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Donald Baechler, Linen Flowers, 2004, relief prints on handmade linen paper

Donald Baechler gained international recognition in the early 1980s as part of the burgeoning downtown New York art scene in Soho and the East Village. He exhibited at the newly opened Tony Shafrazi gallery, which also represented his contemporaries Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Kenny Scharf.  The source materials for his distilled post-pop iconography are culled from children’s books, advertisements, magazines, newspapers, and google image searches.  Baechler’s techniques include collage, silkscreen, photo transfer, and tracing slide projections of photographs of his own work.  The resulting layered imagery speaks in a lexicon of the artist’s own making that is universally recognizable.

Donald Baechler’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art, LA, and The Centre George Pompidou among other institutions worldwide.   He has had recent solo shows at The Kunsthalle Merano, Italy and The Museum der Moderne, Rupertinum, Salzburg.

Donald Baechler,
Orange and Green, 2015, gesso, flashe and paper collage on paper

Red and Violet, 2015, gesso, flashe and paper collage on paper

Donald Baechler gained international recognition in the early 1980s as part of the burgeoning downtown New York art scene in Soho and the East Village. He exhibited at the newly opened Tony Shafrazi gallery, which also represented his contemporaries Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Kenny Scharf.  The source materials for his distilled post-pop iconography are culled from children’s books, advertisements, magazines, newspapers, and google image searches.  Baechler’s techniques include collage, silkscreen, photo transfer, and tracing slide projections of photographs of his own work.  The resulting layered imagery speaks in a lexicon of the artist’s own making that is universally recognizable.

 

Donald Baechler’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art, LA, and The Centre George Pompidou among other institutions worldwide.   He has had recent solo shows at The Kunsthalle Merano, Italy and The Museum der Moderne, Rupertinum, Salzburg.

Gordon Cheung, Tulipmania 3, 6, 9, 11, 2012, archival inket prints with hand painting

 

Gordon Cheung’s parents emigrated from Hong Kong to London in the late ‘60s, where the artist was born in 1975.  He studied painting at Central Saint Martins, and graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2001.  He is most known for his Tulipmania series which refers to the world’s first recorded financial crash in 17th C. Holland when the trading of tulip bulbs reached such a speculative frenzy that the price of one flower was ten times the annual income of a skilled worker.  In a nod to inclusion of both Cheung’s Chinese and British backgrounds, the art historical heritages of both text and image are combined in the work.  Using the financial indexes of British newspapers as background, the artist’s method involves throwing gobs of mixed paint onto sheets to dry before collaging the dried paint shapes onto the stock listings to create his floral forms.  The resulting compositions are a poignant commentary on the cyclical nature of history and the absurdities of civilization.

 

Cheung’s work is held in many public collections worldwide including the British Museum, London, Royal College of Art, London, Museum of Contemporary Art, Krakow, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, and Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota.  He has recently taken part in the Karachi Biennale, Pakistan, the Venice Biennale, and the Beijing International Art Biennale, and has had recent solo exhibitions at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, West Palm Beach, FL and the Nottingham Castle Museum, Nottingham UK.

Joe Bradley b. 1975, Kittery, Maine

TBD, 2017, oil on canvas

Joe Bradley’s art-making practice is focused on process.  He places the canvas on the floor of his studio, walking around and occasionally onto the work while making his marks.  He paints on both sides of the canvas so not only do colors intentionally stain through from the other sides but there is often debris from the studio floor stuck to the surface.  The artist embraces these accidental additions, finding the resulting alterations exciting – like a plot twist.  This humble approach, incorporating incidental dust, dirt, and footprints, demonstrates the artist’s lack of ego investment in his practice.  Rather than merely expressing himself, he allows the painting to emerge from the environment, through materials, providence, and his intuitive guiding hand.

 

Bradley’s work is included in public collections worldwide, including the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, The George, Economou Collection, Athens, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.  He has had recent solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1 NY, Rose Art Museum, Waltham MA, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY, and Château de Boisgeloup, Gisors, France.

