Amadeo de Souza Cardoso

The Artwork of Amadeo de Souza Cardoso

Born in November of 1887 in the town of Manhule, Amadeo de Souza Cardoso was one of the first generation of Portuguese modernist painters. Known for the exceptional quality of his work, his short career covered all the historical avant-garde movements of the early twentieth=century. 

The son of a wealthy landowner and vintner, Amadeo, at the age of eighteen, traveled to Lisbon and entered the Superior School of Fine Arts where he developed his skills as a designer and caricaturist. In November of 1906, he traveled to Paris with his friend and painter Francisco Smith and lived in an apartment on the Boulevard de Montparnasse. After a caricature he had drawn during a dinner was published  in Portugal’s “O Primerro de Jameiro” newspaper, Amadeo decided to devote himself to painting. 

In 1908, Amadeo de Souza Cardoso established himself at a studio located at 14 Cité Falguière , which became a social gathering place for Portuguese artists including Manuel Bentes, Eduardo Viana, and Domingos Rebelo, among others. At this time, Amadeo began to attend the ateliers of the Académie des Beaux-Arts and the Académie Viti, where he studied under the Spanish painter Angalada Camarasa, whose use of intense coloring presaged the arrival of Fauvism. 

In 1911, Amadeo exhibited his work in the Salon des Indépendents and soon became close friends with writers and artists such as Gertrude Stein, Amedeo Modigliani, Alexander Archipenko, Robert Delaunay, and the Italian Futurists Umberto Boccioni and Gino Severini.  In 1912, Amadeo published his album, “XX Dessuab”, containing twenty drawings with a forward written by author Jerome Doucet, and republished Gustave Flaubert’s “La Légende de Saint Julien to l’Hospitalier” in a calligraphic manuscript with illustrations. Amadeo de Souza Cardoso participated in two important exhibitions in 1913: the Armory Show in the United States that traveled to New York City, Boston and Chicago, and the Erste Deutsche Herbstsalon held at the Galerie Der Strum in Berlin. These two exhibitions were the first to present the new wave of modern art to the public. Seven of the eight works Amadeo displayed at the Armory show sold; three of these were purchased by lawyer and art critic Arthur Jerome Eddy, a prominent member of the first generation of American modern art collectors.

Returning to Portugal in 1914, Amadeo began experimentation in all the new forms of artistic expression, and married Lucia Pecetto, whom he had previously met during his 1908 stay in Paris. In April of 1914, he sent three new works for an exhibition at the London Salon; however, due to the outbreak of World War I, the show was canceled. During the war years, Amadeo maintained contact with other Portuguese artists and poets and reunited with Robert and Sonia Delaunay who had relocated to Portugal. In 1916, he published his “Twelve Reproductions” through Tipografia Santos in Porto and exhibited a collection of one hundred-fourteen works at a solo exhibition in Oporto and later in Lisbon, entitled “Abstraccionism”. 

At this time, the Cubist movement had  expanded throughout Europe and was an important influence to Amadeo de Souza Cardoso’s  style of analytical cubism. He continued to explore expressionism and, in his last works, experimented with many new techniques. In 1918, Amadeo was stricken with a skin disease which impeded his painting. On the 25th of October in 1918, Amadeo de Souza Cardoso died, at the age of thirty, in Espinho, Portugal, of the Spanish influenza, a pandemic which savaged the world at the end of World War I. 

After his death, Amadeo de Souza Cardoso’s work was shown in a 1925 retrospective in France which was well received by both critics and the public. Ten years later, the Souza-Cardoso Prize was established in Portugal to distinguish modern painters. Amadeo’s work remained relatively unknown until 1952, when a exhibition of his work in Portugal regained the public’s attention. Since then, only two retrospectives have been held, one in 1958 and one in 2016, both at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Tope Insert Image: Amadeo de Souza Cardoso, “The Hawks”, 1912, India Ink on Paper, 27 x 24.3 cm, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Bottom Insert Image: Amadeo de Souza Cordoso, “Self Portrait”, 1913, Graphite on Paper, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Lynn Leland

Paintings by Lynn Leland

Born in Buffalo, New York in 1937, Lynn Leland studied at the Pratt Institute and Hunter College in New York, and continued his studies at the University of Delaware, where he achieved a Master’s Degree in Art History. After graduation, Leland worked as a dean of students at the New School in Manhattan. Awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 1961 to study in Europe, he attended the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, where he studied under the Scottish sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi, widely considered as one of the pioneers of pop art.

