Leslie Rankow Fine Arts

INTERNATIONAL ART ADVISORY SERVICE

Tag: Modernism

The art of relationships: art fairs, appraisal services, museum curators at Debra Force Fine Art

Debra Force
Art League Presents
Kalamazoo Institute of Arts

DEVELOPING A DIALOGUE WITH MUSEUM CURATORS AND MUSEUM BOARDS AND PLACING WORKS IN INSTITUTIONAL VENUES IS ONE OF THE GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF ONLY A HANDFUL OF GALLERIES.  IT REPRESENTS AN INVESTMENT OF TIME AND SCHOLARSHIP AS WELL AS ONE OF NURTURING RELATIONSHIPS. SEVERAL CONTEMPORARY GALLERIES HAVE DIRECTORS WHO FOCUS SOLELY ON CULTIVATING MUSEUM RELATIONSHIPS FOR THEIR ARTISTS, TRAVELING ACROSS THE COUNTRY TO NEGOTIATE EXHIBITIONS AND MEETING WITH BOARDS OF MUSEUMS AND CURATORS TO PRESENT WORKS BY ARTISTS THEY REPRESENT. IT IS AN ART FORM IN AND OF ITSELF.

AS THE CHICAGO APPRAISERS ASSOCIATION NOTES:

The trick to selling to museums whether it be a large institution like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or your local historical society is scholarly research, provenance and a lot of patience. Nothing moves fast with museums. They do not have to necessarily operate on at a yearly profit, so they move at their own maddening slow pace.

IT IS A MARK OF THE QUALITY OF THE WORK AND THE EXPERTISE OF THE DEALER THAT DEBRA FORCE HAS SUCH GREAT SUCCESS IN PLACING ART WORKS IN VERY PRESTIGIOUS MUSEUMS.

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG CONTINUES ITS DIALOG WITH DEBRA TO LEARN ABOUT THIS ASPECT OF THE ART BUSINESS.

http://www.debraforce.com

DEBRA, THE GALLERY HAS AN EXTREMELY ACTIVE AND IMPRESSIVE TRACK RECORD OF STRONG RELATIONSHIPS WITH NUMEROUS MUSEUMS. HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?

I started out more in the museum field and have an academic background, so have always felt a special affinity for institutions.  Throughout my career, I have made a point of visiting the curator or director of the art museum wherever I am traveling and have welcomed them to the gallery.  At times, we’ve organized small events for museum collecting groups and patrons, including special Saturday visits to discuss American art, using our inventory as visuals.  I have also spoken at various institutions and to their collecting groups, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the High Museum, etc. 

I have always attempted to match works of art with the right institution and find it rewarding to do so.  Museums to which we have sold works in recent times include:  Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vero Beach Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Montclair Art Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, among many others.

Norman Bluhm
X, 1964
Oil on canvas

WHAT WOULD YOU DEFINE AS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SALE TO A COLLECTOR AND A SALE TO A MUSEUM?

Both are rewarding, especially if helping a client build a collection; there is a sense of pride in coming up with a theme or plan and finding works to illustrate the goal.  From the museum standpoint, it is so exciting to place a work in an institution where it will be studied and admired for posterity.  It is less interesting to work with clients who are mostly buying art for decorative purposes, but it can be challenging just the same.

Martin Johnson Heade
Cluster of Roses In a Glass
Circa 1887-1895

THE GALLERY IS A REGULAR EXHIBITOR AND PARTICIPANT IN SOME VERY PRESTIGIOUS ART FAIRS. WHICH ONES DO YOU FIND THE MOST PRODUCTIVE AND WHY, IN TERMS OF ATTENDANCE, SALES AND INTRODUCING NEW COLLECTORS TO THE GALLERY

We do a variety of art fairs to reach different audiences.  The best one for traditional American art is the one called The American Art Fair (TAAF) which takes place every Nov. at the same time as the major American Paintings auctions.  We have sold major works there, including ones by Martin Johnson Heade, Thomas LeClear, Thomas Hart Benton, and Oscar Bluemner.  It is the only fair that extols traditional American art; no works by living artists are allowed.

Milton Avery
Pink Island, White Waves, 1959
Oil on canvasboard

Of late, because of the emphasis on art from the second half of the 20th Century and 21st Century, we have exhibited at the Seattle Art Fair in August and Art Miami in December.  In both cases, we have focused upon Post-War era works as well as Modernism.  These fairs give us a chance to meet new clients and to exhibit works that we do not feature in the gallery on a regular basis.  We might also show works by living artists such as Wolf Kahn, Wayne Thiebaud, or Jamie Wyeth.

