It was another bright, sunny day, although bitterly cold, and the prospect of spending some time again at the Cavalier Gallery was a good reason to face the wind and take a walk downtown. I had promised myself to come back soon to see more of the gallery’s collection. This time I wanted to focus on two very different works. Versus the softness of Cassatt’s work and the up-close realism of Young that I saw last week, I chose a very recent landscape and a large iconic photograph, both with lower price points than my first two choices.
The landscape is the work of Joseph McGurl—“Cuttyhunk, View to the West” (2016). This is an oil on canvas and measures about 24 X 36; the current price is $29,000.
McGurl was born in 1958 in Massachusetts and grew up working with his father who was a muralist. He studied art in Boston, then in England and Italy and later with Robert Cormier, the famous portraitist.
The gallery refers to McGurl as “one of the acknowledged leaders in the current American landscape school.” His work has been shown in multiple museum exhibits on the east and west coasts and by leading American galleries and discussed in book and magazine articles. He has won numerous awards and is sought by serious collectors, including former Senator and Secretary of State, John Kerry.
The gallery notes that “McGurl is one of the few contemporary realists who does not include the use of photography in his art. He is a devoted plein air painter, which allows him to connect with the landscape on a profound level and gain a deeper understanding of his subject.” In his artist’s statement, McGurl says that his work reflects his New England roots as well as his interest in the Transcendentalist beliefs about nature and light as discussed by writers and philosophers like Thoreau, Emerson, and Kant. He emphasizes his disdain for technology in creating art and his preference for working substantially outdoors and from memory in the studio.
The picture featured here is a striking image of Cuttyhunk–the outermost of the Elizabeth Islands of Massachusetts located off Vinyard Sound. The brown and green rocks and grasses of the beach area set off the dramatic blues of water and sky. Sailboats add movement and a sense of fun to this stunning painting.
For a lighter bit of fun (and because I was a child of the 60’s), I concluded my selection of pictures with the famous photograph by Harry Benson of “Beatles Pillow Fight, Hotel George V, Paris” (1964). This is Ed. 9/35. It measures 44 X 44 and is currently priced at $25,000.
Born in 1929 in Scotland, Harry Benson spent most of his professional life taking pictures of national and world leaders, celebrities and famous moments in history for publications like Life Magazine, Architectural Digest, People and Vanity Fair. As a photojournalist from London, Benson truly launched his career while traveling on assignment with the Beatles to cover their first tour in America. His work includes pictures of Presidents Eisenhower through Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill, Mohammad Ali, Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, and Andy Warhol, to name a few.
The gallery says that Benson has had about forty one-man exhibitions of his photographs in the U.S. and Europe, including a 50 year major retrospective of his work at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh in 2006 and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 2007. His work is in the permanent collections of these museums and others.
I was told that the picture displays the emerging band’s exuberance after learning that they were to be featured on the Ed Sullivan show on American TV. I was struck with how the shot communicates so clearly the youth and fun of these four young men, who at the time were approaching a Tipping Point in their career. Their spotlight on the Sullivan variety show truly launched their spectacular careers in the American popular rock music scene.
The collection at the Cavalier goes beyond two-dimensional paintings and photographs. While I have bypassed the sculpture pieces by Jim Rennert and others in my first two visits., I promise to return soon for that!
For more information about the Cavalier Galleries, please see their Website: http://www.cavaliergalleries.com