Active in the art scene of 1960s New York, Leland exhibited his work at the A. M. Sachs Gallery and at the Simon Preston Gallery on the Lower East Side. On the recommendation of Metropolitan Museum of Art curator and historian Henry Geldzahler, Leland’s work was included in the influential exhibition “The Responsive Eye” held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1965. This exhibition of one hundred twenty-five works, employing geometry and theories of perception and color, was organized by MoMA curator William Seitz and became one of the museum’s most popular shows at the time. 

Lynn Leland’s work was also included in many group exhibitions, including the Brooklyn Museum Biennial in 1960, the “Optics and Kinetics” exhibition at Ohio University in 1965, “Multiplicity” at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art in 1966, and the “Harry Abrams Collection” exhibition in 1966 at the Jewish Museum in New York’s Upper East Side.

Leland’s artwork included abstract color compositions, wood block prints, watercolor paintings, landscape paintings and photography. Based partially on his interest in contemporary musical composition, Leland’s abstract work throughout the 1960s remained focused on the optical effect of ordered grids of colored circles. Becoming disillusioned with the art market by the early 1970s, he stopped entering exhibitions and focused on a career in the art education field.. 

Lynn Leland had a full career as a public school art educator in the New York City public school system, teaching art to junior high school students from the 1970s to 1990s.  Upon his retirement, he moved to El Paso, Texas where he continued to pursue his interests in photography and painting, and  exhibited his work locally.  He was a member of the El Paso Art Association and the Photography Enthusiasts of El Paso. In order to be near his son Kipp Leland’s family, Lynn Leland moved to Helllertown, Pennsylvania, where he later passed away in 2019.

Robert Delaunay

Robert Delaunay, “Manège de Cochons”, 1905-1918, Gouache and Watercolor on Paper, 52.5 x 49.8 cm, Private Collection 

Born in Paris in April of 1885, Robert Victor Félix Delaunay was one of the earliest completely unrepresentational painters, whose work affected the development of abstract art.. In 1902, after finishing his secondary education, he was apprenticed for two years to study decorative arts with a theatrical designer located at the Impasse Ronsin in the Belleville district of Paris, where he worked on theater sets. At the age of nineteen, Delaunay left Ronsin to focus on his painting and entered six of his works at the 1904 Salon des Indépendants

Delaunay traveled to Brittany, where he was influenced by the Pont-Aven group, symbolist artists inspired by the pure color of Paul Gauguin’s works. The works he painted in Brittany he presented at the 22nd Salon des Indépendants. Between 1905 and 1907 Delaunay became friends with Henri Rousseau and Jean Metzinger, with whom he shared a 1907 exhibition at art dealer Berthe Weill’s gallery. Delaunay, familiar with the color theories of French chemist Michel-Eugéne Chevreul, started painting at this time in a Neo-Impressionist manner influenced by the work of Paul Cézanne.

After returning to Paris in 1908 from a year in military service,  Robert Delaunay began painting multiple series of works in a style that used bold colors and was increasingly influenced by abstraction and cubism. These series included the 1909-1911 “The City”, the “Eiffel Tower” executed 1909-1912, and the 1912-1914 “Window” series. Delaunay started to use pure colors again early in 1912 and, at the end of the year, had painted his first two abstract paintings: the 1913 “Circular Forms” series and “The First Disk” series.

In 1910, Delaunay married textile and theater set designer  Sonia Terk who, in 1964, would become the first female artist to have a retrospective at the Louvre. Together, with Czech painter and graphic artist František Kupka, they pioneered an offshoot of Cubism called Orphism, which today is seen as a key transition from Cubism into Abstract art. Orphism reintroduced the use of strong color during cubism’s monochromatic phase and was known for its geometric shapes.

In 1911, Robert Delaunay began exhibiting in Germany; he was invited by Vasily Kandinsky to participate in the first Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) exhibition held at Heinrich Thannhauser’s Moderne Galerie in Munich. Delaunay’s first solo major exhibition in Paris was held in 1912 at fashion designer Paul Poiret’s contemporary Galeries Barbazanges. This show, containing forty-six works from his impressionist period to his cubist Eiffel Tower series, gained him recognition as a monumental visionary artist.

 During the period from the outbreak of war in 1914 to 1920, Delaunay and his wife spent the years in Spain and Portugal. In 1917 in Madrid, Delaunay met Russian art patron and ballet impresario Serge Diaghliev and  designed the stage set for Diaghilev’s  production of “Cleopatra”; Sonia Delaunay produced the designs for the porduction’s costumes. Delaunay would later  produced illustrations for Chilean post Vicente Hudobro’s work “Tour Eiffel”. Both Robert and Sonia Delaunay exhibited their work from their time in Portugal at a 1920 show in Berlin’s Der Sturm gallery. 

