we are pleased to present our most extensive catalogue yet, representing a wealth of artists from over a century of American art. In the view of American art most dominant in the headlines, there are a few towering figures whose statures soar higher with every record-breaking auction. While there are household names in this catalogue, this is not the story only of mountaintops. At Menconi + Schoelkopf, we think of American art as one continuous fabric, where inspirations arise from a vibrant context. One of the threads making up that fabric traces the classicism of Kenyon Cox and John La Farge through the American Impressionism of William Merritt Chase and Francis Brooks Chadwick, and onwards to the Ashcan School. Another joins the explosive moment for Modernism at the 1913 Armory Show, to the Park Avenue Cubists, the American Abstract Artists group, and on to Abstract Expressionism. Still another thread is represented by the career of Otis Kaye, the adroitly au courant trompe lâ€™oeil artist of the mid-twentieth century. A different thread stretches from the American Scene to the Precisionist visions of rural industry, and on to high Modernism through works of Charles Goeller, Edmund Lewandowski, and Ralston Crawford. We offer here a small cross-section of that rich tapestry of art in America, with hopes that you discover, as we have, that some of the greatest American art has been passed over by the headlines. We are deeply thankful to our consignors, collectors, and friends in the scholarly community. Your enthusiasm fires our own, and we hope you will join us as we find new beautiful thingsâ€”which may turn up not on the mountaintops but in the stitches of this broad American tapestry. As always, we are eager to help with your collecting needs, whether growing your collection or sharpening its focus. Stop in and see us to discuss the path forward, and, of course, to see exquisitely beautiful works of art. Jonathan Spies Susan E. Menconi Andrew L. Schoelkopf
1. Summer Sunlight, 1884 Oil on canvas, 18 x 30 inches Signed, dated, and inscribed at lower left: KENYON COX–1884–/ EAST GLOUCESTER–MASS–
provenance [H.V. Allison Gallery, New York]; to Time Warner Collection, until 1997; to [Sale, Sotheby’s, New York, Dec. 3, 1997, lot no. 2, as September Sunshine]; to Private collection, New York, until the present
exhibited Yandell Art Gallery, New York, 1887, Society of American Artists Ninth Annual Exhibition, no. 36
recorded “The Society of American Artists,” New York Times, April 24, (1887), p. 6 // “Fine Arts: The Society of American Artists,” The Nation, Vol. 44, May 19, (1887), p. 435
Better known for his murals and allegorical paintings, Cox nonetheless reveled in landscape painting. The present work, Summer Sunlight, belongs to a small series of canvases that Cox completed in July and August of 1884 when visiting his older brother, Dolson Cox, in the town of East Gloucester, Massachusetts. Cox began the summer months with a quick visit to Magnolia, Massachusetts, a favorite summer locale for Martin Johnson Heade, John Frederick Kensett, and, after 1875, for William Morris Hunt. Later that summer, Cox ventured to meet his brother and his family in East Gloucester for some rest and relaxation and the painting of some pastoral canvases. In 1877, a group of members of the National Academy of Design New York, bristling at the conservative exhibition practices of the staid Academy, broke away and formed the Society of American Artists. Cox, a firebrand critic and not yet an Academician himself, was not among the initial group, but was elected a member in 1882. The group would later merge once more with the Academy, but not before Cox’s admission as an Associate Academician. In 1887, Cox’s powers as a painter and critic had earned him pride of place behind Thomas Eakins and William Merritt Chase, the only artists who were represented by more works than Cox at the Society’s annual exhibition. The exhibition was an important one for the Society as it was the first after two seasons without a show. A reviewer for The New York Times remarked that “No exhibition could have inaugurated the pretty little hall [designed by “Messrs. McKim, Mead & White”] more fitly than that of the rejuvenated Society of American Artists” [loc. cit.]. Another reviewer described Kenyon Cox’s September Sunshine simply as a quieter effect of sunlight, in which the hazy atmosphere of autumn subdues and softens the hotter glow of midsummer days, is shown in ‘September Sunshine,’ No. 36, by Kenyon Cox. A flat meadow in the foreground, stretching away to rising ground in the middle distance, with a strip of sea and some white sails beyond, is the motive, and simplicity of method characterizes the painting of it. [loc. cit.]. The reviewer for the Times was more laudatory, writing, “In color he has improved very much . . . There is much excellence in ‘September Sunshine’” [Ibid.]. The reviewer singled out each of Cox’s paintings by name, while mentioning Chase and Eakins only in passing.
Francis Brooks Chadwick
2. The Bridge at Gréz-sur-Loing in Springtime, c. 1887 Oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches Signed at lower right: F Chadwick
provenance [Adelson Galleries, New York]; to Private collection, until the present
exhibited Naples Museum of Art, Florida, 2007, Impressions: Americans in France 1860–1930, no. 8
recorded William H. Gerdts, Impressions: Americans in France, 1860–1930, (2007), pp. 14–15, illus., 39, illus., 96
Francis Brooks Chadwick was a Boston native, “unique among Americans” for living the rest of his life in Gréz-sur-Loing, France, after settling there in 1882 [Gerdts, op. cit., p. 15]. He graduated from Harvard, where he met fellow painter Ralph Wormeley Curtis. Both young men went to Paris to study under Jules Joseph Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger at the Académie Julian. Like Curtis, Chadwick was independently wealthy, but Chadwick pursued his artistic voyage more diligently than Curtis. Chadwick became friends with John Singer Sargent in Paris in 1880, introducing Sargent to Curtis. Together, the three painters followed the footsteps of Sargent’s teacher, Carolus-Duran, travelling to Holland to study and copy the work of Frans Hals. Sargent’s sister recorded the trip: John left Paris about ten days ago with two very nice friends to make a tour in Belgium & Holland, before going to Venice [Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, 2015, p. 36]. Sargent painted Chadwick’s portrait in Haarlem, The Netherlands, in 1880, as well as Curtis’s on the same trip [Ibid., pp. 34–37]. Chadwick went on to Gréz and settled there, marrying a Swedish artist and moving into the Hôtel Beau Séjour, where he spent the rest of his career, working extensively in Gréz and the Fontainebleau forest. William Gerdts identifies the present work as “a painting that really encapsulates Impressionism at Gréz” [Gerdts, op. cit., p. 16]. Its sprawling scale incorporates the arches of the famous bridge, a centerpiece to the growing colony, as well as to the Gréz compositions of Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Chadwick’s contemporary Robert Vonnoh [see: The Bridge at Gréz-sur-Loing, Currier Art Gallery, Manchester, New Hampshire; Robert Vonnoh, The Bridge at Gréz, (1907–11), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York]. The brushstrokes masterfully alternate between checks of bright color and a generous use of a dry-brush scumble that Claude Monet would later exploit to great success in his large-scale paintings.
William Merritt Chase
3. The Old Road, Flatbush, 1887 Oil on panel, 10¼ x 15⅞ inches Signed at lower right: Wm. M. Chase Signed and inscribed on verso: 2327 / The Old Road Flatbush / by William M. Chase / Long Island / 2392
provenance (Possibly) Charles Lang Freer, Detroit; Private collection, until the present—See below for further provenance details
exhibited American Art Galleries, New York, 1887, Fall Exhibition—American Paintings, no. 63 // (Possibly) Philadelphia Art Club, 1887, Annual Exhibition, no. 114, as A Bit of Flatbush // (Possibly) Detroit Museum of Art, 1889, Second Exhibition, no. 15, as The Old Road
recorded Ronald G. Pisano, William Merritt Chase: Landscapes in Oil, The Complete Catalogue of Known and Documented Work by William Merritt Chase (1849–1916), Vol. 3 (2009), p. 47, no. L.94
Along with John Singer Sargent, William Merritt Chase was foremost among American painters at the turn of the twentieth century. Like Sargent, his work encompassed portraiture and scenes of high society, incorporating innovations from Impressionism with classical values and a personal panache all his own. The circle of Chase’s work greatly expanded upon Sargent’s Edwardian polish, while also embracing a robust attention to landscape. Here the influence of Impressionism lays greater claim to Chase’s work. The French Impressionists championed painting outdoors, wet-into-wet, and the use of color over tone as the vehicle of the picture. Chase never rejected his use of tone, but his picture-making embraced the alla prima plein air concerns, as well as the impressionist preference for “undramatic,” often bucolic settings. Whereas his American forebears preferred a mighty mountain or river as the subject of their landscapes, Chase, in line with Jean-François Millet, was content to study a hazy afternoon in a field. “Subject is not important,” Chase wrote. “Anything can be made attractive . . . Aim to make an uninteresting subject so inviting and entertaining by means of fine technique that people will be charmed at the way you’ve done it.” [As quoted by Pisano, op. cit., p. 68]. In this sense, however, subject was important to the painter: he set himself the pictorial challenge of turning the quotidian into the beautiful, using at times extreme economy of compositional devices to render beauty of great subtlety. This is not to say that he had no preference for subjects, as a further review of his alla prima oeuvre reveals an abiding concern for farmlands, beaches, and country roads. The present work was executed in 1887, an exemplar case of Chase’s plein air painting of the day. The Old Road, Flatbush was painted on site in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, just south of Prospect Park. Chase had moved to Brooklyn in 1887, and he painted extensively in several parts of the borough in the following year. The artist’s preferred sites included Prospect Park, Gowanus Bay, and the Navy Yard. Flatbush was certainly far less developed then than it is today. As Chase’s own painting of Prospect Park from the same year shows (1887, The Art Institute of Chicago), only a few blocks from the site of The Old Road, were ladies with parasols and flowing skirts, strolling through an urban park more like the Tuileries Gardens in Paris than a rural crossroads. At the top of the park was a row brownstones and mansions, giving Brooklyn’s best-heeled citizens a view of the park to the south. The Old Road
was just a stone’s throw from high class urban sophistication. “If you want to know of good places to sketch in the vicinity of New York, I think I could easier tell you where they are not than where they are,” Chase wrote [Ibid., p. 34]. The epitome of urban sophistication, Chase took pains to venture away from the bustle of Flatbush Avenue to this peaceful corner of the borough to render this rural scene. In doing so, he deployed an impressionist battery of tactics, allowing loose brushstrokes to go unconcealed in his signature painterly bravado. The catalogue raisonné describes the possible exhibition under two different titles: The work was first exhibited at the American Art Galleries in New York in 1887 and in Philadelphia at the Art Club later that year. Then, two years later, a work called The Old Road was included in the second annual exhibition held at the Detroit Museum of Art. This is likely the same painting as The Old Road, Flatbush, and, if such is indeed the case, it is possible that it was purchased from the exhibition by Charles Lang Freer, the prominent collector of American art and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., who at this time was a resident of Detroit. A memorandum dated 1911 in the Freer Gallery of Art mentions the work as being in Freer’s collection and notes that it was acquired in 1888. Either this date is incorrect or it was lent to the Detroit exhibition without Freer’s being listed as owner.
