Leslie Rankow Fine Arts

INTERNATIONAL ART ADVISORY SERVICE

Geri Thomas, an expert in staffing and consulting for arts and culture organizations

Geri Thomas

EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO, GERI THOMAS FOUNDED THOMAS & ASSOCIATES, INC., AND ART STAFFING.COM, AN INNOVATIVE STAFFING AND CONSULTING FIRM FOR ARTS AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS AND BUSINESSES FOLLOWING A LONG CAREER IN MUSEUM MANAGEMENT IN BOTH THE UNITED STATES AND ABROAD. SHE CLOSED THE BUSINESS IN SEPTEMBER 2017 TO BECOME A FINE ARTS APPRAISER AND AN ADVISOR TO INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONS ON PROJECTS AND CAREERS.

THE LRFA BLOG HAS ASKED GERI TO REFLECT ON THE CHANGES IN THE ARTS INDUSTRY AND WHAT SHE SEE AS MAJOR TRENDS GOING FORWARD.

GERI, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR REVISITING THE LRFA BLOG.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER THAT SHAPED YOUR PROFESSIONAL  HISTORY? YOU HAVE SO MUCH EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD. HOW HAS THAT LED TO WHAT YOU FOCUS ON NOW?

Harlem on my Mind

Without going too far back in ancient history, I was always intrigued with organizations and how they function and pursued a degree in Sociology. Although I always loved art and visited museums in Chicago where I grew up, it wasn’t until I took a class in Far Eastern Art that I knew I was “hooked” and changed my major to Art History. The late 70s and early 80s, when I and some of my colleagues from diverse economic backgrounds entered the field, were decades of great change in museums – they attempted to be more inclusive, realizing the need to reach out to a variety of audiences not only for survival but also to fulfill their educational mission. 

Tutankhamen
Metropolitan Museum of Art

We all know that exhibitions such as Harlem on My Mind, and Tutankhamen were pivotal in changing museum approaches to exhibitions and collections by making an effort to represent the cultures inherent in their holdings. In addition, “grass roots” arts organizations as they were known then, were already showcasing the work of women artists and people of color and were significant in influencing the more mainstream institutions. Significant exhibitions followed such as Randy Rosen’s Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move into the Mainstream, 1970-85; and, the pivotal Black Male exhibition at the Whitney, curated by Thelma Golden. Now there are significant exhibitions and acquisitions focused on artists of all backgrounds worldwide.

Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move into the Mainstream
Randy Rosen

THE WHITNEY BIENNIAL OF 2017 CERTAINLY CRYSTALLIZED THE NEW CHAPTER OF SO-CALLED POLITICAL ART. THE SHOW SELECTED 63 ARTISTS WORKING “AT THE INTERSECTION OF THE FORMAL AND THE SOCIAL. MANY OF THESE ARTISTS CONFRONT SUCH AMERICAN REALTIES AS INCOME INEQUALITY, HOMELESSNESS, IMMIGRATION, HATRED AND BIAS.”

DO YOU SEE THIS AS A NEW DIRECTION OR A CONTINUATION OF A RECURRENT FOCUS?

Black Male
Diptych
The Whitney Museum

“Inclusion” and “diversity” are once again in the rhetoric but have never really gone away.  Museums, perhaps because of relatively low salaries and because they often seem to lack institutional memory are once again trying to devise ways to be more inclusive – from efforts to diversify staffing and leadership roles to establishing better and more diverse boards. 

With the worldwide interest in art as an asset class coupled with foundation support for inclusion (such as the new Ford Foundation initiative to establish a “pipeline” of diverse arts leaders), another new call for change is underway. My company had a mantra – just hire qualified people from diverse backgrounds and increase compensation.  It is that simple!

Whitney Biennial 2017

IN OUR NEXT LRFA POST, GERI WILL SPEAK ABOUT THE UNIQUE COMPANY SHE CREATED TO SERVICE OUR NON-PROFIT MUSEUM AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATIONS.

PLEASE JOIN US!

 

SOUND & IMAGE, an exhibition of current members of the Federation at Westbeth Gallery, February 3-24th.

 

The Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors presents Sound and Image,

an exhibition at the Westbeth Gallery on the theme of image and music.

In his On the Spiritual in Art, Kandinsky wrote: “Colour is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano with its many strings.”

Ever since Kandinsky likened paint to music, modernists have been thinking hard about the influential ways that visual art and music come together.

This exhibition explores the sounds of paint, ink and other media through the works of a group that has been an ensemble for 78 years and whose artists have been and still are fascinated by the coming together of two art forms. Founding member Mark Rothko’s son Christopher writes about his father: “Music was central to my father’s world—to his own aesthetic sensibilities, certainly, but also to the structure and expressive modes he found as a painter. I think it’s fair to say he was a painter who aspired to be a musician.”

Nicholas Christopher
House of the Rising Sun

This February 3-24, 2018, the Federation will be presenting ‘Sound & Image’ at the Westbeth Gallery, New York City.  29 Members will exhibit their work melding their art with the music that inspired them.  Throughout the gallery there will be interactive displays in which the viewer can immerse oneself in the visual presentation along with music playing on their mobile phone through the use of a QR scanner.

TO CARRY ON HIS FATHER’S TRADITION TO WORK IN A CREATIVE FIELD, ANDREW BOLOTOWSKY, ILYA’S SON, HAS PURSUED A MUSICAL CAREER.

Sunday, Feb. 11th will bring Sound & Image to life with a flute performance by Andrew Bolotowsky, world renown flutist and son of Ilya, another Federation founder.  Andrew will give a brief talk about his father and then perform to the inspiration of the exhibition.  Other musicians will also perform between 4 pm – 6 pm that evening.

THE LRFA BLOG IS PLEASED TO FEATURE THREE OF THE CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS WHO WILL BE IN THE EXHIBIT BUT TO EXPERIENCE THE FULL IMPACT OF THE FEDERATION’S PRESENT ROSTER OF ARTISTS AND THEIR CREATIVITY, VISIT THE EXHIBITION AT WESTBETH GALLERY ON WEST STREET IN MANHATTAN.

