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The Poker Game and Its Circle Exhibition or Catalogue Title 15 words max on 3 lines max

TELLING THE STORY OF

PHILADELPHIA’S ART AND ARTISTS


Funding thank you text 90 words max.


The Poker Game and Its Circle

CONTENTS Foreword 2 The Exhibition Antonelli I Gallery 6 Corridor Gallery 36 Antonelli II Gallery 74 Conversation with Ruth Fine and Armand Mednick 96 Works in the Exhibition 118

July 20 – October 26, 2013

TELLING THE STORY OF

PHILADELPHIA’S ART AND ARTISTS


FOREWORD could not have organized this exhibition. Ruth, an accomplished artist and curator WILLIAM R. VALERIO, PHD

who was married to Larry Day and has

The Patricia Van Burgh Allison

been the caretaker of his artistic legacy,

Director and CEO

entrusted Woodmere with the gift of Poker Game and many other subsequent works. Thank you for these treasures and

I was thrilled when Armand Mednick,

for your equal generosity in sharing your

who is depicted in Larry Day’s great

knowledge.

painting, Poker Game (1970), introduced

Armand and Ruth, we thank you both

himself to me last summer. He described

for participating in the conversation that

that the actual game depicted began

elucidates the complexities of Poker

in 1963 and continues to this day, fifty

Game as a broader metaphor. Exhibitions

year later, on the first Sunday of every

come and go, but catalogues live on, and

month. To mark the fifty years, Armand

we are proud to record this important

asked if Woodmere would exhibit Day’s

oral history.

painting at some time in 2013. I said yes on the spot, and this exhibition evolved

I also extend Woodmere’s gratitude to

from that conversation, expanding to

a number of artists and collectors who

include the work of a broader circle

have lent or donated art and have shared

of colleagues. Thank you, Armand, for

their knowledge. My special appreciation

providing the impetus, and for your

goes to Eileen Goodman, Charles Kalick,

numerous gifts of art that not only

Charles Kaprelian, Sandra and John

enrich the exhibition, but also make

Moore, Elizabeth Osborne, Peter Paone,

Woodmere’s collection stronger.

David Pease, Jamie Wyper, Karen Segal, Bill Scott, and Barbara and Leonard Sylk.

Woodmere must also extend deep thanks to Ruth Fine, without whom we

Because Woodmere is a small museum 2


with a nimble staff, we can embrace

Finally, we are deeply grateful to an

opportunity when it knocks. Special

anonymous donor and the Pennsylvania

thanks are extended to Emma Hitchcock,

Council on the Arts for the support that

Sally Larson, Rachel McCay, Rick Ortwein,

made this exhibition possible. Thank you.

and Hildy Tow for assembling the moving parts and creating the exhibition.

(left to right) Jimmy Lueders, Larry Day, and Armand Mednick pose with the only royal flush in the fifty years of the poker game, c. 1973.

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Antonelli I Gallery, Woodmere Art Museum 4


the poker game and its circle

LARRY DAY PORTRAITS Focusing his art on the people and places that were most central to his life, Larry Day made many portraits of his colleagues in Philadelphia’s art community. He painted several ambitious group portraits such as Woodmere’s Poker Game and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts’ Group, and animated them with subtle interactions between figures and dynamic architectural settings. He often portrayed his friends at social gatherings or playing games such as poker, bridge, or charades — a metaphor for the structures that organize society and the ways in which individuals interact in groups and as individuals. Day’s paintings and drawings posess the complementary qualities of cool precision and linear dynamism. An artist who was known to draw all the time, Day is greatly admired for the strength and delicacy of his draftsmanship.


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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

the years.

Poker Game 1970 Oil on canvas

its roll-down garage door, red curtain,

The painting is set in Leon’s studio, with and mysterious doorway. Day imbues the scene with portentous stillness, capturing the moment when the players contemplate how to respond to a bet

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Ruth Fine, 1999

being placed by Pease, the man in the white hat and blue jacket. The card table was purchased by Lueders at Wanamaker’s department store. Day was keenly aware of the history of art and the collections of the great museums of Philadelphia. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when he made the transition from abstraction to figurative painting, he looked intently

This painting depicts some of the first

at Dutch genre scenes, particularly Jan

participants of a poker game that has

Steen’s Merry Company (c. 1663-67).

taken place every month since 1963.

Day’s version of this painting, After

Seated clockwise from left are five of

Jan Steen, is included in the exhibition.

Day’s fellow artists: Armand Mednick,

Poker Game also recalls Paul Cézanne’s

Dennis Leon, David Pease, Massimo

monumental Card Players (1890–92), in

Pierucci (mostly obscured), and Jimmy

the collection of the Barnes Foundation.

Lueders. The empty chair denotes Day’s

Like Cézanne, Day conveys a sense of

place at the table. Mednick still plays on

the opposing attributes of the games: its

the first Sunday of every month with

social, interactive quality and the specific

others who have joined the game over

reactions of individuals to one another and the broader social web. 7


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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

century Dutch tavern scene called Merry

After Jan Steen 1962 Oil on canvas

in the collection of the Philadelphia

Larry Day Estate, Courtesy Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York

figures in the context of an evocative

Company (c. 1663-67)—thought to be “after”(not actually made by) Jan Steen— Museum of Art, Day’s painting actively explores the complexity of representing a group of emotionally interrelated architectural environment. Ruth Fine, a curator and artist whose work is on view in this exhibition, was also Day’s wife. She describes the important changes in Day’s work in relation to this painting: The gaming and the gathering of figures around a table, as well as the bigger, broader move into figurative painting, came when Larry immersed himself in—and made a painting of—Jan Steen’s Merry Company…. He saw that he could both make art that represented

Having achieved success as an abstract

something and, at the same time, would

painter in the late 1950s and early

represent the paint itself and the process

1960s, Larry Day refocused his work

of painting. He felt the capacity to both

on figurative representation for the

represent “painting” and represent

remainder of his career. The process of

everything that was “other-than-paint” in

creating After Jan Steen was a critically

a specific way. It was that painting that

important vehicle for the transformation

changed the direction of his work from

of his work. Based on a seventeenth-

an abstract to a representational mode. 9


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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

was a popular film star among avant-

Group 1967 Oil on canvas

an “interior” journey that sought to

Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Bequest of the artist, 1998.8

artist of great ambition. His paintings

garde circles because the characters she usually played were engaged in understand the self in relation to the materialism of society. Day, seated in the center (wearing glasses), was an often comment on the way individuals form communities to find meaning in the

Photograph courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

contemporary world. The gathering of artists depicted here takes place in Day’s Elkins Park studio. The standing figures from left to right are Leonard Lehrer, Dennis Leon, Monica Vitti, Joan Leon, and Eileen Goodman (holding her daughter, Amanda). In the first row of seated figures are Larry

Group offers a snapshot portrait of an

Day, David Pease, and Julie Pease. Seated

interconnected group of friends who

in the foreground are Sidney Goodman

socialized, shared creative ideas, and

(playing with the cat, Heidi) and Ruth

worked in Philadelphia in the late 1960s.

Fine.

The portraits represent those who were

The canvas at rear-center is a double

part of Larry Day’s circle of friends;

portrait of two artists, Natalie Charkow

the blonde woman standing third from

and Mitzi Melnicoff. Interestingly, their

left is the arrestingly beautiful Italian

presence has a palpability that some of

actress Monica Vitti, star of the films of

the “real” depicted figures lack. To date,

Michelangelo Antonioni. At the time, Vitti

we are unable to identify the young teenaged child at right. 11


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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

as inhabiting the space of the studio,

Untitled (Natalie Charkow and Mitzi Melnicoff) c. 1967 oil on canvas

within a painting. The representations

and those who are depicted as two dimensional images on the painting of Natalie Charkow Hollander and Mitzi Melnicoff seem no less animated than any other figure in the painting. Day chose to depict the two women because of their close friendship. Charkow

Gift of Claudia Raab, 2013

Hollander, who remembers sitting for this

Photography by Alan Orlyss

portrait, explained that Day, Melnicoff, and she “had a lot of laughs together.” When Woodmere was in the process of organizing this exhibition, we did not know that Untitled (Portrait of Natalie Charkow and Mitzi Melnicoff) existed. We inquired and searched for a work that would correspond to the depiction within Group, but no such painting came to light.

Larry Day’s monumental portrait, Group,

However, at the opening celebration

is a depiction of a gathering of friends,

of the exhibition, the painting was

mostly artists. The setting is Day’s studio,

immediately recognized by Claudia

and on an easel in the background is

Raab—Natalie Charkow Hollander’s niece

this painting, Untitled (Portrait of Natalie

and Armand Mednick’s stepdaughter—

Charkow and Mitzi Melnicoff), shown as a

who went directly to her home in Mt.

work-in-progress. In Group, Day creates

Airy, retrieved the painting, and brought

a pictorial dialogue between those

it back to Woodmere as a gift to the

characters who are represented

permanent collection. 13


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ARMAND MEDNICK American, born Belgium, 1933

the mustache, and Jamie Wyper, an

The Poker Players 1990 Stoneware

on the right. I showed this for the first

Collection of Anderson DeLone

died in March 1994. The nineties were a

architect who joined the game. The artist Chuck Phillips was there, and Jimmy time in 1992. So there were a lot of new people there. Larry played almost to the end of his life; he died in 1998. Jimmy… very difficult decade for me. The… artists involved in the poker game were family. Mednick was born in 1933 in Brussels, Belgium, and named “Avrum” by his Yiddish-speaking parents. In 1940, his family left Brussels for France. They

Two decades after Day completed his

escaped the Holocaust by posing as

painting, Armand Mednick created his

Christians in Volvic, France, and left the

own three-dimensional depiction of the

country in 1947 to join relatives in the

poker players.

Philadelphia area. In the United States, Mednick attended Temple University’s

Mednick makes figurative pottery

Tyler School of Art, graduating in

through an additive, hand-building

1958 with degrees in graphic arts and

process. Here, portraits of the poker

ceramics. In 1960, he received his MFA in

players are made in natural, unglazed

ceramic design from Alfred University in

white clay that is pressed onto a dark-

New York. He was a beloved teacher of

blue glazed (but not yet fired) pot. The

art and French at Oak Lane Day School

completed pot is fired at once. Mednick

in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, for fifty years.

describes the individuals depicted on the

Mednick currently teaches the visually

pot:

impaired to use the potter’s wheel at

Well, the man in the blue beret is me—the

Allens Lane Art Center in Mount Airy.

old fellow. Then we have Larry with 15


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ARMAND MEDNICK American, born Belgium, 1933

Armand Mednick has described how

A Jungian Pot 1962 Stoneware

group of sorts that provided thoughtful

the group of artists who came together monthly to play poker were a support commentary and feedback on each other’s work. He explained: Those first meetings were seminal for

Courtesy of the artist

me; although it was fifty years ago, I remember them clearly. Larry looked at one of my pots and called it a ‘Jungian’ pot, and it set me on my career and a search for the next fifty years looking for that Jungian pot. According to Mednick, a Jungian pot contains the feeling of streamof-consciousness and draws on the historical trajectory of pottery to connect the past and the present.