John Marin
Hudson River Galley, 1911
watercolor on paper

The Art Fair, sponsored by the ADAA in New York in March, is a favorite of ours.  It also allows us to promote our 20th-century material, generally with a thematic approach such as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Armory Show of 1913, social commentary, or urban/rural landscape.  We have consistently sold well at this fair, selling works by Marsden Hartley, Walt Kuhn, Charles Sheeler, Max Weber, Charles Burchfield, John Marin, and Alice Neel, among others.

We have also tried fairs in Palm Beach and Chicago as well as others in New York, always experimenting with new venues to determine where we best fit.

THE GALLERY ALSO PROVIDES LICENSED APPRAISAL SERVICES. WHAT DOES THAT ENTAIL AND WHAT DO YOU PROVIDE?

I have been doing appraisals for over 30 years, beginning when I was at Christie’s.  We presently provide formal insurance valuations for both private collectors and museums and assist the latter with insurance figures for exhibition loans.  Over the years, we have appraised entire museum collections.  We do not presently do gift tax or estate appraisals, but we do offer consultation and recommendations for clients in need of either.

O. Louis Guglielmi
Elements of the Street, 1947
Oil on canvas

THE GALLERY TAKES WORKS ON CONSIGNMENT ON OCCASION. WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA WHEN CONSIDERING A WORK OF ART FOR RESALE?

We try to find the best quality works that we can from any period of American art, beginning in the 18th Century up to about 1980. 

For example, we have portraits by Benjamin West and Thomas Sully, landscapes by Jasper Cropsey and Thomas Moran, still lifes by Heade and William Harnett, genre scenes by Eastman Johnson and Winslow Homer, Ashcan works by Robert Henri, William Glackens, and Everett Shinn, Modernist pieces by Stuart Davis, Marsden Hartley, and Arthur Dove, Regionalist scenes by Thomas Hart Benton, and Surrealist and Magic Realist pieces by George Tooker and O. Louis Guglielmi, among others. 

Winslow Homer
Green Apples, 1866
Oil on canvas

We attempt to find the best of any given artist and work with pieces in a variety of price ranges to accommodate clients with varying pocketbooks.  Generally, most of our inventory is on consignment; it is very difficult to buy works at auction for resale, given public access to price records on the internet.

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, DEBRA WILL CONTINUE TO OUTLINE THE EXTENSIVE SCOPE OF SERVICES THAT THE GALLERY PROVIDES.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO HAVING A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF THE HIGH STANDARDS THAT THE GALLERY SETS IN PROVIDING EXPERTISE IN EVERY ASPECT OF THE BUYING, EXHIBITING AND SELLING OF AMERICA ART.

UNTIL THEN, THANK YOU ALL!

 

 

NB The works illustrated in this blog are from the gallery inventory

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!

 

 

American Art, from Blakelock to Porter, at Questroyal Fine Art, with director Chloe Heins

Questroyal Fine Art

IN A GALLERY PUBLICATION OF QUESTROYAL’S  Important American Paintings SERIES, CHLOE HEINS EXPRESSES HER DEEP COMMITMENT TO AMERICAN ART AND TO NURTURING AN INTEREST IN ITS BEAUTY AND VALUE FOR EXISTING AND NEW COLLECTORS.

IN HER OWN WORDS….

At Questroyal we spend a lot of time trying to determine what motivates people to buy art, specifically American paintings. It is probably for the best that we can’t solve this mystery, otherwise our role as art dealers would become formulaic. Yet, we still attempt to get to the heart of the matter—to understand the habitual and complex relationship between collectors and paintings.

What makes certain paintings resonate so deeply? When looking at art, what we see is ultimately a blend of the artist’s vision merged with our own perception. In a metaphoric visualization, I picture looking into a mirror and seeing the artist’s face, which then gradually begins to resemble my own reflection. The American painters I am most drawn to lived and worked using unique methods of self-discovery, reflection, and observation. Evidence of their process and perspective permeates their artwork. In the gallery, there are paintings I will hardly notice for months and others I immediately find magnetic. We all share this experience to varying degrees. But what is it about those paintings that we can’t forget?

Important American Paintings, Volume 16, Foreword

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO CONTINUE ITS CONVERSATION WITH THE GALLERY’S DIRECTOR, CHLOE HEINS.

HOW WAS QUESTROYAL ORIGINALLY FORMED, WHEN DID IT OPEN? HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN IN THE  SAME LOCATION AND HOW HAS IT EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS?

Questroyal was established by owner Lou Salerno in the late 1980s. Lou initially had a small gallery on E.80th Street before coming to 903 Park Avenue, our current location. In its first iteration at this address, Questroyal occupied two units on the 3rd floor. Over the years, the gallery expanded and now spans the whole floor.

https://www.questroyalfineart.com/

Exhibition
Questroyal Fine Art

Lou’s oldest son Brent, Questoyal’s co-owner, has been involved with the gallery since its early years. The Salernos share a passion for American art and a client-forward approach. Our inventory has also grown in size and diversity. Hudson River School paintings have always been the foundation of Questroyal’s inventory, however, over time we began to selectively purchase American Impressionism and Modernism which has become an essential part of our collection. Furthering this, over the past decade, we have pushed our twentieth-century inventory to new heights with important modern acquisitions, like Fairfield Porter’s masterpiece, Sun Rising Out of the Mist, 1973. The gallery has organized many important exhibits.