John La Farge 4.
Women Bathing in Papara River,
Watercolor on paper, 16¾ x 14H inches
provenance The artist; to [M. Knoedler and Co., New York]; Private collection; The Hon. and Mrs. J. William Middendorf II, Rhode Island; [Hirschl and Adler Galleries, New York]; to [Kennedy Galleries, New York]; to Private collection, by 1980, until the present
exhibited Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York, 1895, Paintings, Studies, Sketches and Drawings, Mostly Records of Travel 1886 and 1890–91 by John La Farge, no. 176 // Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1895, Études, esquisses, dessins: Souvenirs et notes de voyage (1886 et 1890–91) par John La Farge, no. 175 // Doll and Richards, Boston, 1896, Exhibition and Private Sale of Paintings in Water Color and Oil Chiefly from South Sea Islands, no. 40 // Gallery of the Picture Exhibition Society, Cleveland, 1896–97, Catalogue. Paintings, Studies, Sketches and Drawings, Mostly Records of Travel 1886 and 1890–91, by John La Farge, no. 58 //Art Institute of Chicago, 1897, Catalogue. Paintings, Studies, Sketches and Drawings, Mostly Records of Travel 1886 and 1890–91, by John La Farge, no. 58 // Wunderlich and Co., New York, 1897, Catalogue of Works by John La Farge, no. 35 // St. Louis Museum of Fine Arts, 1897, A Group of Paintings, Studies and Sketches, Records of Travel in 1886, 1890, and 1891 by John La Farge, no. 61 // New York Water Color Club, New York, 1897, Catalogue, Eighth Annual Exhibition of the New York Water Color Club at the Galleries of the American Fine Arts Society, no. 352 // Boston Water Color Club, Boston, 1900,Water Color Club. Thirteenth Annual Exhibition at the Boston Art Club, no. 57 // Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1967–68, American Paintings for Public and Private Collections, no. 68, illus. // Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama, and The Mobile Art Gallery, Alabama, 1972, American Watercolors 1850–1972// Kennedy Galleries, New York, 1991, Specially Selected American Masters, 1759–1991, no. 9 // Vance Jordan Fine Art, New York, 1998, Recreation and Idleness: The Pacific Travels of John La Farge // Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 2010–11, John La Farge’s Second Paradise: Voyages in the South Seas, 1890–1891, no. 34 // Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 2002–03, An Endless Panorama of Beauty: Selections from the Jean and Alvin Snowiss Collection of American Art, pp. 68–69, illus. in color
recorded “Water Colors by John and Bancel La Farge,” New York Times, Apr. 14, 1897, p. 6 // John La Farge, “Passages from a Diary in the Pacific: Tahiti,” Scribner’s Magazine, vol. 30 ( Jul. 1901), p. 78, illus. // Henry Adams, “Regaining Paradise,” Art and Antiques, vol. 6 (Mar. 1985), p. 62 // James L. Yarnall, Recreation and Idleness: The Pacific Travels of John La Farge, 1998, p. 97 // Alan Sage, “’Second Paradise’ Offers a Glimpse of La Farge’s Foggy World,” The Yale Herald, (Oct. 22, 2010) // Prue Ahrens, “John La Farge and the Imagined Isles,” American Art, vol. 25, no. 2 (Summer 2011), pp. 8–10, illus. // Farisa Kahlid, “Les Fantomes d’Empire: ‘Vanishing Paradies’,” Pop Matters, ( Jun. 20, 2013)
John La Farge, his career firmly established as a muralist, painter and designer, set off for the South Pacific in 1890 from San Francisco. He was accompanied by his friend the historian Henry Adams. La Farge sought in the South Seas an analogue to the classical values espoused by the rest of his art—civilization in harmony with the natural world through refinement, truth, and beauty. La Farge recorded the travelers’ hopes in his usual florid prose, “our feelings are intensified because they are directed toward a far-off island . . . something wherein to place the ideal” [as quoted by Ahrens op. cit., p. 8]. Historians have pointed out that he likely did not find “a rustic Greece still alive somewhere, and still to be looked at” [as quoted by Henry Adams
in John La Farge (1987) p. 61] he sought, but instead, he found in the capital city a native population under French colonial rule, where “cultivation declines, the plantations go to ruin, and disease undermines the race” [as quoted in Ahrens, p. 9]. Beyond the confines of the cities, La Farge found at least an aspect of what he was looking for. He recorded views of native people bathing and dancing in natural settings. Unlike views of Samoa and Hawaii, which expressed an anthropologist’s attention to human activity, La Farge’s Tahitian pictures give ample space to the flowing landscape, integrating figures into a larger composition. Historians have emphasized the idealization in La Farge’s pictures from this trip, suggesting that he found the “imagined isle” he sought. His academic companion testified to a divergence from literal truth, writing: “Now and then he gives me a light or a movement that I could not see, or could not see as he did; and these I envy him” [Ibid., p. 63]. Of that light, La Farge himself feared he was snatching the last of it: “Nothing remains but the same charm of light and air which [Herman] Melville, like all others, has tried to describe and to bring back home in words. Everything conspires for getting some definite record just before the last veil closes over a past already dim enough.” [as quoted by Khalid op. cit.]. Certainly in contrast to his contemporaries—not least Paul Gauguin, who set sail for Tahiti in April, 1891— La Farge struck a blow for verisimilitude: “This is not a scene from an opera nor a study for a fresco like those of Mr. Puvis de Chavannes. It is what we saw” [Adams, loc. cit.]. Back in New York, audiences and reviewers also found the East they were looking for. La Farge exhibited his watercolors from the 1890–91 journey, along with sketches from an 1886 trip to Japan in 1895 under the title Record of Travels. All things Japanese were still in high demand after decades of prints and “japonisme” decorative art following Commodore Perry’s opening of Japan in 1854. La Farge was no stranger to the aesthetics of the Far East—he was married in 1860 to Commodore Perry’s granddaughter, Margaret, and had produced his own take on Ukiyo-e as early as 1861, well before the French Impressionists. The public responded to Record of Travels with outsized interest in the views of Japan—with only a few Japanese works in the show, the mystique of the Orient outshone that of Tahiti, Hawaii, and Samoa. The present work, Women Bathing in the Papara River, was recognized as a standout work. In 1897, La Farge showed a number of South Seas pictures alongside works by his son, Bancel, at Wunderlich Gallery. “No American artist has caught the spirit of the life and scenery of . . . those summer Isles of Eden lying in dark purple spheres of sea as has La Farge” [loc. cit.]. The reviewer went on to single out the present work as among the finest in the show of fifty watercolors. Women Bathing in the Papara River incorporates the two native figures into a broader Tahitian landscape. The picture’s composition, with off-centered figures and high horizon, manifest some of the lingering impact of La Farge’s early admiration for Japanese prints, but nonetheless capture fragments of native life in Tahiti and the “rustic Greece” idealization he sought.
Everett Shinn’s first solo exhibition, in 1900 at Boussod, Valadon & Co., New York, was a successful venture allowing Shinn to do what American artists had considered essential training to that point: visit Europe to complete study and catch up on the latest trends. Shinn, for his part, gained great insight from the Indépendents, owing a particular debt to Edgar Degas. Degas’s enthusiasm for performers as subject matter augmented Shinn’s vocabulary of street-walkers and workers, but so too did the American acquire some of the Frenchman’s techniques. Among these were a shift toward working in pastel on toned grounds, and an embrace of idiosyncratic formal compositions. By the time of his return from Europe in 1902, Shinn’s enthusiasm for the stage rivaled or even surpassed his preoccupation with street scenes. He applied this love of the stage to lower Manhattan’s vaudeville theaters, low-admission houses that ringed Union Square at the turn of the century. Along with the taste for popular entertainment, Shinn brought back a great volume of studies and sketches from Paris and London. He would spend the next decade bringing many of these to life in oil paintings or more fully-realized pastels. These studies, along with the artist’s native speed and confidence in pastel, fueled a decade of prolific and virtuosic output. Actress with Parasol was completed during this fertile decade. Edith DeShazo dated the picture to 1913, likely based on the obscured inscription at lower right, but the work may have been executed the previous decade [DeShazo, loc. cit.]. DeShazo also describes the medium as oil, while the bulk of the work is pastel, suggesting she may not have been able to observe the work first hand. She captions the work “Guy Pene du Bois Style,” a reference to a period that Shinn claimed for himself in the 1910s, after his friend and fellow Ashcan School artist Guy Pene du Bois [Ibid., p. 156]. The support is a prepared artist’s board, typical of Shinn at the turn of the century, to which a layer of pigment was added with a brush. DeShazo’s retelling of Shinn’s “Guy Pene du Bois” technique describes the application of a layer of watercolor before finishing with pastels. The present work is likely a background layer of very thin oil—a technique Shinn took from Degas—to block in the broad areas of color, finished with pastels. While many Shinn pastels on paper remain, the works on a rigid board such as this are frequently oils or contain oil elements. The Yellow Fan, executed in 1912, has a strong compositional relationship to Shinn’s design for the poster for his 1904 Knoedler exhibition [illus., in DeShazo, op. cit., p. 53]. In both works, the angled line of the edge of the stage frames the solitary singer, setting it off from the shadowy orchestra pit, a favorite dichotomy of the artist. It was not unusual for Shinn to rework ideas from years prior. Given the constraints of his favored medium, pastel, he rarely returned to rework a particular piece.