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ARMAND MEDNICK American, born Belgium, 1933

Armand Mednick enjoys working with

Bleb Pot 1990 Stoneware

“bleb pots,” so-named because their

Courtesy of the artist

expand under the intense heat of the

the irregularities and organic properties of clay. He has made numerous asymmetrical forms and bumpy textures are determined by the random action of large and small air bubbles—blebs—that firing process. Because a large-enough bleb can cause a pot to explode in the kiln, potters generally “wedge” clay, folding it onto itself over and over to remove air bubbles and prevent blebs.

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DENNIS LEON American, born United Kingdom, 1933-1998

Though primarily a sculptor, favoring

Untitled 1990s Bronze

Toward the end of his life he became

wood and bronze, Dennis Leon worked in a variety of media, including collage, drawing, and site-specific installation. interested in natural forms, and referenced landscape in much of his work.

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Ruth Fine and Larry Day, 2013

Born in London in 1933, Leon came to the United States in 1951 to study at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. Leon was an art critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1959–1962 and taught at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) from 1959–1970. He moved to the California Bay Area in 1972 and taught at California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) until 1993.

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DENNIS LEON American, born United Kingdom, 1933–1998

Dennis Leon made a series of sculptures

Apartment Building #3 date unknown Bronze

arranged in a nonsensical manner,

that are mysterious houses or apartment buildings; each is numbered. Doorways, balconies, and staircases are frequently creating odd relationships between the interiors and the exterior. Throughout his career, Leon looked intently at Surrealist sculpture, particularly that of Alberto

Collection of Armand Mednick

Giacometti.

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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

This series of preparatory drawings

Untitled (Poker Game) (top

process of experimenting with imagery

for Poker Game (continues on the following page) is evidence of Day’s and reconfiguring the relationships

left)

between elements within his tableaus.

1964 Watercolor on paper

Figures shift positions around the table. An additional character appears and is then eliminated. The perspectival view

Collection of Jamie Wyper

into the space pivots, shifting from one side of the room to another. Interior

Untitled (Poker Game)

and exterior elements such as windows,

(top right)

doors, and furniture take on different

c. 1970 Pen and ink on paper

characteristics; for example, the vertical fabric curtain becomes a dark mysterious mass in one drawing (bottom right),

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

engulfing the figure of Dennis Leon. This remarkably rich series of drawing shows us that every element in Poker Game, as

Untitled (Poker Game)

in all of Day’s paintings, is deliberately rendered and placed, such that his

(bottom left)

finished compositions exhibit ease and

c. 1970 Pen and ink on paper

confidence.

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

Untitled (Poker Game)

The drawing Untitled (Poker Game) by Larry Day (pictured at lower left) represents a group of artists and architects who were the poker players of

(top

the early 1990s. The second figure from

left)

left is Jimmy Lueders, and friends have

c. 1970 Pen and ink on paper

remarked that his stance is uncanny in its verisimilitude. He can be identified

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

not only by his features, but by his gentle posture and the pose of his hands in his pockets. Depicted here, from left to right,

Untitled (Poker Game)

are Jamie Wyper, Jimmy Lueders, Chuck

c. 1970 (top right) Pen and ink on paper

and Han Ponson.

Philips, Bob Parsky, Armand Mednick,

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

Untitled (Poker Game) (bottom left)

c. 1990 Graphite on paper Collection of Jamie Wyper

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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

Untitled (The Bridge Game) (bottom) c. 1970 Pen and ink on paper

Untitled (The Bridge Game) (top left) 1970 Pen and ink on paper

Larry Day Estate, Courtesy Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York

These drawings of a bridge game, like Day’s many representations of the poker

Untitled (The Bridge Game) (top right) c. 1970 Graphite on paper

game, explore the complex relationships between the characters. But unlike Poker Game, which focuses on identifiable males, the drawings for the bridge game include three women and one man. None of them have been identified.

Untitled (The Bridge Game (center left) c. 1970 Pen and ink on paper

In one of the drawings for the bridge game (top left), Day sketches an image of Marcel Duchamp’s “chocolate grinder,” a symbolic element from his masterpiece, The Large Glass (1915-23), in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Untitled (The Bridge Game) (center right) c. 1970 Pen and ink and watercolor on paper

Like Duchamp, Day was interested in gaming as a metaphor for life, and the chocolate grinder symbolizes mechanical processes as a substitute for human relationships.

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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

In Untitled (top), three artists appear

Untitled (Party) 1960s Graphite on paper

stand at right. The horizontal, vertical,

on a balcony: Doris Staffel is seated at left, and Larry Day and Dennis Leon and diagonal lines of the architecture create formal rhythms that suggest the complexity of the characters’ silent interaction.

Untitled (Charades) 1960s Graphite on paper

In Untitled (Charades) (center), a group of artists has gathered in Day’s studio. Charles Kaprelian sits at left in profile. Ruth Fine sits at far right. Day stands in the center of the group removing

Untitled c. 1992 Graphite on paper

his jacket, his back to the viewer. The drawing is characterized by a strong interplay between the geometric indications of the interior environment and the fluid poses of the figures. A

Larry Day Estate, Courtsey Meredith Ward,

strong triangle establishes a geometric

Fine Art, New York

symmetry in the composition, while relaxed poses, crossed legs, and the swirling shape of the raincoat create a dynamic sense of equilibrium.

Larry Day was fascinated by the built

Untitled (Party) (bottom) depicts a

environment, and he often invented

gathering of friends. At the center is

architectural environments to animate

the artist Natalie Charkow, who pivots

or counterbalance the relationships

in space amidst the gathering of people

between the characters and objects in

and appears to be holding trays of hors

his drawings.

d’oeuvres. 31


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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

Artist and curator Ruth Fine was also the

Untitled (Ruth Fine) 1960s Graphite on paper

framing the intensity of her expression.

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

Larry really loved to draw, even—and

wife of Larry Day. Here, Day depicts Fine seated frontally, her dramatic dark hair

In discussing Day’s approach to drawing, Fine explains:

especially—when he was painting. He was never not drawing. I have hundreds of teeny sketches. I still come across drawings in books and files of papers. Some of them are clearly related to whatever he was looking at or to specific paintings. No matter how small, they can be heavily developed. And some are very spare, just a few lines. And with groups of related drawings, you can see they were probably done on the same day using five, six, ten different linear or tonal approaches.

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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

These portraits of Natalie Charkow

Untitled (Natalie Charkow) (top) c. 1960 Graphite on paper

ability with pencil on paper.

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

upon. Her sculpture, Untitled, is included

Hollander and Gladys Myers demonstrate the exquisite delicacy of Larry Day’s

Day depicts his friend and colleague, Charkow Hollander, with her arms folded. She looks outward with intent as if deep in thought about something she gazes in this exhibition. Gallery owner, Gladys Myers, is seated in

Untitled (Gladys Myers)

a relaxed manner and looks outward with

(bottom)

a pensive expression. The fingertips of

1960s Graphite on paper

her right hand softly touch her leg. Myers was founder and director of Gallery 1015, which was located in her

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

home at 1015 Greenwood Avenue in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. Myers operated the gallery for almost ten years, from 1958–1967, and she successfully represented many of the artists included in this exhibition. The archives and sales records of her gallery are housed in the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution.

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Corridor Gallery, Woodmere Art Museum 36


THE POKER GAME AND ITS CIRCLE This exhibition explores a significant work of art, Poker Game (1970), by Larry Day. The painting portrays five artists— Armand Mednick, Dennis Leon, David Pease, Massimo Pierucci, and Jimmy Lueders—who were Day’s close friends. The group portrait records a monthly poker game that continues to this day in its 50 th year, now with many different players. Poker Game is also a broader metaphor for a community of artists in Philadelphia who shared a commitment to understanding the world through their art. On view with Poker Game are paintings, sculptures, and drawings by Day and the artists depicted at the gaming table, together with works of art made by an extended network of friends and colleagues. Although the artists represented were not bound by a common style or specific purpose, they shared ideas and a sense of community. A thoughtful, cerebral artist, Day was revered as a leader or “guru” in the arts of Philadelphia in his time, so it seems fitting that his painting anchors this exhibition The Poker Game and Its Circle is made possible by a generous grant from an anonymous donor and by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. 37


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EILEEN GOODMAN American, born 1937

Pease, and Larry Day. Relaxed and

Three Painters: Sidney Goodman, David Pease, and Larry Day 1967 Watercolor, charcoal and graphite on paper

by a shared focus. The vertical and

at ease, they are seated together and looking off to the right, unified horizontal structure of the architecture counterbalances the sinuous figurative forms. Eileen Goodman (nĂŠe Taber) was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey and attended the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) where she

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Bill Scott, 1999

studied illustration with Jacob Landau. She earned a BFA in 1958. Painting

Photography by Alan Orlyss

classes with Morris Berd and Larry Day convinced her to abandon illustration in favor of figure and still life painting. A fellow student, Sidney Goodman, would become her husband from 1960 through 1978. Eileen Goodman has had numerous solo exhibitions, the most recent of which were at Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia. Her work is in the collections of Bryn Mawr College, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the

Eileen Goodman portrays three friends

National Gallery of Art.

Sidney Goodman (in profile), David

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LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

enrolled in a semester of courses at

Untitled c. 1970 graphite on paper

and painter, but felt he could not devote

Woodmere Art Museum: Git of Armand Mednick, 2012

arts degree in painting in 1949 and a

Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, He initially intended to become a writer himself to both careers and eventually decided to pursue painting and remain at Tyler. He obtained a bachelor of fine bachelor of science degree in education in 1950. He taught for several summers in the late 1950s and early 1960s at the Aspen School of Art in Colorado. Despite his focus on painting, Day had his

Larry Day made many drawings related

writings published in numerous exhibition

to his painting Poker Game. Some are

catalogues and arts publications. His

clearly prepatory drawings through

essay “Notes on Figurative Art,” in The

which he worked out the configuration

Figure in Recent American Painting

of figures and their relationship to the

(1974), was a significant contribution

architectural surroundings. He was

to the debate about nonfigurative and

also known to continue to explore his

figurative art and a testament to the

imagery by drawing after a painting

importance of realist painting in the

was completed; this may be one such

1970s. He was a professor of painting

example.

at the Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts) from 1953 to 1988,

Larry Day was born in Philadelphia and

and served for several years as chair of

spent most of his life living and teaching

the painting department. In addition

in the area before moving to Takoma

to his positions at the Philadelphia

Park, Maryland in the mid-1980s. After

College of Art, he was also a critic in the

serving in the Pacific campaign in World

graduate department at the University of

War II, he was accepted at Kenyon

Pennsylvania during the 1980s.

College. Before leaving for Kenyon, Day 41


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DAVID PEASE American, born 1932

David Pease and sculptor Armand Mednick are the living members of the poker game depicted by Larry Day.