Anneli Arms
Music Muse

ANNELI ARMS

Known internationally for sculpture and etching, it is her sculpture that sets her apart. By working with oversized creatures – human, marine and insect – she remarks distinctly on evolution, forcing the viewer to consider the beginning of future of humanity and his fears of both.  In time, the artist’s early paintings and relief works morphed into sculpture and gave birth to her “Human Creatures” and “Creature Creatures”.  None of the creatures, human or otherwise, are meant to be completely realistic. Instead, these parallel universes are individual and generic, seemingly modern and ancient at the same time.

http://www.anneliarms.com

Anneli Arms
Architect of His Dreams

JON SERVETAS

Jon Servetas
Oil on canvas

Jon Servetas started drawing as a child during WWll using poster paints and grocery bags from the market.
His work has evolved over the last 70+ years with the use of a warm color palette encapsulating everyday scenes.
His images are traditional in nature but are more of an impression of the scene with color taking over than true realism.

Jon Servetas

NICHOLAS CHRISTOPHER

My fascination has always been in taking the tool of the Impressionists and early compositional photographers and moving the photograph into the realm of ‘true art’. Working only outdoors with available light I capture the visual juxtaposition of the shadows that play within a compositional ‘color’ palette. Dimensionality or lack thereof is a product of this interplay. Dimension and shadow increase during the assembly process taking my 2 dimensional compositions and adding depth. Now light & shadow play a new role in creating a 3 dimensional finished work. The assembly rests on a wall, which is now also part of the paradigm.

www.nccworks.com

Nicholas Christopher
Mondrian Memory
mixed media

THE LRFA BLOG IS VERY PLEASED TO WELCOME GERI THOMAS IN OUR NEXT POST, THE FOUNDER AND PRINCIPAL OF A FIRM SPECIALIZING IN RECRUITING AND PLACEMENT OF POSITIONS IN THE ARTS. GERI WILL SPEAK OF HER NEW CONSULTING AND TEACHING VENTURES AS WELL AS ISSUES OF DIVERSITY, EQUAL PAY AND DISCRIMINATION IN THE ARTS’ PROFESSIONS.

STAY TUNED!

A political purpose motivates the formation of The Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors

Dore Ashton

THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL TURBULENCE OF OUR CURRENT ERA IS CLEARLY REFLECTED IN THE WORK OF CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS. THIS IS A MOMENT OF GREAT UNREST AND DIVISIONISM BUT ONE THAT IS HARDLY UNIQUE TO OUR TIMES. A CHAMPION OF MODERN ART, DORE ASHTON, A RENOWNED ART HISTORIAN AND CRITIC OF HER TIME,  WROTE SOME OF THE EARLIEST AND MOST INSIGHTFUL HISTORIES OF ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM AND THE LEADING PAINTERS OF THE NEW YORK SCHOOL”.

DECEASED IN FEBRUARY 2017, MS. ASHTON WAS CLOSELY INVOLVED WITH THE SMALL WORLD OF ARTISTS WHO WERE DISCOVERING A NEW PICTORIAL LANGUAGE IN THE YEARS AFTER WORLD WAR II, BOTH AS A FRIEND OF WHAT ARE NOW CONSIDERED LEGENDARY ARTISTS, SUCH AS PHILIP GUSTON AND MARK ROTHKO, AND AS A WRITER FOR NUMEROUS PUBLICATIONS INCLUDING ART INTERNATIONAL, THE ART BULLETIN AND THE NEW YORK TIMES.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/03/arts/design/dore-ashton-art-critic-who-embraced-and-inhabited-modernism-dies-at-88.html

THUS, DORE ASHTON WAS THE PERFECT SPOKESPERSON FOR THE FEDERATION OF MODERN PAINTERS AND SCULPTORS, FOUNDED IN 1940 IN RESPONSE TO THE THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL UPHEAVAL OF THE DEPRESSION AND THE THIRTIES.

George Constant
Still life, Petunias

 

The Federation had political aims when it was founded in New York by many of this country’s leading modernists.

“The Federation in Retrospect” – by Dore Ashton

Early in April, 1940, a New York Times headline announced: “17 Members Bolt Artists’ Congress.” Behind the headline lay a complex history of artistic, social and political upheavals rarely matched in the century. The imbroglios that led to the dramatic disruption of the Artists’ Congress also led, during the late Spring of 1940, to the establishment of a new group, The Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, Inc., which would attempt to evade the debilitating conflicts inherent in the activities of the 1930’s.

During the few hectic years-roughly from 1934 to 1940-that artists’ groups had flourished, the world had visited upon them a series of hideous tremors that presaged the Second World War. Artists, like everyone else, responded strongly. The adjustments that external circumstances demanded in their lives counted for much in their groupings. With 1940 and the War, radically different adjustments needed to be made. According to one of the oldest living members of The Federation, George Constant, the largest purpose was, in its foundation, and is still, to keep artists together. “Other professions have their professional organizations,” he says, “so we should also. It’s a professional obligation.” Constant’s view of the enduring purpose of The Federation was certainly one of the factors in its founding. But it has evolved in its more than three decades of existence.Circumstance has shaped and modeled its destiny. In its origin, it was the identifiable offspring of the spirited controversies of the 1930s.

Stuart Davis
Owh! in San Pao

The economic debacle of the early 1930’s encouraged collective defense. Artists were not immune to the sweeping discontent that resulted, for instance, in the foundation of powerful labor unions. They fought for the right to benefit from New Deal relief programs. When the Federal Art Project’s WPA was well underway in 1935, artists flocked to its rolls. At the same time, they organized themselves professionally into groups such as the Artists’ Union, in 1935, whose purpose was “to unite artists in the struggle for economic security, and to encourage wider distribution and understanding of art.” Other grouping also appeared including the Artists Committee of Action. When the government seemed to be pulling away from its WPA commitments, these groups went on strike, held mass meetings and generally intervened in their society with tremendous energy. (In 1937, the Artists’ Union actually joined the CIO as Local 60, and the old urge for solidarity seemed at last to be satisfied.) These formations within American society were not to develop slowly and organically. The world was too much in disarray. Each dramatic event in Europe shook the foundations of American spiritual life, as World War II proved. In 1935 there was Mussolini’s conquest of Ethiopia; in 1936 the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War and Hitler’s arming the Rhineland; in 1937 the Moscow Trials; in 1938, Hitler annexed Austria; in 1939 he occupied Czechoslovakia and then signed a pact with Stalin; in 1940 Stalin invaded Finland. Each of these events evoked nervous responses in the United States.

