Elise Ferguson

Paintings by Elise Ferguson

Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1964, Elise Ferguson is a painter, sculptor, and print maker. The daughter of a mother who designed women’s clothing and a stepfather who was an architect, she spent her early life in a home of modern design elements, surrounded by a growing art collection.  

Ferguson initially began her formal art education at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She then received her BFA from The School of Art Institute in Chicago and her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. After graduation, Ferguson moved to New York, considered a mecca for the visual arts, to be surrounded by artists, similar-minded colleagues and galleries. She currently works out of a shared studio space with two other creative professionals a short distance from her Brooklyn home.

Inspired by architect Louis Kahn’s un-camouflaged use of cement in his designs, Elise Ferguson uses sculptural materials, including metal, pigmented plaster and ink on medium-density fiberboard, as a means of creating illusory space and preserving a series of compositional actions. While certain of her works allude to representational elements found in the studio or nature, Ferguson also creates pieces that are purely abstract with optical interactions of grid, lines and concentric circles.

Ferguson was a sculptor for twenty years before she focused on painting. Her “Retaining Wall”, a two-hundred foot length wall cast of urethane tiles reminiscent of a 1950s linoleum kitchen floor, was installed at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, New York in 2003. A similar sculpture entitled “Greenvine”, a patterned wall of green tiles executed in 2005, is installed at a private home in South Hampton, New York. Although she created distinctive sculptural works, Ferguson is best know for her textural paintings.

Incorporating her sculptural aptitude, Ferguson paints the majority of her work by using pigmented plaster on paper or panels. With the use of computer graphic programs, she draws her repeating and often undulating patterns, with purposefully placed imperfections and glitches. After they are drawn, Ferguson makes screen prints that she applies to the pigmented plaster. Although seemingly flawless, the imperfections seen on a closer look create a tension in the work between the geometric figure and the plaster build-up.

For her 2020 “Clamp” series, Elise Ferguson sought to translate her layering techniques used in her paintings to a handmade paper edition. These works of color and geometric patterns were accomplished by layering brightly colored linen pulps on cream or black cotton base paper sheets. Using her computer, Ferguson designed an undulating U-shaped wave of parallel lines which, once made into mylar stencils, made it possible to create thin, crisp lines on the base sheet. The resulting work, with its stenciled pulp lines, has a distinctive look, unique to the art of paper making.

Ferguson’s work has appeared in solo exhibitions at the Halsey McKay Gallery, the Romer Young Gallery and 57W57 Arts.  Her group exhibitions have included the Albada Jelgersma Gallery in Amsterdam, Ikast Kunstpakhus in Denmark, the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, and the Barton Art Galleries, among others.  

Elise Ferguson has been recognized with several awards, including a Northern Trust Purchase Prize, an EAST International exhibition grant,  the Dieu Donne Papermill Workspace Grant, and residencies at Barton College, University of Nevada Las Vegas, MacDowell Colony, and the  Illinois State University.  She is represented by Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton and Romer Young Gallery in San Francisco.

Elise Ferguson’s website is located at http://www.eliseferguson.org

Insert Images:

Elise Ferguson, “Cloudbank”, 2018, Hand-Printed Block Print on Linen, 15 Feet in Length, Gallery Installation, Halsey McKay Gallery, New York,

Elise Ferguson, “Pile”, 2014, Pigmented Plaster on Panel, 60.1 x 60.1 cm, Private Collection

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”, 2000, Ink and Acrylic Gel and Oil on Pressed Board

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.

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock, “Blue Poles″, Enamel and Aluminium Paint with Glass on Canvas, 1952, National Gallery of Australia

“Blue Poles” was first exhibited at Pollock’s solo show at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1952 where it was titled “Number 11, 1952″. Pollock’s decision to forego conventional descriptive titles and simply number his paintings, including the year of their execution, began with his 1949 exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery. Some paintings originally given number titles when they were first exhibited were later given more descriptive titles. For example, “Number 10, 1952″ became “Convergence”.

This is also the case with “Number 11, 1952″. The painting was first given the title “Blue Poles”, and dated separately as 1952, in the exhibition at the Sidney Janis Gallery in 1954. Sidney Janis recalled clearly that the new title came from Pollock himself. Thereafter the painting is usually referred to as “Blue Poles”, although occasionally the earlier and late titles are combined as “Blue Poles: Number 11, 1952″.

Note: An Interesting discussion of Pollock’s actual painting of “Blue Poles’:  http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=36334&MnuID=2&GalID=1

Fabienne Verdier

Paintings by Fabienne Verdier

Fabienne Verdier is an abstract painter who explores the dynamism of forces in nature, movement and immobility by drawing on her intimate knowledge of techniques and traditions of both Western and Eastern art.

As a young art school graduate, Verdier left France for China in 1985 to study the art of spontaneous painting and other Eastern traditions with some of the last great Chinese painters who survived the Cultural Revolution. Her adventure and immersion as an apprentice painter would last nearly ten years, recounted in her 2003 book, ‘Passagère du Silence’.

Verdier paints vertically in ink, standing directly on her stretchers, using giant brushes and tools of her own invention suspended from the studio ceiling. Her work combines Eastern aspects of unity, spontaneity and asceticism with the line, action and expression of Western painting.

Franz Kline

Franz Kline, Black and White Abstracts

An excerpt from the interview with British critic David Sylvester recorded March 1960 in New York City. It was edited for broadcasting by the BBC and first published in “Living Arts” in the spring of 1963:

FRANZ KLINE: It wasn’t a question of deciding to do black-and-white painting. I think there was a time when the original forms that finally came out in black and white were in colour and then as time went on I painted them out and make them black and white. And then, when they got that way, I just liked them, you know. I mean there was that marvellous twenty-minute experience of thinking, well, all my life has been wasted but this is marvellous – that sort of thing.