Actress with Parasol (Dancer on Stage, View into Audience), 1903 Pastel and oil on artist’s board, Sight: 16 x 19¾ inches Signed and dated at lower right: E SHINN / 1903
provenance The artist; By descent in the family, until the present
exhibited Owen Gallery, New York, 1996, Everett Shinn: Important Paintings & Pastels, lent by a private collection
recorded Edith DeShazo, Everett Shinn: 1876–1953 A Figure in His Time (1974), pp. 160–61, illus., as Dancer on Stage, View into Audience
Everett Shinn The Yellow Fan,
Pastel on artist’s board, 16 x 9⅛ inches Signed and dated at lower right: E SHINN / 1912
provenance The artist; By descent in the family, until the present
exhibited Owen Gallery, New York, 1996, Everett Shinn: Important Paintings & Pastels, lent by a private collection
Sold by the Art Institute of Chicago
Frederick C. Frieseke 7.
Lady Trying on a Hat,
Oil on canvas, 64¼ x 52 inches Signed at lower right
provenance The artist; to Alexander Morten (probably), in 1910; to [Sale: American Art Association, New York, 29 Jan. 1919, lot 88]; to [Macbeth Gallery, New York, in 1919]; to Paul Schulze, Chicago, Illinois, in 1919; by gift to The Art Institute of Chicago, in 1924, until the present
exhibited Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 1909, Thirteenth Annual Exhibition of Paintings, no. 117 // National Academy of Design, New York, 1909, Winter Exhibition
recorded American Art News, Vol VIII, no. 14, Jan. 13, 1910, “Winter Academy Sales,” p. 3 // Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, Vol. 19, No. 1, Jan. 1925, “The Walter H. Schulze Memorial Gallery of Paintings,” p. 8 // The Art Institute of Chicago, The Walter H. Schulze Gallery of American Paintings, pp. 5–7, 18, illus., 19
Born in Owosso, Michigan, the second-generation German-American Frederick Carl Frieseke would be educated at the Art Institute of Chicago before spending much of his career working in France. He joined the growing colony of artists in Giverny, where his meditations on soft filtered light wedded an advanced impressionist color theory. Like other American Impressionists, his favored subjects were women at leisure and bath, including the motif of a nude in pastoral setting. Lady Trying on a Hat was likely painted in Giverny, where the Friesekes summered from 1905 through 1919. The Frieseke house, previously home to fellow American Theodore Robinson, was next to Claude Monet’s. The year 1909 was hugely successful for the artist as he was represented at the Venice Biennale with nearly twenty paintings, in addition to showing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, where the present work was shown, likely for the first time. A month after the Carnegie Institute show, Frieseke brought Lady Trying on a Hat to the National Academy in New York at the Winter Exhibition [Dec. 11, 1909– Jan. 9, 1910], his second of many appearances at the Academy. Alexander Morten bought the painting from the National Academy for a reported $1,000 [American Art News, loc. cit.]. Paul Schulze, head of the Schulze Baking Company of Chicago, purchased the work from a sale at the American Art Association in New York in January of 1919. Hostilities in Europe had recently been concluded, and Paul’s son Walter was an air core pilot. Five months after Paul acquired the painting, Capt. Walter H. Schulze’s airplane crashed while he was dropping leaf let copies of the Treaty of Versailles to troops in Germany, June 28, 1919 [Paul Schulze, Jr., Captain Walter H. Schulze, The Peace Messenger 1893–1919 (1925)]. Paul Schulze gave a group of American paintings to the Art Institute of Chicago in Walter’s memory in 1924. Frieseke’s Lady Trying on a Hat was among these, constituting the second Frieseke in the Institute’s collection. It was installed on the east wall of gallery 47 [The Art Institute of Chicago, The Walter H. Schulze Gallery of American Paintings, p. 5].
John Marin 8.
Oil on canvasboard, 9H x 12¼ inches
provenance The artist; to His estate; to [Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York]; to Private collection, New York; to [Franklin Riehlman Fine Art, New York]; to Private collection, New Jersey, until the present
exhibited Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York, 2011, John Marin: The Weehawken Sequence, no. 31
recorded Sheldon Reich, John Marin: A Stylistic Analysis and Catalogue Raisonné (1970), vol. II, p. 435, no. 16.99, illus. // Klaus Kertess, John Marin: The Weehawken Sequence (2011), p. 34, illus.
Scholarship has debated the dating of all the works from the Weehawken sequence: their formal and chromatic sophistication is startling given their early date. The academic community has nonetheless reached consensus that all of the works from this series were executed very early in Marin’s career, between roughly 1910 and 1916. Their full mastery of post-impressionist color and their prescient application of painterly gesture help place them as some of the earliest examples of advanced abstraction in America. Marin would have been first to point out that each work was drawn from life and maintains a tether to the practice of observation, but the daring with which they are executed pushes them far beyond Marin’s contemporaries. Marin, in his lifetime, held the admiration of Willem de Kooning, and Jackson Pollock, and these works have been called “proto-Guston” [Klaus Kertess, John Marin: The Weehawken Sequence (2011), p. 5] and “possibly the first American artist to make abstract paintings” [Roberta Smith, “John Marin: The Weehawken Sequence” The New York Times, Feb. 17, 2001]. That all of these remarks are true while the works are also so beautiful has befuddled historians for a century. Rarely has an innovation so bold been so successful. Marin would have been exposed to the Fauves during his 1905 trip to Paris, and while we do not have a record of a particular thread of influence, the stamp of André Derain and Henri Matisse is all over Marin’s early oils in the following decade. The palette shared by the French Post-Impressionists is on full display, as is Matisse’s innovative use of incising into thick impasto with the back of the brush. The series is painted with brilliant abandon, yet recognizable imagery remains visible. Indeed, Marin painted outdoors exclusively—the small size of the canvas panels of the series is a vestige of the plein air practice. Marin would keep to restrained scale even into the 1950s, in part working under the shadow of the great success of these early works. His vocabulary of gestures would change over the years, refining a group of riffs and forms into a signature style. But in the early years of the 1910s, Marin tried everything. These germinal laboratories are not only some of the most advanced paintings
made in America before World War I, they also circumscribe the territory of modernism within which Marin would spend the rest of his life on expedition. Sheldon Reich states in the catalogue raisonnĂŠ that the present work was executed c. 1916. It may in fact have been executed earlierâ€”Marin himself claimed that some of the Weehawken pictures were done as early as 1903. However, the conventional wisdom is that they were done when Marin returned from Paris in 1911. It is one of the more abstract images from the series, but certainly a bare tree branch is visible in the foreground, along with a characteristic huddled group of buildings on the far side of the waterway. In a few short years, Marin would turn from oil to work primarily in watercolor.
9. Futurist Abstraction, c. 1913 Watercolor on paper, 14 x 18 inches
provenance The artist; to His estate; to Private collection, New York, until the present
The Italian-born Joseph Stella, trained in quattrocento techniques and reared in early American modernism, possessed such a surfeit of talent and creativity that his work is not easily placed. He helped the revolution of modernism that began around the time of the 1913 Armory show and made his indelible connection to New York with the elegiac Brooklyn Bridge paintings, but along the way he also found time to render brilliant symbolist pictures as well as a meteoric period of Futurist ones. Among his most celebrated paintings is his dazzling futurist response to a trip to Coney Island: his Battle of Lights (Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven). “Soon after [visiting the Armory Show],” he would later report, “I got very busy in painting my very first American subject.” He deployed the “most intense dynamic arabesque that [he] could imagine in order to convey in a hectic mood the surging crowd and the revolving machines generating . . . violent, dangerous pleasures” [As quoted in Haskell, Joseph Stella, 1994, p. 45]. The present work was completed around the same time as Stella’s inspiring trip to Coney Island. The linear elements of Battle of Lights are on full view, but so too are the arabesques and prismatic elements that would feature prominently in the major works of the following decade, such as Tree of My Life (private collection). The development from the Futurist depiction of energy and motion towards a static, subdivided image traces both Stella’s career as well as the development of Precisionism. The present work—buttressed by the work on its verso—renders the balanced cacophony of the Battle of Lights and hints at where the painter would shortly go, most notably in his famed depictions of the Brooklyn Bridge.
10. Stuart Davis
Hillside with Trees,
Oil on canvas, 23⅞ x 30 inches Signed with estate stamp on verso at lower left: Stuart Davis
provenance The artist; to His estate, until the present
exhibited Grace Borgenicht Gallery, New York, 1986, Stuart Davis: Provincetown and Gloucester: Paintings and Drawings, no. 29, as ”Untitled (Trees)” // Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, 1990, Stuart Davis, Scapes: An Exhibtion of Landscapes, Cityscapes, and Seascapes Made between 1910 and 1923, no. 14, as “Hillside with Trees (Landscape)” // Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, 1998, Stuart Davis (1892–1964), no. 6, as ”Hillside with Trees (Landscape)” // Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, 1998, Visions of Landscape: Stuart Davis’ Early Years (1910–1923), no. 15, as “Hillside with Trees (Landscape)”
recorded Ani Boyajian and Mark Rutkoski, eds., Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné (2007), Vol. III, p. 34, no. 1373, illus.
