Fred Wilson was born in The Bronx in NY City in 1954. He was a winner of the MacArthur “Genius Grant” Award in 1999 and the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award in 2003. He is an alumnus of Purchase College from its first graduating class in 1976. Wilson is another conceptual artist and describes his art as a combination of “performance, community engagement, sculpture and painting, history and anthropology.” He is one of three African-Americans on the Board of the Whitney Museum.
As you enter his exhibition space, you encounter two spectacular installations: No Way But This, 2013 (Murano glass, light bulbs, Edition 3 of 6) and Sale Longhi, 2011 (Black float glass, antiqued gold painted wood frames, Murano blown glass, and light bulbs, Edition 1 of 2). These two appear to be a combination piece. First there is the immense lighted black Murano chandelier, hanging in the opening for and inviting you into a separate room. The room is enclosed on three sides and includes another large and lighted chandelier (this one bright white) hung in the center of the back wall and surrounded behind and on both sides with black and white (white wall showing through) framed images that look like spots of light. They are seemingly floating around the room but, at the same time, completely bound by the frames.
The interplay of white and black seems to be part of a visual theme carried out in the larger space outside the room. There you find two black and white sculptured figures standing in contrast to each other in not only color, but in almost every other way including subject, attitude and pose: The Mete of the Muse, 2006 (bronze with black patina; bronze with white paint).
I have chosen one other figure in the exhibit to focus on: Snuff, 2003 (painted wood, plastic hoses, fire extinguishers, metal clamps). This is not a study in black and white only but rather includes a blazing red component. It is an mage of a woman, holding a very large but apparently unlit ornamental light, which is wrapped in hoses attached to a semi-circle of giant fire extinguishers. The woman seems African, and one can imagine the possible meanings of her struggle to keep the monumental light source aloft despite the bindings of equally monumental light extinguishers. But I will leave it up to you to ponder and enjoy Wilson’s message in all three of these works and the others in his exhibit.
If you want to learn more about Fred Wilson and his art work and the Neuberger Museum, please visit their Website: https://www.neuberger.org.
Please note again that this is my last post before a much-needed “blogrest.” But I will be back to seek more art at the Neuberger and the many other galleries and art museums in the Fairfield/Westchester area soon!
Leandro Erlich was born in 1973 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a conceptual artist and has contributed to the Venice Biennial, the Whitney Biennial, and been exhibited by MOMA PS1 in Long Island City. His work is currently part of the permanent collection at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Japan. He is famous for his artistic illusions in which the image seen is not what it seems to be. His artwork at the Neuberger shows off Mr. Erlich’s creativity and unusual wit. I have chosen two pieces to focus on here.
The first is from his Bâtiment (Building in English) group, dated 2011. Erlich’s Building installations have been exhibited around the world, starting in Paris in 2004. The artist used mirrors to reflect the façade of a fake building constructed face up on the ground.
This piece of artwork is a photographic print (inkjet print on Hahnemuhle textured William Turner paper). The photograph seems to show people dangerously hanging and swinging from the building windows, ledges and balustrades when in reality they are just crawling on a constructed façade lying flat on the floor. Visitors at the exhibits were invited to participate in the creation, making the perceptual “trick” a delight rather than an annoying deception.
The second image is called Pulled by the Roots I and dated 2015. It is also a photographic print (inkjet print on Hahnemuhle textured William Turner paper) and shows a similar altered reality. This time Erlich suspends a model of a historic building over the apparent town center of a German city. The “roots” attached to the base of the building make it appear that the house has been torn from its location like an uprooted tree. The museum includes this quote from Erlich explaining his intention: “’In the modern era we are tempted to see human innovation as inorganic and divorced from the natural world…. [But] we can never be apart from the organic world; the architecture that we create is part and parcel of our environment.’” The image seems to tell of the painful and disruptive impact of losing old buildings, which are an important part of our social, cultural and historical roots. But, at the same time, the hand intruding on the image on the lower right shows the illusion and the artist’s manipulation of the image to create his message.
Erlich seems to enjoy using a visual play with reality to both have some fun and make an important point.
Purchase is just down the street (more like a few streets but only ten minutes) from Greenwich. The Neuberger is on the campus of Purchase College, part of the State University of New York system of higher education. The college is focused exclusively on the arts, and the Neuberger is a wonderful place to find some very interesting works of art—paintings, drawings, photographs, prints, videos, and sculpture. The museum began in 1974 with a gift by Roy R. Neuberger of 108 works of art. The permanent collection now includes over 6000 works, featuring modern, contemporary and African art. They also host special exhibits and offer educational programs.
The museum is now hosting two amazing exhibits by Leandro Erlich and Fred Wilson. To give them the respect they deserve, I will be creating a blogpost for each in the next few days. I hope you enjoy!! After these posts, I will be taking a “blogrest” but will be back after that to comment on the Neuberger’s permanent collection and hopefully a new exhibit as well.
You can access the museum by car by entering the university entrance at 735 Anderson Hill Road and then park in Lot W1. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 12:00-5:00 and Wednesday 12:00 until 8 PM. For other information, please go to their Website: https://www.neuberger.org.
I recently went back to the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich to see the James Grashow exhibit. It was marvelous! Mr. Grashow’s exhibit primarily includes cut corrugated paper, sometimes cut small and intricate and sometimes much-larger-than-life. Both are stunning, but obviously the large-scale pieces are more commanding to see in person. All of his works are amazing, but here are three that especially caught my attention.
The first is called Corrugated Flower Pot (2015). As you can see from my fellow “gallery gazer” in the photo, it is substantially larger than the average flower pot. The piece is made of both corrugated paper and wood and measures 12.5’ high X 45” square. It is currently priced at $12,000.
