LORETTA HOWARD GALLERY, HONORING PAST LEGACIES AND EXPLORING THE FUTURE

by leslierankowfinearts

The Lure of Paris Installation view, Loretta Howard Gallery

The Lure of Paris
Installation view, Loretta Howard Gallery

THE MAY AUCTION SEASON IN NEW YORK WAS A RECORD-SETTING PHENOMENON. CHRISTIE’S TWO-DAY SALES OF POST-WAR AND CONTEMPORARY ART ACHIEVED A TOTAL OF $782 MILLION SETTING A NEW AUCTION RECORD HIGH. THE POST-WAR AND CONTEMPORARY EVENING SALE REALIZED AN UNPRECEDENTED $691 MILLION AND INCLUDED SEVERAL REMARKABLE LOTS BY AMERICAN ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST ARTISTS. A BEAUTIFULLY CONTAINED ROTHKO, PAINTED IN 1962, REALIZED A PREMIUM OF $66+ MILLION, BARNETT NEWMAN’S “BLACK FIRE 1”, 1961, A MUSEUM QUALITY EXAMPLE OF HIS ELEGANT REDUCTIVIST AESTHETIC, COMMANDED THE HIGHEST PRICE FOR A WORK BY THIS ARTIST, HIS PREVIOUS RECORD, “ONEMENT VI”, SELLING LAST YEAR AT SOTHEBY’S FOR $43.8 MILLION.

TODAY, THESE WORKS, APPEALING TO A GLOBAL ART MARKET,  ARE ESTABLISHING RECORD PRICES  AT AUCTION AND ON THE SECONDARY MARKET. DURING ITS FORMATIVE YEARS, THE ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM MOVEMENT IN AMERICA WAS AN EQUALLY SIGNIFICANT MOMENT OF CREATIVITY IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN ART: THE POURED TECHNIQUE ON UNPRIMED CANVAS EMBRACED BY JACKSON POLLOCK; THE EMOTIVE GESTURAL BRUSHSTROKES OF WILLEM DEKOONING AND FRANZ KLINE;  THE SIGNATURE INTENSITY OF ABSTRACT FORM AND MONUMENTALITY OF SCALE. IN THEIR EXPLORATION OF NEW MEDIUMS AND THEIR REDEFINITION OF THE MAKING OF ART, THESE ARTISTS PASSED ON A LEGACY OF AESTHETIC LIBERATION TO THOSE WHO FOLLOWED IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS. THIS FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SERVED AS INSPIRATION TO THE COLOR FIELD MOVEMENT, ENVIRONMENTAL ART, VIDEO ART AND CONCEPTUAL AND MINIMALIST WORK, ALL NOW FAMILIAR AND ESTABLISHED MOVEMENTS IN LATE 20th AND EARLY 21st CENTURY AMERICAN ART.

TODAY WE ARE PRIVILEGED TO CONTINUE OUR CONVERSATION WITH GALLERY OWNER, LORETTA HOWARD, WHOSE KNOWLEDGE AND APPRECIATION OF THE ART AND ARTISTS OF THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES HAS INSPIRED AND DIRECTED HER PROFESSIONAL PATH. LOCATED IN CHELSEA AT 525-531 WEST 26TH STREET, THE GALLERY CURRENTLY HAS A WONDERFUL SOLO EXHIBIT OF THE WORK OF SCULPTOR JOEL PERLMAN. http://www.lorettahoward.com/ 

LORETTA, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE LRFA BLOG.  WHEN YOU OPENED IN CHELSEA IN 2004, YOU CURATED AN EXHIBITION ENTITLED “CLASSIC WORKS FROM THE SIXTIES”. THIS SEEMED TO IDENTIFY YOUR AREAS OF SPECIALIZATION AND EXPERTISE. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE CONTEXT OF THIS EXHIBITION?

Every year we do a historical exhibition to start the season. These large group shows take an idea or moment in time and examine them in depth.  Some of the most popular theme shows we have done are: Black Mountain College which was an immensely influential art school in South Carolina, Max’s Kansas City a look inside the famous New York art bar. The Lure of Paris examined the influence of French painting on the Americans who traveled to Paris on the G.I. Bill.

 

Installation View Black Mountain College and Its Legacy

Installation View
Black Mountain College and Its Legacy

THESE EXHIBITS CONTRIBUTE SO MUCH TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE PERIOD AND ITS ENORMOUS INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN ART. BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE WAS AN EXPERIMENTAL LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE IN NORTH CAROLINA , OPEN FROM 1933 TO 1957. IN THE 1940s AND EARLY 1950s, IT WAS THE INTELLECTUAL AND CREATIVE HUB FOR A GROUP OF PAINTERS, ARCHITECTS, MUSICIANS AND POETS ASSOCIATED IN PARTICULAR WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF MULTIMEDIA WORK AND PERFORMANCE ART, WORK THAT CROSSED MANY DISCIPLINES. BLACK MOUNTAIN WELCOMED MANY EUROPEAN REFUGEE ARTISTS DURING THE PERIOD OF WORLD WAR II, INCLUDING JOSEF ALBERS, WHO DISSEMINATED BAUHAUS TEACHING METHODS AND IDEAS AND BROUGHT A SPIRIT OF MODERNISM TO THE PROGRESSIVE EXPERIMENTAL SPIRIT OF THE SCHOOL.