Stuart Davis’s earliest training came from Robert Henri, whose entreaty to find art in the streets set the mold for Davis’s early works. The landmark 1913 Armory Show featured watercolors by Davis, one of the youngest artists on view. While Davis found in the Armory Show “verification of the anti-Academy position of the Henri School,” it was the “developments in undreamed of directions” which the show presented that ultimately propelled the young painter away from his teacher’s Ashcan realism [as quoted by Karen Wilkin in Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. I, p. 54]. “I resolved that I would quite definitely have to become a ‘modern’ artist,” he later recalled. “It took an awful long time” [Ibid.]. One reason it took so long was Davis’s studious years of digesting the new visions he encountered at the Armory Show. The mid 1910s found Davis experimenting with a variety of styles, leaning heavily toward Fauvism and the shrill palette of German Expressionism, while supporting himself through commercial illustration. In 1915, however, he made a break towards a color theory of his own. Still in touch with the Ashcan group, Davis accepted an invitation to summer in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The visit marked the first of two decades of summers in the fishing town as well as a new step on the road to finding his own voice. Davis had painted street scenes and limited views of the harbor in Provincetown in the previous years, but Gloucester opened up a world of observing the landscape, painting from nature, and ultimately allowing him to mark a departure from his illustration to become a painter. He later described the revelation: I went to Gloucester, Mass., on the enthusiastic recommendation of John Sloan. That was the place I had been looking for. It had the brilliant light of Provincetown, but with the important additions of topographical severity and the architectural beauties of the Gloucester schooner . . . I went to Gloucester every year, with few exceptions, until 1934, and often stayed late into the fall. I wandered over the rocks, moors, and docks, with a sketching easel, large canvases, and a pack on my back, looking for things to paint [as quoted in Stuart Davis: Provincetown and Gloucester Paintings and Drawings, Grace Borgenicht Gallery, 1986]. Given this turn towards the plein air tradition and away from illustration, it is not surprising that the work of these years is the most “painterly” of his career. Hillside with Trees, likely executed during his first visit to Gloucester, is a case in point, the paint applied in thick piles throughout the surface, luxuriating in brushstrokes and a
subtle modulation of rich colors. The acerbic color of his earlier work became subdued in Gloucester, a precursor to the cool palette that would characterize Davis’s mature style. Anticipating his embrace of Cubism only a few years later, Hillside with Trees also employs a red enclosing line around the rich green and purple forms. Wilkin, analyzing this period of Davis’s career, wrote that “Davis quickly discovered a kind of ready-made Cubist structure in the visual collisions of the . . . ascending rows on the steep hills surrounding the harbor and Smith’s Cove” [op. cit., p. 55]. The high horizon of Hillside with Trees complements these ascending rows, hinting at the directions for the artist to come as well as suggesting the broad outlines for later painters, from Milton Avery to Fairfield Porter. In 1919, Davis parted with Gloucester in favor of the north-central Pennsylvania town of Tioga, where Corn Shocks, Tioga, Pennsylvania was painted. His mother rented a house in the rural locale, and he and his brother Wyatt joined her for the summer. The works from Tioga owe a debt to van Gogh, but also testify that he had made these tools his own: I painted outdoors with Van Gogh as a model as to what I wanted the thing to look like. It wasn’t that I tried to imitate his brush strokes, or copied the colors, or anything, but it was the kind of spirit of clarity that was in his paintings . . . There’s no expressionism in this. [As quoted in Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné, Vol. I, p. 130]. The same year, he produced his two most famous self-portraits in this mode. The summer’s output was a singular achievement, but the painter never returned to Tioga. By autumn of that year, he was back in Gloucester, and in two short years he stepped away from this method of realism entirely, beginning an exploration of collage and Cubism (MoMA’s Lucky Strike, 1921) that would inform his style of the thirties, forties, and fifties.
11. Stuart Davis
Corn Shocks, Tioga, Pennsylvania,
Oil on canvas, 24 x 30 inches Signed at lower right: Stuart Davis It bears the estate stamp on verso
provenance The artist; to His estate, until the present
exhibited John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco, California, 1992, Stuart Davis: Paintings and Works on Paper, no. 18 // Salander-O’Reilly Galleries, New York, 1998, Stuart Davis (1892–1964), no. 23 // Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, 1998, Visions of Landscape: Stuart Davis’ Early Years (1910–1923), no. 10
recorded Ani Boyajian and Mark Rutkoski, eds., Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné (2007), Vol. III, p. 79, no. 1427, illus.
12. Roof and Tree Forms, 1919 Watercolor on paper, 10 x 14 inches Signed and dated at lower right: C Demuth 1919
provenance [Kennedy Galleries, New York]; to Private collection, Pennsylvania, until the present
exhibited Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 1997, Capturing the Light: A Selection of Twentieth Century Watercolors // Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 2000–01, From Nature to the City: American Modern Works on Paper // Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 2002–03, An Endless Panorama of Beauty: Selections from the Jean and Alvin Snowiss Collection of American Art, pp. 28–29, illus. in color
The Lancaster, Pennsylvania painter and watercolorist explored many means of expression, but his contributions to Precisionism are among Charles Demuth’s most impactful. The Precisionist pictures were a relatively small portion of his output and completed mainly in the late teens and twenties, while Demuth’s interest in watercolor still lifes and landscapes was lifelong. In the late 1910s, Demuth produced a series of watercolors depicting the tops of houses surrounded by trees. Red-Roofed Houses (1917, Philadelphia Museum of Art) explored the theme in Bermuda, while Red Chimneys (1918, Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.) examined the rooftops of Provincetown. Demuth executed the present work, Roof and Tree Forms, almost certainly in Gloucester, where he spent the summer of 1919. The roofs offered Demuth a playground of abstract geometric forms upon which to explore a homespun Cubism. The faceted quality, with patches of foliage and planes of houses broken by interrupting lines, would be further explored in Demuth’s work the following decade. The present work is an elegant crossroads of Demuth’s abiding love of watercolor and his personal cubist vernacular.
John Graham 13.
Oil on canvas, 17 x 24 inches Signed and dated at upper left: Graham / 930 Signed and dated at lower left: Graham 29
provenance [Robert Schoelkopf Gallery, Ltd., New York]; to Private collection, New York, by 1981, until the present
Ivan Gratianovich Dombrowsky was born in Kiev, studied to be a lawyer, and eventually fled to New York in 1920 after the Russian Revolution, where he changed his name to John Graham. In the 1940s, he made his mark upon a generation of painters with his figurative works, owing a certain debt to Rose Period Picasso as well as to the Old Masters. But long before this, he had already synthesized a personal idiom of modernism, incorporating virtuosic alongside naïve forms. There are many parallels in the careers of John Graham’s and the Armenian– American Arshile Gorky. Beyond their mutual roots in Eastern Europe, the two emerged from periods of chameleon-like emulation of other artists and found powerful personal voices mediating abstraction and representation. Graham explored a variety of different modes of abstraction before alighting upon his own personal vision of the human figure. Graham later recalled, On some paintings of mine I have worked for a long time, layer after layer, scraping, retracing them and painting again [As cited by Lisa Bush Hankin in John Graham: Renaissance & Revolution (2002), p. 16]. The present work is one such example. The paint has been applied in a variety of thicknesses, its restrained palette giving over free reign to the play of surface treatments. The muted grays, with hints of cool green, pink, and blue, are a stage for the dramatic piles of paint that are variously sculpted, incised, embedded with sand, and combed. The playing card carved into the thick impasto at lower right may be a lingering trace of Picasso’s Analytic Cubism, as well as an entry way for the return of figuration into Graham’s then fully abstract work. A pair of inscriptions confirms Graham’s intensive labor over the picture. At lower left, he signed the work “Graham 29,” while in the upper left, likely after doing more of his scraping and shellacking, he signed it again “Graham / 930,” a date we take to mean that the work was finally completed in 1930, with an illegible or omitted “1.” Graham, who spoke five or more languages fluently, was highly prone to elisions and cryptic inscriptions of all manner. Works are variously signed in Roman numerals, mixtures of Greek characters and glyphs of personal significance. There are other examples of Graham’s dating that omit the first digit of a year. Jacob Kainen—artist and friend of Gorky’s—would describe Graham’s preference in subject matter during the period, “limited to those he thought crucial to art of the time: the nature of form, the essential qualities of painting, the significance of mystery or enigma (timelessness), and Cubism” [Ibid., p. 7] The artist’s sculptural handling of paint well represents the “essential qualities of painting.” Graham embraced contradictions and mysticism, and the appearance of the egg was to him both a timeless primal form and likely an unacknowledged symbol. He vocally opposed those who interpreted his work in any literal manner, but that there is nonetheless a profusion of egg images in 1928–30 which suggests that the painter instilled in them profound meaning.
14. Checked Tablecloth, c. 1928 Oil on canvas, 40 x 25 inches Signed at lower right: GOELLER
provenance Estate of the artist; to [Franklin Riehlman Fine Art, New York, in 2003]; to Private collection, New Jersey, in 2003, until the present
exhibited Société du Salon d’Automne, Paris, Exposition de 1928, p. 203, no. 782 // Museum of Modern Art, New York, An Exhibition of Work of 46 Painters & Sculptors under 35 Years of Age, no. 80 // Daniel Gallery, New York, 1931 // Argent Gallery, New York, Charles L. Goeller, 1933 // Hunterdon Country Art Center, Clinton, New Jersey, Memorial Exhibition, 1956 // Franklin Riehlman Fine Art, New York, 2003, Emotion Expressed through Precision: The Art of Charles Goeller, n.p., illus.
recorded Creative Art: A Magazine of Fine and Applied Art, 1931, illus. // “Three Displays at the Argent Gallery,” Herald Tribune, Nov. 26, 1933 // Howard Devree, “Other Shows,” The New York Times, Nov. 26, 1933 // Gail Stavitsky, Emotion Expressed through Precision: The Art of Charles Goeller (2003), pp. 3, 9, illus.