Fairfield Porter
Sun Rising Out of the Mist
1973

DO YOU ACT IN A CURATORIAL CAPACITY OR IS IT A COLLECTIVE PROCESS? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF GALLERY EXHIBITIONS?

Our Ralph Albert Blakelock exhibition last November was a career highlight for Lou, Brent, and me. We were thrilled with its success and continue to be amazed by Blakelock’s influence and impact. We are now gearing up for our Henry Martin Gasser exhibition this November. We have found that Gasser appeals to many types of collectors though he is far lesser-known than some of his contemporaries. Over the past few years, we have seen a considerable rise in his popularity and are excited to exhibit over 40 works in the show. His unique illustrational style is unparalleled—it is a modern, yet relatable aesthetic. The gallery has organized many important exhibits.

Ralph Albert Blakelock
Evening Slhouettes
Oil on canvas

https://www.questroyalfineart.com/artist/ralph-albert-blakelock/

THE GALLERY PUBLISHES COMPREHENSIVE AND SCHOLARLY PUBLICATIONS AND YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS ARE SO GENUINE AND WELL-WRITTEN. WHAT ARE SOME ESSAYS THAT CONTRIBUTE THE MOST TO OUR UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATION OF AMERICAN ART?

Thank you! Each year, I contribute the forward to our fall catalogue. I task myself with choosing a theme that is both relevant to the present day and the legacy of our nineteenth- and- twentieth-century American paintings. My goal is to help collectors see this “historic” art in current terms and to address the extreme valuation discrepancies in the art world. I like to give American art a context within the sea of other art and the constant chatter about the contemporary art market.

Our Important American Paintings catalogue series includes inspiring and relevant information on the many artists in our inventory as well as insightful comments from Lou who has an irrefutable instinct for this business.  

Vol17-Enduring-2016

Henry Martin Gasser’s private opening reception on November 9th benefits Caring Kind.

IN OUR NEXT POST, CHLOE WILL PROVIDE HER INFORMED OPINION ABOUT THE FUTURE OF AMERICAN ART.

THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING THE LRFA BLOG, PLEASE CONTINUE TO DO SO!

 

From art student to art professional with Chloe Heins, Director at Questroyal Fine Art

Questroyal Fine Art
903 Park Avenue
New York, NY

ART IN GENERAL IS A NEW YORK BASED NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT ASSISTS ARTISTS WITH THE PRODUCTION AND PRESENTATION OF WORK. CURRENTLY, IT SUPPORTS THE PRODUCTION OF WORK BY LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS THROUGH ITS NEW COMMISSIONS PROGRAM AND ITS INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATIONS PROGRAM. FOUNDED IN 1981 BY TWO ARTISTS, IT PROVIDES TWO OF THE SCARCEST RESOURCES TO ARTISTS – SPACE AND FUNDING. CHLOE HEINS, DIRECTOR OF QUESTROYAL FINE ARTS, INTERNED AT ART IN GENERAL DURING HER FORMATIVE YEARS TRANSITIONING FROM ARTIST TO DEALER.

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS VERY PLEASED TO WELCOME CHLOE BACK TO SHARE THAT JOURNEY WITH US.

John Singer Sargent
The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882

CHLOE, HOW DID YOUR INTEREST IN PAINTING DEVELOP AND ON WHAT PERIOD DID YOU FOCUS IN SCHOOL?

Painting has always felt very personal to me. I continue to experiment with photography, having pursued it more seriously when I was younger and I painted through college. When I was painting regularly, I admired the work of Cecily Brown, Francesco Clemente. Now I find myself gravitating mostly to American modernists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Oscar Bluemner, Charles Burchfield and Milton Avery. Also, the recent Agnes Martin retrospective at the Guggenheim left a lasting impression.

DID YOU ALWAYS HAVE AN INTEREST IN AMERICAN PAINTING AND HOW DID IT DEVELOP?

 There were certain paintings in the MFA, Boston’s collection that were hugely influential. John Singer Sargent’s The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit and Hassam’s At Dusk (Boston Common at Twilight) were two in particular. Certain paintings feel almost autobiographical to me — there is a history of emotional moments associated with them. And of course, my time at Questroyal.

Childe Hassam
At Dusk (Boston Common at Twlight), 1885-86

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE ART WORLD AND WHEN DID YOU JOIN QUESTROYAL?