Thomas Hart Benton
Strike

In February, 1936, at the American Artists’ Congress three-day meeting, hundreds of listeners heard Lewis Mumford exhort artists everywhere to form a united front against Fascist forces; the eminent painter Stuart Davis attack War, Fascism and Reaction. Artists increasingly felt the weight of the political disasters, and saw themselves in protagonists’ roles. Interpretations varied widely. There were passionate battles in various meetings. What can be said generally is that artists organized for the first time in the United States to experience professional solidarity and influence the events that impinged on their lives.

 

Reginald Marsh

In the particulars, there were numerous fundamental conflicts. To name only a few: a national urge for identity, answered by some artists in terms of what came to be called American Scene Painting, Social Realism, and Regionalism; and a concurrent desire on the part of other American artists to participate in the international modern movement, and to eschew chauvinist stances. On the ethical side, there were those whose belief in social revolution led them to subordinate their artistic independence, and there were those whose artistic ideals forbade political intrusions in the realm of art. The turmoil during the late 1930’s was immense. But somehow, the Artists’ Union and the American Artists’ Congress survived their internal griefs for several years.

Grant Wood

 

OPENING ON FEBRUARY 3rd, A GROUP EXHIBITION ENTITLED “SOUND AND IMAGE” COMPRISED OF 29 FEDERATION MEMBERS OPENS AT THE WESTBETH GALLERY, 463 WEST STREET, NEW YORK,  AND CONTINUES UNTIL FEBRUARY 24, 2018.

THE EXHIBITION EXPLORES THE SOUNDS OF PAINT, INK AND OTHER MEDIA AND INCLUDES MUSIC EVENTS ON FEBRUARY 11th and FEBRUARY 24th.  MORE DETAILS TO FOLLOW IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST!

VISIT THE EXHIBITION AND SEE WHAT THE CURRENT MEMBERS OF FEDART ARE DOING.

 

Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, founded in the WPA era, and alive and active today

DURING ITS YEARS OF OPERATION, THE GOVERNMENT-FUNDED FEDERAL ART PROJECT (FAP) OF THE WORKS PROGRESS ADMINISTRATION (WPA) HIRED HUNDREDS WHO COLLECTIVELY CREATED MORE THAN 100,000 PAINTINGS AND MURALS AND OVER 18,000 SCULPTURES FOR MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS, SCHOOLS AND HOSPITAL. THE FAP WAS PART OF PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT’S NEW DEAL DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION THAT SOUGHT TO PUT AS MANY UNEMPLOYED AMERICANS BACK TO WORK AND BUOY MORALE.

IN THIS SOCIAL AND POLITICAL POST-DEPRESSION CLIMATE, ONE OF THE MOST LONG-LASTING AND ACTIVE ARTISTS’ ORGANIZATIONS, FOUNDED IN NEW YORK CITY IN 1940, THAT EMERGED IS THE FEDERATION OF MODERN PAINTERS AND SCULPTORS. WHILE THE WPA FAVORED MORE TRADITIONAL FORMS OF ART, NARRATIVE AND PORTRAITURE, THE FEDERATION OF MODERN PAINTERS AND SCULPTORS SUPPORTS ARTISTS WHOSE WORK IS ALSO ABSTRACT, GEOMETRIC AND MORE EXPERIMENTAL IN NATURE. OUR TRAVEL EXPERT, NICHOLAS CHRISTOPHER WHO HEADS TURON TRAVEL CATERING TO INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL FOR ARTISTS, ART FAIRS AND ART DESTINATIONS, IS A SERIOUS ARTIST AND A MEMBER OF THE FEDERATION.

THE LRFA BLOG IS VERY PLEASED TO WELCOME NICHOLAS BACK, WEARING HIS ARTIST’S HAT (BERET?),TO TELL US OF THE HISTORY, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF THE FEDERATION.

https://www.fedart.org/

Promote the welfare of free progressive artists working in America; to strive to protect the artists’ general and cultural interests and to facilitate the showing of their work; and to take legitimate action in furtherance of such purpose.

MISSION STATEMENT, FEDERATION OF MODERN PAINTERS AND SCULPTORS, JUNE 19, 1940

Mark Rothko
Sacrificial Moment, 1945
National Gallery of Art, Washington

The Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors, founded 1940, emerged from a very energetic period of post WPA American History during which every working group of like-minded professionals created Unions, Associations & Federations, a multiple of political and quasi-political organizations.

It was both through creative and political crossroads that the Federation was formed, taking their cues from the Federation des Artistes, founded in 1871 by Courbet, Pottier Daumier and Manet.  Both historic periods were filled with opposing political and cultural forces, which needed to be addressed by the art world.

Milton Avert
Gaspe Pink Sky , 1940

Founded by Mark Rothko, Adoph Gottlieb, Milton Avery, Meyer Shapiro & Ilya Bolotowski, to name a few of the early members.  The purpose of the Federation is to ‘.. promote the cultural interests of free progressive artists working in America and to facilitate the showing of their work.’  This artistic ensemble measures the merit of the artists’ work, not encumbered by past or present trends or definitions.

 

Ilya Boltowsky
Abstraction, 1940

For over 70 years the Federation of Modern Painters & Sculptors has maintained these principles.  Allowing for a free and fluid expression of each member’s work.

Now is its 78th years the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors maintains a very active presence in the art world, while always being nurtured by its history.