Charles Goeller was a celebrated Precisionsist during his short career, bringing a clarity and exactitude to his work that prefigured the concerns of photoreaslist painters in decades later. He studied and worked in Paris from 1923 to 1929, before joining the stable of the Charles Daniel Gallery upon his return to New York. Exhibiting alongside Charles Sheeler, Preston Dickinson, and Elsie Driggs, Goeller investigated the domestic and suburban subjects in a manner often compared to Sheeler’s. His training was distinct from his American colleagues, and his method was painstaking, producing as few as one canvas per year. His work was further distracted by his participation in the family business. His father ran a steel plant, and, in 1938, Goeller remarked, “I’ve relapsed into the family trade long enough to design a factory” [as quoted by Stavitsky, op. cit., p. 5]. His career was cut short by an early death, but he left a small but rich group of work that transcends the Precisionist canon. Checked Table Cloth is an early work, painted when Goeller was studying and working in Paris, and already his mature style was fully developed. It was shown in Paris in 1928 at the Société du Salon d’Automne. Returning to New York with large-scale works of this accomplishment won him entry into the Daniel Gallery group, and Checked Table Cloth was included in a show of up-and-coming artists at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1930. Goeller’s first one-man show wasn’t until 1933, but when the present work was included, the Herald Tribune called it “his most accomplished painting,” while the Times called it “outstanding both in color and in the remarkable fabric textures obtained. His painting by itself has sufficient diversity to be startling,” the Times concluded.
Sold by the Art Institute of Chicago
William J. Glackens 15.
Vase of Flowers (Amaryllis),
Oil on canvas, 20¼ x 15 inches Signed at lower left: W Glackens
provenance [Fairfield Gallery, by 1964]; to [Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, in 1964]; to [Main Street Gallery, Chicago, 1965]; to Dr. John J. Ireland, Chicago, Illinois, 1965–68; by bequest to The Art Institute of Chicago, until the present
exhibited American Embassy, Oslo, Norway, Art for Embassies Program, 1985–1989
recorded Art for Embassies Program (1985) pp. 20–21, illus.
The Philadelphia-born Glackens began his career in newspaper illustration. His work at The Philadelphia Record, beginning in 1892, as well as night classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, brought him in touch with the artists—Robert Henri, John Sloan, Everett Shinn, and George Luks—who would together go on to form the core of the Ashcan School. His first trip to Europe, in 1895, was in the company of Robert Henri, who impressed upon him the value of Édouard Manet and the Dutch masters. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Glackens did not take the opportunity to study at any of the French schools while in Europe, but he nonetheless returned stateside with ambitions grander than Philadelphia newspapers could accommodate. Moving to New York in 1896, he began to express his own explosive views of city life. Beginning in the sooty tones of the Ashcan group, he gradually developed as a brilliant colorist, reworking Pierre-Auguste Renior’s treatment of color for his own personal Impressionism. The intersection of The Eight—the grouping of artists that would later be referred to as the Ashcan school—was brief, and not long after their first exhibition together, at Macbeth Gallery in New York in 1908, the center of the Ashcan aesthetic broke off into different directions. Living a few doors down from Everett Shinn and across Washington Square from Maurice Prendergast, Glackens spent the next few years aggressively championing the French impressionist and post-impressionist art that was filtering into New York. By 1913, he was lamenting: Everything worth while in our art is due to the influence of French art. We have not yet arrived at a national art. But there is promise of a renaissance in American Art [as quoted by William Gertds, William Glackens (1996), p. 88]. Whatever his frustrations with the national art, he was nonetheless hard at work in changing its face. His attempts at invoking the bright-fuzz coloration of Renoir had begun in earnest around 1910, and, by 1913, he had become a major participant in the organization of the Armory Show. While his Ashcan colleagues were blacklisted at the National Academy in 1910, after 1913, the clamor of modernism generated by the Armory Show made their works look “arid and bloodless” [Ibid.], Glackens had already developed a brilliant chromatic harmony to join the growing American art.
William Gerdts notes that still lifes played a special role in Glackens’ paintings of his family, emerging as “an independent motif ” rather than “an attractive and decorative adjunct to his figure paintings,” well after his adoption of Renoir [Ibid., pp. 146–147]. By the late 1920s and 30s, Glackens was greatly interested in still life, exhibiting them and finding buyers in great proportion to his other work. Guy Pène du Bois described Glackens’ still lifes in 1940 as “some of the most vibrant flower pieces known to our painting” [Ibid.], and a selection of Glackens’ still lifes in 1937 at Kraushaar Gallery, New York, was greeted as “disarming in the simplicity of the arrangements, just little handfuls of flowers casually placed in vases . . . and what joy in pure painting these f lower pieces afford! What lusciousness of pigment, what purity of color and astounding candor of statement” [Ibid., p. 153]. The present work is prime example of Glackens’ “astounding candor” in the 1930s. Vase of Flowers (Amaryllis) is among his larger still lifes. It includes a glass pitcher that was likely used in at least one other painting of the period [Calendula in Glass Pitcher, c. 1930s, oil on board, 15¾ x 11½ inches, Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale]. After Glackens’ sudden death in 1938, his widow, Edith, and, later, son Ira, were active in cataloguing and presenting the artist’s remaining works. In the 1940s, notecards were compiled documenting the artworks. The present work was not listed among these; indeed, of some 350 images, only a few document still lifes. That they are absent from the estate while being a dominant part of his output in the final decade suggests that generally the still lifes proved immensely popular during his Glackens’ many lifetime shows at Kraushaar Gallery, and further suggests that the present work was likely sold during the artist’s lifetime. While we lack documentation of the initial sale, the present work was bequeathed to the Art Institute of Chicago by Dr. John J. Ireland. Ireland collected Old Masters works and American art of several periods. His bequest also included works by William Merritt Chase and Vincent van Gogh.
Edmund Lewandowski was an important voice in the Precisionist art movement between the wars. He worked in the 1930s in illustration and advertising, joining Edith Halpert’s coterie of artists at The Downtown Gallery in New York in 1936. The Downtown Gallery was a hotbed of Precisionists, and included Charles Sheeler, Georgia O’Keeffe, George Ault, and Ralston Crawford. Lewandowski shared with Crawford the distinction of having his career as a Precisionist interluded by service in the military during World War II. A third member of the Downtown stable, Jacob Lawrence, showed alongside both artists in exhibitions of enlisted artists at the Whitney. For his part, Lewandowski spent a portion of the war making murals, and later designed camouflage. Recent writers have described his work as “heroicizing” [Ken Johnson, “Art In Review: ‘American Identity’—Figurative Painting and Sculpture, 1930–1945,’ The New York Times, July 11, 2003], but in the 1940s, the otherworldly clarity of Lewandowski’s work won him inclusion in a show themed around Magic Realism [Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1943, Americans 1943: Realists and Magic Realists]. Red Barns was painted around 1940, in advance of its inclusion in Halpert’s fall group show of 1942. The work employs both tempera and watercolor. Lewandowski’s application of watercolor alongside the opaque medium adds to the richness of tone, while retaining the brightness of watercolor. The artist worked in oil as well, and his watercolors were often exhibited alongside oils, owing to the strength of Lewandowski’s handling of the former medium. [The New York Times, “Downtown Holds Fall Art Display,” Sept. 22, 1942, p. 24; The New York Times, “New Group and One-Man Exhibitions,” Sept. 27, 1942, p. X5] While the work has been listed with the title “After the Harvest,” an inscription on the verso of the panel, likely in the artist’s hand, reads, “Title: Red Barns,” which we believe to be the artist’s intention. In the years after the war, Lewandowski began to revisit his love for mechanism and industry, moving towards more abstract images. Red Signal Lights of 1946 is a transitional work, moving away from depicting a scene towards engaging the linear elements of the railway signal as pure compositional device. The background is reduced to minimal bands of color, while the steel and iron trusses are thrust into the foreground and fall asymmetrically off the panel. By 1951, he had achieved a semiabstract compositional voice wed to remnants of the Precisionist technique. His subsequent work echoes the mechanoid abstractions of Gerald Murphy, indulging a cult of manufacturing that is uniquely American in character.
16. Edmund Lewandowski Red Barns (After the Harvest),
(1914â€“1998) c. 1940
Tempera, watercolor, and pencil on board, 21â…œ x 18 inches Signed at lower left: EDMUND.D.LEWANDOWSKI
provenance The artist; to [The Downtown Gallery, New York, by 1942]; to Private collection, Rochester, New York; to [Caldwell Gallery, Manlius, New York]; to [Franklin Riehlman Fine Art, New York]; to Private collection, New Jersey, in 2011, until the present
exhibited The Downtown Gallery, New York, 1942
Edmund Lewandowski Red Signal Lights,
Oil on panel, 29½ x 21½ inches Signed, dated, and inscribed at lower left: LEWANDOWSKI 1946 ©
provenance The artist; to [The Downtown Gallery, New York, in 1946]; to R. Hugh Uhlmann, Kansas City, Missouri, by 1947; By descent in the Uhlmann family, until 2001; to [Keogh & Riehlman Fine Art, New York]; to Private collection, New Jersey, in 2002, until the present
exhibited Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1947, Twentieth Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil Painting, no. 292 // Keogh & Riehlman Fine Art, New York, Edmund Lewandowski: Precisionist, 2002, n.p., illus. // Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan, and Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia 2011, Edmund Lewandowski: Precisionism and Beyond
recorded “Corcoran Biennial Includes Six from Wisconsin Studios,” The Milwaukee Journal, April 1947, illus. // Valerie Ann Leeds, Edmund Lewandowski: Precisionism and Beyond (2011), pp. 19, 76–77, illus.
18. Tenement Houses, 1935 Watercolor, pen, and ink on paper, Sight: 11⅛ x 17¼ inches Signed at lower left: Feininger Titled at lower center: Tenement Houses Dated at lower right: 1935
provenance [Nierendorf Gallery, New York (label)]; to Private collection, c. 1942; By descent, until the present
Lyonel Feininger’s curious life path brought him from his city of birth, New York, to an adoptive home in Berlin for nearly fifty years, and finally back to New York, fleeing persecution from the Nazis. His career vacillated between figuration and abstraction, encompassing Futurist elements, Expressionism, and commercial illustration. His work in vanguard modernism in Berlin caught the ire of Third Reich officials in the 1930s, and his work was included in the exhibition of “degenerate” art. Fearing worse, he returned to America in 1936 after a half-century away. Feininger had been the first faculty appointed to the Bauhaus, and his familiarity with advanced modernism won him favor in New York as well. He enjoyed a lively second career as the illustrator of a popular American comic strip, “The Kin-der-Kids.” The lingering stamp of the Bauhaus informed Feininger’s fusion of illustration with abstract design. Tenement Houses was made shortly before Feininger made his exit from Germany. While the brisk arrangement of rectangles is dynamic in design, the subject matter is nonetheless fully legible. The radiant application of watercolor to straight-edgedrafted lines parallels domestic developments in Precisionism, a movement of which Feininger was likely unaware.