 I was fortunate enough to secure an internship at Art in General during college which was a formative experience. I remember meeting artists like Roxy Paine and Spencer Tunick, and thinking—this is it! It was my first taste of working in the art world, and that was all I needed. I also briefly worked as an artist’s assistant. Even then, I had a stronintuition that I wanted to be a gallerist, though at the time I imagined it would be in contemporary. I joined Questroyal in 2003 and fourteen years later, it simultaneously feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago.

William Glackens
Vase of Flowers
oil on canvas
Questroyal Fine Art

WHAT PERIOD OF AMERICAN PAINTING IS MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU OR DO YOU, AS I DO, MAKE QUALITATIVE JUDGMENTS APPRECIATING THE BEST WORKS OF EVERY PERIOD?

This is an easy question for me. American Modernism is my period. While I appreciate Impressionism, the Hudson River School and other styles of American painting, I connect with modernist paintings on a different level. It is a visceral reaction that is hard to quantify or explain…initially visual, but also psychological.

Charles Burchfield
Early Morning, Sunlight, 1916
Questroyal Fine Art

FOR A GALLERY OF THE SCALE AND SCOPE OF QUESTROYAL, YOU HAVE A RELATIVELY SMALL STAFF. WHAT ARE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES AS DIRECTOR? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ASPECTS OF GALLERY MANAGEMENT?

It’s funny—our staff feels large to me now! It has doubled in size since I began. As director, my time is mostly spent corresponding with clients, keeping them informed of new acquisitions, responding to inquiries, and working with clients in the gallery. I often describe the nature of my role as a “matchmaker” who connects people with art. Sales and client relations are my main responsibilities in addition to management. Each day is different and this business is unpredictable. Lou, Brent, and I work as a team and take a very personal approach with our clients. We complement each other well! Questroyal is a collaborative environment and we have a great team to support us. I enjoy the many creative challenges that come with handling our own marketing, events, and with overseeing the day-to-day operations.

Henry Martin Gasser
Houses in a Snowy Landscape
Watercolor on paper

A FORTHCOMING EVENT AT QUESTROYAL, ORGANIZED BY CHLOE AND HER TEAM, IS FOR A VERY WORTHY CAUSE, CARING KIND NYC, AN ORGANIZATION DEDICATED TO PROVIDING COMPREHENSIVE AND COMPASSIONATE CARE FOR THOSE WITH ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND THEIR FAMILIES.  A BENEFIT OPENING LAUNCHES THE GALLERY’S BOUND FOR POSTERITY, HENRY MARTIN GASSER EXHIBITION ON NOVEMBER 9th.

HENRY MARTIN GASSER: An influential teacher, accomplished author, and talented artist recognized for his powerful watercolor portrayals of urban life in his hometown of Newark and throughout New Jersey during the twentieth century.  Gasser continued to thrive as a teacher, author, and artist until his death in 1981; his entire career was dedicated to capturing an important period of New Jersey’s history and he once stated, “I have accumulated a collection of paintings that will serve as a historic record of the community

To purchase tickets:

http://www.caringkindnyc.org/questroyal/

NEXT WEEK, CHLOE WILL TELL US ABOUT THE HISTORY OF QUESTROYAL GALLERY AND THE COMMITMENT TO THE INTRINSIC BEAUTY AND VALUE OF AMERICAN ART.

PLEASE JOIN US!

Avis Berman, curator and writer, documents the radical transformations of 20th Century American Modernism

Stuart Davis (1892–1964), Semé, 1953. Oil on canvas, 52 × 40 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Stuart Davis (1892–1964), Semé, 1953. Oil on canvas, 52 × 40 in.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN  ART, CELEBRATING ITS FIRST ANNIVERSARY IN ITS GLORIOUS NEW RENZO PIANO BUILDING AT THE BASE OF THE HIGH LINE, OPENS STUART DAVIS: IN FULL SWING, ON JUNE 10th. STUART DAVIS WAS A REVOLUTIONARY MODERNIST ARTIST FIRST TO APPROPRIATE IMAGES FROM THE WORLD OF ADVERTISING INTO HIS PAINTINGS. HE CREATED AN ART THAT MERGED EUROPEAN AVANT-GARDE ABSTRACTION WITH THE ENERGY OF FAMILIAR AMERICAN SIGNS AND SYMBOLS , THUS SETTING THE STAGE FOR JASPER JOHNS, ED RUSCHA, BARBARA KRUGER AND COUNTLESS “WORD AND IMAGE” ARTISTS WHO FOLLOWED.

http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/StuartDavis

Stuart Davis (1892–1964), Owh! in San Paõ, 1951. Oil on canvas 52 1/4 × 41 3/4 in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Stuart Davis (1892–1964), Owh! in San Paõ, 1951.
Oil on canvas
52 1/4 × 41 3/4 in.
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

THIS WILL BE THE MOST RECENT OF MANY EXHIBITIONS, IN BOTH MAJOR MUSEUMS SUCH AS THE WHITNEY AND MORE MODEST REGIONAL AND UNIVERSITY  MUSEUM VENUES THAT FOCUS ON THE TRANSFORMATIVE PERIOD OF MODERNIST AMERICAN ART REPRESENTING ONLY ONE DYNAMIC ASPECT IN THE EXPLOSION OF 19th CENTURY NORMS IN SOCIETY AND CULTURE IN GENERAL.