In 1921, Robert Delaunay returned to Paris where he continued to work in both figurative and abstract themes, with an 1922 exhibition of his new work at Galerie Paul Guillaume . He would later be introduced to artists in both surrealism and the Dada movement by poets André Breton and Tristan Tzara. In 1924, Delaunay started his “Runner” series of paintings and, in the next year, executed frescoes for the international Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris.

Delaunay returned to complete abstraction in 1930 and produce compositions with circular disks and color rhythms, sometimes executed in low relief. For the 1937 Paris International Exhibition, he participated in the design of large panels and colored reliefs to be used in the Aeronautics pavilions. Delaunay’s last works were decorations for the sculpture hall of the 1938 Salon des Tuileries, an annual painting and sculpture exhibition.

Stricken with cancer, Robert Delaunay lost mobility and his health gradually deteriorated. He died from cancer on October 25, 1941 in Montpellier, at the age of fifty-six. In 1952, Delaunay was reburied in Gambais, a commune in north-central France.

 

Hedda Sterne

The Artwork of Hedda Sterne

Born Hedwig Lindenberg in Bucharest, Romania, in 1910, Hedda Sterne received a rich primary education that included the study of multiple languages, German philosophy, and art history. With the encouragement of Modernist painter and professor Max Hermann Maxy, Sterne began her formal art education in 1918. Her first teacher was the Realist sculptor Frederic Stock, a professor at the Bucharest National University of the Arts. 

As early as 1924, Hedda Sterne gravitated to the Constructivist, Dada, and Surrealist artist communities of Bucharest and Paris. She took classes in ceramics atVienna’s Museum of Fine Arts and, in 1929, enrolled at the University of Bucharest, where she studied under literary and art critic Tudor Vianu, and philosophers Nae Ionescu, and Mircea Florian. In addition to her early work with Frederic Stock, Sterne worked in the studio of Surrealist painter Marcel Janco, who was a co-founder of the Dada movement, and became a close friend with Surrealist painters Victor Brauner and his brother Théodore Brauner, realist painter Jules Perahim, classical painter Medi Wexler, and surrealist poet Gheorghe Dinu.

In the late 1930s, Sterne began her work in the mediums of painting and collage. Drawn to the Surrealist practice of automatism, a process which allows the subconscious mind control over the formation of a work, Sterne  developed her own unique style of collage. Sterne’s collage work was first recognized in 1939 at the Fiftieth annual Salon des Indépendants in Paris, where her work was singled out by painter Jean Arp, who recommended her work to art patron and collector Peggy Guggenheim. After the outbreak of World War II and the Bucharest pogrom, Sterne was able to acquire the necessary visas for travel, which enabled her to embark from Lisbon and sail to New York in October of 1941. 

Settling in Manhattan, Hedda Sterne established an apartment and studio on East 50th Street and soon developed a close friendship with Peggy Guggenheim, a close neighbor on Beekman Place. Sterne re-united with many Surrealistic artists she had known in Paris, including Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and André Breton. She also began a close friendship with author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, whom she encouraged to illustrate his own book “The Little Prince”. Involved with the circle of New York School of artists, Sterne’s work was included in surrealism’s seminal exhibition in the United States, “The First Papers of Surrealism”,  held in October of 1942 at Manhattan’s Whitelaw Reid Mansion.

By 1943 Sterne’s work was regularly show in exhibitions at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery, including the 1943 “Exhibition by 31 Women”. In November of 1943, Sterne had her first solo show in the United States at the Manhattan’s Wakefield Gallery, organized by art dealer and collector Betty Parsons. This began a nearly forty-year collaboration between Sterne and Parsons, who represented her after the opening of her own gallery, the Betty Parsons Gallery, in 1947.

Throughout her career, Hedda Sterne’s diverse series of artwork were a reflection of the changing world around her.  In the 1940s, she began to draw inspiration from the motion, architecture and scale of her new New York surroundings.  Following a visit to Vermont with her husband and fellow artist Saul Steinberg, Sterne began studying farm machinery, as well as the construction sites and harbors of New York and post-war Paris. By the 1950s, these Machine paintings and drawings had evolved into a series about motion itself.   Often utilizing commercial spray paint to invoke a feeling of speed, Sterne’s large gestural canvases of the mid-1950s were inspired by city bridges and her travels on highways around the United States.

Hedda Sterne began, in the 1960s, to explore new themes in her work, expanding beyond the inspiration of her immediate surrounding to include her interests in science and philosophy.  The qualities of light and space were often a central focus of investigation in Stern’s work.  While on a Fulbright Fellowship in Venice in 1963, she experimented with mosaic and refined a series entitled “Vertical-Horizontals”, paintings that invoked an expansive, horizontal landscape, whose reach, however, was confined within a vertical format. Later in the decade, as drawing took on a more central role in her practice, Sterne developed dense and intricate organic abstractions in series entitled “Lettuces and Baldanders”.