THE NEXT LRFA POST FOCUSES ON THE HISTORY OF THE FOUNDATION,  WRITTEN BY THE GREAT POET/CRITIC DORE ASHTON.

WESTBETH’S ARTISTS’ HOUSING WAS CONCEIVED IN THE 1960s AS A PARTIAL SOLUTION TO THE ACUTE NEED TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND STUDIOS FOR ARTISTS AND THEIR FAMILIES. HOW APPROPRIATE THAT WESTBETH GALLERY WILL HOST THE NEXT EXHIBITION OF MEMBERS OF THE FEDERATION OF MODERN PAINTERS AND SCULPTORS.

THE EXHIBITION IS ENTITLED SOUND AND IMAGE  FEATURING WORKS BY CURRENT MEMBERS OF THE FEDERATION ON THE THEME OF IMAGE AND MUSIC.

MORE TO FOLLOW!

The ultimate kudo: Flora Crockett’s New York Times review

Flora Crockett
Exhibition Catalogue
Meredith Ward Fine Art

The Observer, a New York arts and culture newspaper, published an article in May 2013 by Andrew Russell who laments the dying tradition of formal art critics.

What is disappearing is not the art critic—you could argue that, with the expansion of websites and social media, there are now more than ever before—but the tradition of a regularly recurring voice in a widely circulated newspaper or magazine or even alternative paper: people who have the opportunity to expose a wide variety of art to a broad audience on a continual basis.

Roberta Smith, art critic for the New York Times, is such a voice and with  a huge amount of exhibitions every month, at galleries, in museums and in non-profit centers, the choice is almost infinite in terms of what she can write about and whom.  It is an honor to Flora Crockett’s visionary paintings and to Meredith Ward’s astute eye and hard work that this tribute of the FLORA CROCKETT exhibition at Meredith Ward Fine Art, a beautiful townhouse gallery at 44 East 77th Street, New York commanded so much space and such great praise!

http://www.meredithwardfineart.com/

ART & DESIGN | LAST CHANCE

 A Forgotten Abstractionist Roars Back in Bright, Jangly Lines

Review: Flora Crockett, a Forgotten Abstract Painter

By ROBERTA SMITH NOV. 10, 2015

The paintings of the American abstractionist Flora Crockett have not been exhibited in New York since a group show at the Overseas Press Club of America in 1965. That was the year she turned 73 and began her most productive period as a painter.

Flora Crockett
Untitled
Oil on canvas board

After Ms. Crockett died in 1979, her canvases from 1965 to 1973 were inherited by a nephew, Austin Hart Emery, an engineer and great admirer of his aunt, who stored them in his barn outside Albany. He always meant to do something with them but never got around to it, and so the job fell to his daughter, Mary Emery Lacoursiere, an artist and designer living on Nantucket, in Massachusetts. She was introduced to Meredith Ward, whose New York gallery specializes in 20th-century American artists, especially forgotten ones. Ms. Ward saw photographs of the paintings and was immediately intrigued.

And so at the moment about two dozen of Ms. Crockett’s sparkling late paintings, with their bright tangles of jazzy lines and shapes floating on pale, brushy backgrounds, form a surprising exhibition at Meredith Ward Fine Art. This is our first sighting of a body of work that could hold its own in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art or the Museum of Modern Art and in the history of American abstract painting.

They are accompanied by a catalog that contains the first published account of Ms. Crockett’s life and speculates about her development, written by Ms. Ward. She used Ms. Crockett’s papers, which are being organized by Isabella Rosner, a Columbia student, working with Ms. Lacoursiere.

Flora Crockett
Mental Landscape
Oil on board

Loosely geometric and modest in size, Ms. Crockett’s paintings are elegant, knowing and at ease, made by a practiced hand. They indicate a familiarity with 20th-century abstraction: Mondrian’s quietly robust brushwork, and the levitating compositions of Kandinsky, Miró and Léger. They also suggest exposure to American liberators of geometry like the painters Charles Green Shaw and Stuart Davis. But the sharp colors and dynamic compositions feel hip, fresh and very much her own. Ms. Crockett’s paintings are in step with their time, a moment after Pop Art and Color Field painting had given color new heat.

Ms. Crockett left very little imprint on the art world, perhaps because she always had to work to support herself. She seems to have had a total of three solo shows during her life. One was in 1937 in Paris, where she had lived since 1924, just before the impending World War drove her back to the United States. The second was in 1939 in the town library of Potsdam, N.Y., where the W.P.A. had sent her to run an art school. The third was in 1946 at the Bonestell Gallery in New York.

Flora Crockett

And yet despite Ms. Crockett’s challenges, the paintings at Meredith Ward attest to an optimism that seems to have been backed by an inborn sense of determination unusual for women of her generation. Ms. Crockett was born in Grelton, Ohio, in 1892, to a family of farmers whose ancestors included Davy Crockett, which may have something to do with the independence gene. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1911 with a major in art and mathematics and headed for Detroit to study to become an art teacher. In 1915 she landed a job as supervisor of art for the public schools of Roslyn, N.Y., where she married an Italian-born sculptor, Edmondo Quattrocchi (1889-1966). Next stop, Paris.

Ms. Crockett seems to have taken full advantage of this sojourn. She studied at the Sorbonne and the school of the Louvre while directing a school for war orphans in Poissy, outside Paris. In 1926 she enrolled as a student in Léger’s Académie Moderne, eventually serving as its director until 1931. And then, in 1937, having divorced, she came home, settling in New York. In 1940 she rented an apartment at 233 West 14th Street, almost directly opposite Duchamp’s studio at 210, and lived there for the rest of her life. She supported herself with various jobs — in design, sales, engineering and also teaching — trying to save enough money so she could take time off for her art.

A belated and remarkable growth spurt ensued as her abstract vocabulary came into its own in a remarkably up-to-date way. Two canvases from 1967 have backgrounds of blocks of pale color, as if painted over an earlier geometric style. Then come a series of works that seem based on energetic doodles of whose peregrinations create delicate amalgams of shapes that are then filled in with vibrant colors. These are wonderful works, but, except for their palette, they might date from the interwar period.