DAVID SYLVESTER: During the time that you were producing only black-and-white paintings, where you ever colour and then painting over it with black?

FRANZ KLINE: No, they started off that way. I didn’t have particularly a strong desire to use colour, say, in the lights or darks of a black-and-white painting, althought what happened is that accidentally they look that way. Sometimes a black, because of the quantity of it or the mass or the volume, looks at though it may be a blue-black, as if there were blue mixed in with the black, or as though it were a brown-black or a red-black. No, I didn’t have any idea of mixing up different kids of blacks. As a matter of fact, I just used any black that I could get ahold of.

DAVID SYLVESTER: And the whites the same say?

FRANZ KLINE: The whites the same way. The whites, of course, turned yellow, and many people call your attention to that, you know; they want white to stay white for ever. It doesn’t bother me whether it does or not. It’s still white compared to the black.

Conrad Marca-Relli

Conrad Marca-Relli, “Summer Noon – L – 20”, 1968, Oil , Canvas and Burlap Collage on Canvas, 56 x 72 Inches

Conrad Marca-Relli was an American artist born in Boston who belonged to the early generation of New York School Abstract Expressionism. Along with Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell, Marca-Relli was part of the leading art movement of the postwar era.

In 1930 at the age of seventeen, Marca-Relli studied for one year at the Cooper Union, a private arts and science college. He later worked at the Works Progress Administration (WPA) first as a teacher and then painting murals with the Federal Art Project division. After serving in World War II, he taught at Yale University during 1954 and 1955, later teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, during 1959 and 1960.

Marca-Relli’s early still lives, cityscapes and circus paintings are reminiscent of the surrealist work of Giorgio de Chirico. He created many large scale collages throughout his career, combining oil paint with collage, using intense colors, broken surfaces, and splatters of paint in an expressionistic style. His later works showed a simplicity with black or somber colors and more rectangular shapes with neutral backgrounds.

Lyonel Feininger

Paintings and Drawings by Lyonel Feininger

Lyonel Feininger was an American-born German painter, the son of a concert violinist and a singer and pianist from Germany. In 1887 Feininger followed his parents to Europe, where he attended the drawing and painting class at the “Gewerbeschule” in Hamburg and then studied at the “Königliche Kunst-Akademie” in Berlin from 1888-1892. For one year he subsequently attended the private art school of the Italian sculptor Filippo Colarossi in Paris.

Together with Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee and Alexej von Jawlensky, Lyonel Feininger founded the group “Die Blauen Vier” in 1924. In 1931 there was a first comprehensive retrospective at the “Kronprinzen-Palais” in Berlin, to where the artist moved in 1933. In 1937 Lyonel Feininger moved to New York. That same year more than 400 of his works were confiscated by the Nazis in Germany.

Feininger had to wait for his breakthrough as an artist in the US until 1944, when he had a successful retrospective at the New York Museum of Modern Art. From 1945 Feininger held a summer course at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he met Gropius and Einstein. Feininger’s classes, his texts and later watercolors set a trend for the development of Abstract Expressionist painting in the US.

Richard Diebenkorn

Four Landscape Paintings by Richard Diebenkorn

A highly influential mid-century American artist, Richard Diebenkorn is known for his abstract landscape paintings, in particular the “Ocean Park” series, which he exhibited when representing America at the 1978 Venice Biennale. Diebenkorn’s work is often highly gestural and layered, his use of the medium comparable to that of contemporaries like the Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning, an artist he greatly admired. Diebenkorn, however, preferred California to the competitive New York art scene, and became a leading artist among the Bay Area Figurative painters.

Even at its most abstract, Diebenkorn’s work remains rooted in the outside world, and he is celebrated for capturing his surroundings on canvas without representing them literally. Moving between New Mexico, Illinois, and, ultimately, California, his work progresses in tune with the changing architecture and landscape. Diebenkorn also painted portraits, expertly combining figurative and abstract styles in the same picture.

David Urban

Five Oil Paintigs by David Urban, Corkin Gallery, Toronto

Born in Toronto in 1966,  David Urban studied poetry and painting at York University, earning a BFA in 1989. Urban received a Master’s degree in English Literature and Creative writing from the University of Windsor in 1991 (where he studied with Alistair MacLeod) and a second Master’s degree in Painting from the University of Guelph in 1993.

His work is represented in many private and public collections including the National Gallery of Canada. In 2002, Urban curated Painters 15, an exhibition of established Canadian painters which was presented at the Shanghai Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art.

Mark Francis

Four Oil Paintings by Mark Francis

Mark Francis is a Northern Irish painter known for his alla prima technique of blurring tones and forms to make photographic effects of glowing light. Like Gerhard Richter’s paintings of aerial photographs or  Ross Bleckner’s depictions of infected cells, Francis’ work focuses on the abstract nature of microscopic images, including those of sperm, fungus, and astronomical formations.Through this imagery, Francis aims to explore ways in which science is impacted by mapping, order, and randomness.

Born in 1962 in Newtonards, Northern Ireland, Mark Francis studied at St. Martins School of Art in London before receiving his MA from the Chelsea School of Art in 1986. While studying in London, Francis associated with the Young British Artists, a movement which also includes Tracy Emin and Damien Hirst. He received critical attention from his retrospective “Elements” at the Milton Keynes Gallery in 2000. His work is held in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, the Manchester City Gallery, the Dublin City Gallery, and the de Young Museum in San Francisco, among others. Francis lives and works in London, United Kingdom.

Images in Top Row: “Shutdown”; “White Light”

Images in Bottom Row: “Continuum”; “Growth”