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG WELCOMES BACK AVIS BERMAN,  WRITER, CURATOR AND EXPERT ON AMERICAN MODERNISM.

AVIS, YOUR NUMEROUS CONTRIBUTIONS INCLUDE NEWSPAPER PUBLICATIONS SUCH AS THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, AND THE BOSTON GLOBE, JUST TO NAME A VERY FEW. I AM ASSUMING THAT YOU WERE ACTING IN THE ROLE OF A REVIEWER OF EXHIBITIONS.

I almost never review exhibitions. I prefer to write long, research-based pieces that rely on primary sources. These articles were profiles of artists, observations on the social history of the art and artists, art-travel pieces, and book reviews.

ELIE NADELMAN Seated Woman, 1924 Estate of Elie Nadelman Photo courtesy of AFA)

ELIE NADELMAN
Seated Woman, 1924
Estate of Elie Nadelman
Photo courtesy of AFA)

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS THAT, IN RETROSPECT, WERE PARTICULARLY SIGNIFICANT AND WHY?

One of the most significant articles that I wrote was called “Sculptor in the Open Air: Elie Nadelman and Folk and Popular Art.” It was the first research to delve deeply into the myriad aspects of artist’s connection with aspects of Polish, French, American, and other European folk arts, and I presented many new ideas, based on both my own analyses and on previously overlooked archival sources. The essay was for an AFA exhibition called “Classical Folk.” It was an excellent show, but it didn’t receive much publicity, especially because the Whitney was mounting a large Nadelman retrospective shortly to follow, but the article has been consistently cited (and sometimes plundered) ever since.

Elie Nadelman: Classical Folk by Elie Nadelman and Suzanne Ramljak Essay contribution: Avis Berman

Elie Nadelman: Classical Folk
by Elie Nadelman and Suzanne Ramljak
Essay contribution: Avis Berman

Recently I wrote two different types of articles that gave me much pleasure because they were so different from the norm.  One was an essay about images of urban night in early twentieth-century American painting and photography for the catalogue of “Night Vision: Nocturnes in American Art, 1860-1960,” an exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

 

Night Vision: Nocturnes In American Art, 1860-1960 Essay contribution: Avis Berman

Night Vision: Nocturnes In American Art, 1860-1960
Essay contribution: Avis Berman

THE CATALOGUE OF NIGHT VISION: NOCTURNES IN AMERICAN ART, 1860 – 1960 MEMORIALIZED A MAJOR EXHIBITION OF AMERICAN ART AT THE BOWDOIN COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART IN MAINE FROM JUNE – OCTOBER 2015 . THE FIRST SIGNIFICANT SURVEY OF  AMERICAN NIGHT SCENES BY ARTISTS SUCH AS ANDREW WYETH, GEORGIA O’KEEFFE AND WINSLOW HOMER, IT EXPLORES THE DEPARTURE FROM THE CONVENTIONAL STYLES AND TRADITIONS THAT  TRANSFORMED OUR AMERICAN ART  AND CULTURE  WITH THE ADVENT OF NEW POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND TECHNOLOGY.

http://store.bowdoin.edu/collections/art-museum/products/night-vision-nocturnes-in-american-art-1860-1960-pre-order

AVIS, WHAT WAS THE FOCUS OF YOUR ESSAY IN THE CATALOGUE AND WHY?

For “City Lights: Urban Perceptions of Night,” I approached the work of artists from Hassam and Steichen and Stieglitz to Sloan and Hopper and Martin Lewis as evolving responses to the phenomenon of New York jettisoning gas lamps for electrification. Focusing on these images in relation to a new technology fascinated me. 

IN HER OWN WORDS, SOME EXCERPTS FROM THE ESSAY:

 JAMES ABBOTT MCNEILL WHISTLER Nocturne in Black and Gold (The Falling Rocket), 1875


JAMES ABBOTT MCNEILL WHISTLER
Nocturne in Black and Gold (The Falling Rocket), 1875

Beginning in the early 1880s,New York’s main source of nighttime light was no longer the faraway moon or the stuttering flame of a gas lamp, but the clear, steady glow of the incandescent filament. These brilliantly illuminated streets, public places, and private residences changed entire patterns of existence, to which contemporary artists had to respond. Elec­trification catapulted New York into the modern age and pushed artists to chronicle the city’s altered tempo and appearance. Just as Whistler’s melding of forms, textures, and colors of his night scenes took him to the brink of abstraction, most daringly in Nocturne in Black and Gold. The Falling Rocket (fig. 1), contending with the electrified city after dark meant that his successors would reveal a host of new forces at work in their representations of New York….