In addition to exploring both physical and conceptual subjects in her work, Sterne also produced both geometric and organic abstractions.  Among her largest series of works on canvas are her 1980s “Patterns of Thought” paintings, in which she, now in her seventies, explored the universality of signs and symbols through prismatic geometric structures.  While doing this series, Sterne also developed various drawings and loose studies of nature, with elaborate organic structures and ghostly apparitions emerging from the page.

Hedda Sterne was a prolific artist who maintained  a daily practice of making art throughout a career that spanned nine decades. Her work intersected with some of the most important movements and figures of twentieth-century art. Even though affected by macular degeneration, she continued to create new work in her eighties and nineties; unable to paint by 1998, she still drew. Her vision and movement affected by two strokes between 2004 and 2008, Sterne passed away in April of 2011 at the age of one hundred.

In 1977 Hedda Sterne was honored with her first retrospective exhibition of her work at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey. Her second retrospective entitled “Hedda Sterne: Forty Years” was held at New York’s Queens Museum in 1985. Her third retrospective was held in 2006, entitled “Uninterrupted Flux: Hedda Sterne; A Retrospective:, at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois.

Top Insert Image: Henri Cartier-Bresson, “Hedda Sterne”, 1961, Silver Gelaton Print.   Second Image: Edith Glogau, “Hedda Sterne, October 1932 Issue of Die Bühne Magazine, Vienna;   Third Image: Lilian Bristol, “Hedda Sterne in Her Studio with Her Portrait of Joan Mitchell”, 1955;   Bottom Image: Nina Leen, Hedda Sterne and New York School of Painters, January 1951 Life Magazine Photo

More information on Hedda Sterne’s life and a complete body of her work cna be found at the Hedda Sterne Foundation located at: https://heddasternefoundation.org

Otis Huband

Paintings by Otis Huband

Born in Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1933, Otis Dare Huband Jr, after serving a tour of duty in the Navy, attended the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. He returned to Virginia to complete both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Virginia Commonwealth University. Huband  then travelled to Italy to study in 1963-64 at the Academia de Bella Arta in Perugia.

Otis Huband returned from Europe in 1964 and moved to Houston in  the following year. Upon his arrival, he bypassed the local gallery scene by choice, opting instead to concentrate most of his time in his studio. In addition, Huband also worked as an art instructor at the University of Houston, the current Glassell School of Art, Rice University, and the Art League of Houston. He retired from his educational work in 1982 and now works full-time on his daily painting. 

Huband’s paintings are abstractions rich with thoughtful color, form and figure. It was his emphasis on figurative subject matter that gave his work a place within Houston’s art history. However, his style of expressionism showcases not only the human figure, but also dynamic energy, produced by the use of powerful colors and bold strokes.

Otis Huband has had multiple solo shows, starting with the Studio Gallery in Oakland, California in 1957 and the Pyramid Gallery in Richmond, Virginia in 1959, and continuing until his recent shows at the Valley House Gallery in Dallas, Texas in 2019 and at the Foltz Fine Art in Houston in 2020. He has had two major retrospectives of his work: the 1993 “Otis Huband: The Artist and His Collection” at The Museum of Printing History in Houston, and the 2010 “The Figurative Revelations of Otis Huband: A Fifty-Year Retrospective” at William Reaves Fine Art in Houston. 

Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas, “Light Blue Nursery”, 1968, Acrylic on Canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum

Born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1891, Alma Woodsey Thomas was an expressionist abstract painter and art educator. As a teenager, she moved with her family to Washington, DC to escape the racism the family experienced in the South. Thomas attended Howard University, where she took classes taught by painter and educator Lois Mailou Jones and impressionist painter James V. Herring, who founded Howard University’s art department. 

Alma Thomas graduated in 1924 as the university’s first Fine Art graduate. She acquired her Masters in Art Education from New York’s Columbia University and studied abroad in Europe with the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. She was greatly influenced by the techniques of French Impressionism, through the still-lifes and landscapes of Berthe Morisot and Claude Monet.

Through her life, Thomas was involved with the history of black American intellectual life and participated in many organizations promoting such history and culture. Among these was the Little Paris Group, a literary circle of black public school teachers who met weekly in the 1940s. Alma Thomas also served as Vice President of the Barnett Aden Gallery, founded in 1947, as a black-owned non-profit art gallery. The gallery exhibited the work of all artists regardless of race; however, it was one of few places that showed black artists on equal footing with their white contemporaries.