Summer Rag: Study 9/19/76 1976 Ink and color pencil on paper

David Pease’s drawings are abstract mappings of the world around us. The images contain diagrams, dates, lists, measurements, and color scales. Structured, schematic, and indicative of connective relationships between elements, the drawings have the

Collection of Sandra and John Moore

precision of engineering diagrams or architectural plans, and they make reference to a series of meals and color combinations. Pease received his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He was an instructor at Michigan State University from 19581960. In 1960, he was appointed assistant professor at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, and served as dean of the art school from 1978–1983. Pease was professor of painting and dean of Yale University School of Art from 1983–1996. He has shown his work extensively in the United States and abroad, and is included in the collections of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Whitney Museum of American Art. 43


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DAVID PEASE American, born 1932

Summer Rag: Study 11/18/76 1976 Ink and color pencil on paper Collection of Sandra and John Moore

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DAVID PEASE American, born 1932

Shiloh: Eight Meals (study) May 8, 2005 2005 Graphite, ink, and gouache on arches paper Courtesy of the artist

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DAVID PEASE American, born 1932

Land of Lincoln (study) Oct. 1, 2007 2007 Graphite, ink, and gouache on arches paper Courtesy of the artist

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SIDNEY GOODMAN American, 1936–2013

turned down, suggesting a more inward

Could This Have Been? c. 1958 Oil on canvas

Goodman was born in 1936, in

reaction of grief.

Philadelphia. He attended the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) from 1954–1958, and taught there from 1960–1978. He was

Woodmere Art Museum, Museum purchase, 2012

a painting instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1978–2011. Like many of the artists in this exhibition, Goodman participated in the renewed interest in figurative painting during the 1960s. Over the course of his career, Goodman

Sidney Goodman’s enigmatic narrative

received a numerous honors, including

poses a rhetorical question with its title,

a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship

Could This Have Been? Made in direct

in 1962, the Hazlette Memorial Award

reference to the Holocaust, the painting

for Excellence in the Arts (Painting)

responds to the heinous crimes of the

in 1986, and an honorary doctorate

Third Reich and expresses a broader

from Lyme Academy College of Art

sense of horror at the violence of so

in 2006. His work is included in the

much of the twentieth century. Two

collections of museums around the

emaciated cadavers fill the expanse of

world and throughout the United States,

the lower register of the painting. Above

including the Art Institute of Chicago,

and at right, a man with a blue head

the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the

throws his hands in the air, a dramatic

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts,

gesture of reaction. A second figure at

the Princeton University Art Museum,

left seems to turn away, but his eyes are

and the Whitney Museum of American Art. 51


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RUTH FINE American, born 1941

elements such as bodies of water, fields,

Landscape 1995 Monotype

Landscape is a monotype. A unique

trees and mountains.

monotype print is created by pressing a printing plate onto paper while wet with watercolor, pastel, crayon, acrylic, ink, oil or almost any liquid medium. The plate

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of the artist, 2013

can be glass, wood, metal, or another hard surface. The image is transferred in reverse onto the paper and allowed to dry. Fine studied at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts), the University of Pennsylvania, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, where she taught studio art before starting her curatorial career. She recently retired from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, where she held several posts, including, most recently, Curator of Special Projects in Modern Art. During her distinguished career, Fine has organized numerous exhibitions of contemporary American

Ruth Fine works predominantly with

art and was recently elected chair of

landscape-based imagery using graphite,

the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. She

watercolor, and a variety of printmaking

publishes widely and serves on the

techniques. The colorful marks of this

boards of several art organizations.

print offer suggestions of topographical

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LEONARD LEHRER American, born 1935

This lithograph represents a courtyard

Courtyard at Cocoyoc 1975 Lithograph

elegant fountain and lush, monumental

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Rosa Gilletti from her personal collection, 2012

elsewhere. He was initially inspired by

in Cocoyoc, a city in the north-central part of the Mexican state of Morelos. The vegetation appealed to Lehrer, who sought “paradise gardens� during travels in Mexico, the United States, Europe, and the integration of art, architecture, and nature at Alhambra, the extra-ordinary fourteenth-century Muslim palace in Granada, Spain. For Lehrer, the garden at Cocoyoc, like Alhambra, inspires a unique sense of awe, and here he conveys that emotion through rich tones, almost painterly sensuality, brilliant illusion of light, and arresting detail. Lehrer was born in Philadelphia in 1935. He received his BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. He was director of the School of Art at Arizona State University and then chair of the Department of Art and Art Professions at New York University, where he helped create its MFA program in Studio Art. A painter and printmaker, Lehrer has had forty-seven solo exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. 55


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LEONARD LEHRER American, born 1935

Leonard Lehrer works in a variety of

Untitled (Cuernavaca Landscape) 1965 Watercolor on paper

where he painted this energetic work.

media, including watercolor. In 1965, he spent the summer in Cuernavaca, Mexico

Lehrer was attracted to lush and verdant landscapes such as this, and often included gardens and other natural environments in his paintings and prints.

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Ruth Fine, 2013

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NATALIE CHARKOW HOLLANDER American

Elements with straight edges create a

Untitled c. 1960 Bronze and wood relief

textures and finishes suggest different

dynamic interplay with rough organic forms in this bronze relief by Natalie Charkow Hollander. A variety of surface densities within the amalgam of curved and gouged areas. The sculpture could be a topographical entity of some mysterious origin.

Private Collection

Charkow Hollander was born and raised in Philadelphia. She attended Temple University’s Tyler School of Art where she met Larry Day, Mitzi Melnicoff, and many of the other artists represented in this exhibition who would also be her colleagues at Philadelphia College of Art, where she taught from 1959-1972. She went on to teach in the MFA programs at Yale School of Art, Boston University, Queens College–CUNY, the University of Pennsylvania, Indiana University, and New York Studio School. Hollander lives and works in Woodbridge, Connecticut, and her sculptures are included in museum collections across the country and around the world.

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60


MITZI MELNICOFF American, 1922–1972

professional illustrator at N. W. Ayers,

Portrait of Albert Kligman 1971 Woodcut

for Columbia Records and a number of

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Drs. Albert M. and Lorraine Kligman, 2011

Art (now the University of the Arts) from

Inc., in Philadelphia, and in the 1950s she worked as a freelance illustrator magazines, including Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Cosmopolitan. She was an instructor at the Philadelphia College of 1962 until her untimely death in 1972. Larry Day, who was Melnicoff’s close colleague, organized a memorial exhibition in her honor at Philadelphia

Mitzi Melnicoff depicts her husband,

College of Art in 1972. Day described

Dr. Albert Kligman, a renowned

Melnicoff as:

dermatologist and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of

. . . a painter of celebration. Her

Medicine. The portrait is a woodblock

paintings echo over and over again her

print with five colors; Melnicoff carved a

sense of richness, of joy, of love. . . she

separate woodblock to print each color.

continually strove to find greater and

The bold lines and dramatic sense of

more expressive rhythms, fuller and more

light, with Kligman’s face half in red and

telling relationships, and bolder and

half in yellow, convey a powerful force of

deeper structures.

character. Dr. Loraine Kligman, a research professor Born in Philadelphia, Mitzi Melnicoff

of dermatology at the University of

attended classes at the Graphic Sketch

Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine,

Club (now the Fleisher Art Memorial),

married Albert Kligman in the 1970s;

Settlement Music School, and then

she gave this portrait by Melnicoff, her

Temple University’s Tyler School of Art

husband’s previous wife, to Woodmere in

from 1939 to 1943. She worked as a

2011.

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62


DORIS STAFFEL American, born 1921

The vibrant, energetic strokes of red,

Untitled c. 1979 Gouache on paper

sea of colorful confetti, dense and

white, blue and green colors pulse against one another, creating a bravura rhythmic. The space is shallow and compressed while offering a feeling of great movement and exuberance.

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Karen Segal, 2012

According to Larry Day: [Doris’s] work has always been engaged in the question of absolutes, the enigma of alternatives, and the agony of silence. There has always been the need to find the balance between empirical perception and mystical awareness. Staffel met Day when the two were students at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in the early 1940s. Beginning in 1957, Staffel joined the faculty at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art (now the University of the Arts), where she taught until 1990. Her colleagues included Day, Sidney Goodman, Natalie Charkow Hollander, Leonard Lehrer, and Mitzi Melnicoff.

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64


LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

York School

Landscape for St. John of the Cross 1955 Oil on canvas

in a gestural manner that nonetheless

In his abstract work, Day applied paint retained a strong quality of line. The throughout his career. Here, his palette is dominated by earth tones with splashes of bright color. The title, Landscape for St. John of

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Anita and Armand Mednick

the Cross, makes reference to a work of spiritual literature: The Ascent of Mount Carmel (c. 1585) by St. John of the Cross, a Spanish mystic and doctor of the Church. The Ascent of Mount Carmel describes the journey of the soul

Although Larry Day is best known for

to spiritual wholeness through good

the figurative works he made from the

work and union with the divine. Day’s

1960s through the 1990s, he enjoyed

large painting, and the related smaller

success as an abstract painter in the

work and drawing, are inspired by Paul

1950s. After serving in the army in World

Cézanne’s mountain landscapes.

War II, Day attended Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and graduated in

For Day, abstraction was an examination

1949. He soon made the acquaintance

of the elements that define two-

of John Ferren, Philip Guston, Franz

dimensional representation: gesture,

Kline, Willem de Kooning, and Mercedes

line, composition, and color. His interest

Matter and began to show his paintings

in “paintings about paintings” did not

in Philadelphia and New York. His first

cease when he turned to figurative

exhibitions took place at the Dubin

representation; his exploration occurred

Gallery in Philadelphia and Parma Gallery

through different interrogations of his

in New York, known for showing the New

ability to portray the world around him.

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66


LARRY DAY American, 1921–1998

This oil painting and pencil drawing from the early phase of Larry Day’s career illustrate how he worked across a variety of media when exploring a particular subject or idea. These two works are

Untitled (Abstract) c. 1955 Oil on canvas

related to Day’s painting, Landscape for St. John of the Cross (1955).

Woodmere Art Museum: Museum purchase, 2012

Landscape c. 1955 Graphite on paper Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Peter Paone, 2011

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68


EILEEN GOODMAN American, born 1937

Although known primarily as a

Woman 1964 Oil on canvas

The haunting figure stares out of this

Courtesy of the artist

figure is not an identifiable portrait.

watercolor artist, Eileen Goodman worked with oil on canvas in the 1960s. canvas, her eyes set into deep shadows. Bright light throws half of her face into darkness, half into obscuring light. The

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70


CHARLES KAPRELIAN American, born 1938

Charles Kaprelian taught sculpture at

Untitled c. 1965 Nickel-plated steel

1970s, and was a friend and colleague to

Courtesy of the artist

sculpture. Here, a sheet of steel has

the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) in the 1960s and the artists represented in this exhibition. In the two-person sculpture department, Kaprelian was the practitioner of abstract been cut into four parts and shaped into organic curving elements that interact across a horizontal and vertical divide. The silky smooth surface of nickel plating accentuates an illusion of voluptuous vitality, belying the hollow flatness of the plates. Kaprelian earned his BFA and MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, where he later taught. He has taught at Drexel University and Moore College of Art & Design, taken post-graduate courses in architecture at Princeton University, and is also an inventor.