Flora Crockett
77-82
Oil on canvas board

Over the next three years the lines thicken, take on color and come to dominate, flitting and flirting across the canvas while the shapes become fewer and almost disappear. The internal scale is bolder and the compositions have a graphic bounce. In “77-82,” a blue line loops about the surface, while a red one zigzags through the center: Two very different signatures are competing, and they’re both winning.

Yet “66,” from 1966, may be Ms. Crockett’s masterpiece, with its band of yellow- orange snaking among pale wine-red islands, all on a kind of painting- within- a-painting of mint green. Little blocks of blue and pink pin things down and an undulant vertical of red claims the right edge — and its own space. How many more women like Flora Crockett await discovery?

Flora Crockett
66
Oil on board

 

IN OUR NEXT POST, THE LRFA BLOG IS PLEASED TO INTRODUCE THE FEDERATION OF MODERN PAINTERS AND SCULPTORS, AN ORGANIZATION FOUNDED IN 1940 IN RESPONSE TO THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL TURMOIL OF THE THIRTIES, THE DEPRESSION AND THE WPA MOVEMENT.  A NEW EXHIBITION OF MEMBERS’ WORKS, SOUND & IMAGE IS OPENING AT WESTBETH IN EARLY FEBRUARY. NICHOLAS CHRISTOPHER, A MEMBER, WILL INFORM US ON THE HISTORY OF THE FEDERATION, THE CURRENT EXHIBITION AND ITS FUTURE GOALS.

PLEASE JOIN US!

 

 

Rewriting history: Flora Crockett at Meredith Ward Fine Art

Flora Crockett
Untitled, c. 1940s-1950s
Oil on canvas board
20 x 24 inches

 

In the paintings I have described, you encounter three or four different, abstract vocabularies in a single work. Each was done in the 1950s by a woman whose name is hardly known to us, but it should be. Crockett’s vocabularies, ranging from solid to porous to semi- transparent, have their own distinct material presence, which she never calls attention to. These paintings are to be looked at, savored, and reflected upon. We do not exactly know why Crockett seemed to withdraw from the art world or if in fact that was the case.

Working on a modest scale, in a way that can be described as inward, Crockett shares something with Forrest Bess, Charles Seliger, Myron Stout, and Sonja Sekula, whose paintings were recently shown in America for the first time in many years. Crockett does not suffer in any way by these comparisons. For all sorts of reasons — none of them any good — history passed her by, but now we have a chance to rewrite that history, and to further open it up, and include her.

John Yau, Hyperallergenic, 12 Revelatory Exhibitions in 2017,  December 2017

 

Flora Crockett
3-67, 1967
Oil on canvas board
24 x 30 inches

FLORA CROCKETT: WORKS FROM THE 1940s AND 1950s, continued

Photographs of Crockett’s work during these years – compositions of disparate objects pared down to their essentials – suggest that Léger’s teachings were key to her pictorial conception. She was given a one-person show at Galerie La Fenêtre Ouverte on the rue Lincoln in 1937. She also participated in the Salon Surindépendant three years running and in the 1937 International Exposition in Paris, where her painting was awarded a bronze medal by the French government.

Meanwhile, Flora’s relationship with Edmondo was becoming increasingly strained. She complained of his drinking and womanizing and by 1933, the situation had deteriorated enough for her to initiate divorce proceedings in the French court. Their dispute dragged on for several years before her divorce was finally granted in 1937. By this time, too, the political situation in Europe was becoming increasingly perilous, and so after thirteen years abroad, Flora left Paris and returned to the United States in December 1937.

Flora Crockett
16-70, 1970
Oil on canvas roar
24 x 30 inches

Arriving in New York City, she took an apartment at 233 West 14th Street, where she would reside for the rest of her life. Within months, she established a relationship with the dealer Blanche Bonestell, who ran the Bonestell Gallery on 57th Street, and consigned a group of paintings to her for sale. She also got work through the WPA to teach and direct an art program in Potsdam, New York and showed her work in the public library there in 1939. A photograph of her taken with a group of mural artists in Brooklyn in 1940, along with a group of mural studies retained by her family, suggest that she also participated in the WPA mural program.

With the outbreak of World War II, Crockett took a job as an as an inspector of artillery parts. Government work continued after the war at the New York Naval shipyard. These and a variety of engineering and design jobs supplemented her income throughout the 1940s and 1950s, while she continued to exhibit her work at the Provincetown Art Association and in an exhibition of the Bombshell Artists Group at the Riverside Museum in New York City. A one-person exhibition at the Bonestell Gallery followed in 1946, but subsequent efforts to show her work met with little success.

Flora Crockett
Untitled, c. 1967
Oil on canvas board
24 x 30 inches

It is hard to know what prompted her return to painting in the mid-1960s. During her years in Paris, Crockett would have had to confront the problem of whether to embrace a cubist-inspired abstraction that retained recognizable subject matter, or to abandon referential pictorial content to create a purely non-objective composition. She had worked through these ideas in her early compositions, eventually eliminating any figural remnants and paring down her imagery to a limited visual vocabulary of geometric and biomorphic forms. Perhaps because she had confronted these questions years earlier, she was able to quickly and clearly define the parameters of her work when she decided to undertake these paintings in the 1960s.

IN THE NEXT LRFA BLOG, THE EXHIBIT REVIEWED BY ROBERTA SMITH IN THE  NEW YORK TIMES AT MEREDITH WARD FINE ART ADDS  INSIGHT TO THE WORK OF FLORA CROCKETT, AN ARTIST FOR WHOM RECOGNITION IS LONG OVERDUE.

