American Abstraction, past and present, at Van Doren Waxter Gallery, Summer 2015
THE CURRENT SUMMER EXHIBITIONS AT VAN DOREN WAXTER PERFECTLY REFLECT THE FOCUS OF THE GALLERY AND ITS COMMITMENT TO SUPPORT BOTH THE AMERICAN ABSTRACT ARTISTS OF THE 1950s-1990s AND CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS WHO EXTEND THAT AESTHETIC. ON VIEW IN THE MAIN SPACE IN THEIR INVITING DUPLEX AT 23 EAST 73rd STREET IN NEW YORK IS AN INSTALLATION OF ONE PAINTING AND ONE DRAWING EACH BY HELEN FRANKENTHALER, HEDDA STERNE AND DOROTHEA ROCKBURNE.
HELEN FRANKENTHALER HAD HER FIRST SOLO EXHIBITION IN 1951, AT TWENTY-TWO, ADOPTING THE MOST RADICAL ASPECTS OF THE WORK OF THE ABEX MOVEMENT BY POURING THINNED PAINT ON UNPRIMED CANVAS AND FOUNDING THE COLOR FIELD MOVEMENT, AN INFLUENTIAL GROUP OF ARTISTS THAT INCLUDES MORRIS LOUIS AND KENNETH NOLAND. HEDDA STERNE WAS THE ONLY FEMALE TO BE INCLUDED IN THE FAMOUS 1951 Life GROUP PHOTOGRAPH OF THE AMERICAN ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISTS, “THE IRASCIBLES”, AND DOROTHEA ROCKBURNE, WHO ATTENDED THE RADICAL BLACK MOUNTAIN COLLEGE, IS A GEOMETRIC ABSTRACTIONIST DRAWING HER INSPIRATION PRIMARILY FROM MATHEMATICS AND ASTRONOMY.
THIS EXHIBITION IS JUXTAPOSED WITH A SPECIAL PRESENTATION OF ABSTRACT WORKS BY CONTEMPORARY PAINTER AND SUPERB WATERCOLORIST, EVA LUNDSAGER, WHILE AT THE ELEVEN RIVINGTON GALLERY, FOUNDED BY DORSEY WAXTER AND JOHN VAN DOREN WITH AUGUSTO ARBIZO ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE AT 11 RIVERTON AND 195 CHRYSTIE, EVAN NESBIT’S FIRST SOLO SHOW IN NEW YORK OF TECHNICALLY INNOVATIVE ABSTRACTIONS SPOTLIGHTS THE GALLERY’S SUPPORT OF NEW TALENT. http://elevenrivington.com/EXHIBITIONS_new/exhibitions.html
TODAY WE ARE JOINED BY DORSEY WAXTER, FOUNDER AND PARTNER OF VAN DOREN WAXTER AND ELEVEN RIVINGTON, TO LEARN MORE OF HER PROFESSIONAL HISTORY AND THE AESTHETIC THAT SUPPORTS THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS IN THE GALLERIES.
DORSEY, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR CONTRIBUTING TO THE LRFA BLOG.
WHAT IS YOUR CRITERIA FOR INVITING A CONTEMPORARY ARTIST TO EXHIBIT? DO YOU SEE THE WORK AS HAVING A VISUAL AND HISTORICAL LINK TO THE ARTISTS’ ESTATES YOU REPRESENT?
Our criteria for inviting a contemporary artist to exhibit is simply that we think the work has some relevance to the current dialogue in art. For example we’ve just made an exhibition of paintings by Joe Goode from the period of 1971 to 1975. Joe made these paintings of sky and clouds that he vandalized by cutting into the surface of the painting. I think the 70s in California was an incredibly fertile moment. Other artists that we’ve shown from the 70s include Richard Diebenkorn and John McLaughlin. Each of them works differently but they exemplify individual concepts of abstraction.
FOR NEARLY TEN YEARS, YOU HEADED YOUR OWN FIRM AS AN ART CONSULTANT AND ADVISOR TO ARTISTS’ ESTATES. IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT ARE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A GALLERIST (APART FROM THE OBVIOUS, ORGANIZING EXHIBITIONS) AND A PRIVATE DEALER?
I think the biggest difference in working as a private dealer is that you have to make yourself known to the bigger world. People do not see you in the context of a location as they might in a gallery so how you present yourself, the knowledge that you bring to the situation, and the reputation you build with clients means everything.
YOU ELECTED TO RETURN TO THE GALLERY WORLD AS DIRECTOR OF GREENBERG VAN DOREN. WHAT PROMPTED YOUR DECISION RATHER THAN CONTINUING AS A PRIVATE DEALER?
I was ready to work in a bigger context of having a staff and stable of artists. I looked forward to the pleasure of having an inventory to work with and place through making exhibitions. There was also the opportunity to create catalogs and engage critics and art historians with the exhibitions that we were organizing.
GREENBERG VAN DOREN WAS AN EXCEPTIONAL GALLERY, LOCATED IN AN ELEGANT SKY-LIT SPACE IN THE CROWN BUILDING, COFOUNDED BY JOHN VAN DOREN AND RONALD K. GREENBERG, A SECONDARY MARKET DEALER IN ST. LOUIS WITH AN INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION. THE GALLERY EXHIBITED CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS OF NOTE BUT ALSO SUPPORTED AN EXHIBITION PROGRAM OF PARTICULARLY OUTSTANDING HISTORICAL EXHIBITIONS OF AMERICAN MASTERS.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR EXPERIENCE AT GREENBERG VAN DOREN?
In the early days of the gallery we exhibited both American and European masters. In 1999 we made an exhibition of Fausto Melotti’s sculpture. He was under recognized in the US at that time. In that same year we made an exhibition of the late paintings of Roy Lichtenstein. He had died a few years earlier and I recall that the critical assessment of those works was tepid. We mounted two exhibitions of works by Sam Francis, first from the 50s and then from the 60s. I think we mounted no less than eight exhibitions of Richard Diebenkorn. The exhibitions included works from very early in his life through to the late period.
IN OUR NEXT POST, DORSEY WILL GIVE HER EXPERT PERSPECTIVE ON THE RISE OF THE ART FAIR IN TODAY’S MARKET AND SHARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF FUTURE EXHIBITIONS WE CAN ANTICIPATE AT VAN DOREN WAXTER IN THE 2015-2016 SEASON.
PLEASE JOIN US!