GALLERIST LORETTA HOWARD TRAVERSES THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF THE ART OF THE SIXTIES
IN THE AMERICAN ART SCENE OF THE SIXTIES, A SIGNIFICANT ROSTER OF ARTISTS, DEALERS AND CRITICS RESPONDED IN AESTHETIC TERMS TO THE INTENSE POLITICAL CHANGES AND SOCIAL RADICALISM OF THE TIME. KEY FIGURES OF THE PERIOD INCLUDED LEGENDARY GALLERIST LEO CASTELLI AND ARTISTS SUCH AS JASPER JOHNS, ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG, CY TWOMBLY AND ANDY WARHOL, WHOSE UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE AND CREATIVE BRILLIANCE CONTRIBUTED NOT ONLY TO THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ART OF THE PERIOD BUT ALSO HAS DEEPLY INFLUENCED AND INSPIRED GENERATIONS TO COME. DURING THIS CRITICAL DECADE IN AMERICAN LIFE, ARTISTS BUILT UPON THE STYLES OF THE 1950s AND AN EXPLOSION OF ARTISTIC ENERGY PRODUCED A MULTIPLICITY OF ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS. THE EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN MOVEMENTS OF THE TIME ADDRESSED ENVIRONMENTAL ART, OP ART, COLOR FIELD, MINIMALISM AND FEMINIST ISSUES.
THE LORETTA HOWARD GALLERY HAS ESTABLISHED A STRONG REPUTATION FOR REPRESENTING ARTISTS OF THIS PERIOD, AND PRESENTING HISTORICAL EXHIBITIONS ACCOMPANIED BY SCHOLARLY TEXTS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THIS DYNAMIC TIME IN THE ART WORLD. TODAY, LORETTA WILL SHARE HER DEPTH OF KNOWLEDGE OF THIS PERIOD OF EXPERIMENTATION AND CREATIVITY.Though born in Japan, Larry Poons grew up outside New York City. In 1955, he attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. By 1965, his work had been included in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In the early 1970s, Poons began experimenting with various techniques including the pouring and throwing of paint. In 1981, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston mounted a major exhibition of his paintings from the 1970s.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS IN THE MARKET FOR WORK FROM THE SIXTIES? IT HAS BEEN MY OBSERVATION THAT IN THE LAST TEN YEARS, AS WORKS BY FIRST-GENERATION ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISTS SUCH AS DE KOONING, JACKSON POLLOCK, MARK ROTHKO AND CLYFFORD STILL REALIZE RECORD PRICES AT AUCTION AND IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR, THAT A MUCH MORE SUBSTANTIAL MARKET HAS BEEN CREATED FOR THE “SECOND” GENERATION OF ARTISTS OF THIS PERIOD SUCH AS NORMAN BLUHM AND JOAN MITCHELL. DO YOU FEEL IT IS A REFLECTION OF THE MARKET OR ARE THERE OTHER REASONS THAT THIS GENERATION OF ARTISTS HAS GAINED IN CRITICAL AND COMMERCIAL RECOGNITION?
I often use the term “blue chip” in relation to the artists we deal with. I am constantly amazed at how much of the art world is propelled by chasing the new. I am fairly certain that 5, 10 and 15 years from now classic artists of the 1950s and 1960s will only gain in importance. I believe that there are moments in history in which invention and creativity are, for a number of reasons, particularly rich. For American art, the postwar period was a moment akin to the Italian Rennasance.
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT WILL HAPPEN TO THE MARKET FOR THESE ARTISTS IN THE FUTURE?
I only see demand becoming stronger as supply diminishes.
YOUR GALLERY IS KNOWN FOR ITS SCHOLARLY APPROACH AND FOR ORGANIZING EXCEPTIONAL EXHIBITIONS THAT EXPLORE A PARTICULAR GENRE OR BODY OF WORK. IN AN EXHIBITION ENTITLED “COLOR FIELD REVISED”, YOU DOCUMENT THE SCOPE AND SCALE OF THIS MOVEMENT, THE LARGE NUMBER OF ARTISTS ASSOCIATED WITH IT AND THE INFLUENCE OF TECHNOLOGY AND DESIGN ON THOSE ARTISTS. WHAT WAS THE PREMISE OF THE EXHIBIT AND IN WHAT WAY DID IT SERVE TO OPEN THE AUDIENCE’S PERSPECTIVE AND KNOWLEDGE OF THAT PERIOD?
For years people have only understood Color Field as a group of about five artists. In reality it was a widespread movement that still has great influence on young artists painting today. In one sense, Color Field was possible because of the invention of acrylic paints. Acrylic could be poured onto raw canvas (without rotting it as oil paint would). The canvas came off the easel and went on to the floor. This opened up a huge number of possibilities in art making and by association changed the shear scale of art as we see it now. The breath and effect of stain painting is far greater than a handful of names.
ARE THERE CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS, WORKING NOW, WHO ARE INFLUENCED BY THE 60s GENERATION AND IF SO, WHAT ARTISTS AND IN WHAT WAYS?
Last summer we did a show entitled DNA: Strands of Abstraction, which addressed this question precisely. The show examined the various influence of the 1960s generation on young artists by juxtaposing old and new.
THIS EXHIBITION TRACED THE VARIOUS DIRECTIONS THAT PAINTING HAS TAKEN SINCE ITS POST WAR INCEPTION THROUGH TODAY’S CURRENT GENERATION OF ABSTRACTIONISTS. THESE ARTISTS EXPANDED THE BOUNDARIES OF ABSTRACTION EXPERIMENTING WITH SPACE, OPTICS, COLOR AND NON-TRADITIONAL MATERIALS. IT CONTRIBUTED GREATLY TO THE ART HISTORICAL ARCH OF ABSTRACT PAINTING FROM ITS BRILLIANT INCEPTION INTO THE MANY DIRECTIONS THAT IT HAS SINCE TAKEN.
ANOTHER EXHIBIT I THOUGHT WAS EXTREMELY WELL-CURATED AND COMPELLING WAS YOUR FALL EXHIBITION: JOHN ASHBERY: POET AMONG THINGS. THE GALLERY WAS TRANSFORMED INTO A DOMESTIC SETTING, ASHBERY’S CELEBRATED COLLECTION HOUSED IN HIS LATE 19th CENTURY HOUSE IN HUDSON, NEW YORK. THE EXHIBIT FEATURED WORKS BY ARTISTS ASHBERY COUNTED AS PART OF HIS INTIMATE CIRCLE AS WELL AS THOSE WHOSE WORKS HE REVIEWED IN HIS ROLE AS ART CRITIC FOR NEW YORK AND NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE WHILE SERVING ON THE EDITORIAL BOARD OF ARTnews MAGAZINE. BEAUTIFUL WORKS BY DE KOONING, JOAN MITCHELL, LARRY RIVERS, AND JOSEPH CORNELL, TO NAME A FEW, WERE INSTALLED IN THE CONTEXT OF THIS CAREFULLY CONSTRUCTED ENVIRONMENT. http://www.lorettahoward.com/content/john-ashbery-poet-among-things
IN OUR NEXT BLOG WE WILL HIGHLIGHT THE EXHIBITION OF MONUMENTAL OUTDOOR SCULPTURE BY JOEL PERLMAN CURATED BY THE LORETTA HOWARD GALLERY AND SPEAK ABOUT THE FUTURE PLANS OF THE GALLERY AND LORETTA’S EXPERIENCED TAKE ON THE FUTURE OF THE ART MARKET.
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