ALICIA PENALBA b. 1913 San Pedro, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Untitled, 1954, Bronze and wood, 63 x 10 in

Alicia Penalba was born in 1913 in San Pedro, Buenos Aires and grew up in Valparaiso, Chile.  As a teenager she attended art school in Buenos Aires. In 1948 she received a grant from the French government and moved to Paris.  In Argentina she had been making paintings, but France proved transformative, and she started making sculpture.   Penalba created her Totem series to symbolically depict the source of all creation and the beginning of life itself.  All works from this series feature a concave center – a biomorphic abstraction of nature’s protections like the shell of a nut or the nest of a bird.   While making these works, Penalba drew inspiration from the vertically soaring architecture of the gothic cathedrals of Europe, and also from the natural environment of her youth – the black rocks at the beach in Chile where she played as a child.  She described making the Totem works as a great liberation; her sculptures began “to open up and to fly.”

Penalba participated in Documenta II in Kassel, Germany, in 1959, received the grand prize for sculpture at the 1961 Sao Paolo Biennial, and in 1968 exhibited at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris with Wilfredo Lam and Roberto Matta.  Her work is included in the collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Zentrum Paul Klee, Berne, Switzerland; Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro; Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende, Santiago, Chile, and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, among others.

 

William Kentridge (South African, b. 1955)
‘Birds in Flight’ (from Notes Towards a Model Opera), 2015 Indian ink on paper, 44 7/8 x 77 7/8 in.

William Kentridge was born in 1955 in Johannesburg, South Africa, the son of two prominent anti-apartheid lawyers.  He grew up with a high awareness of social and political injustice, and his drawings, prints, sculptures, films, and other artworks are infused with themes of oppression and liberation.

Birds are a recurring motif in Kentridge’s work, employed to both symbolic and technical effect.  In his stop-motion animations they illustrate movement as the positions of their wings are altered from drawing to drawing, from frame to frame.  Birds depicted in flight are also a universal symbol of freedom; they move between realms of land and sea and air. By titling this series of drawings ‘Birds in Flight’ (from Notes Towards a Model Opera), Kentridge has evoked both the concept of freedom, and a specific time when a country’s creative life was dominated by propaganda and confined by censorship.

Julian Martin, b. 1969 Melbourne, Australia.  Lives and works in Melbourne.

Untitled series, 2016-17, pastel on paper

As a teenager in Melbourne, Julian Martin began to participate in the Arts Project Australia studio art program which supports and promotes artists with special needs.  Soon he was spending three days a week at ACA’s specialized studio and his work was included in exhibitions nationwide.  Martin is now internationally known for his abstract works on paper characterized by bold colors, geometric shapes, and dense, richly pigmented, surfaces.  He carefully selects a photograph or an arranged still-life, then, with pigment on paper, methodically distills the specific image into an abstract representation.  He does not erase or change his work but rather hand-draws without rehearsal.  His source materials range from photos of Hollywood celebrities and sports stars, to kitchen utensils and tools, to letters and logos.  Martin was diagnosed with autism at an early age and does not communicate verbally, but his striking geometric compositions speak in a friendly language all their own.

 

Known as “Outsider Art,” works made by artists with different abilities, special needs, or who received no formal training or education, first attracted notice within the mainstream art world when the German Expressionists and French Surrealists began to look to it for inspiration in the early 20th Century.  After WWII, the French artist Jean Dubuffet began to collect and exhibit Outsider Art.  He called it Art Brut (Raw Art) and mounted a ground-breaking exhibition in Paris in 1947.  From then on, Outsider Art has remained internationally relevant, spawning art fairs, galleries, and collecting museums worldwide.  Dubuffet’s Collection de l’art Brut is permanently housed in Lausanne, Switzerland.

HIROSHI SUGIMOTO (Japanese b. 1948 Tokyo)
Tasman Sea, Table Cape, 2016, 47 x 58 3/4 in.

Hiroshi Sugimoto’s interest in photography developed during his early teenage years in Tokyo.  His father had bought an expensive and complicated camera, but soon tiring of trying to master it, gave it to his son.  One of young Sugimoto’s earliest subjects was Audrey Hepburn – a still image from a film, captured inside a movie theatre.  In order to capture a single frame, the artist employed a very fast shutter speed of one thirtieth of a second, the beginning of his experiments in manipulating time with his camera.