Abstract painter Flora Crockett gains recognition thanks to Meredith Ward Fine Art

Flora Crockett
C-68, 1968
Oil on canvas board
24 x 30 inches

A RECENT AND WELCOME TREND IN THE LAST FEW YEARS HAS BEEN THE RECOGNITION OF WOMEN ARTISTS WHO DID NOT HAVE THE ATTENTION THEY DESERVED EARLY IN THEIR CAREERS. CARMEN HERRERA’S EXHIBITION: LINES OF SITE AT THE WHITNEY MUSEUM IN 2016 IS THE FIRST MUSEUM EXHIBITION OF THIS GROUNDBREAKING ARTIST IN NEW YORK IN NEARLY TWO DECADES. THE BRAZILIAN ARTIST LYGIA PAPE (1927-2004) WHO WAS A CRITICAL FIGURE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF BRAZILIAN MODERN ART, HAD HER FIRST MONOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION AT THE MET BREUER, AND THE WORK OF ZARINA, AN INDIAN ARTIST WHO CURRENTLY LIVES AND WORKS IN NEW YORK, REPRESENTED BY LUHRING AUGUSTINE GALLERY, HAD HER FIRST RETROSPECTIVE AT THE GUGGENHEIM IN 2013. AT MoMA, TRADITIONALLY KNOWN AS A BOYS’ CLUB INSTITUTION, THE MUSEUM HELD A GROUNDBREAKING SHOW LAST APRIL ENTITLED MAKING SPACE: WOMEN ARTISTS AND ABSTRACT ABSTRACTION THAT INCLUDED RUTH ASAWA, MAGDALENA ABAKANOWICZ AND ANNE RYAN TO NAME A FEW.

Meredith Ward Fine Arts
44 East 74 Street
New York, NY

MEREDITH WARD FINE ART IS A HIGHLY REGARDED GALLERY SPECIALIZING IN AMERICAN ART WITH A FOCUS ON AMERICAN MODERNISM. MEREDITH IS A CHERISHED FRIEND AND A COLLEAGUE I RESPECT WITH A GREAT EYE AND KNOWLEDGE OF THE ART WORLD AND AN EASY CHARM IN SHARING THESE ATTRIBUTES THAT IS UNIQUELY HER OWN. SHE SUPPORTS HER ARTISTS AND THE ESTATES SHE REPRESENTS BY MAINTAINING LONG-STANDING RELATIONSHIPS WITH MUSEUMS AROUND THE COUNTRY AND PUBLISHING EXCEPTIONAL CATALOGUES TO ACCOMPANY THE THOUGHTFUL EXHIBITION PROGRAM. IN MAY 2017 SHE EXHIBITED PAINTINGS FROM THE 1940s and 1950s BY FLORA CROCKETT THAT HAD NOT BEEN SEEN SINCE THEY WERE FIRST EXHIBITED IN NEW YORK AROUND THE TIME THEY WERE CREATED.

http://www.meredithwardfineart.com/exhibitions.html

Flora Crockett
Exhibition Catalog
Meredith Ward Fine Art

THE LRFA BLOG IS HONORED TO REPRODUCE THE CATALOGUE FROM THE EXHIBITION AND THE NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW IN WHICH ROBERTA SMITH NOTES, “This is our first sighting of a body of work that could hold its own in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art or the Museum of Modern Art and in the history of American abstract painting.”

In 1966, at the age of 74, Flora Crockett embarked on what would become the most productive years of her artistic career. The paintings she produced between 1966 and 1973 display a vitality, joy, and confidence that resulted from a lifetime of exploration, experience, and struggle. Crockett’s colorful abstractions introduce a new name to the story of art in the 20th century.

By the time Crockett started work on this series, she had been active as an artist, teacher, and art administrator for more than forty years. Her paintings were shown in exhibitions in Paris and New York throughout the 1930s and 1940s, and her position as Director of Fernand Léger’s Académie Moderne in Paris placed her at the center of one of the most influential art communities of the twentieth century. Nevertheless, her life and career over those decades had not been easy. Her personal papers tell a story of courage, tenacity, and repeated frustrations as she sought to do her work and earn a living. It is an all too familiar tale of an independent woman fighting for her place in the world.

Flora Crockett
Untitled, c. 1940s-1950s
Oil on canvas
30 x 24 inches

Flora Crockett was born in 1892 in Grelton, Ohio and attended Oberlin College, where she majored in art and mathematics. After graduating from Oberlin in 1911, she attended Thomas Training School in Detroit, Michigan, where she studied to become an instructor in art. In 1915, she took a position as Supervisor of Art in the public school district in Roslyn, New York. In Roslyn, she met Edmondo Quattrochi, an Italian-born sculptor who was then living on Long Island and undertaking sculptural commissions in marble and bronze. The two were married in 1918 and lived for the next few years in Roslyn.

In 1924, Flora and Edmondo moved to France when Edmondo was hired to work with Frederick MacMonnies in executing his La Liberté éplorée (Liberty Weeping), a monumental memorial sculpture honoring Americans who died at the First Battle of the Marne. For the first few years in France, Flora took a position as director of L’Ecole de Champfleury, a school for war orphans at Poissy. Then, probably around 1926, she joined the Académie Moderne, an art school established by Fernand Léger at 86 rue Notre-Dame des Champs in Paris, and was eventually named Director of the school.

Flora Crockett
Untitled, c. 1967
Oil on canvas board
24 x 36 inches

Léger began teaching at the Académie Moderne in 1924, and the following year Amédée Ozenfant joined the faculty. The years spent working with Léger and Ozenfant were critical to Crockett’s artistic formation. A full history of the Académie Moderne has yet to be written, but there is no doubt that it had a lasting and far-reaching effect on artists worldwide and for decades to come. The student body was international, including artists from Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Russia, South America, and Japan, as well as a few students from the United States (including Blanche Lazzell and George L.K. Morris). Crockett’s five-year tenure there put her in regular contact with Léger, Ozenfant, and others, who were among the most important and influential artists of the era.

To be continued… in the next LRFA post!