Childe Hassam Cab Stand at Night, Madison Square, New York Smith College Museum of Art Northampton, MA

Childe Hassam
Cab Stand at Night, Madison Square, New York
Smith College Museum of Art
Northampton, MA

When the Bostonian Childe Hassam moved to New York in 1889. he was determined to capture the daily occurrences of urban life, at least in the city’s more refined precincts. His vision extended beyond New York’s streets, buildings, and inhabitants to include the exploitation of natural phenomena. Like Whistler and the French Impressionists, he sought to capture atmospheric light in all its embodiments— during rain, snow, and mist, and after dark. These interests coalesce in Cab Stand at Night, Madison Square,  especially as Hassam was an eager portrayer of horse-drawn cabs. Sometimes he even hired one as an on-site studio, using the seat in front of him to set up an easel.3 In describing how he created the painting that is probably Cab Stand at Night, Madison Square, Hassam stated, “I use an ordinary sketch book and pencil a great deal for making notes of characteristic attitudes and movements…

Alfred Stieglitz Reflections - Night (New York), 1897 Gelatin silver print Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Alfred Stieglitz
Reflections – Night (New York), 1897
Gelatin silver print
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

One would hardly expect to find affinities between the talented but moderate Hassam and Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen, innovators who were leaders of the photographic avant-garde. Stieglitz claimed to be the first photographer to achieve success with night photography and, in 1898, a year after he began com­posing nocturnal scenes, he stated that their expressive potential opened “up certain possibilities that have not as yet been attempted.” 

Berenice Abbott Night View: Midtown Manhattan, (New York at Night), 1934 Gelatin silver print Smith College Museum of Art

Berenice Abbott
Night View: Midtown Manhattan, (New York at Night), 1934
Gelatin silver print
Smith College Museum of Art

The unalloyed triumphs of technology without which the modern city is inconceivable—incandescent lighting and the tall building—are apotheosized in Berenice Abbott’s anthem to the electrical grid, New York at Night (alternately titled Night View:Midtown Manhattan). The spectacular Olympian view of towers blazing like icy prisms on a dry winter evening was taken from a high floor of the Empire State Building, the successor to the Flatiron and the Chanin buildings as New York’s reigning icon of architectural modernity. Abbott had to calibrate exactly when the night would begin in order to get what she envisioned. She knew that most employees worked in their offices only until about five o’clock, after which the lights would be turned off. She thus waited until one of the shortest days of the year December 20.1934 – to create the photograph. At sunset, shortly before five, when evening began for most workers, Abbott exposed the negative for fifteen minutes and created an immaculate image of “the vertical city with its unimaginable diamonds. Night was no longer there to veil New York’s architecture: it was to exalt it. Artificial light had conquered nature and taken possession of it.

IN THE NEXT LRFA BLOG, AVIS WILL INFORM US ON HER STUDY OF THE NEW HALL COLLECTION AT CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY’S MURRAY EDWARD COLLEGE, A BODY OF WORK SHE DISCOVERED, PUBLISHED IN ANTIQUES MAGAZINE.

PLEASE JOIN US!

The 1913 Armory Show: a revolutionary influence on American culture

The Armory Show at 100 New-York Historical Society

The Armory Show at 100
New-York Historical Society

THE ARMORY SHOW AT 100: MODERN ART AND REVOLUTION AT THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY CELEBRATED THE CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY OF THE 1913 ARMORY SHOW. THE ORIGINAL EXHIBITION WAS REVOLUTIONARY IN INTRODUCING ABSTRACTION, FAUVISM AND CUBISM TO AMERICAN ARTISTS AND THE ART-VIEWING PUBLIC. AS IMPORTANTLY, THE 2013 EXHIBITION AT THE N-YHS TRANSFORMED OUR PERCEPTION OF THE CULTURAL, POLITICAL AND AESTHETIC CLIMATE IN AMERICA IN THE 1910s.

I CONSIDER CURATORIAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND THE CONCEPT AND EXECUTION OF EXHIBITION-MAKING AS ART FORMS IN THEMSELVES. DEVELOPING AN IDEA FOR AN EXHIBITION, SHAPING AND DEFINING ITS FOCUS, THE ACCOMPANYING RESEARCH AND SELECTION OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT WORKS THAT WOULD BEST SERVE REQUIRE MISSIONARY ZEAL. WHEN AN EXHIBITION HAS AS PROFOUND AN INFLUENCE AS THE ARMORY SHOW AT 100IT REPRESENTS CURATORIAL EXPERTISE AND DEDICATION AT ITS BEST.