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72


ARMAND MEDNICK American, born Belgium, 1933

These three clay reliefs were originally

Lili, 1942 Andy and Anita, Moss, 1969 Andy and Anita, 1974 c. 1981-1982 Stoneware

personal loss and trauma. As a group,

part of set of approximately twenty-five autobiographical works that express they were first shown in 1981 and 1982 in Philadelphia. Mednick is a survivor of the Holocaust in Belgium. In the farthest relief at top, he unites memories of the murder of his nine-year-old cousin, Lili, in 1942 at the hands of Nazi soldiers. In the

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Armand Mednick in honor of Anita Charkow Mednick

background are the arching shapes of the concentration camp’s ovens in which other members of Mednick’s family perished. (center) Mednick portrays himself and his wife, Anita, with the artist’s stepson, Andy, on a rotating gurney; Andy was injured in a car accident and treated at Moss Rehabilitation Hospital in Elkins Park. The injuries left him in a coma for five years, during which time he was cared for by his parents. (bottom) Armand, Anita, and Andy are portrayed in the context of Anita’s battle with cancer. After a mastectomy and other debilitating procedures that began in 1970, Anita died of her illness.

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74


DENNIS LEON American, born United Kingdom, 1933–1998

Dennis Leon’s Tondo seems like it might

Tondo c. 1960 Plaster

suggest broken bodies. No entire human

be an architectural fragment. The artist used plaster to build a tangle of organic shapes and incomplete forms that figure is discernible in the masses that resemble legs, torsos, or arms—an orgy of parts that conveys the visceral energy of the figure.

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Eileen Goodman, 2012

Armand Mednick explains that he and Leon had a special relationship, having each lived through horrors of World War II. Mednick escaped from Europe knowing that most of his family members perished in concentration camps, and Leon lived through the Blitzkrieg and bombing of London and was profoundly aware that he was lucky to survive when many others—friends and family—did not. The two artists share a visceral sense of loss, which brought them together when they met as students at Tyler School of Art in the early 1950s. Mednick recalls profound conversations with Leon about the ways a work of art inevitably carries the imprint of the artist’s history.

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Antonelli II Gallery, Woodmere Art Museum 76


the poker game and its circle

JIMMY LUEDERS PORTRAITS This gallery contains monumental portraits by Jimmy Lueders of his artist friends Larry Day, Charles Kalick, and Armand Mednick. Kalick was also Lueders’ partner. Just as Day’s painting Poker Game explores a broad series of relationships between artists, Lueders portrays his close relationships. He shows Day, Kalick, and Mednick to be thoughtful individuals surrounded by works of art and the studio environment. Lueders often depicted the ceramic pots made by his friend Mednick in his paintings. As recalled by Mednick, “It was not just that Jimmy liked my pots and thought they made good vases and interesting images in paintings. No, it was something bigger: a sense that the pots were powerful objects that captured the magic of the moment and something about the time in which they were produced.”


78


JIMMY LUEDERS American, 1927–1994

In this large-scale portrait, Lueders

Portrait of Charles Kalick c. 1989 Acrylic on canvas

the late 1960s and lived together in

Collection of Elizabeth Osborne

advice helped shape Kalick’s artistic

depicts Charles Kalick, his partner of fourteen years. The two men met in Philadelphia’s Mount Airy neighborhood. Each had a studio in his home. Lueders was a mentor whose feedback and growth. Shortly after Lueders completed the paintings of Armand Mednick and Larry Day, Kalick requested that Lueders paint his portrait. Here, Kalick stands in Lueders’s studio, the couple’s poodle, Rex, asleep at his feet. The studio environment is spatially complex and richly painted with a large, architectural painting leaning against a rack that holds numerous works of art. A still life, perhaps arranged as a set-up to be painted later, is placed behind Kalick. At right, a mirror leans against the wall, reflecting the architectural shapes of the studio.

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80


CHARLES KALICK American, born 1949

In the late 1980s and early 1990s,

Structure #54 1998 Acrylic on board

hundred works on paper. Combining

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Alan Harler, 1996

anthropomorphic elements that imply

Charles Kalick created a series titled Structures, comprised of almost one an expressive handling of paint with a strong sense of pattern, he suggests a layering and overlapping of rope-like, a mystery beyond our awareness. The gestural movement of line is essential to the character of these paintings. Born in Philadelphia, Kalick attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1967–1972. He was granted the Lewis S. Ware Memorial and William Emlen Cresson Memorial Travel Scholarships, and received a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowship. For more than three decades Kalick’s work has been exhibited in New York and the Philadelphia area. He has shown his work at LG Tripp Gallery and the former Sande Webster Gallery in Philadelphia. In 2011, Kalick was included in the Woodmere exhibition Flirting With Abstraction.

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82


JIMMY LUEDERS American, 1927–1994

bakery on the corner of Carpenter Lane

Portrait of Larry Day c. late 1980s Acrylic on canvas

window, in the upper left, washes across

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Elizabeth Osborne, 1998

where he could paint and think. Placed

and Greene Street in West Mount Airy. Bright light from the one-time shop the geometries of the studio. Lueders’ many friends described his studio as a meticulously clean and organized space on a table behind the figure of Day, an isolated pot of flowers declares itself an object of contemplation—perhaps a still-life object that Lueders would paint later. Lueders often depicted pots made by his friend Armand Mednick, and he understood them to be powerful objects. Jimmy Lueders was born in 1927 in Jacksonville, Florida. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) from 1946 to 1950. He began teaching at the Cheltenham Art Center

In this portrait of his close friend and

in 1953 and assumed a position at PAFA

fellow artist Larry Day, Jimmy Lueders

in 1957, teaching there until his death in

conveys a sense of the geometric and

1994. He had enduring relationships with

exacting qualities of Day’s own work.

his students and colleagues, who noted

Day was revered as a “guru” in the art

his warmth and breadth of knowledge

world of Philadelphia, and Lueders

about the history of art. He is also

depicts his friend as a serious, relaxed,

remembered for the gourmet meals he

and contemplative man. The setting is

prepared for friends and his passion for

Lueders’ studio, which had once been a

opera.

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84


JIMMY LUEDERS American, 1927–1994

The monumental scale of this painting

Portrait of Armand Mednick 1982 Oil on canvas

and Armand Mednick. Here, Lueders

suggests the significance of the friendship between Jimmy Lueders employs gestural brushstrokes and builds a painterly surface referencing, it seems, the tactile and organic qualities of Mednick’s ceramic pots. Mednick explained:

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Elizabeth Osborne, 2001

Jimmy encompasses my whole life in that picture by having a huge version of one of my Holocaust tiles in the background and one of my pots in the lower-right foreground. It connects my past, present, and future. . . In the background of the painting are the ovens where the members of my family were burned. The arching forms are the ovens, and there’s a figure in one of them. At the time he made this painting he used a lot of my pots as vases for flowers in his paintings. The manner of depicting light was so important to Jimmy.

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86


JIMMY LUEDERS American, 1927–1994

Jimmy Lueders is much admired for

Still Life V 1988 Acrylic on canvas

of light casts deep, precise shadows,

Collection of Armand Mednick

others fall forward. Another, like a fallen

the still life paintings he made in the 1980s and 1990s. Here, a strong source transforming a casual arrangement of zinnias into a dramatic subject. Some flowers seem to reach upward, while soldier, lies on the table. The shadow of the red flower that reaches to the left seems to pin down and hold in place the white flower on the table. The pot depicted by Lueders in this painting, Jimmy’s Prop Pot, was made by Armand Mednick. The two artists were first introduced by their mutual friend, Dennis Leon, in the early 1960s.

87


88


ARMAND MEDNICK American, born Belgium, 1933

This pot by Armand Mednick is depicted

Jimmy’s Prop Pot 1985-86 Stoneware

to each other’s studios. Lueders would

Courtesy of the artist

make for an interesting dialogue.

in Jimmy Lueders’s painting Still Life V. The two artists made frequent visits select pots in Mednick’s studio for use in his paintings, and sometimes Mednick would suggest pots he thought would

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90


ARMAND MEDNICK American, born Belgium, 1933

Jimmy Lueders frequently depicted this pot in his paintings, and it appears in his portraits of both Larry Day and Armand

Jimmy’s Favorite early 1980s Stoneware

Mednick. Lueders was attracted to the pot’s asymmetry and earthy character, and it earned the title, Jimmy’s Favorite.

Collection of Audrey O. Cooper

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92


JIMMY LUEDERS American, 1927–1994

Jimmy Lueders depicts himself as

Self-Portrait in Studio Interior 1982 Acrylic on canvas

arrangement that is also reflected in a

a reflection in a mirror, holding a paintbrush while studying a still-life mirror. The dynamic energy of the studio surrounds him. Concealed and indistinct spaces and shifting vantage points are rendered in blocks of color and broad painterly strokes. Paintings hang on the

Collection of Barbara and Leonard Sylk

walls, and his dog is visible at far right.

Photography by Alan Orlyss

The studio environment is full of the life that fills the imagination of the artist and represents his world of thought.

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94


JIMMY LUEDERS American, 1927–1994

Lueders made portraits on both sides of

Self Portrait and Portrait of a Young Man date unknown Oil on Masonite

below, is a portrait of an unknown young

this panel. Here we see the artist’s selfportrait. On the reverse, and pictured man, perhaps a colleague or close friend who we have yet to identify.

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Armand Mednick, 2013

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96


JIMMY LUEDERS American, 1927–1994

During the last fifteen years of his life,

Hubbard Squash date unknown Acrylic on canvas

(like this hubbard squash), and root

Lueders frequently painted still lifes. Vases and pots with flowers, vegetables vegetables served as portraits of nature’s beauty, bounty, and oddity.

Collection of Jamie Wyper Photography by Alan Orlyss

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98


EILEEN GOODMAN American, born 1937

Goodman is considered a great

Plums date unknown Watercolor on paper

ranges, and complex textures. Her still

practitioner of watercolor for her ability to achieve intense color, nuanced tonal lifes tell stories: here the collection of plums is a unique group of individuals, each with its own personality.

Collection of Karen Segal

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CONVERSATION WITH RUTH FINE AND ARMAND MEDNICK artists in Philadelphia in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and I hope we can

On June 10th, 2013, Armand Mednick and

explore that through this conversation.

Ruth Fine sat down with William Valerio, the Patricia Van Burgh Allison Director

RUTH FINE: I had no idea that this was

and CEO of Woodmere Art Museum and

the fiftieth anniversary of the poker

other Woodmere staff, including, Rick

game, but I’d like to ask how the game

Ortwein and Hildy Tow, to discuss the

started.

upcoming exhibition.

ARMAND MEDNICK: It started as a critique group of artists. We all brought some work to one or another of our

WILLIAM VALERIO: Thank you, Ruth

studios to talk about, ask questions,

and Armand, for joining us at Woodmere

and give feedback about what we were

today. Armand, when you proposed the

doing. The initial group was Larry Day,

concept of this exhibition because 2013

Dennis Leon, Jimmy Lueders, me, and

is the fiftieth anniversary of the poker

Massimo Pierucci. We all brought a

game depicted in Larry Day’s painting

piece of work, and we talked about it.

of that title, there was no question that

Those first meetings were seminal for

we would do as you suggested. When

me; although it was fifty years ago, I

I arrived at Woodmere in 2010 and saw

remember them clearly. Larry looked at

Poker Game (1970) for the first time,

one of my pots and called it a “Jungian”

the painting immediately grabbed

pot and it set me on my career for the

me. It reminded me of Paul Cézanne’s

next fifty years looking for that Jungian

Card Players (1890–92) at the Barnes

pot.