The second is Dancing Couple A on wheeled platform (2014). You can see how Mr. Grashow is entertaining us by gliding around the gallery with his dancers. Again the piece is made of corrugated paper and wood and measures 10’ X 36” X 6’6”. It is also priced at $12,000.
The third one (2006) appears to be a school of brilliantly colored tropical fish, but actually is composed of individual fish images. Again, these are made of corrugated board, but, different from the first two, they are finished with acrylic paint. The prices that I saw ranged from $700 to $1000 for each fish.
Mr. Grashow also does wood cut prints on rice paper. The exhibit shows images that appear almost medieval and others that are contemporary and humorous—including some well-known music album covers. The print below is titled Bach; it measures 20.5” X 41” and is currently priced at $1400.
Mr. Grashow was there to explain his work, which he did with gusto and wit. The artist obviously loves what he does and enjoys talking about it. He circulated around the room, reaching out to people individually—adults and especially children. He went beyond explaining; he engaged the audience. We were all entertained by his enthusiasm for his art. You can see below how the audience was truly mesmerized by his description of his artistic process. As he said: “Every artist has a particular material they like to work with. It’s like a predestined love affair. I like wood and corrugated paper. The woodcuts are done in Swiss pear wood…. [as he stroked the surface of a block slowly] The wood is sensual to me.”
Do go to the Flinn soon! The Grashow exhibit is ending on Wednesday, April 26. To find out more about this exhibit and the one coming next (Cambodia: Looking Back on the Future, starting May 4), you should visit their Website at http://flinngallery.com.
I promised another visit and today it was for sculpture. I am focusing on Jim Rennert, because this is an artist that the Cavalier seems to hold in very high regard. With over 100 works in their collection in all three gallery locations, Jim Rennert stands out as a featured artist at the Cavalier Galleries.
Rennert was born in 1958 and grew up in Nevada and Utah. He first tried to be successful in business, but, in 1990, he moved to showing both his evident frustration with the profession and admiration of it through art—especially sculpture.
Rennert’s works are quite consistent, showing men in suits in various forms of effort, such as playing tug-of-war, climbing over gears, scaling tall ladders and just gazing skyward. His images show both corporate success and challenges. One can imagine how these images must resonate with many business professionals. Recently (in 2016), Rennert also began exhibiting two-dimensional art with very large prints of striking colors like black and dark yellow.
Rennert exhibits at the major US art fairs as well as galleries in the New York area, Massachusetts, Florida, Utah, New Mexico, Maine, Colorado, and British Columbia, with private and corporate collectors world-wide.
A major difference in Rennert’s work is its scale, with a range from truly massive (much larger than life-size) to very small. This day, I chose to focus on one large scale and one small scale piece.
The first is not truly massive but is called “Momentum, Large,” for good reason. The piece is (in inches) 86 x 52 x 48. The current price for this 2015 sculpture is $65,000. True to the description above, the work shows the business person balancing on a set of gears, making one think of the balancing act that is required in corporate life. (The image below is truncated on both sides, making the gears look broken when they are not.)
The second piece is called “High Risk,” Ed. 11/45, 2005. The measured size is deceiving. While tall, it is also narrow at 44 x 11 x 6. The piece is currently priced at $9,500. It shows a suited man with briefcase clinging to a high ledge. The image seems to speak to the risks one sometimes must take in business.
I hope you have enjoyed my blog posts on the Cavalier Gallery in Greenwich and appreciate the variety of their large collection.
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!
It was a beautiful day, and a trip to the Cavalier Gallery at the end of Greenwich Avenue seemed a must-do. It was very spur-of-the-moment, and I was pressed for time. I had not called in advance. I was simply running an errand nearby and had the urge to enjoy some fine art for a few minutes before returning home.
The early afternoon light flooded into the gallery, showing off its selection of photographs, paintings and sculptures. I explained my blogging mission to the staff, and they graciously gave me free rein to look around and choose the pictures I wished to focus on. I felt like a kid in a candy store but decided I had to be good and choose two of my favorites. I could always come back!
First, my eye went to Mary Cassatt’s “Girl in a Hat with a Black Ribbon” (c. 1902). (Yes, this is THE Mary Cassatt.) The picture is a pastel counterproof on Japan paper and measures about 18 X 21; the current price is $175,000.
Cassatt was born in 1844. She was American by birth but moved on her own to France at age 22 to study art. Her independence and desire to be a serious artist were obviously very unusual for the time. Cassatt enjoyed success rather quickly, with the prestigious Paris Salon accepting one of her paintings in 1868 and, after a trip back to the states during the Franco-Prussian War, again in 1872, 73 and 74. She became an important artist in the Impressionist movement of the late 1800s.
I have always admired Cassatt’s work, and it was a real delight to find one at the Cavalier. The painting features a close-up of a young girl’s face, using a combination of soft colors, mostly light yellow and green with a background of beige. It is an appealing image—quiet and restful.
Nearby the Cassatt painting was Stephen Scott Young’s “Miss Ruby’s Flowers” (2005). The painting is a drybrush watercolor on Twinrocker handmade paper and measures 17 X 22; the current price is $160,000.
Born in 1957, Young has focused his work on the southern United States and the Bahamas. His paintings have been broadly exhibited and are on display at several major American museums and galleries. He is featured in the permanent exhibits of the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, which also exhibits the work of Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. (The Cavalier exhibits artwork by the Wyeths as well.)
The strong black and brown tones of the Young picture stand in sharp contrast to the muted colors of the Cassatt. The painting features an open, but dark, doorway into what seems like a farm house or barn with a still life of an upside-down bushel basket and country pot of red flowers sitting on top of the entry steps. One can easily imagine that “Miss Ruby” has just finished picking a basket of vegetables for dinner and grabbed the flowers on her way back. Despite the dark colors, the painting feels as sunny as a summer day in the south!