The Armory Show at 100 Installation View

The Armory Show at 100
Installation View

 

THANK YOU, MARILYN KUSHNER, CO-CURATOR OF THE EXHIBITION, FOR SHARING THIS EXPERIENCE WITH THE READERS OF THE LRFA BLOG.

MARILYN, HOW DID YOU GET THE MATERIAL? HOW LONG DID IT TAKE?

I co-curated the show with Kim Orcutt. As I said earlier, we started working on the Armory Show about five years before the show opened. That’s not a lot of time to put a show like this together. We developed our wish list and then started trying to locate the works. One must travel to see the works that we were requesting so each of us took a few trips to Europe as well as a few trips throughout the States. It is all about traveling to meet with the curators and see the art.

Jacques Villon Young Girl, 1912

Jacques Villon
Young Girl, 1912

WHAT KIND OF DOCUMENTATION WAS AVAILABLE TO YOU?

Milton Brown wrote a book on the Armory Show in 1963 and then he rewrote it in 1988. His book was based on the papers from various people who were involved in the exhibition. Brown’s work was very precise with great bones. He covered many of the great stories about the Armory Show and almost all of what he wrote was historically correct. We fleshed out the story.

Brown had a complete checklist of the Armory Show in his book. That was a great place to start. We discovered that some of the things he said were in the show really weren’t there and we made a few additions or title changes to his list. In fact, the only facts that we changed from Brown’s original work were details of the checklist. We were able to locate some of the things he couldn’t but, on the other hand, some of the things that he found have now disappeared. That is why we decided to put a complete checklist in our show which updates Milton Brown’s checklist.

And then, once we had this wish list we started to look for these art works.

Nude Descending A Staircase, No. 2 Marcel Duchamp

Nude Descending A Staircase, No. 2
Marcel Duchamp

We knew there was no way we could do this exhibition if we didn’t have the “Nude Descending a Staircase” because that has always been associated with the Armory Show–the Philadelphia Museum of Art owned that painting. So the first trip we made anywhere was to Philadelphia. Once we had secured that loan, Kim and I began to travel both nationally and internationally to meet with curators and see as many works as possible. This intense period of travel is extremely necessary when one is seeking to secure loans of significant works of art.

Constantin Brancusi Sleeping Muse

Constantin Brancusi
Sleeping Muse

It was hard work but it was work that we both really relished. We really loved it. It was a great experience.

IN TERMS OF FUNDING THIS KIND OF EXHIBITION, WE ALL READ SO MUCH ABOUT GOVERNMENT CUTBACKS OF GRANTS. DOES YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS CURATOR INCLUDE FINDING FUNDING?

We were very lucky that we had the backing of the New-York Historical even before the money was raised, that they believed in us, and that our Board was excited about the exhibition which was such an important part of New York history.

Stuart Davis Babe La Tour, 1912 watercolor

Stuart Davis
Babe La Tour, 1912
watercolor

INITIALLY, DO YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUE PROPOSE THE IDEA?

First we propose it to the Administration here and then it is proposed to the Board and then we started going out and trying to get works. The backing from the Board was important – they had the confidence in us and believed this was going to be big and therefore they said, “Do it! Go ahead and do it and we’ll help you pull it off.”

Then we began to apply for grants. We received grants from the Terra Foundation for American Art, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc. We also were quite fortunate to have strong backers in Harold and Ruth Newman – who believed in the exhibition and were with us all the way through. Other essential supporters were John Thompson, Douglas Oliver, and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Martucci. The pieces just kept falling into place. It’s all about cobbling the support together.

 

Alfred Maurer Autumn 3

Alfred Maurer
Autumn 3

We placed the Armory Show in the context of what was happening in New York at the time – this had never been done before. We were also able to hire Casey Blake. He is a Professor of early 20th century American History at Columbia University. Kim and I know methodologies of art history and we knew our field and whom we wanted to write the essays. We knew American history but not the way we know art history. We needed Casey’s expertise to develop the historical part of the exhibition with us. The show never would have looked the way it did if it hadn’t been for him – he would tell us “You’re leaving this out or you have to develop these ideas.” The N-YHS does history so well and our mission was to tap into the experts to cover the historic times of the early twentieth century.

Willliam Glackens Family Group

Willliam Glackens
Family Group

 

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, MARILYN WILL EXPAND ON THE HISTORICAL IMPACT OF THE EXHIBITION AND EXPLORE SOME OF THE OTHER GREAT EXHIBITIONS AND HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS THAT THE MUSEUM OFFERS THE NEW YORK MUSEUM-GOING PUBLIC, ART HISTORIANS, SCHOLARS AND EDUCATIONAL GROUPS.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US!