Charles Green Shaw
19. Polygon Black and Gray, c. 1938 Wooden construction with paint, 19½ x 22 x 2½ inches
provenance [Washburn Gallery, New York]; to Private collection, New Jersey, in 1989, until the present
exhibited Washburn Gallery, New York, 1979, Reliefs by Charles G. Shaw, no. 15, illus.
Charles Green Shaw experimented with a number of shades of modernism before his association with the so-called Park Avenue Cubists cemented his artistic vision to a foundation of modified abstraction. His relationship with A. E. Gallatin and George L. K. Morris confirmed the group’s reputation for being independently wealthy and bent on eliminating obvious subject matter from painting. The present work further obliterates meaning by dwelling in the thin space between sculpture and painting. Shaw worked in a variety of media, including illustrating children’s books and collaging tarot cards, but he remained nonetheless a painter. His temperament seemed to insist that he push limits of his materials, and the present work’s subtle gradations of gray and black further challenge one’s attempts to locate legible symbols in the work. That didn’t dissuade critics from trying, though. Reviewing a show of Shaw’s constructions, including this work, Roberta Smith described “his fluttery white shapes overseen by a sunlike disc [to] form a distinctly American landscape” [“Charles G. Shaw,” The New York Times, December 20, 2007].
21. George L. K. Morris Breakfast in Bed,
Oil on canvas, 9¼ x 7¾ inches Signed, dated, and inscribed on verso: George L.K. Morris / Breakfast in Bed / 1947
provenance [ Jeffrey Hoffeld & Company, New York]; to Private collection, New Jersey, in 1986, until the present
exhibited The Downtown Gallery, New York
20. George L. K. Morris Indian Composition,
Tempera, ink, charcoal, and collage on paper, 11¾ x 8⅞ inches
provenance [Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York]; to [Newspace Gallery, Los Angeles, California]; to Private collection, California; to [ Jeffrey Hoffeld & Company, New York]; to Private collection, New Jersey, in 1985, until the present
George L. K. Morris
George L. K. Morris was one of the earliest American proponents of fully abstract art. Morris was among the painters dubbed the Park Avenue Cubists, aptly named for their mix of high society and vanguard aesthetics. Charles Green Shaw, Albert Gallatin, and Morris and his wife, Suzy Frelinghuysen, worked in a Cubist vein in the 1930s, a decade in which Regionalism was heralded but abstraction, especially in the hands of the independently wealthy, seemed dangerous and decadent. Morris worked tirelessly as an advocate for abstract art, launching the career of a young Clement Greenberg while curating Gallatin’s Gallery of Living Art and funding the Partisan Review. In the late 1930s, the “Indian” motif appears in several of Morris’s works. Indian Composition is a canny collage of birch bark onto tempera. The previous year he had completed an oil of the same name [Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, oil and sand on canvas]. While the subject matter is hard to discern, the two share several elements: an ochre-colored fish-shape occurs in both, and both works incorporate natural materials into the surface. Joseph Stella had used tree parts—mainly leaves—in abstract collages in the preceding decade, but here Morris has incorporated other elements to dissociate the bark from its origins. Unlike Picasso’s inclusion of fragments of newspaper or rattan in his early Cubist works, the bark resists identification, and moves toward the full novelty that Morris prized. “The veil of subject-matter had been pierced and discarded. The works of all periods began to speak through a universal abstract tongue,” he wrote in 1937 [George L. K. Morris, “On the Abstract Tradition,” Plastique no.1, spring 1937]. Breakfast in Bed is another example of the “universal abstract tongue” bedeviling the alleged subject matter. Morris and his wife’s antics won them a spot on the society pages—once when their pet Pekingese dog unseated the president’s sons from the social registry [The Ogden Standard-Examiner, July 31, 1936] —but any saucy content alluded to in the present work is buried beneath Morris’s biomorphic forms. The seafoam-spotted and pink-dotted “bedsheet” betrays an awareness of a similarlyspotted Glass of Absinthe by Pablo Picasso [Museum of Modern Art, New York].
22. Untitled Sculpture in the Round, 1940s Brass and acrylic, 40H x 13 x 13 inches
provenance The artist; to His estate
Charles Biederman spent the 1930s in an aesthetic tumult, trying many different avenues of painting and sculpture to resolve the problems of composition he saw in the work of Paul Cézanne. By the end of the decade, he stopped painting altogether, believing this ultimately to be not right for his work. At the same time, however, he stepped away from sculpture in the round. The reliefs he worked on in the following years represented to him a medium liberated from the problems of color and spatiality he found in sculpture and painting. Leif Sjöberg, writing in 1977, noted: In 1937, in Paris, Biederman abandoned, after more than fifteen years, the old medium of painting; later in the same year, in New York, he abandoned the old medium of sculpture in which he had worked for seven years. After 1937 sculpture had thus come to an end as far as Biederman was concerned [Charles Biederman: A Retrospective (1977), p. 19]. That abandonment, however certain it may have seemed in 1937, was not final. Biederman’s career is full of lengthy considerations and studious returns, and his relationship with sculpture, foresworn in 1937, resumed briefly in the early 1940s before a more confident return nearly forty years later. The present work was executed in the early 1940s, likely a unique example of his free-standing sculpture in brass. At least one wall-relief relates in medium and form to the present work, but the great departure here is the raw verticality of the work. Biederman, a voracious student of modernism (through his travels to New York and Paris in the mid-1930s, as well as his extensive studies at the Art Institute of Chicago), was familiar with the skyscraper-like sculpture of John Storrs. Biederman nonetheless drew his formal considerations from a very different lineage, building upon a foundation of Cézanne, Piet Mondrian, and Fernand Léger.
23. Otis Kaye
But Abe, I Told You to Buy Low,
Oil on panel, 8¾ x 10¾ inches Signed at upper center: OTIS KAYE
provenance The artist; By descent in the family, until the present
exhibited New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut, 2015, Otis Kaye: Money, Mystery, and Mastery
recorded James M. Bradburne, Otis Kaye: Money, Mystery, and Mastery (2015), p. 133, illus.
24. Otis Kaye
Post the-Bands Now!, After Pablo Picasso, Vollard Suite, 1930–1937 Etching and gouache on paper, 7H x 10H inches Signed within image at upper left: O KAYE
provenance The artist; By descent in the family, until the present
recorded James M. Bradburne, Otis Kaye: Money, Mystery, and Mastery (2015), p. 145, illus.
Otis Kaye was a master trompe l’oeil painter in the mid-twentieth century. Working primarily in Chicago, Kaye’s innovative works are heavily coded meditations on fortune, chance, and money. While the artist did work outside of the trompe l’oeil genre, his near-obsession with the peculiar power of money is evident across his oeuvre. His works are riddled with rebuses, calligrams, and visual puns, often taking on a gallows humor about the vicissitudes of the market. While Kaye often uses a variety of coding methods to suggest wry commentaries on chance, wealth, and value in his trompe l’oeil pictures, But Abe I Told You to Buy Low possesses further meaning due to the man portrayed on the five-dollar bill, Abraham Lincoln. There are a litany of references to the man himself: the front-andcenter portrait, the penny at lower right, and the stock ticker reading ILL . . . ILL . . . , a reference to Lincoln’s Illinois roots. As is typical of Kaye, these each embody several deeper and less apparent references as well. Kaye, working in the mid-twentieth century (the penny’s mint date is the date of the painting, 1950) was well aware of his relationship to the American trompe l’oeil tradition of the nineteenth century. His predecessors had used the subject as a vehicle for an expression of nostalgia, and the personage of Lincoln was a favorite element as an heroic and sentimental figure. The ubiquity of the penny suggests its inherent humility as the lowest possible value for American currency. Kaye himself was less prone to wistful nostalgia than his forebears, however, so the telegram from O. KAYE addressed to “Abe” suggests some more cynical views. Among these may be the simple “drop in share value” of Lincoln’s brand: if read as a graph of stock price, “ILL” plunges toward the center before righting itself. The Civil War era, and Lincoln’s presidency especially, was a maelstrom of value fluctuation— from the short-lived Confederate notes to the complicated promises of the Lincoln administration, there is a sense that Lincoln did indeed buy high and sell low, paying with his life while the nation righted itself after his passing (Lincoln’s assassination came before the formal surrender of the South). Indeed, Geraldine Banks points out that the Lincoln penny is a frequent symbol for liberty (the word is there on the left of the coin) in Kaye’s work, a lasting legacy of Lincoln [Otis Kaye: Money, Mystery, and Mastery, p. 88]. However, Kaye’s sense of liberty is perhaps a bittersweet one. A coin, in a Kaye, is never just a token of value; it is also a symbol of luck. Currency, value, and wealth all come down to chance in Kaye’s world. Hence, the note from Kaye comes in the form of a fortune cookie message: it may contain foreboding, but it, too, is ultimately a game of chance. Couple this also with a story of currency itself: the five-dollar bill’s date is 1934—the height of the Depression. Kaye was hugely sensitive to the stock market’s impact on everyday life, and he tips his hat to the devaluation of the US dollar, in 1934, by the inclusion of the obverse of the folded $10 bill at top. As if weighing down Lincoln’s liberty, there is the folded-up Treasury note. The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 passed custodianship of all Federal Reserve gold to the US Treasury and devalued the dollar in hopes of sparking inflation. Set against the drama