Now you can donate to Stronger for Life, a documentary on breast cancer awareness and courage, via Creative Visions, a nonprofit organization

 

Stronger for Life, a documentary to raise breast cancer awareness and treatment options, both holistic and traditional, is honored to receive non-profit status through Creative Visions. In the spirit of the season, let’s  focus our attention on giving and gratitude. Please contribute what you can for the completion of an exceptional film memorializing the dedication of Ilaria Montagnani, international fitness  and health expert, to a life-long mission to teach others the tools for strength and well-being, both mental and physical, put to the poignant test by her own battle with breast cancer.

CROWDFUNDING PAGE
Creative Visions – Stronger for Life Documentary Project

A MESSAGE FROM ILARIA:

Hello Everyone,

As some of you may know, my production partners and I embarked on a documentary film project over a year ago when I learned that I had breast cancer.   Since then,  we have been able to create something special that I hope will inspire others to early Cancer detection and awareness. I hope to also continue to drill the importance of disciplined physical training – and the mental benefits you receive from it that can help in all aspects of your life.

The  documentary became about so much more:  community, entrepreneurship, family, empowerment and vulnerability.  We have captured so much footage that we are excited to bring together and share with you.  Right now we are close to finishing the film and in the editing process.

Thanks to your kind donations during our first crowdfunding effort on Kickstarter, we were able to complete over 80% of the film and begin story development – as a result, we were honored to obtain non-profit status through our fiscal sponsor, Creative Visions Foundation, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization.  So going forward, all donations are tax-deductible.

We are reaching out again to ask you to consider financial support to help us finish the film.  With our partner, Creative Visions, we have set up a donation page with more information, background, a video and how we will use the funds that are contributed.   You can access it by clicking on the image above or use the link below.

Anything helps, and we all thank you again for considering support for this documentary.

In health and with gratitude,
Ilaria

CROWDFUNDING PAGE
Creative Visions – Stronger for Life Documentary Project
____TO DONATE VIA CHECKPlease make the check out to: Creative Visions
Please put  “Stronger for Life” in the memo line.Mail the check to:
IP Powerstrike Inc.  c/o Ilaria Montagnani
105 W 73rd St. , Unit 9B
New York, NY 10023
Follow the film STRONGER FOR LIFE™ on Instagram
Named after her guiding philosophy,  Stronger for Life documents Ilaria Montagnani’s breast cancer diagnosis and recovery.  Ilaria shares her story in the hopes of promoting early Cancer awareness and detection, and to inspire others to make a disciplined commitment to strengthening their bodies – not only for the development of physical strength –  but the mental fortitude to face life’s toughest challenges.
______

Never too late for a recommendation by Doug Flamm, rare book expert at Gagosian

Brice Marden: Paintings and Drawings
Text by Klaus Kertess

I kept putting the same color on—the same color, the same color—but every time I put it on it was different. Each time it was this whole new light/color experience. It was not a revelation, but a whole wonderful new experience… To me, it involves harnessing some of the powers of the earth. Harnessing and communicating.
—Brice Marden

Brice Marden
D’Apres la marquise de la Solana, 1969
Collection of the Guggenheim Museum

 

A singular painter who has extended and refined the traditions of lyrical abstraction, Marden is a master of color and touch, from the subtle, shimmering monochromes of his earlier career to the calligraphic compositions that characterize the last three decades. Recently, Marden has turned his attention to the qualities of monochrome again, turning his gaze to the expansive possibilities of terre verte (green earth), an iron silicate/clay pigment. Terre verte came into use during the Renaissance, its greenish hue and innate transparency serving as a base to balance flesh tones; Marden first used it in connection with the Grove Group paintings of the 1970s (exhibited at Gagosian New York in 1991).

https://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/brice-marden–october-04-2017

 

Brice Marden
Cold Mountain 6 (Bridge)
1989-1991
San Francisco Museum of Art

BRICE MARDEN IS ONE OF THE VERY RARE ARTISTS WHO CAN RADICALLY CHANGE STYLES MID-CAREER AND NOT ONLY SURVIVE BUT THRIVE IN THE HIGHLY COMPLEX AND CRITICAL ART MARKET.  FROM THE EXQUISITE MONOCHROMES OF THE 70s, THE COLD MOUNTAIN PAINTINGS, LYRICAL CALLIGRAPHIC ABSTRACTIONS SOMETIMES PAINTED WITH STICKS AND NOT BRUSHES TO OBTAIN A MORE GESTURAL AND ORGANIC EFFECT, TO THE RECENT TERRE VERTE SERIES  EXHIBITED AT GAGOSIAN IN LONDON’S GROSVENOR HILL GALLERY, BRICE MARDEN CONSISTENTLY CONTRIBUTES TO THE HISTORY OF ABSTRACTION IN PARTICULAR AND TO ART IN GENERAL.

The Third Mind: Interview with Brice Marden, December 7, 2016

HIS FIRST DEALER, KLAUS KERTESS, WAS A REVERED GALLEREST AND CURATOR.

Visiting the “Primary Structures” show of Minimalism at the Jewish Museum in 1966, Kertess was told by an artist friend that he should go see an artist named Brice Marden. Marden, as it happened, was working as a guard on the second floor of the museum.

“Brice was somewhat wasted, leaning against a case of silver,” Kertess recalled. “He was one of several artists where the door opened and I just stood there in wonder.” Marden would end up showing with the gallery, and becoming a friend, pointing the dealer to the studios of many other remarkable artists as well.

http://www.artnews.com/2016/10/09/klaus-kertess-foresighted-art-dealer-and-curator-dies-at-76/

 

Brice Marden
Terre Verte
Gagosian Gallery, London 2017

DOUG FLAMM, RARE BOOK EXPERT AT GAGOSIAN, 976 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK, HAS A RECOMMENDATION THAT IS AN EXCEPTIONAL ADDITION TO ANY LIBRARY ON MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART AT ANY TIME OF YEAR, A MONOGRAPH ON BRICE MARDEN WITH A TEXT BY KLAUS KERTESS THAT WILL ENRICH OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE ARTIST AND ADMIRATION FOR THE AUTHOR, SIGNED BY BOTH.

http://www.gagosian.com/shop/

 

BRICE MARDEN 

Paintings and Drawings

Text by Klaus Kertess

Published by Abrams, New York, 1992

12 1/4 × 11 1/2 inches (31 × 29.5 cm)

$1,500

———–

A major monograph on the work of Brice Marden with an insightful essay by Klaus Kertess. Kertess’ essay provides a perceptive understanding into Marden’s development as an artist as well as contextualizes the important role Marden has played in Abstraction in the second half of the 20th Century. Well illustrated with 133 full color plates, this volume also includes a selected biography and bibliography. Signed by both Kertess and Marden.