 

 

Gavin Spanierman: An aesthetic that spans 3 centuries

Frank Wimberley Snare, 2012 Acrylic on canvas 50 x 50 inches

Frank Wimberley
Snare, 2012
Acrylic on canvas
50 x 50 inches

PRIOR TO JOINING FORCES WITH VETERAN AMERICAN DEALER, GERALD PETERS, GAVIN SPANIERMAN ENJOYED A TWENTY-YEAR HISTORY AS A DEALER IN AMERICAN ART OF THREE CENTURIES, INITIALLY IN A LEADING GALLERY AND SUBSEQUENTLY,  IN 2009, WHEN HE FOUNDED GAVIN SPANIERMAN, LTD.  HAVING WORKED AT ONE OF NEW YORK’S FOREMOST AMERICAN ART GALLERIES, GAVIN HAS PLACED SIGNIFICANT WORKS BY HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL AND AMERICAN IMPRESSIONIST ARTISTS IN THE FINEST PRIVATE COLLECTIONS AND MUSEUMS.  AS AN EXPERT OF THIS PERIOD, HIS OWN GALLERY FOCUSED ON WORKS OF QUALITY AND RARITY IN THE FIELD OF AMERICAN ART FROM 1880 TO 1960 AND INCLUDED SUCH REVERED ARTISTS AS THOMAS WILMER DEWING, CHILDE HASSAM, EASTMAN JOHNSON, WILLARD METCALF, JOHN SINGER SARGENT, AND MANY OTHERS. THUS, IT IS PARTICULARLY INTERESTING TO EXPLORE WITH GAVIN THE AESTHETIC SENSIBILITY THAT HE APPRECIATES  IN THE AREAS OF  MODERN MASTERS AND CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN ARTISTS.

GAVIN, MANY GALLERIES THAT SPECIALIZE IN  THE REPRESENTATIONAL AND FIGURAL WORK CHARACTERISTIC OF 19th AND EARLY 20th CENTURY ART TEND TO AUGMENT THEIR GALLERY EXHIBITIONS AND INVENTORY WITH CONTEMPORARY WORKS THAT FOLLOW THAT TRADITION. THAT POLICY TENDS TO IGNORE SOME OF THE MOST VITAL AREAS OF ART THAT HAVE EMERGED SINCE THE 1950s.

WITH THE CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS THAT YOU SHOWED AT GAVIN SPANIERMAN, LTD., YOU HAVE EMBRACED WORK THAT IS MORE ABSTRACT  – HOW DO YOU ACCOUNT FOR THAT SHIFT FROM THE MORE CONVENTIONAL DIRECTION OF MOST GALLERIES THAT SPECIALIZE IN 19th AND 20th CENTURY ART?

The only way I can explain it is to say that I have a real passion for the abstract. I enjoy the expressive qualities of artists who explore the boundaries of working with different mediums and applications as well as how those same works engage me intellectually.

HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME INTERESTED IN ART? DID YOU STUDY OR HAVE THE PRIVILEGE OF A HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE SINCE YOUR FAMILY WAS AN ESTABLISHED AND DOMINANT PRESENCE IN THE MARKET AND SCHOLARLY HISTORY OF AMERICAN ART?

I really stumbled into becoming an art dealer. My formal education was as a chef and restaurateur, but I stopped along the way to take a summer job working for my father and simply fell in love with the art.

Installation view, Max Weber: Revisiting Still Life April 8 to May 3, 2012

Installation view, Max Weber: Revisiting Still Life
April 8 to May 3, 2012

YOU HAVE HAD THE PRIVILEGE AND OPPORTUNITY TO BE INVOLVED IN THE PLACEMENT OF GREAT WORKS OF ART TO IMPORTANT MUSEUM AND PRIVATE COLLECTIONS. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES IN APPROACHING A PUBLIC INSTITUTION AND A PRIVATE COLLECTOR?

Yes, I have been very fortunate to work with some of the most wonderful museums in the field of American Art. Crystal Bridges, The Met, Boston Museum of Fine Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, LA County Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Art just to name a few. The primary difference between working with an institution and a collector is that museums generally take a few months to work through the process of making an acquisition. The Curator must decide if the work will fill a void in the collection. Then the curator seeks the approval of the director before presenting it to the acquisition committee.

Acquisition committees are made up of board members and staff of the museum. If the work meets with the approval of the acquisition committee, then the work is sent on approval to the museum, for the conservator to inspect to be sure the condition meets with the museum’s standards. Assuming the work meets all of the above criteria, there is a full board vote to determine if it will in fact be added to the museum’s collection.

So you see there are a lot of different personalities and opinions involved with working with a museum as opposed to working with private collectors.

IN OUR NEXT POST, GAVIN WILL INFORM US OF SOME OF THE MANY HIGHLIGHTS OF HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER AND OF HIS FUTURE PLANS AS A PARTNER WITH GERALD PETERS OF GP GALLERY, NEW YORK.

THANK YOU FOR READING, YOUR QUESTIONS, AND COMMENTS.