Leslie Rankow Fine Arts

INTERNATIONAL ART ADVISORY SERVICE

Tag: abstract art

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!

 

 

Seeing the Mind Behind The Art: the psychology of perception

Arts and Mind Lab Boston, Massachusetts

Arts and Mind Lab
Boston, Massachusetts

ELLEN WINNER, DEPARTMENT HEAD AND CHAIR OF PSYCHOLOGY AT BOSTON UNIVERSITY, FOUNDED THE ARTS AND MIND LAB TO EXPLORE PSYCHOLOGY AS IT RELATES TO THE ARTS- NOT ONLY VISUAL BUT ALSO THEATER, LITERATURE AND MUSIC – AND TO BRING THE STUDY OF CREATIVE ENDEAVORS INTO THE MAINSTREAM OF PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH.  Seeing The Mind Behind the Art PROVIDES CONCRETE DOCUMENTATION THAT PEOPLE OF VARYING DEGREES OF AESTHETIC SOPHISTICATION ARE ABLE TO DISTINGUISH UNLABELED PAINTINGS BY ABSTRACT ARTISTS FROM SUPERFICIALLY SIMILAR PAINTINGS BY CHILDREN, CHIMPS AND ELEPHANTS. EVEN INDIVIDUALS WITH NO ARTS TRAINING RECOGNIZE THE GREATER TALENT AND CREATIVE INTELLIGENCE EVIDENT IN THE ARTISTS’ COMPOSITIONS.

Ellen Winner and the Arts and Mind Lab, Boston

Ellen Winner and the Arts and Mind Lab, Boston

IN THREE FOLLOW UP STUDIES, NOW UNDER REVIEW, RESEARCH CONFIRMS AND EXTENDS THIS FINDING. EVEN YOUNG CHILDREN ARE ABLE TO MAKE THIS DISTINCTION. AS ELLEN STATES: “LABELS DO NOT OVERRIDE OUR PERCEPTION OF THE QUALITY OF THE WORK.”

 http://www.ellenwinner.com/artsmind-lab.html

TO CONTINUE:

…And what kinds of reasons do people give for choosing the works by the artists?

They say something very interesting. They talk about the greater mental work that went into the compositions by artists compared to the works by children and animals. They say that the artist works show more thinking, more planning, more intentionality. They infer a greater mind behind the artists’ works. That is why we called our paper “Seeing the Mind Behind the Art.”

In three follow-up studies, now under review, we confirm and extend this finding, including when the images are presented one by one rather than in pairs, and when people are just asked to decide for each image whether it was by a famous artist or a child or animal.

We have even found that young children can make this discrimination, and we have found that people look longer at the works by artists, and show greater pupil dilation when looking at the artist images.

So we conclude:

You, standing in the museum making disparaging comments, may think that a child could have created a work indistinguishable from the abstract expressionist painting you are looking at. But you are wrong. You actually see more than you know that you see in abstract art. You can tell if a painting is by a famous artist vs. by a child or animal. AND you will like the works by the artists better and you will judge these works to be better art.

And so, in reality, your kid could NOT have done that!

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OTHER RESEARCH PROJECTS UNDER INVESTIGATION  BY THE ARTS AND MIND LAB INCLUDE:

How beliefs about the artist shape our evaluation of the art work.
We are examining how beliefs about the artist’s moral character, originality, and mental state shape (perhaps unconsciously) how children and adults respond to works of art. Thus far we are examining this question with respect to painting and film.

How hard is it to detect forgery in paintings?
We are examining how skilled lay adults are at detecting forgeries. Despite the prevalence of undetected forgery in the art world, we are finding that people are better than chance at telling which painting is the forgery and which is the original when the two are paired.

Attitudes about art.
Must great works of art be beautiful? Or are other criteria more important? We are exploring lay attitudes about what makes art great and exploring possible connections between attitudes about art and personality characteristics and political and social values.

I LOOK FORWARD TO SHARING THESE STUDIES WITH YOU. ELLEN, THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION.

IN THE NEXT LRFA BLOG, I HAVE THE PLEASURE OF INTRODUCING JASON YSENBURG, SENIOR DIRECTOR AT GAGOSIAN GALLERY. JASON HAS BEEN A RESPECTED PRESENCE IN THE ART WORLD FOR SOME TIME, A CO-DIRECTOR OF SONNABEND GALLERY FOUNDED BY  THE LEGENDARY ILEANA SONNABEND, WITH HER SON, ANTONIO HOMEM. WHEN SONNABEND CLOSED THIS YEAR, JASON JOINED GAGOSIAN  GALLERY WHERE HE IS BASED PRIMARILY AT THE 24th STREET SPACE IN NEW YORK BUT ALSO WILL ACT IN A CURATORIAL CAPACITY AT GAGOSIAN’S MANY LOCATIONS.

LAST YEAR, JASON WAS INVITED TO CURATE AN EXHIBITION FROM THE WORKS IN THE ILLUSTRIOUS VANMOERKERKE COLLECTION, LOCATED IN OOSTENDE, BELGIUM, ONE OF THE FINEST PRIVATE COLLECTIONS OF CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS WORKING IN PAINTING, SCULPTURE, PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO TODAY.

PLEASE JOIN US IN READING AND COMMENTING ON JASON YSENBURG’S EXHIBITION: THINGS I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT. 

UNTIL THEN!