THANK YOU, DOUG, FOR CONTRIBUTING YOUR GREAT HOLIDAY RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE LRFA BLOG!

WISHING EVERYONE A HAPPY, HEALTHY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR.

The ultimate gift: artists’ books with Doug Flamm, rare book specialist at Gagosian

Six Contes Fantasques
by Maurice Toesca
Illustrated by Picasso

Artists’ books are works of art, like paintings or sculptures, but in book form. While book illustration has a much longer history, the book as art object is a product of the 20th century. Some of the early examples were created by Futurists and Dadaists in their politically-motivated pamphlets and magazines, by Fluxus artists in their happenings, and by conceptual artists’ in their work to dematerialize the art object. Artists’ books can also be unique creations undertaken with extreme care and attention to detail. Some are experimental and done by artists better known as painters or sculptors, as a way to extend their artistic practice.

Artists’ books exist at the intersections of printmaking, photography, poetry, experimental narrative, visual arts, graphic design, and publishing. They have made a place for themselves in the collections of museums, libraries, and private collectors. They have caught the interest of art historians and critics writing about art, and there are numerous studio programs in art schools dedicated to the art of the book, ushering in new generations of artists making books.

https://library.si.edu/collection/artists-books/introduction

ARTISTS’ BOOKS ARE A FAVORITE ART FORM OF THE LRFA BLOG AND NO ONE IS A MORE FERVENT ADVOCATE AND EXPERT THAN RARE BOOK SPECIALIST DOUG FLAMM AT GAGOSIAN.  HE HAS INTRODUCED US TO SO MANY UNIQUE AND MARVELOUS EXAMPLES.

Picasso
Six Contes Fantasques

TWO OF THE MOST LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTORS TO THE LEGACY OF ARTISTS’ BOOKS ARE PABLO PICASSO AND ED RUSCHA.  IN THE MID-TWENTIETH CENTURY PICASSO FOLLOWED A MORE TRADITIONAL CONCEPT, INCLUDING BEAUTIFUL LITHOGRAPHS WITH A TEXT BY THE FRENCH INTELLECTUAL, MAURICE TOESCA. ED RUSCHA REVOLUTIONIZED ARTIST BOOKMAKING BY ITS DEMOCRATIZATION, PRINTING AND DISTRIBUTION METHODS. RUSCHA CELEBRATES THE BANAL AND  THE ARTIST BOOK FORMAT IS A PERFECT VEHICLE FOR THIS SOURCE OF INSPIRATION.

Picasso
Six Contes Fantasques

AT THE GAGOSIAN SHOP AT 967 MADISON AVENUE, BETWEEN 75th AND 76th STREET, ENRICH THE LIBRARY OF SOMEONE DEAR TO YOU (OR EVEN YOUR OWN!) AND ASK DOUG FLAMM TO SHOW YOU THESE TWO COLLECTOR ITEMS. THE SHOP IS OPEN THIS SUNDAY, CHRISTMAS EVE, FROM 10:00-3:00 FOR LAST MINUTE GIFTS THAT WILL FEEL THOUGHTFUL AND PRE-PLANNED BY THE RECIPIENTS.

http://www.gagosian.com/shop/

 

PABLO PICASSO 

Six Contes Fantastiques

Text by Maurice Toesca

10 1/8 × 13 1/4 inches (25.7 × 33.7 cm)

Published by Flammarion, Paris, 1953

$12,500

———-

This copy is one of 75 copies printed on Montval wove paper, from a total edition of 225 copies. Illustrated with 6 engravings with burin by Picasso. Loose in Japan paper wrappers with chemise and slipcase as issued.

Ed Ruscha
Complete Set of Artist Books

ED RUSCHA

Complete Set of Artist Books

Twentysix Gasoline StationsVarious Small Fires and MilkSome Los Angeles ApartmentsEvery Building on the Sunset StripThirtyfour Parking Lots in Los AngelesRoyal Road TestNine Swimming Pools and Broken GlassCrackersBabycakes with WeightsReal Estate OpportunitiesA Few Palm TreesDutch DetailsRecordsColored People, and Hard Light

Various publishers, 1963–1978

A rare and highly sought-after set of sixteen artists books by Ed Ruscha. All of the books are first editions and many are either signed (seven) or inscribed (four) by Ruscha.

Each book in this set is complete with original glassine when issued and housed in a recently fabricated archival cloth clamshell box with title and date printed on the spine.

Ruscha’s books mark a significant change in bookmaking by artists as the premise is not to enhance or respond to a text. They are antithetical to the history of livre d’artistes—the books do not contain fine prints (etchings, lithographs, etc.) but are simply printed by the more common offset process. Ruscha’s use of banal subject matter further accentuates his departure from the realm of historical book-making processes.

Made mostly in small editions, these captivating books have received a great deal of critical acclaim, especially in recent years as his prominence as a major contemporary artist has increased.

THIS IS A TIME OF YEAR WITH A SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON GIVING AND GRATITUDE. THE LRFA BLOG WANTS TO THANK THE GENEROSITY OF ITS CONTRIBUTORS, THEIR THOUGHTFUL INTERVIEWS AND VAST SOURCES OF EXPERTISE AND INFORMATION THAT THEY SHARE. NONE OF THIS WOULD EXIST WITHOUT YOU!

AND, OF COURSE, THANKS TO THE LRFA BLOG FOLLOWERS, WHO MAKE THIS WORTH DOING.

MERRY XMAS TO ALL!