of freedom, war, slavery, and embodied in the legacy of Lincoln, the financial meddling of the 1920s and 30s comes to look markedly more cynical in Kaye’s hands than in a conventionally nostalgic letter rack of American trompe l’oeil tradition. My Cup Runneth Over is a head-on collision of several modes of still life painting. The faux wood-grain of the panel, with hanging trinkets (pencil, scissors, coins) are classic trompe l’oeil motifs, while the tattered remnants of a classic fruit still life are adorned by the characteristic elements of the Kaye repertoire: stock tickers, bills, and cheeky attributions. The still life stands on its own as a symbol of wealth and bounty of a bygone era—a literal cup that runneth over, “WAY OVER,” as the bit of type at center left reads. The signifying power of the still life has been battered not just by time, but by lack of fortune, but also, Kaye suggests, bad investment. Bills physically pierce the painting, and the fraying threads of the canvas at upper right fall in the shape of a dollar sign to drive the point home. Kaye inserts himself into the painting as well, adding his signature by way of the restorer’s tag at lower right. “OK RESTORATION / U TEAR, / I REPAIR”— OK restoration, in that Otis Kaye has performed a sort of rehabilitation on the age-old use of still life as a stand-in for wealth. Also, “OK” has the sense that he did an adequate, but clearly not superlative job: the attempt to conserve seems to have ended at the bit of red thread and hanging needle at upper left and a bit at the lower right. The thread is inappropriate in color for an actual canvas restoration, but it does serve a rebus: in German a roter faden is a recurring theme that holds a narrative together, and literally translates to “red thread.” In English we typically call this device “leitmotif,” but Kaye, a native German speaker, clearly took advantage of this double-meaning. Considering the theme of representation of wealth, Kaye dismissed the vanished value of the still life, the ancient coin, and the “100 SHARES” tucked into the canvas itself. Neither the coin (from the vanished Lydian Empire) nor the shares (issued by the ‘BANK OF RUPT.’) have proven to be any better stores of value than the peach pile. “BUY LOW * SELL HIGH / ENJOY THE FRUITS OF THY LABOR ,” as the bowl at center suggests and if you can master that, “RAG S TU RIC HES,” as reads the ticker rounding the bowl at right. But here an element of doubt begins to creep in: “OR IS IT RIC HES . . . ” the bowl reads, suggesting that the market also has to come down again. Certainly for the still life painting, the riches have returned to rags. As canvas, fruit, coin, and stocks fail, what about the strategy evidently employed by the canvas’s putative owner—shoving wads of cash in behind the canvas? Kaye suggests once more that you follow the red thread: reading the thread itself left to right, like a stock chart, the value is plunging. If you prefer a second opinion, you might consult Mr. Kaye’s securities broker, whose pencil dangles at lower center, one Mr. Jack Cass. But if all else fails, Kaye offers the advice, on a pencil (at upper left): “Always deal with a sharp pencil.” The suggestion, that one should be ready to make a better deal, appears in another work by Kaye from 1952, Always Deal with a Sharp Pencil, Always! In this etching, the pencil is aff ixed to a battered reproduction of a work by Rembrandt van Rijn, Abraham and Isaac (fittingly, a Biblical story of sacrifice). This collage of his own imagery against that of a master was a favorite device of Kaye’s. In more than twenty works, Kaye snatched imagery from Rembrandt, Picasso, and Albrecht Durer, re-etching the works meticulously before defacing them and adding his own mélange of bills, pencils, and graffiti. Post the Bands—Now! takes as its departure point a print from a series Picasso executed in the 1930s for the dealer Ambroise Vollard. Picasso’s work was a favorite target for Kaye, who knew that a print by the Spaniard would always be worth many times that of an original oil by Kaye. In addition to the strong market for Picasso, the
My Cup Runneth Over,
Oil on canvas mounted on board, 39 x 29¾ inches
The artist; By descent in the family, until the present
exhibited New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, Connecticut, 2015, Otis Kaye: Money, Mystery, and Mastery
recorded James M. Bradburne, Otis Kaye: Money, Mystery, and Mastery (2015), pp. 98–99, 133, illus.
Vollard Suite was doubly a unit of exchange: Picasso is said to have created the suite of etchings in order to trade to Vollard for a group of paintings by Renoir and Cézanne. In classic Kaye style, however, Fate had other plans, and Vollard was dead before the prints were completed. In Post the Bands—Now!, the Picasso print is faithfully reproduced, down to the inscription at lower right, which has been inverted by the printing process. The nude is tastefully concealed by a few coins, while the paper on which it is printed has been tattered to ruins. A pair of wedding rings hang from bent tacks, and a dangling pencil tells the viewer what to do with them: put the wedding bands up for pawn “—NOW! ” Checks and Balances is a playful fantasy of a three-way conversation across centuries, among Karl Marx, Rembrandt, and Kaye. The checks are both literal—checks against bank balance of nothing written by Marx—as well as metaphoric, in the sense of the balance between the Communism along the left and Capitalism at right, with art in the middle. “Karl Freddy,” as he signs the note at center, has written his bad checks from the banks of Utiopia and Atlantis, while begging for a discount. Rembrandt rebuffs the deadbeat, “Cut it out Karl! . . . or my agent Kaye will pickup.” Kaye, for his part, wants out of the business: “You guys settle this yourselves. I’m tired of painting money. I QUIT! NOW! ” Money From Home, a print with added watercolor, has a more literal interpretation, with bills and coins overflowing the window of a business envelope. Lady Liberty, on a silver dollar, appears haggard, with weary eyes and mouth agape, alongside a “Good for 1 Meal” token, and a few bits of the assorted loose change from “R. Mann” in Chicago. The dangling pencil now offers the simple instruction to “write soon!” Kaye pulled these prints in small numbers; often only a single print was made from each etching. Money from Home includes watercolor added by hand.
Money from Home,
Etching with gouache on paper, 11 x 14 inches Signed, dated, and inscribed at lower center: MONEY FROM HOME / O. KAYE 1969
Checks and Balances,
Oil on board, 34 x 31 inches Signed and dated at lower right: O. KAYE 1959
provenance provenance The artist; By descent in the family, until the present
The artist; By descent in the family, until the present
recorded James M. Bradburne, Otis Kaye: Money, Mystery, and Mastery (2015), pp. 114–115, 135, illus.
Anna Mary Robertson “ Grandma” Moses (1860–1961) 28.
Oil on masonite, 26 x 30 inches Signed at lower left: MOSES.
provenance [The American British Art Center]; to L. J. Salter, North Rose, New York; to By descent in his family; to [Franklin Riehlman Fine Art, New York, in 2006]; to Private collection, New Jersey, until the present
recorded The artist’s record book, p. 27, no 532 // Otto Kallir, Grandma Moses (1973), p. 293, illus.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses began her fertile career at the age of 76, earning her the sobriquet “Grandma,” a nickname she accepted with the good humor for which she was famous. Taking up painting when arthritis put an end to her needlework, Moses produced some thousand paintings, documenting the happy and hardworking country life in her characteristic folksy vernacular. The present work appears to be a reworking of elements found in a smaller work executed in 1942. The smaller work of the same title [Kallir no. 158a] was painted July 22nd, 1942, featuring the same billowing gray clouds at upper right as well as an almost identical landscape below. The arrangement of the figures was altered in the larger work, but similar poses, including the man with up-stretched arms and the children on the frozen stream, have been preserved. A label with the artist’s identification on verso gives the exact date of the present work’s painting as January 21, 1944, despite the title, listed on verso as December. Dates—26–30 are appended in red, possibly the artist’s hand. The verso of the work bears the inscription of its first owner, L. J. Salter of North Rose, New York. Salter was a major collector of Moses’s work. Among other Moses paintings Salter acquired was the 1943 oil, Sugaring Off, which holds the auction record for the artist’s work at nearly $1.4 million.
Charles Ephraim Burchfield 29.
Watercolor on paper, 11H x 17¾ inches Signed and dated at lower right: CB [with decorative floral insignia] / 1954 Signed, dated, and inscribed on verso: “SUNFLOWER ARCHES” / 12" x 18" / 1954
provenance Mrs. Ledyard Cogswell, Jr., Loudonville, New York; By descent in the family, until the present
recorded Joseph Trovato, Charles Burchfield: Catalogue of Paintings in Public and Private Collections (1970), p. 254, no. 119
Charles Ephraim Burchfield produced visionary watercolors of rural settings, earning him a place among favorite American landscape painters of any medium by the mid1930s. His “Golden Year” of 1917 was an explosion of glyphs and symbols incorporated into the landscape. Burchfield called this vocabulary of signifiers “conventions.” A 1917 notebook collects many of these runes, annotating with their emotional meaning: “aimless brooding,” “the fear of loneliness,” the “fascination of evil” are catalogued among many others. The present work is packed with Burchfield’s conventions. The titular sunflower appears at top, adorning a window through the arches of foliage to a view of village houses. The gull-like m-shapes that elaborate the foliage are marked in Burchfield’s notes as “Hypnotic Intensity,” while the arched apertures may relate to one of the artist’s many varieties of “brooding,” “dangerous,” “morbid,” or perhaps simply “aimless brooding” [See Robert Gober et al., Heatwaves in the Swamp: The Paintings of Charles Burchfield, pp. 20, 24, 46–53]. The supernatural elements that electrify Burchfield’s work are on raw view, open, despite the artist’s copious notes, to a broad range of interpretations.