LORETTA, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXHIBITION HONORING ITS GREAT LEGACY.

The exhibition featured more than 100 works by 35 artists including Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, Jacob Lawrence, Robert Motherwell, Kenneth Noland, Robert Rauschenberg, Dorothea Rockburne, Kenneth Snelson, Jack Tworkov and Cy Twombly among others. The exhibition focused on works that were created at Black Mountain and on a broad selection of important “legacy” works. In addition to major painting and works on paper, the exhibition includes a wide range of media for which Black Mountain was known. Historic documentary photographs of Black Mountain faculty and students highlight the organic, multidisciplinary environment that came to define the college.

 

Joel Perlman  Seven Ponds Welded Steel

Joel Perlman
Seven Ponds
Welded Steel

THE CURRENT EXHIBITION AT THE GALLERY IS AN AMBITIOUS ONE, YOUR FIRST WITH SCULPTOR JOEL PERLMAN WHO IS BEST KNOWN FOR HIS MONUMENTAL OUTDOOR WORKS.  THESE SCULPTURES JUXTAPOSE FLAT GEOMETRIES OF WELDED STEEL IN THREE-DIMENSIONAL SPACE. WILL YOUR EXHIBIT INCLUDE STUDIES FOR THESE WORKS OR EXPLORE HIS MORE RECENT AESTHETIC CONCERNS?

Joel Perlman’s latest work continues his exploration of circular forms. In the front gallery new works in welded aluminum, stand, hang on the wall, and float above the space. In the main gallery a group of large-scale welded steel sculptures highlight recent developments. His sculptures sketch themselves out in airy volumes, both glorifying and defying the weight and density of the materials.

Joel Perlman Hot Wheel welded steel

Joel Perlman
Hot Wheel
welded steel

WELDED STEEL IS A TRADITION OF THE FIFTIES AS WELL, ONE I ASSOCIATE WITH THE WORK OF DAVID SMITH. SMITH REVOLUTIONIZED OUR PRECONCEPTIONS ABOUT SCULPTURE IN THE SAME SPIRIT THAT THE ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST PAINTERS DID WITH WORKS ON CANVAS.  IN THE LATE 1920s, HE MOVED TO NEW YORK WHERE HE STUDIED PAINTING FULL TIME AT THE ART STUDENT’S LEAGUE. DURING THE 1930s HE BEGAN TO FOCUS ON SCULPTURE, CREATING WELDED CONSTRUCTIONS BY USING FOUND OBJECTS AND FORGED METAL.  FOR ME, THE WORK OF JOEL PERLMAN HONORS AND EXTENDS THIS ARTISTIC LEGACY.

LORETTA, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT PERLMAN’S HISTORY AS A SCULPTOR.

Joel Perlman was born in New York City where he continues to work, as well as maintaining a studio in Watermill, New York.  He began welding at Cornell University (BFA 1965) and then at the Central School of Art and Design, London, and the University of California, Berkeley (MA 1967). In the 1970-90’s he had numerous exhibitions at the seminal Andre Emmerich Gallery in New York. In addition to his rigorous studio practice, the artist is well-known for his public and privately commissioned site-specific works. Some of these include ABN Amro Bank Building, Chicago, The IBM Corporation, Thornwood, New York, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, New Jersey, the Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, New York, The 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid, and the Ursukushi-Ga-Hara Open Air Museum, Japan.

Joel Perlman  Wide Wheel

Joel Perlman
Wide Wheel

DO YOU FIND IT INCREASINGLY DIFFICULTY TO OBTAIN INVENTORY OF WORKS BY COLOR FIELD AND ABSTRACT ARTISTS AS BOTH PRIVATE COLLECTORS AND MUSEUMS, ABSORB THE WORKS?

The classic material is drying up and its scarcity will drive prices even higher.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES, IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, BETWEEN BEING A DIRECTOR OR A PARTNER IN AN EXISTING GALLERY, AND OPENING YOUR OWN?

I sleep less.  Just joking.  It is enormously liberating to be able to do what you believe is best and not have to compromise.  On the other hand, I do take a great deal of advice and input, which I value. We are a small team that works well together.

HOW DID YOU DETERMINE WHICH ARTISTS YOU WOULD REPRESENT?

My focus on Post World War II artists is quite specific. This makes determining whom to represent quite easy.  Many of the artists and estates I work with I have been working with for over 25 years.

HOW DID YOU FIND INVENTORY IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH THE GALLERY?

Representing artists and estates gives one access to work available in the studio.  We also consign works for sale for specific exhibitions.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AND ASPIRATIONS FOR THE GALLERY IN THE FUTURE?

It takes a very long time to establish oneself as a reliable dealer in my field. My plan is simply to keep going.  I love what I do.

AND IT SHOWS. THANK YOU, LORETTA.

IN OUR NEXT BLOG, WE WILL TRACK THE PROFESSIONAL CAREER OF A GOOD FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE, CHARLIE MANZO, WHO HAS WORKED IN NEW YORK AT TWO OF THE GREAT CONTEMPORARY GALLERIES, FIRST  AT PACE AND THEN AT GAGOSIAN. MORE RECENTLY, CHARLIE ELECTED TO JOIN THE WILDLY SUCCESSFUL PADDLE8, A LEADER IN AN EXCITING NEW AREA OF THE ART MARKET, ONLINE AUCTION.

I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS AND APPRECIATE YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!