After she retired, at the age of sixty-nine, from her career as an art teacher, Alma Thomas developed her own personal style. Inspired by the shifting light filtering between the leaves of trees in her garden, she began to paint her signature abstractions. Thomas was given her first solo show at the Dupont Theatre Art Gallery in 1960.

Although the work is abstract, the titles summon up specific moods and scenes, such as “Iris, Tulips, Jonquils, and Crocuses” in 1969, the 1973 “Snow Reflections on Pond”, and “Red Azaleas Singing and Dancing Rock and Roll Music” painted in 1976. The colorful rectangular dabs of paint, often arranged in circles or rows, allow the under-colors to emerge through the open spaces.

Alma Thomas died at the age of 86 in 1978 in Washington, DC. During her life she was included in many group shows centered around black artists. It was not until after her death that her work began being included in shows which did not focus on the unifying themes of race or gender identity, but rather was allowed to exist simply as art. Her work can be seen at many museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Smithsonian Museum. 

Note: The insert image is Alma Thomas’s “Grassy Melodic Chat”, an acrylic on canvas painting done in 1976. It is in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Alfonso Ossorio

The Artwork of Alfonso Ossorio

Born in August of 1916 in Manila, Alfonso Ossorio was an abstract expressionist artist of Hispanic, Filipino, and Chinese heritage. At the age of fourteen, he moved to the United States and attended Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island, graduating in 1934. Ossorio studied fine art at Harvard University from 1934 to 1938, and continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. He became a United States citizen in 1933.

Discovered by art dealer and collector Betty Parsons, Alfonso Ossorio had his first show, featuring his Surrealist-influenced works at New York’s Wakefield Gallery in 1940. Following World War II service in the US Army as a medical illustrator, tasked with drawing surgical procedures on injured soldiers, he took some respite in the Berkshires, a region in western Massachusetts known for its outdoor activities. It was there at the Tanglewood Music Festival that Ossorio met Edward Dragon, a ballet dancer, who would be Ossorio’s life-long partner. 

Through his connection with Betty Parsons, Ossorio became acquainted with the work of Jackson Pollock. Becoming both an admirer and a collector of Pollock’s expressionist work, he and Pollock soon developed a close friendship and reciprocal influence on each others work. Later in 1951, through critic and art historian Michel Tapié, Ossorio established a contact between Pollock and the young Parisian gallery owner Paul Facchetti who realized Pollock’s first solo exhibition in Europe in 1952.

In Paris in 1951, Ossorio and Edward Dragon frequently met with artist Jean Dubuffet and his wife Lili. While they were visiting, Jean Dubuffet wrote the text for his monograph on Ossorio entitled, “Peintures Initiatiques d’Alfonso Ossorio” and introduced Ossorio to art critic and collector Michel Tapié. Tapié organized a one-man show at the Studio Paul Facchetti of Ossorio’s small, luminous “Victorias Drawings”, which Ossorio made while visiting the Philippines. Produced using Ossorio’s experimental drawing technique of wax-resistant crayon on Tiffany & Co. stationary, the works in this series are counted as some of Ossorio’s most innovative. 

Dubuffet’s interest in art brut opened up new vistas for Ossorio, who found release from society’s preconceptions in the previous unstudied creativity of insane asylum inmates and children. In the 1950s, Ossorio began to create works resembling Dubuffet’s assemblages. He affixed shells, bones, driftwood, nails, dolls’ eyes, cabinet knobs, dice, costume jewelry, mirror shards, and children’s toys to the panel surface. Ossorio called these assemblages congregations, with the term’s obvious religious connotation.

On the advice of Pollock, Ossorio and Edward Dragon purchased an expansive 60-acre estate, The Creeks, in East Hampton, Long Island, New York, in 1951, where they lived for more than forty years. Alfonso Ossorio died in New York City in 1990. Half his ashes were scattered at The Creeks estate and the other half came to rest nine years later at Green River Cemetery, alongside the remains of many other famous artists, writers and critics. 

Alfonso Ossorio’s works can be found at The Creeks, the Harvard Art Museum in Massachusetts, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, among others.

Thomas Downing

Thomas Downing, “Untitled”, 1950, Acrylic on Unprimed Canvas, 243.8 x 225.4 cm, Private Collection

Born in 1928 in Suffolk, Virginia, American painter Thomas Downing initially studied English literature at Randolph-Mason College in Ashland, Virginia, receiving his Bachelor of Arts in 1948. After frequent visits to exhibitions held at Randolph-Mason and local museums, he eventually decided to study art. Downing moved to New York City to study at the Pratt Institute of Art, where he was influenced by the New York School of painters. With a grant given to him in 1950 by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, he was able to travel and study in Europe, briefly enrolling in the Académie Julien in Paris.