Foundation, which is about so much

WV: What did he mean by Jungian pot?

more than a card game; in the same way, Larry’s painting is about much more, a

AM: A pot that had a feeling of a stream

snapshot of a configuration of art and

of consciousness going through it. It 100


related to a lot of pottery from the past

really make a great one! It’s a wonderful,

and it came through to the present

wonderful thing. I look forward to it.

moment in the physicality of the pot.

It’s the center of my month. It’s just a

It blew me away. I loved it! And when

wonderful time. Of course, over the years

Larry spoke, it was like he was a prophet.

people have dropped out, moved on. I

[laughs] It was wonderful! But you

had to replace a lot of people! [laughs]

can only talk so much, so at one point

WV: Some people have passed away

someone said, “Let’s play poker,” and we

and some people have moved out of

set up a card table and played.

Philadelphia. And some have done both!

RF: Jimmy bought the table depicted in

AM: David Pease is the only one from the

the painting, didn’t he?

painting with me who’s still alive.

AM: Yes. This wasn’t our first poker table,

RF: We don’t know about Massimo.

but this was the one we settled into, the one that Jimmy eventually bought. He

AM: Right, we don’t know about

went to Wanamaker’s and looked at that

Massimo.

table for quite a few months. It was a lot of money. Every time he went there, he

WV: Why did Larry obscure Massimo’s

tried to bargain for a lower price, and he

face?

finally got it! Jimmy was the one who

RF: He was a sculptor, I think, but he

set the ritual of the whole game, which

wasn’t as much a part of the group.

still goes on today: it’s high noon, first Sunday of the month. We meet for coffee

WV: So, he’s there, but he’s not? A

and pastry, and we play poker. No big

mystery character.

stakes. You can’t really get hurt because

RF: Yes.

nobody plays for the money. At one o’ clock, we have hors d’oeuvres. At two

AM: Right. He left the United States and

o’clock, somebody cooks lunch while

went back to Italy in 1972. But why do I

we drink wine. Once every year when

remember Massimo? He always won with

it’s my turn, I make beef bourguignon. I

three nines. It was amazing! [laughs] 101


WV: Now, I’ve always assumed that the

of painting. He felt the capacity to both

empty chair was Larry’s own space at

represent “painting” and represent

the table. The artist is temporarily absent

everything that was “other-than-paint” in

from the table, but present because we

a specific way. It was that painting that

see the game through his eyes.

changed the direction of his work from

AM: Yes, and the exhibition will include

an abstract to a representational mode.

other versions of the scene in which

WV: What’s amazing to me about the

Larry is present, standing behind one or

Jan Steen painting in relation to Larry’s

another of the players; he is there!

painting are the many dimensions of

WV: Well, let’s look at some of the drawings we’ve assembled, not only the drawings for Poker Game, but also another set of drawings about a bridge game where the players are women. Where did this interest in tableaus of gaming and figures around a table come from?

social interaction between people of different social classes who are imbued with symbolic meaning. It’s a tavern scene. One woman standing with the child in her arms is Madonna-like; the other woman, seated and in the foreground, is prostitute-like. The women and the men—drunkards, a waiter, a music maker, others—feed off one

RF: The gaming and the gathering of

another’s energy, and the objects in the

figures around a table, as well as the

paintings and the complex architectural

bigger, broader move into figurative

space are tied into the interactivity. It’s

painting, came when Larry immersed

this idea of generating a complexity of

himself in—and made a painting of—Jan

interactions and relationships among

Steen’s Merry Company (c. 1663-67), a

figures around a table. That’s what’s

seventeenth-century Dutch painting, a

happening in Poker Game. I think

version of which is in the collection of

we’ve been saying that it’s about social

the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He saw

relationships, although here we have men

that he could make art that represented

around a table and the controlled ritual

something and at the same time

of the game. There is a wine glass, and it

represent the paint itself and the process

is not an accidental prop in the painting.


Larry Day, undated, by Joyce Creamer (Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Alma Alabilkian and Peter Paone, 2011) 103


RF: Larry was deliberate about every

raucous—genre scene, being such a rich,

object he depicted, and he had a fairly

deep inspiration. It makes me want to

complicated way of working that was

look at the related drawings for Poker

consistent for as long as I observed

Game that much more carefully. Looking

his working process. He was always

at the drawings, I can see that he subtly

involved in art history and thinking about

or sometimes dramatically changed

historical precedents. He was always

the configuration of figures or their

reading poems and works of literature

relationship to the architecture around

that were related to whatever he was

them. In one drawing, he seems to spin

thinking about. No one else in the world

the room around to take a different

might have known what the connections

vantage point. In another, the chair is to

were, but he did. He was always involved

the left of this table with the wine glass

with music that was connected in his

on it.

mind in the same way. There was hardly a

WV: What’s also interesting is that the

book in the house that he read that didn’t

figure of David Pease, who is so much

have a bookmark in it. That bookmark

a focal point in the painting, appears in

was often an image of a painting, print,

some drawings but not in others. I mean,

or sculpture that he felt had meaning in

looking in these drawings—he’s not

relation to the text or to a work of art

here, but he’s here in this drawing that’s

that was in process. He read a great deal

closest to the finished painting. In this

of philosophy, he read a lot of literary

drawing, I think I see a different character

criticism, and all of this was constantly

altogether.

feeding into whatever he was doing. He would talk about the need to prepare. It

RF: Most of the time, when he did

was really a matter of preparing himself

multiple drawings for something, there

intellectually, spiritually, and visually. That

could be very radical differences in

kind of thinking is embedded in every

them. By radical, I mean, for example,

work of art Larry made.

the inclusion of a figure that, in the end, didn’t find its way into the painting. That

HILDY TOW: It’s fascinating to think of

character you identified, Bill, is probably

the Steen painting, a merry—or let’s say 104


a portrait, just because all of the others

WV: One of the things I love about this

were portraits. It could be an invented

particular drawing for Poker Game is this

character, but probably not this time.

dark panel, which becomes the reddish drape with the brocade-like pattern

AM: Let me add that David Pease wasn’t

in the painting. The dark panel in the

that interested in the game. He would

drawing engulfs Dennis’s figure. It’s as if

walk around reading magazines while

there was a thought about a character

we were playing. Very annoying it was.

merging with the darkness, which is so

He didn’t last too long. I understand why

suggestive. There’s one drawing that

Larry sometimes kicked him out of the

gives us something very close to the

game! [laughs]

finished painting. From right to left, you

HT: Did Larry work from photographs

can see it took some arriving at, or some

or did he draw these from life while the

thinking through, or maybe it’s after.

poker game was going on?

Ruth, you once said that some drawings may have come after.

RF: Larry often drew from memory. RF: This is so close to the painting—I HT: Wow.

think it’s a drawing after the painting.

RF: He did work from photographs, and

AM: About the setting, this was Dennis

he often staged them. He would have

Leon’s studio.

an idea for a painting in his mind and you would walk into the studio and he

WV: From left to right: Armand, Dennis,

would ask you to take a particular pose.

David, Massimo (hidden), Jimmy. The

He would then take a photograph of me

empty chair.

(or whomever) and possibly would pose

HT: I just think it’s interesting how he

himself and ask me to take a photo of

kept that painterly frame around it as a

him. There are rarely photographs that

part of the composition. And it does kind

show what the end image would be, but

of melt into the architecture tonally.

rather photographs of details that would

RF: He looked at all kinds of art, including

be combined.

105


a portrait, just because all of the others

WV: One of the things I love about this

were portraits. It could be an invented

particular drawing for Poker Game is this

character, but probably not this time.

dark panel, which becomes the reddish drape with the brocade-like pattern

AM: Let me add that David Pease wasn’t

in the painting. The dark panel in the

that interested in the game. He would

drawing engulfs Dennis’s figure. It’s as if

walk around reading magazines while

there was a thought about a character

we were playing. Very annoying it was.

merging with the darkness, which is so

He didn’t last too long. I understand why

suggestive. There’s one drawing that

Larry sometimes kicked him out of the

gives us something very close to the

game! [laughs]

finished painting. From right to left, you

HT: Did Larry work from photographs

can see it took some arriving at, or some

or did he draw these from life while the

thinking through, or maybe it’s after.

poker game was going on?

Ruth, you once said that some drawings may have come after.

RF: Larry often drew from memory. RF: This is so close to the painting—I HT: Wow.

think it’s a drawing after the painting.

RF: He did work from photographs, and

AM: About the setting, this was Dennis

he often staged them. He would have

Leon’s studio.

an idea for a painting in his mind and you would walk into the studio and he

WV: From left to right: Armand, Dennis,

would ask you to take a particular pose.

David, Massimo (hidden), Jimmy. The

He would then take a photograph of me

empty chair.

(or whomever) and possibly would pose

HT: I just think it’s interesting how he

himself and ask me to take a photo of

kept that painterly frame around it as a

him. There are rarely photographs that

part of the composition. And it does kind

show what the end image would be, but

of melt into the architecture tonally.

rather photographs of details that would

RF: He looked at all kinds of art, including

be combined.

106


Japanese painting and Persian painting.

RF: The overall structure was always

Persian painting would reference that

critical. He was always worried about

kind of framing.

the end structure, setting up a series of spaces. I think there’s always mysterious

WV: Can I bring us back to this mystery

space. Here in Poker Game, a mysterious

figure? I’m noticing too, as we’re looking

space is off to the right, the door space.

at the drawings more, that this figure of the character that we don’t recognize,

HT: There’s an overall mysterious stillness

he’s definitely here and he’s definitely

in the painting. Much of that is from

outside the game. He’s present but not

the defining linearity of architectural

present. And then the empty chair also

configurations, but also the figures

makes me think of Elijah—that there’s a

themselves. Their hands and expressions

presence of someone who is not there.

have stopped in one place, in one moment.

RF: I never think of Larry as being specifically illustrative. If there was

WV: Let’s explore that idea for a minute.

specificity of a figure or place, it was for

To me, what’s magical about Cézanne’s

a reason other than an illustrative reason.

Card Players is that the artist depicts

I would say among the consistent themes

that moment in a card game when

in his work, throughout his entire life, was

everybody is looking at their cards,

a kind of investigation of what level of

looking inward, into the hand they’ve

“finished” is “finished.” There was always

been dealt. They’re together, but they’re

a wide range of levels of “finished” and

alone. However, playing cards is a social,

levels of specificity in the work. That’s

interactive activity: you play a card

part of it.

and I react to it. That’s how the game progresses. In Larry’s painting, the David

WV: Interesting. Philadelphia has a

Pease character is playing his hand and

great tradition in illustration. But this

everybody is looking, thinking about

is not that—I agree. This is not telling a

their next move; what to do now that

story through the details. It’s iconic of

this person has played his card, made a

something larger.

move. Armand, do you think that what’s 107


happening in the game?

with the result because you thought the opposite. That’s what poker is about. You

AM: The specific moment is that David’s

love to fool them!

character is betting: the others are acting on the question of how the other players

RF: But as you said before, it’s never

perceive their thoughts in relation to

about money.

