Woods Fund of Chicago.
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