In Paris, Thomas Downing secured a position as a studio assistant for the painter Fernand Léger in 1951, eventually exhibiting a series of his own gouaches at Paris’ Galerie Huit. After a short service in the US Army, he moved in 1953 to Washington, DC, working as a high school teacher. Downing attended summer sessions at Catholic University, where he studied under and was influenced by painter Kenneth Nolan, one of the founders of the Washington Color School of painting, a flourishing abstract art movement emphasizing pure color. An established member of Washington’s art community by 1958, Downing had his first one-man show with the Sculptors Studio in 1959. By the early 1960s, he began producing canvases that were composed of grids and circles of dots of varying color, a motif which became recognizable as his body of work.

Thomas Downing’s work explores the formal possibilities of color and color-space, establishing that as the sole subject of his compositions. His circles of varying hues and colors seem to float in an undefined space, with each set of color appearing on a flat plane, but collectively presenting a depth of space. Downing’s specific color choices suggest the modern design principles of the Bauhaus movement, particularly the color-space theories of painter and instructor Josef Albers. 

Following a series of successful solo shows in the DC area, several of Downing’s dot paintings were included in Clement Greenberg’s 1964 traveling exhibition “Post-Painterly Abstraction” and the New York’s Museum of Modern Art’s influential 1965 exhibition “The Responsive Eye”. In 1966, Downing included a series of shaped canvases to his works in the “Systematic Painting” show at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. 

Downing taught at the Corcoran School of Art from 1965 to 1968, influencing artists such as Sam Gilliam and Rockne Krebs. He moved to New York to teach at the New School of Visual Art, and after a brief tenure at the University of Houston in 1975, settled in Provincetown, Massachusetts. In his later years, he had many exhibitions, including tow at the Osuna Gallery in Washington, DC, in 1979 and 1980,  and one at The Phillips Collection in 1985, the year of his death. 

Thomas Downing’s work is in a number of collections, both private and public, including the National Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection, both in Washington, DC, and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, California. 

Johan Wahlstrom

Paintings by Johan Wahlstrom

Top Image: “Worn Out”, 2016, Urethane, Color Pigment on Canvas, 40 x 30 Inches

Second Image:  “Room Mates”, 2016, Acrylic, Urethane, Color Pigments on Canvas, 30 x 30 Inches

Third Image: “Life is Now”, 2016, Urethane, color Pigments on Canvas, 94 x 59 Inches

Born in Stockholm, Johan Wahlstrom is a fifth-generation Swedish artist who began his creative life as a keyboardist and singer, performing with his own band as well as with musicians Ian Hunter and Graham Parker. Leaving the music stage after twenty years, he moved to a small village in France and began to pursue a life of visual art, painting part of the time under the tutelage of Swedish artist Lennart Nyström.

Inspired by the Art Brut movement and particulary Jean Dubuffet and Paul Klee, Johan Wahlstrom creates works combining abstraction and figurative forms. In his more figurative and narrative paintings, Wahlstrom presents his social and political commentaries; a strong critique of authoritarianism and fascism is a recurring theme that appears in many of his dark images of the contemporary world.

Johan Wahlstrom came to New York in 2015 and is currently living and working in Jersey City, New Jersey, with a studio located at the Mana Contemporary Arts Facility. He also has a second studio in Marbella, Spain. Wahlstrom started his theme of distorted faces in 2008 with his exhibition in Barcelona entitled “It’s Boring to Die”, which contained the above images. He continued this series until 2014, with exhibitions in New York, Bonn, and Zurich. This series had a limited pallette of colored pigments, mixing his distorted faces with layers of abstraction, gradually becoming more complex in the presentation.

 

Mark Wallinger

Mark Wallinger, Three of the “Id Paintings” Series, 2015-2016, Paint on Canvas

Mark Wallinger is a British artist, best known for his 1999 sculpture, “Ecco Homo” in Trafalgar Square and his 2007 “State Britain” at Tate Britain. He won the Turner Prize, an annual prize presented to British visual artists, in 2007.

The “id Paintings” have grown out of Wallinger’s extensive series of self-portraits, and they reference the artist’s own body. His height – and therefore his arm span – is the basis of the canvas size. They are exactly this measurement in width and double in height. Wallinger uses symmetrical bodily gestures on the two halves of the canvas to mirror one another, recalling the bilateral symmetry of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man”.

Created by sweeping paint-laden hands across the canvas in active freeform gestures, the “id Paintings” bear the evidence of their making and of the artist’s encounter with the surface. In recognising figures and shapes in the material, the viewer reveals their own desires and predilections while trying to interpret those of the artist.