David’s action. You’re not looking at

AM: No, nobody ever gets hurt. The most

cards; you’re betting, bluffing, or not

anybody ever lost was 20 or 30 bucks.

betting that your cards are better than his, even though you can’t see any of

RF: It’s about the action.

them. You can only see two cards in the AM: Absolutely.

front and he’s holding the rest of them in his hand. So, it’s a question of reading

RF: The meaning of the actions and the

bluffs or determining that a person is not

chain reactions that occur as a result of

bluffing.

one person’s action and how everyone responds.

WV: So, he’s putting money down on the table?

AM: That’s it.

AM: He’s putting money on the table and

RF: You guys were game players, in

saying to the next person, “You think

general. Larry played cribbage. Dennis

you can beat me? Put the money in. If

played croquet.

you can’t, drop out.” The next person will say, “I can beat you and I raise you.”

AM: He was an Englishman and, boy, did

It all has to do with whether you can tell

he know how to play.

if a person has a “tell”: he does a certain

RF: They played softball. For a while in

thing, “tells” when he thinks he’s winning,

the sixties there was a Sunday softball

moves his finger or his eyes or whatever.

game at a field in Elkins Park. Various

You observe the facial expressions. Some

players would scream and swear!

have a poker face and some don’t. A poker face is passive: you can’t tell at

AM: That’s right. Very competitive.

all what he’s thinking. He’ll surprise you 108


RF: That’s what mattered—not the

WV: Speaking of artists and their studios,

money, but the winning. This game, the

can we talk about Group (1967)? Can we

poker game, in a way, is standing in for a

identify the figures assembled in Larry’s

lot of games.

studio?

WV: It’s standing in for life.

RF: We can. Standing from the far left is Leonard Lehrer, next to him is Dennis

RICK ORTWEIN: Was there competition

Leon, next to him is Monica Vitti. Then,

artistically?

there’s a canvas. On the canvas is Natalie Charkow and Mitzi Melnicoff. Then there’s

AM: No.

Joan Leon. Then Eileen Goodman holding RO: You supported each other’s art and

her baby, Amanda. And the first row of

careers?

seated figures starts with Larry holding a sketchpad and a pencil. He’s seated in

AM: Yes. We were all so different. We

the middle looking to the right. Then the

were in different areas, different levels.

next seated person is David Pease, next

Larry was the guru. We deferred to him.

to Julie Pease, and I left off the standing

He and Dennis could be so witty together

child because I don’t remember whose

and so absolutely wonderful, both funny

child that is. In the foreground, seated, is

and clever. It was at the highest level of

Sidney Goodman, playing with a cat, and

humor.

then me.

RF: There were extended made-up

WV: Interestingly, Armand, you have a

conversations between them that were

pastel portrait by Mitzi of your wife Anita,

spontaneous intellectual inventions.

and Natalie, who was Anita’s sister.

They would go on at great length in the studio with each other, and sometimes

HT: How did you come to know one

in classrooms in front of their students,

another?

who would gradually catch on that the volleys between them were intellectual

AM: Natalie, Dennis, and Larry knew each

dramatizations. Larry and Dennis shared

other through Tyler [School of Art at

a studio on Spring Avenue.

Temple University]; they went to school 109


there, although Larry was older and went

of the Fine Arts. Eileen also taught at

earlier. Natalie, as you said, had a sister

PCA, I taught there, Leonard taught there

named Anita, my wife. I met Anita when I

before he left town. Mitzi taught at PCA.

came out of the Army in 1956. That’s how

Doris Staffel, who comes up later in one

I met everybody because I was at Tyler

of the drawings, taught at PCA.

also. I was a student. Later, David taught

WV: Now, Monica Vitti didn’t teach

there.

anywhere? [laughs] Can we talk about

RF: And you were also a student teacher

her presence in Larry’s painting?

in my high school, Northeast High

RF: [Laughing] No, Monica didn’t teach

School, in 1958.

in Philadelphia, but everyone wished she

AM: That’s right, I was.

did. We all thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world at the time,

RF: He doesn’t really remember that, but

and that Michelangelo Antonioni was

I do. [laughs]

perhaps the most profoundly interesting film director.

AM: Dennis became the art critic for the Inquirer at the time, and I think he did

WV: When I think of Monica Vitti, I

that for the next two or three years.

think of alienated characters in the

RF: Sidney and Eileen were Larry’s

modern world. She’s a beautiful figure in

students too, at the Philadelphia College

Eclipse, for example, but not, as I recall,

of Art (PCA, now the University of the

connected to the man who’s her lover.

Arts). I was Natalie’s student there, but

They travel through life disconnected

later. She was my sophomore sculpture

from each other and the world around

teacher. She said to me, “You’re really

them.

never going to be a sculptor, but there’s

RF: She was also inward looking and an

a painter here you should go meet.” She

embodiment of existentialism, in a way.

took me to meet Larry when I was a

Larry’s characters usually are not directly

sophomore. Sidney taught at PCA before

interacting with each other. They’re

he went to the Pennsylvania Academy

also together but separate, not usually 110


WV: Armand, can we talk about your pot

looking at each other.

The Poker Players (1990) and identify the

RO: There’s no returned gaze. The

characters going around?

characters in Poker Game are also together but separate, calculating their

AM: Well, the man in the blue beret is

reactions to the action of the one. But

me—the old fellow. [laughs] Then, we

doing so is all about, can everybody else

have Larry with the mustache, and Jamie

read me, or not? Do I want them to read

Wyper, an architect who joined the game.

me, or not? Will they read me correctly,

The artist Chuck Phillips was there, and

or not? And, how do I control that? It’s

Jimmy on the right. I showed this for

interesting.

the first time in 1992. So, there were a lot of new people there. Dennis would

AM: That’s right.

come every once in a while, after he left Philadelphia in 1972. He’s not depicted

HT: How do I read my peers, too?

on the pot; he died in 1998. Larry played WV: It’s interesting in terms of the way

almost to the end of his life; he died in

Larry paints. His paintings are drawing in

1998, too, seven months before Dennis.

paint and color, in a way. It’s not gestural

Jimmy is depicted on the pot, and he

and exuberant. It’s not stiff, but it’s

died in March 1994. The nineties were a

controlled. One of my very favorite parts

very difficult decade for me. The circle of

of the painting is this triangle of color

artists involved in the poker game were

that becomes yellow as it comes closer

family.

into the wedge of the doorway. WV: Larry’s drawings offer a broader AM: I love Larry’s urban, architectural

picture of that circle.

paintings; they’re full of the great complexity and subtlety you are

RF: I’m guessing that this particular

describing. Larry’s favorite word that he

drawing, Untitled (Party) (c. 1960s), is

always quoted was “gravitas.” I love that.

a Fourth of July party at the home of

We would talk about the meaning of the

Donald and Martha Ottenberg. This

word during poker.

central figure is Natalie Charkow, and the composition pivots on her figure. 111


This other drawing, Untitled (Charade)

Eileen addresses the viewer. She captures

(c. 1960s), depicts a group inside Larry’s

the viewer’s eye.

Spring Avenue studio and is related to

HT: It’s curious—she seems to look out

a painting of the same title. Games of

and away at the same time. It’s a hard

charades were sometimes played at

stare to read.

parties in those years, although I don’t remember any being played in the

RF: Look at Ingres’s drawings. You’ll find

studio, as depicted here. I remember

in many of his portraits that the eyes

playing charades at the Goodman house.

look in two different directions. I’d like

Leonard and I are at the far right of the

to draw attention to this late drawing,

drawing; Eileen Goodman, just left of

done around 1993, after a trip we took to

center, seated and staring out at the

the San Juan Island for Dennis’ sixtieth

viewer; and Charlie Kaprelian, seated at

birthday. Larry and I went with Dennis

left in the armchair. These are the people

and his second wife, Chris, and various

I recognize and remember.

other people visited for brief periods. Dennis had rented a very distinctive

HT: It looks like there’s another female

and rustic vacation house. I’m sorry this

figure, but mostly obscured.

is not a drawing with Larry and Dennis

RF: There is.

wearing hats because there were lots of hats in that house. And there are many

WV: So, poker and charades—games.

photographs of all of us in changing hats.

RF: Games, acting, and playing roles.

[laughs] Larry was frail. He had been

Larry loved to act by the way! He was in

really sick starting in 1989, although he

theater. When the Cheltenham Center

had fought cancer from 1983 on. In any

for the Arts was founded, he acted and

case, he was recovering from some scare

helped organize their little theater, I think

when we were there.

in the late 1940s or early 1950s. There are

WV: Knowing that information, you can

photographs of him in the theater.

see it in Larry’s face, and somehow in the disorganized, messy house, cluttered

WV: In terms of theatricality, the figure of

with the kind of domestic stuff and 112


accumulation of mismatched furniture;

WV: Yes! The man standing there with his

the accretions of life and age.

hands folded, somewhat impassive.

RF: It’s also that Larry’s style became

RF: That was Larry.

more elaborate in the 1990s. Many more

AM: Absolutely. Taking it all in.

things and complicated decorative elements found their way into his work.

WV: In the drawing, the architecture is

Here, as you say, the table is full of

an extension of the figures, animating

objects, vases, flowers, glasses, and

the space and the emotions of the

bottles. We ate and drank a lot! [laughs]

figures. These windows, for example, are

It was a week- or two-week-long birthday

very much an extension of the figure of

celebration.

Doris—these two windows, one above her head, one above her shoulder. She’s

WV: Another drawing we’ll include in the

seated sideways, and it’s as if the gravity

exhibition is Larry’s portrait of himself

of her figure bends the balcony forward

and Dennis on a rooftop together with a

toward the viewer. In the same ways,

third figure, Doris Staffel. I recall that you

the figure of Dennis, standing somewhat

showed me a similar drawing in which,

contrapposto and casually with one

instead of the figure of Doris, there’s a

hand in pocket, is a pivot figure, as if the

classical sculpture on the left side of the

strength of his gravity deflects and turns

tableau, counterbalancing the figures of

the energy of the balustrade adjacent

Larry and Dennis on the right. Dennis’s

to him. Larry’s figure also interacts

and Doris’s gaze seem to shoot back

with the shape of the windows behind

and forth across the space, aided, so to

him, connecting him to Dennis. The

speak, by the architectural forms. Larry,

architecture behind them gets busy and

by contrast, looks down, inwardly turned.

tight, connecting them as a pair, while

RF: That’s the stance he gives himself in

the elements between the two of them

much of his work. It’s interesting because

and Doris create a different rhythm and

it’s not unrelated to the man’s stance in

energy. The beauty of the drawing is the

that very early drawing, Bridge Game (c.

richness of the characters and the active

1970).

interrelationships between them, their 113


poses, and the architecture. It can just be

are inventions, as much as many are

a little movement of an elbow and that

depictions of specific places, particularly

seems to connect to a curving shape in

downtown Philadelphia and Washington,

the architecture.