30. Sunset Sea, 1958 Oil on paper mounted on board, 22⅞ x 34⅞ inches Signed and dated at lower right: Milton Avery 1958 Inscribed on verso of board: “SUNSET SEA” / MILTON AVERY / OIL ON PAPER / 23 x 35 / 1958 Inscribed on verso of board at upper right: “Sunset Sea” / by / Milton Avery / 1958 / oil on paper
provenance The artist; to His estate; to Private collection, Connecticut, in 1990, until the present
Avery spent the summers of 1957 through 1961 in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where the present work was painted in 1958. These years were pivotal for the artist. He expanded the scale of his works to the vast canvases preferred by his Abstract Expressionist friends Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb. He also took new steps to obliterate the “materiality of paint,” as Barbara Haskell describes: Now to ensure the utmost absorption of paint into the canvas, Avery applied his pigments with great frugality, thinning them only with turpentine in order to maintain the surface dryness he had favored throughout his career [Milton Avery (1982) p. 161]. This effect is all the more apparent in the present work, executed on paper before mounting it onto board. Thin layers of oil are applied in the lower portion of the work, while the upper sky area is marked with rubbed-on oil stick, another device the painter favored at the time. The present work’s bright pink color scheme also represents a chromatic relationship he investigated deeply from 1957 through 1959. The same year as the present work, Avery produced a much larger oil in a similar composition with the same name: Sunset Sea, 1958, 48 x 72 inches (Milton Avery Trust). Dunes and Sea I, also of the same year, continued this meditation on dusky views of deep cadmium and alizarin, and the scale of the series reached monumental proportions the following year in Tangerine Moon and the Wine Dark Sea [Collection of Sidney Forbes]. The present work features the same surface treatment, color, and formal relationships as these larger works, as well as a depiction the brisk and vibrant action of the ocean’s movement. This work is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from the artist’s wife, Sally Avery on behalf of the Milton Avery Trust.
31. The Outermost Bell, 1959 Watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches Signed at lower right: Andrew Wyeth
provenance Mrs. Ledyard Cogswell, Jr., Loudonville, New York; By descent in the family, until the present
Andrew Wyeth, perhaps the most successful in a family replete with brilliant artists, worked in a variety of media, but his accomplishments in watercolor have made a lasting impact on the medium. While his father, Newell Convers Wyeth, worked extensively as an illustrator, Andrew’s mode was more poetic and understated, depicting scenes from his own life. His early breakthrough, Christina’s World (Museum of Modern Art, New York), made the young painter a household name. The rest of his career saw the artist moving towards less overt narratives—a conscious decision that the artist remarked upon frequently. Nonetheless, Wyeth never left the personal story out of his work completely. While the image is devoid of people, the bell is pregnant with meaning. Painted on the island known as Matinicus Rock, The Outermost Bell the quiet isolation of life in Cushing, Maine, where Wyeth summered for much of his life. In addition to the Wyeth summer home, Cushing is the site of the farm where Christina of Christina’s World lived. Bells and lighthouses of Maine—both in Cushing and Port Clyde, where N.C. Wyeth summered and worked—feature often in the younger Wyeth’s work, emblems of isolation but also of vigilance as they watch over the rocky Maine coast. This work will be included in Betsy Wyeth’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the artist’s work.
32. Masts and Rigging, 1975 Oil on canvas, 44 x 30 inches
provenance The artist; By descent in the family, until the present
exhibited Zabriskie Gallery, New York, 2008 Ralston Crawford: Prints, Paintings, Photographs // University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, 2014, Ralston Crawford: The Artist’s Eye
recorded Susan Moldenhauer and Nicole M. Crawford, Ralston Crawford: The Artist’s Eye, 2014, p. 27, illus.
Throughout the 1970s, Ralston Crawford traveled around the world, with stops in London, Paris, Bangkok, Bali, Afghanistan, Tahiti, and Bora Bora. From the deck of the boat on which he traveled, he took several photographs, printing four or more different negatives when he got back to his studio in New York. At his easel, he returned to the photographs and produced three canvases: Bora Bora, Bora Bora II, and Masts and Rigging. While the former works in this group contain elements of the horizon line, the last of these is unique in that the view consists only of the sky, and the lines stringing from it. In a fashion, Crawford was returning to an earlier motif: 1934’s Top of the Mast (private collection) shares the elements of crisply delineated lines, mast, and clear blue sky. A career of careful looking led the artist, working forty years later, to alter the composition in important ways. In the present work, the mast extends upward through the picture plane, activating the entire expanse of the image. While Crawford’s preference in the 1930s and early 40s was to situate the subject matter in the lower center, after World War II he adopted an all-over compositional structure. Masts and Rigging is an artful return to a lifelong fascination with spatial relationships.
33. Tenor Spot, 1980 Collage with paint and foil on board, 17⅞ x 13¾ inches Signed at lower left: Romare / Bearden
provenance The artist; to [Sheldon Ross Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, in 1980]; to Dr. Clarence P. Rogers, Detroit; to [Sheldon Ross Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, by 1990]; [Franklin Riehlman Fine Art, New York]; to Private collection, New Jersey, in 2003, until the present
exhibited Sheldon Ross Gallery, Birmingham, Michigan, 1980, Romare Bearden: Jazz // Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson; Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, 1980–1982, Romare Bearden: 1970–1980, p. 96, no. 54
recorded Myron Schwartzman, Romare Bearden: His Life and Art (1990), p. 275
Romare Bearden’s work in painting and collage helped shape the aesthetic of postwar America, inf luencing generations of painters from his roots in the Harlem Renaissance to late-twentieth century painters and illustrators. His first show was in 1940 at Addison Bates’ gallery in Harlem, a major center of African–American art and culture. Bearden took instruction from George Grosz at the Art Students League and supplemented his degree in science and education at New York University. His early work in a Social Realist mode gave way over the years to a refined collage technique that drew from mosaic tradition as readily as modernist collage. Over the following decades, his collage technique grew to embrace a variety of media, layering cut paper along with addition of paint and drawing, earning him the New York Time’s laurel, “the nation’s foremost collageist” [C. Gerald Fraser, “Romare Bearden, Collagist and Painter, Dies at 75,” in The New York Times, Mar. 13, 1988]. For an artist so well known as a collagist, Bearden came to the medium relatively late in his career. He defended against the view that it was a lesser art form, protesting “I paint on collage. I consider them paintings, not collage. I use collage, pieces of paper that I’ve painted on myself ” [as quoted by Mary Schmidt Campbell, Memory and Metaphor (1991) p. 48]. The present work was completed in 1980, during a period in which Bearden had been exploring the visualization of jazz, its sound, and culture. Jazz was both “a form of music represent[ing] a solid identity for blacks,” as well as an influence on his abstract art making processes. He described his admiration for the pianist Earl Hines, which he shared with his friend Stuart Davis: I listened for hours to recordings of Earl Hines at the piano . . . I found that this was very helpful to me in the transmutation of sound into colors and in the placement of objects in my paintings and collages. Jazz has shown me the ways of achieving artistic structures that are personal to me . . . [Ibid., p. 65] The present work incorporates cut and torn paper, applied coloration, and gold foil. Bearden may have considered it a painting, but it is nonetheless a tour de force of material innovation, encapsulating both the formal composition and spontaneity of gesture that set Bearden apart as a master of the medium.
Morris Cole Graves
34. “Oriental Poppy” (in Chinese Soy Sauce Jug), 1990 Gouache on paper, mounted on larger sheet, 18¾ x 14 inches Signed and dated at lower right: Graves / 90 Inscribed on verso: Title “Oriental Poppy” (in a Chinese Soy Sauce Jug) Graves / 90
provenance The artist; to [Schmidt-Bingham Gallery, New York]; to Private collection, New York; to The present owner
exhibited Schmidt-Bingham Gallery, New York, Radiant Florals, 1994
A major voice of Northwestern art, the Oregon-born Graves quit high school to spend the late twenties and early thirties roaming East Asia. “I had no sense that I was to be a painter, but I breathed a different air,” he recalled later but certainly the seed of mysticism and an affinity for Japanese materials and techniques was planted then [as quoted by Deloris Tarzan Ament, “Morris Graves: The Bad-Boy Recluse of Northwest Art,” Art Guide Northwest, 2002,]. For the duration of his long career, he contemplated Zen Buddhism and East Asian philosophies through his radiant paintings of birds, flowers, and abstract forms. “The delicate mysteries of Mr. Graves’s luminous paintings,” as Grace Glueck described them, are suffused with radiant, otherworldly energies [Grace Glueck, “Art in Review; Morris Graves—‘Instruments for a New Navigation,’” The New York Times, Jan. 21, 2000]. Graves concerned himself with a variety of home-spun spiritualist practices, and the glowing halos in his work were evocations of the connection between the seen and unseen worlds. Oriental Poppy is a sublime example of Graves’s less outré evocations. His Asian influences are on full view in this choice of flower, vase, and in the delicate paper on which the work is executed. A thin veil of color provides a background for the work, rubbed or washed in to provide a ghostly halo and earthy base. Richer colors are built up in the flower and soy sauce container, and Graves affixed the delicate-fibered paper to a larger sheet for greater support.
Index of Artists by catalogue numbers Milton Avery, 30 Romare Bearden, 33 Charles Biederman, 22 Charles Ephraim Burchfield, 29 Francis Brooks Chadwick, 2 William Merritt Chase, 3 Kenyon Cox, 1 Ralston Crawford, 32 Stuart Davis, 10, 11 Charles Demuth, 12 Lyonel Feininger, 18 Frederick C. Frieseke, 7 William J. Glackens, 15 Charles Goeller, 14 John Graham, 13 Morris Cole Graves, 34 Otis Kaye, 23–27 John La Farge, 4 Edmund Lewandowski, 16, 17 John Marin, 8 George L. K. Morris, 20, 21 Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses, 28 Charles Green Shaw, 19 Everett Shinn, 5, 6 Joseph Stella, 9 Andrew Wyeth, 31
Photography: Joshua Nefsky Design: Russell Hassell Printing: Puritan Capital All rights reserved. Reproduction of contents prohibited Publication copyright © 2015 Menconi + Schoelkopf Reproduction credits and copyrights: (cat. no. 8) © 2015 Estate of John Marin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; (cat. no. 22) © 2015 Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; (cat. no. 28) © Grandma Moses Properties Co., NY. All reproduction rights reserved; (cat. no. 30) © 2015 The Milton Avery Trust / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; (cat. no. 33) Art © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY Cover: Francis Brooks Chadwick, The Bridge at Gréz-sur-Loing in Springtime, detail, c. 1887, see cat. no. 2
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