Calendar

A Year: Day to Day Men: 5th of October, Solar Year 2018

The Garden Brocade

October 5, 1887 was the birthdate of German painter and graphic artist Max Ackermann.

Max Ackermann studied under Henry van de Velde, one of the main founders of the Art Nouveau movement in Belgium, at his studio in Weimar and at the Deresden studio of Impressionist Gotthardt Kuehl. In 1912, at the age of twenty five, Ackermann attended the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart, under an apprenticeship of Adolf Hölzel, who introduced Ackermann to non-representational painting.

In 1921, Ackermann met pioneer of abstract dance Rudolf von Laban who inspired Ackermann to try rhythmic blind paintings. Throughout the 1920s, Ackermann worked as an artist in Stuttgart and had his first show of figurative and abstract paintings, pastels, and drawings. In 1926 he spent time in Paris, where he became friends with Piet Mondrian and Adolf Loos, an Austrian architect and influential theorist of modern architecture. Ackermann met Wassily Kandinsky at this time and was encouraged in his quest for absolute painting.

Ackermann set up a training workshop for new artists in his studio and hosted seminars for young art teachers. In 1930 , he introduced a seminar on “Absolute Painting”, giving lectures in 1933 on this topic at Stuttgart’s Valentien Gallery. Ackermann was considered degenerate by the new Nazi authorities and was forbidden from exhibiting in 1933, and from teaching in 1936, both by decrees. His graphics and paintings displayed in the state gallery of Stuttgart were confiscated. Leaving Stuttgart, Ackermann continued his abstract painting at an artist colony at Hornstaad on Lake Constance near the Swiss border.

Many of Ackermann’s early works were destroyed when his studio was bombed during a Second World War air raid. After the war Ackermann had one-man shows in West German cities and collective shows in Paris and Zurich. With German composer and conductor Wolfgang Fortner, Ackermann held a seminar on music and painting in 1952. A year later he took part in an event with “organic” architect Hugo Häring and Kurt Leonhart on the subject of painting and architecture.

Max Ackermann was appointed Professor by the German Ministry of Culture in 1957; and in 1964, he was honored by the German Academy. He died in the spa town of Bad Liebenzell in the Black Forest of Germany on November 14, 1975, at the age of 88.

Alice Lex-Nerlinger

Alice Lex-Nerlinger, “Racecar Driver”, 1926, Vintage silver Print from an Original Photogram, Private Collection

Alice Lex-Nerlinger, was born in 1893 to the owner of a gas lamp factory on Moritzplatz in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Between 1911 and 1916, she studied painting and graphic art at the Teaching Institute of the Museum of Arts and Crafts under painter and lithographer Emil Orlik and other teachers. 

Personal experience of the First World War and the atmosphere of artistic experiment in 1920s Berlin created provided a source of ideas for Alice Lex-Nerlinger’s artistic works: heroism versus the soldier’s death, man and machine, capital and labour, state and censor, and not least, the misogynist. She found stimulus and confirmation in groups of artists with similar attitudes such as the Abstrakten (the Abstracts) and the Association of Revolutionary Fine Artists in Germany founded in 1928. Like Alice Lex, these groups rejected Expressionism, Cubism and Dadaism as bourgeois art. She expressed her political convictions by joining the German Communist Party (KPD) along with her husband Oskar Nerlinger in 1928.

Photographs, newspaper clippings and strikingly contrasted colors, such as red and blue, provided the ingredients for Lex-Nerlinger’s socially critical montages, specializing in photomontages and colored spray painting. Her work was often produced in sequential series creating rhythm and multi-dimensionality. Lex-Nerlinger succeeded in translating the complexity of political statements into simply structured individual images or compositions which prompted discussion and inquiry.

In 1933 Lex-Nerlinger was expelled from the German Association of Fine Artists by the National Socialists and banned from practicing her profession and from exhibiting her artwork. Censorship and this ban on her artwork drove her into engaging in underground political activities against the regime. 

Alice Lex-Nerlinger did manage to survive during National Socialism in Germany; but, fearful of persecution and house searches, she destroyed some of her artworks. After the Second World War, she worked in the German Democratic Republic primarily on official portrait commissions. She was honored with a honorary pension in 1960, which she received with the support of the Germany Academy of Arts, and was honored with the Patriotic Order of Merit of the GDR in 1974. 

Pierre Soulages

Pierre Soulages, “Lithograph Number 3″, 1957, 25 x 19 Inches, Museum of Modern Art, New York

As a child, Pierre Soulages was fascinated by the Celtic carvings in the local museum and the architecture of the abbey of Sainte-Foy in nearby Conques, and these early impressions would continue to surface throughout his career. In 1938, inspired by the works of Cezanne and Picasso, he enrolled in the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, but he was disappointed by the traditional instruction and soon moved back to his childhood home of Rodez.