D.C. When friends would go places and see urban environments that looked like

RF: Larry was so engaged by issues of

Larry’s imagery, they would send him

composing. Not based on rules that I’m

photographs. When I was in Omaha,

aware of—he constructed space through

Nebraska, that was a “Larry town.” There

various kinds of compositional echoes

was something about the architecture

and diversions. Really, what you’re saying

in Omaha and I immediately took a roll

is that the elbow is a counterpoint to that

of film and brought it back for him.

baluster. When you look closely at the

After Larry died, when I visited the

works and you’re tuned in to thinking this

Rhode Island School of Design and saw

way, you find these relationships again

Providence for the first time, it struck me

and again. This pocket, for example,

that Larry would have loved Providence.

connects up to this shape in the air. There

It wasn’t important to him that the places

are always physical connections, if you

be places he personally knew. I have a

take the time to find them.

full file box filled with images that Larry

WV: And Larry provides one little piece

kept. Some of them were of paintings,

of natural energy—a small tree off to the

sculpture, drawings, and prints. And

left.

some of them were places. I never found the logic to what was in each file. They

RF: He didn’t like summer. He preferred

are the diverse images, objects, and

trees without any leaves. [laughs] He

places that informed his work.

liked to be at the beach. He didn’t like to HT: So, when you say you went to Omaha

draw summer trees.

and you knew you had to take pictures HT: Is this drawing set in Philadelphia?

for Larry—

RF: I think this is an invention. Many

RF: What did I mean? There were not

of the complex places in his drawings

a lot of people in the public spaces. It 114


was easy to get photographs with no

you perceive that?

people. His later paintings either involved

AM: Jimmy encompasses my whole

groups of people or cityscapes with no

life in that picture by having a huge

people. It usually had to do with a kind

version of one of my Holocaust tiles in

of geometry and a kind of color world.

the background and one of my pots in

Generally, spare. Complicated window

the lower right foreground. It connects

structures and fences would be good.

my past, present, and future. That is a

Chain-link fences were very good. Three

Holocaust tile. These are the ovens where

or four-story buildings were right.

the members of my family were burned.

HT: Did he invent the space in Poker

I had made tiles about the Holocaust—in

Game? Or is that really based on what

1983 I had an exhibition of them. These

the room looked like.

arching forms are the ovens, and there’s a figure in one of them. I took those

AM: No. It’s the studio that Dennis built.

shapes from a relief by Donatello. Jimmy

I can recognize the door that pulls up on

made his painting in 1987 or 1988. At the

the left. It was a garage door.

time, he used a lot of my pots as vases

WV: Can we talk a little bit about Jimmy

for flowers in his paintings. The manner

Lueders? I ask because Woodmere is

of depicting light was so important to

fortunate to have some wonderful works

Jimmy.

of art in our collection by Jimmy that

RF: Isn’t this in Jimmy’s studio? The

seem connected to Poker Game, in part

painting of Larry.

because they are portraits. I know Jimmy

AM: Yes, it is. That’s right.

painted in different ways at different moments in his career. But I’ve wondered

RF: The studio in Germantown.

if there’s an element of painting the portrait of Larry in a geometry-based

AM: On the corner of Carpenter and

manner that reminds us of the way that

Green.

Larry paints. The portrait of you, Armand, RF: Yes. It was a bakery.

has a gestural earthiness and a crudeness that reminds me of your sculpture. Do 115


HT: Jimmy’s studio was that empty? RF: Jimmy was very meticulous. And the best cook in the world. Well, Jimmy and Anita were rivals for the best cook

he’d make the most beautiful bouquet of vegetables with scallions tying them together. The bows were perfect. He was an astonishing cook.

of that group. Jimmy made the best

AM: He also liked the challenge of

meals in the smallest kitchen of anyone

elaborate recipes like beef Wellington

I ever knew. I don’t know how he did it.

with things wrapped in pastry. He had

The kitchen was maybe five feet square.

this wonderful garden outside on the

He would make a broth, and he would

veranda. Very classy. Jimmy was a class

work on his broth for two weeks. If at

act. We all looked forward to it when it

the end of two weeks that broth wasn’t

was his turn to cook for the poker club.

perfect, he would throw it out and start again. He was a perfectionist in the kitchen like you wouldn’t believe. I mean,

WV: Depictions of the holocaust—that’s something you shared with Sidney. One of the most powerful paintings in Woodmere’s collection is Sidney’s Could This Have Been? (c. 1958). It shows the reaction to the horror. AM: Sidney and I talked about the Holocaust, but I don’t remember sharing the images. I had more to do on that level with Dennis, who was in London when the blitz was going on and he was sent as a child to the countryside. I was on the other side of the English Channel and escaped to America. So when we found ourselves at Tyler, Dennis and me, we were two people tied together by the

Jimmy Lueders, undated, by Joyce Creamer (Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Alma Alabilkian and Peter Paone, 2011)

war in many ways.


WV: Ruth, when I look at this wonderful

Larry’s Untitled (Gladys Myers) (c.

sculpture by Dennis that you’ve given to

1960s)? That’s another Ingres-like

Woodmere, it’s a fragment, incomplete

drawing.

and broken. The tondo by Dennis given

RF: Gladys Myers’s Gallery 1015 was in

to Woodmere by Eileen Goodman is a

her home at 1015 Greenwood Avenue in

tangle of organic shapes and broken

Wyncote. It was an anchor for many of

bodies. You can’t find an entire human

the artists we’ve been discussing.

figure, but instead an orgy of parts and the visceral energy of bodies.

AM: Oh my, indeed yes. Beautiful. Astonishing. It is like a twentieth-century

AM: Dennis and I talked about these sorts

Ingres. The portrait of you, Ruth, is also

of things. We talked about it, but that

just as wonderful, but in an intense way.

was when we were at Tyler.

RF: Well, Larry loved dark-haired women.

WV: Can I ask about this other sculpture

He looked a lot at Coptic portraiture.

by Dennis? It’s a house, but who are the

Also, a clue to the surfaces in Larry’s

characters in it?

paintings is his concern with frescoes.

AM: He did a whole bunch of these

HT: His colors seem natural, like those of

houses with different numbers on them.

an ancient Coptic or Roman fresco, or

There are doorways, balconies, and

even a Florentine fresco, never labored in

staircases—odd relationships between

any way. He just knew what he wanted!

interiors and exteriors.

RF: Yes and no. He would paint and

RF: Dennis was looking intently at

then wash out a lot. He could spend a

the entire career of Giacometti and

long time on a painting and yet it never

Surrealist sculpture. There would often

looked like he spent a long time on it.

be something hidden, something

He experimented with composition

mysterious. Dennis and Larry had that

and images was always changing. He

aspect of their work in common.

frequently repainted, and line was always

WV: Can we talk for a moment about

an issue. I mean, Larry really loved to

117


draw, even, and especially when he was

RO: And David Pease brought

painting. He was never not drawing. I

these works when he came back to

have hundreds of teeny sketches. I still

Philadelphia for Sidney’s memorial

come across drawings in books and

service. They’re wonderful. Two are

files of papers. Some of them are clearly

recent works and two are older, from the

related to whatever he was looking at

1970s. His project seemed to be mapping

or to specific paintings. No matter how

the world, drawing the relationships

small, they can be heavily developed.

between things. I sense that this is an

And some are very spare, just a few lines.

architectural plan of some kind and

And with groups of related drawings,

drawings of different elements.

you can see they were probably done on

RF: Also, there’s a game issue. Isn’t that a

the same day, using five, six, ten different

checkerboard? Maybe even Legos.

linear or tonal approaches.

AM: Yes, and a softball field on the

WV: We’ve mentioned Eileen Goodman

bottom, a baseball diamond.

many times. I would propose that like Larry, she has a special skill in

RF: It’s interesting to think of this entire

composing. Her compositions seem

exhibition from the standpoint of games.

effortless, but they’re highly constructed and deliberate, without feeling contrived.

WV: And it’s only natural that this

I can’t think of any other artist who

would all come together in Philadelphia,

does watercolor with that kind of deep

the city of Duchamp, our great chess-

richness of color and or precision of

playing artist. In one of Larry’s drawings

form. I wanted to include this particular

of the bridge game there’s a depiction

watercolor from Karen Segal’s collection

of Marcel Duchamp’s chocolate grinder,

because it’s a group of different fruits,

an element of The Large Glass (1915-23)

a group of individuals, like the figures

at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The

assembled around the card table. Many

chocolate grinder represents the ongoing

of her compositions are about social

churn of life, sweet but circuitous, or

gatherings: cupcakes and coffee cups, a

something like that. We each “grind our

sliced pineapple.

own chocolate,” right? 118


RF: And as with chess or poker, it’s about

summer, in the late fifties and early

how you make a move and it suggests

sixties. In 1962, Leonard went out there

that somebody makes another. You

too. Unfortunately, Larry got sick, but

counter or you stop.

Leonard was able to take over his teaching. When Leonard and I were

WV: Until there’s a checkmate.

married, Larry came to our house, at

RF: I wonder if that fits in to the whole

least, once a week for dinner. Larry was

call and response thing? Larry was

the fastest eater in the world! I was

very interested in jazz, as well. I don’t

married first to Leonard from 1962 to

know how that plays into it exactly, but

1969. Then, Larry and I connected in

jazz and improvisation are a part of it.

the early 1970s and got married in 1983.

Larry was a true intellectual. He had an

That’s my bias—painters! After Leonard

astonishing library of both books and

and I got divorced, he never did another

records. Not only jazz, but classical music

etching as far as I know. I think I printed

as well. Mahler and Bruckner. Brahms and

all of his etchings. His later lithographs

Schubert. Bach. Toward the end of his

are masterful, really incredible works also.

life, Haydn was very important to him.

HT: Ruth, what kind of art do you create?

Broadway theater music, too. He loved Gilbert and Sullivan. I gave that whole

RF: Landscape based. Sometimes

collection to Liam Daley, the grandson of

paintings, but mostly prints, drawings,

ceramic artist Bill Daley. Music, literature,

and watercolors. Right now, I’m eager

and poetry. I gave a portion of our poetry

only to make very small things: books

library to the Skowhegan School of

that you can close up and put on a shelf

Painting and Sculpture in New York when

so no one will have to worry too much

I moved back to Philadelphia.

about them when I’m gone.

WV: It’s an amazing legacy.

But to return to Larry, let me add that what made him an amazing teacher was

RF: Can we talk about Leonard Lehrer?

that he was really able to talk to any

Larry used to teach at the Aspen

student about whatever he or she was

School of Art in Colorado during the

doing. As a student, you could have a 119


two-hour conversation with Larry, and at

there was no fine arts program. But

the end of it you would have absolutely

when I became a sophomore, they

no idea what he thought about your

started something called the general arts

work. But, you knew so much more about

program that George Bunker led. It really

what you thought and carried away

was fine arts. In those days, the school

suggestions to think about and art to

was best known as a design school, and

look at. That’s how he functioned.

perhaps they didn’t want to admit they were adding a fine arts major. Eventually,

WV: Not judgmental?

when people got comfortable with the

RF: Never judgmental. He would ask

idea that PCA had fine arts, they called

questions. Did you ever think about this?

it that; and later they broke it down into

Do you know this artist? Have you ever

painting, sculpture, and printmaking

read this book? He was never trying to

departments (they always had all three

create little “Larrys.” He was against that

among the courses they gave). I think

philosophically.

later still there was a drawing major. I don’t remember the years of all these

WV: Peter Paone, whose show will

changes. Larry taught at PCA, as did

overlap this exhibition at Woodmere in

Leonard. And Dennis, Doris, Mitzi, Natalie,

the fall, talks of Larry as being one of the

Eileen, Sidney. And so did I.

profound teachers who helped him find WV: A final question: my understanding

his voice.

is that Jimmy was “out” as a gay man in RF: Peter was my freshman design

the 1960s and 1970s. Was he comfortable

teacher, in 1958–59. I think it was Peter’s

with being a gay person in the arts

first year of teaching.

community? In Philadelphia?