In 1946, Soulages returned to Paris and set up a small studio in Courbevoie. He began to paint in a wholly abstract style, producing canvases with overlapping black, barlike strokes on a glowing white or colored, ground, which he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1947.

Though his rejection of bright color in favor of black set him in opposition to the major trends in French abstract painting of the time, Pierre Soulages was nevertheless a prominent exemplar of the Jeune École de Paris (Young School of Paris), an umbrella term for the gestural or post-Cubist abstraction. in contrast to the gestural approach of his American counterparts, Soulages deliberately constructed his compositions to create a formal balance.

Donald Laycock

Donald Laycock, “In the Beginning”, 1956, Enamel on Composition Board, 122 x 91 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

-Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

W.C. Richardson

Paintings by W. C. Richardson

W.C. Richardson has been making abstract paintings for over 30 years. He received a BFA in 1975 from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an MFA in 1977 from Washington University, St. Louis, MO. He began teaching at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1978 and is currently an Associate Professor there. Richardson’s awards include four Individual Artist’s Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council. Since 1976, his work has been widely exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the U.S., as well as in Russia, Belgium, Turkey and Jordan.

“Color is one of the most intuitive aspects of my work. I build the color in my paintings through trial and error, responding to unpredictable interactions. I’m conscious of the spatial properties of different hues and values, and use their advancing and receding properties to locate them in space. I also use color to differentiate or connect elements in a complex surface. I commonly play intense, saturated colors against neutrals, with black and white used for emphasis and punctuation.” – WC Richardson

Charles Seliger

Charles Seliger, “Earthscape”, Ink and Acrylic Gel and Oil on Pressed Board, 2000

Charles Seliger was an American abstract expressionist painter. He was born in Manhattan June 3, 1926, and he died on 1 October 2009, in Westchester County, New York. Seliger was one of the original generation of Abstract expressionist painters connected with the New York School

Seliger began his career in 1945 as one of the youngest artists to exhibit at The Art of This Century Gallery, and as the youngest artist associated with the Abstract expressionist movement. The Art of This Century gallery was opened in New York City during World War II in 1942 by Peggy Guggenheim who was then married to the surrealist painter Max Ernst. In 1943, Seliger met and befriended Jimmy Ernst the son of Max Ernst, and who at the age of 23 years was just a few years older than Seliger.

Seliger was drawn into the circle of the avant-garde through his friendship with Ernst. His paintings attracted the attention of Howard Putzel who worked with Peggy Guggenheim. At 19, Seliger was included in Putzel’s groundbreaking exhibition ‘A Problem for Critics’ at the 67 Gallery. .Also in 1945 he had his first solo show at the Art of This Century Gallery. Seliger showed his paintings there until 1947 when Guggenheim closed the gallery and returned to Europe. At 20 the Museum of Modern Art acquired his painting “Natural History: Form within Rock” for their permanent collection.

Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter, “Abstract Painting (613-3)”, Detail, Oil on Canvas, 1986, Collection of Preston H Haskell

The groundwork for pieces like Abstract Painting (613-3) was laid in the early 1970s, when Richter began a series of nonrepresentational paintings based on photographic enlargements of brushstrokes. Because they depict, in a highly illusionistic manner, reproductions of otherwise abstract marks, such paintings confuse the handmade and the technological, the original and the copy. Richter continued to duplicate brushstrokes until 1980, when he started to make actual abstract paintings, albeit in unconventional ways.

Abstract Painting (613-3) exemplifies the technique for which Richter is recognized today, one in which editing, subtraction, and cancellation play crucial roles. Here as elsewhere, the artist fleshed out a preliminary composition with ordinary brushes. As it was drying, he covered the hard edge of a squeegee with paint and dragged it across the surface of the canvas, an action that blended some layers but removed others, thereby revealing what was previously concealed. The resulting works are tapestries of abrasions and palimpsests, heterogeneous fields of visual incident.

Discontinuity is particularly evident in Abstract Painting (613-3), due to variations in the directionality of paint, the combination of cool and warm hues, and the presence of a vertical seam near the middle of the canvas. To the extent that it cedes some control to chance and introduces the specter of mechanicity, Richter’s process “muffles singular signs of personal expression” and trades existential drama for moderation, unlike the gestural, virtuosic canvases his paintings superficially resemble.

As with many of his abstractions after 1980, Abstract Painting (613-3)’s palette is bright and sumptuous in appearance but not necessarily in tone. For Richter, color does not signify “happiness,” he once said, but instead a “tense” or “artificial” “cheeriness” associated with “gritted teeth.”