WV: Sidney was Larry’s student, too, yes?

AM: Jimmy was open and comfortable enough with himself that we could kid

RF: Yes, Sidney was a student of Larry’s,

about his love life the way we kidded

like Peter and Eileen at PCA. They were

about our own loves and lovers. He

a few years ahead of me. I think they

would throw kisses to us across the

all studied illustration. When I started, 120


RO: So, who’s in the poker game now?

poker table. It was wonderful. His partner, Charlie Kalick, would sometimes come to

HT: Yeah. It’s still going on.

the poker games, sometimes play.

AM: It’s still going on. We have Jamie

WV: That they were out as a couple

Wyper. We have a wonderful lawyer who

in their circle of friends and artists is

just defended all the Occupy people

beautiful because it was unusual for the

around City Hall, a really good guy.

time.

RF: What’s his name?

AM: Jimmy had many “lives.” He had his life with Liz Osborne, who was his

AM: Larry Krasner. And we have

close friend; his life with the school and

somebody who came into the game

the students; his life with us, the poker

about ten years ago. He’s the oldest: 88.

players; and his life with his partner,

He used to make chocolate things; he

Charlie. All of the “departments” were

was a manufacturer. His name is Arthur

very separate, but they flowed together,

Sherman. There’s David Meketon and

just the way any person’s profession,

Anderson DeLone. And we have a young

career, and love life flow together. It was

fellow, Abe Heller—he’s 36—and I love

very comfortable—there was no problem.

him because he’s the future. [laughs]

(left to right) Larry Day, Jimmy Lueders and Armand Mednick mid-game. 121


WORKS IN THE EXHIBITION LARRY DAY

Collection of Jamie Wyper

Graphite on paper, 18 1/4 x 24 in. Collection of Jamie Wyper

Poker Game c. 1970

Untitled (Poker Game), c. 1970

Oil on canvas, 60 1/2 x 72 1/4 in.

Pen and ink on paper, 13 1/2 x 17 in.

Group, 1967

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Ruth Fine, 1999

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

Landscape for St. John of the Cross, 1955

Untitled (Poker Game), c. 1970

Bequest of the artist, 1999.8

Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in.

Pen and ink on paper, 13 1/2 x 17 in.

Untitled (Natalie Charkow and Mitzi Melnicoff, c.1967

American, 1921-1998

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Anita and Armand Mednick

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

Untitled (Abstract), date unknown

Untitled (Poker Game), c. 1974

Oil on canvas, 26 x 36 in.

Pen and ink on paper, 13 1/2 x 17 in.

Woodmere Art Museum: Museum purchase, 2012 Landscape, c. 1955

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

Graphite on paper, 9 x 11 in.

Untitled (Poker Game), c. 1970

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Peter Paone, 2011

Graphite on paper, 13 ½ x 17 in.

After Jan Steen, 1962

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

Oil on canvas, 58 1/2 x 48 1/4 in.

Poker Game c. 1970

Larry Day Estate, Courtesy of Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York Untitled (Poker Game), 1964 Watercolor on paper, 8 x 12 in.

Graphite on paper, 19 1/4 x 25 in. Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Armand Mednick, 2012 Untitled (The Poker Game), date unknown 122

Oil on canvas, 64 1/4 x 79 in. in. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

Oil on canvas, 39 x 39 in. Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Claudia Raab, 2013 Untitled (The Bridge Game), c. 1970 Pen and ink on paper, 7 1/4 x 8 in. Larry Day Estate, Courtesy of Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York Untitled (The Bridge Game), c. 1970 Graphite on paper, 8 1/2 x 11 in. Larry Day Estate, Courtesy of Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York Untitled (The Bridge Game), c. 1970 Pen and ink on paper, 12 x 12 3/ 4 in. Larry Day Estate, Courtesy


Untitled (The Bridge Game), c. 1970 Pen and ink on paper, 18 x 24 in. Private Collection

of Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York

Oil on canvas, 26 x 36 in. Untitled (Party), 1960s Graphite on paper, 20 x 26 in.

Untitled (Ruth Fine), 1960s

Private Collection

Graphite on paper, 26 x 20 in.

RUTH FINE

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine (Natalie Charkow), 1960s Graphite on paper, 14 x 11 in. Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Ruth Fine Untitled, c. 1992 Graphite on paper, 22 1/ 2 in.

NATALIE CHARKOW

American

American, born 1941 Untitled, c. 1960 Landscape, 1995 Monotype, 38

3/ 4

x 32 in.

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of the artist, 2013

Bronze and wood relief, 17 x 7 1/2 x 4 in. Private Collection CHARLES KALICK

American, born 1949

American, born 1937

Graphite on paper, 10 1/2 x 13 1/ 2 in.

1/ 2

Woodmere Art Museum: Museum purchase, 2012

HOLLANDER

EILEEN GOODMAN

Untitled (Gladys Myers), 1960s

Could This Have Been?, c. 1958

x 28

Larry Day Estate, Courtesy of Meredith Ward Fine Art, New York Untitled, c. 1974

Structure #54, 1993 Three Painters: Sidney Goodman, David Pease, and Larry Day, 1967 Watercolor and charcoal or graphite on paper, 15 1/4 x 22 in. Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Bill Scott, 1999

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Alan Harler, 1996 CHARLES KAPRELIAN

American, born 1938 Untitled, c. 1965

Woman, 1964 Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist

Graphite on paper, 19 1/4 x 25 in.

Plums, date unknown

Collection of Sandra and John Moore

Watercolor on paper, 17 1/4 x 18 1/2 in. Collection of Karen Segal

Nickle-plated steel, 20 x 11 x 7 in. Courtesy of the artist LEONARD LEHRER

American, born 1935 Courtyard at Cocoyoc, 1975 Lithograph, 22 1/2 x 30 in

Untitled (Charades), 1960s Graphite on paper, 22 1/2 x 28 1/ 2 in.

Acrylic on board, 40 x 32 in.

SIDNEY GOODMAN

American, 1936–2013

Larry Day Estate, Courtesy 123

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Rosa Giletti from her personal collection, 2012


LEONARD LEHRER

American, born 1935

Portrait of Armand Mednick, 1982

The Poker Players, 1990

Oil on canvas, 106 x 58

Collection of Anderson DeLone

1/ 4

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Elizabeth Osborne, 2001

Untitled (Cuernavaca Landscape), 1965 Watercolor on paper, 26 1/2 x 33 1/2 in Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Ruth Fine, 2013

A Jungian Pot, 1962

Still Life V, 1988 Acrylic on canvas, 38 x 32 in. Collection of Armand Mednick Portrait of Charles Kalick, c. 1989

Kingdom, 1933-1998

Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 66 in. Collection of Elizabeth

Tondo, c. 1960 Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Eileen Goodman, 2012 Apartment Building #3, date unknown Bronze, 11

x9

1/ 2

x9

1/ 2

Jimmy’s Favorite, early 1980s Stoneware, 15 3/4 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/ 2 in. Collection of Audry O. Cooper

Osborne

Plaster, 21 x 21 x 4 1/8 in.

1/ 2

Stoneware, 16 1/2 x 6 1/4 x 6 1/4 in. Courtesy of the artist

DENNIS LEON

American, born United

Stoneware, 19 x 8 1/2 x 9 in.

Jimmy’s Prop Pot, 1985-86 Hubbard Squash, date

Stoneware, 15 x 6 x 5 3/4 in.

unknown

Courtesy of the artist

Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 40 in. Collection of Jamie Wyper

in.

Collection of Armand Mednick

Portrait of Larry Day, date unknown

Untitled, 1990s

Acrylic on canvas, 93 in.

Bronze, 22 1/2 x 17 1/4 x 5 3/4 in. Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Ruth Fine and Larry Day, 2013 JIMMY LUEDERS

1/ 2

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Elizabeth Osborne, 1998 Self-Portrait and Portrait of a Young Man (reverse), date unknown Oil on Masonite, 26 1/2 x 23 1/ 4 in.

Self-Portrait in Studio

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Armand Mednick, 2013

Acrylic on canvas, 74 x 68 in. Collection of Barbara and Leonard Sylk

ARMAND MEDNICK

American, born Belgium, 1933

124

Stoneware, 19 1/2 x 6 6 3/4 in.

1/ 4

x

Courtesy of the artist

x 60

American, 1927-1994

Interior, 1982

Bleb Pot, 1990

Lili, 1942, 1981-1982 Stoneware, 13 5/8 x 20 x 1 1/4 in. Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Armand Mednick in honor of Anita Charkow Mednick

ARTIST FULL NAME

Nationality, born 19XX Title of Artwork, DATE Medium, XX x XX in. Credit Line


Andy and Anita, Moss, 1969, 1981-1982

Shiloh: Eight meals (Study) May 8, 2005, 2005

Stoneware, 12 1/2 x 13 1/4 x 2 in.

Graphite, ink, and gouache on arches paper, 14 x 10 3/4 in.

Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Armand Mednick, 2013 Andy and Anita, 1974, 19811982 Stoneware, 13 x 12 3/4 x 2 in. Woodmere Art Museum: Promised gift of Armand Mednick in honor of Anita Charkow Mednick

Courtesy of the artist

Land of Lincoln (Study) Oct. 1, 2007, 2007 Graphite, ink and gouache on arches paper, 14 x 10 3/4 in. Courtesy of the artist DORIS STAFFEL

American, born 1921 MITZI MELNICOFF

American, 1922–1972 Portrait of Albert Kligman, 1971 Woodcut, 12 1/2 x 12 in.

Untitled, c. 1979 Gouache on paper, 15 x 11 1/4 in. Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Karen Segal, 2012

Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Drs. Albert M. and Lorraine Kligman, 2011 DAVID PEASE

American, born 1932 Summer Rag: Study 9/19/76, 1976 Ink and color pencil on paper, 14 x 10 3/4 in. Collection of Sandra and John Moore Summer Rag 11/18/1976, 1976 Ink and color pencil on paper, 14 x 10 3/4 in. Collection of Sandra and John Moore 125


9201 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118 woodmereartmuseum.org

This exhibition was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and

Š 2013 Woodmere Art Museum. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher. Photography by Rick Echelmeyer unless otherwise noted.

the National Endowment for the Arts,

Front cover: Title of Artwork, YEAR, by Artist Full Name (Credit Line) Photography credit Š 2013 Woodmere Art Museum. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher.

a federal agency.

Photography by Rick Echelmeyer unless otherwise noted. Front cover: Poker Game, 1970, by Larry Day (Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Ruth Fine, 1999)

This exhibition was supported in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a 9201 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118 federal agency. woodmereartmuseum.org

The Poker Game and Its Circle  

On the first Sunday of every month for fifty years, a group of artists in Philadelphia has been meeting to play poker and share ideas about...