Sugimoto has been photographing the ocean since 1980, inspired by the awe he felt when first traveling to the coast with his family as a young boy.  His Seascapes are always composed so that the horizon line between ocean and sky bifurcates the image into two equal parts, perfectly balanced.  He has shot Seascapes all over the world, occasionally staying on location for several weeks until he feels that he has become part of that particular environment.  He shoots both in daytime and at night, sometimes allowing his shutter to remain open for hours, and sometimes only for a few seconds.  The longer the shot lasts, the more abstracted the movements of sky and water become, blurring and changing, expanding the specific time of the photographer’s presence into a universal experience of the life-giving elements of air and water.  For the artist the sea represents the origin of life on earth, and he is moved by the idea that the view of the ocean he sees when he photographs is the same one that ancient humans saw tens of thousands of years ago.  Table Cape is both a geological feature (a volcanic plug) and an area on the North West of Tasmania.

 

HIROSHI SUGIMOTO (Japanese b. 1948 Tokyo)
Teatro Comunale di Ferrara, Ferrara, 2015, 72 7/8 x 61 1/8 in.

Sugimoto went on to photograph movie theaters, drive in theaters, abandoned theaters, and in his most recent series, opera houses.  In every theater series, the photographs are illuminated by the light from a movie screen with the film’s running time determining the length of the exposure.  Though sometimes the opera houses were equipped with screens, in many theatres Sugimoto brought in projectors and built screens to project classic Italian films.  In Teatro Comunale di Ferrara, Ferrara, he chose to show “Il Conformista” (The Conformist), 1970, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci.  The running time, and therefore the length of the exposure, was 1 hour and 51 minutes.  For the first time, in four decades of shooting theaters, Sugimoto photographed both stage and auditorium in the Opera House series, situating the viewer somewhere in between; both onstage looking at the audience, and in the audience, watching the glowing movie screen.  The viewer is placed in a space that doesn’t really exist, in a moment that lasts for almost two hours.

 

Stanley Whitney, (b. 1946 Philadelphia) Spoonful, 2018, oil on linen

Born in Philadelphia in 1946, Stanley Whitney became interested in art at an early age, and continued his artistic education at the Kansas City Art Institute before moving to New York City in 1968.  He earned his MFA from Yale in 1972, and taught at Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia for over 30 years.  He admired the Color Field painters, and, like his contemporaries Mary Heilmann, Thomas Nozkowski, and Jack Whitten, he has consistently painted abstract geometric forms throughout his career. Starting in the top left corner of the canvas, Whitney builds his paintings one color block at a time, weaving the painting together in a method he likens to the collaborative process of jazz musicians improvising and engaging with each other in a “call and response.”  Every color panel must work together with those before it to achieve pictorial balance and harmony.  The title of Spoonful refers to the iconic blues song as covered by Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, and Bo Diddley in 1968.  The cover is a collaboration; the artists take turns singing different verses, their harmonies echoing those of Whitney’s painting.

Stanley Whitney has been awarded the Robert De Niro Sr. Prize in Painting, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Art Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.  He has had recent solo exhibitions at the Modern Art Museum, Fort Worth TX and at the Studio Museum in Harlem.  Whitney’s work is held in public collections around the world including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, and Yale University Art Gallery.

Rob WynneA Place that Doesn’t Exist, 2008, poured mirrored glass.

Native New Yorker Rob Wynne studied painting at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.  After graduating he became friendly with the early conceptual artist Ray Johnson and was profoundly influenced by the Fluxus and Neo-Dada movements which emphasized process, action, and playful humor.  Overcoming early dyslexia, he began to use text in his work and once sent himself an encouraging Western Union telegram reading “You are still alive.” Wynne began to make glass sculptures after a happy accident in a glass foundry.  He dropped a ladle of molten glass and was inspired by the resulting beautiful splatter to take up the medium.  The artist’s glass text works are poetic interactions with the surrounding environments.  A Place that Doesn’t Exist activates a version of the famous Zen koan: does a place exist without people in it?  Does art exist if there are no viewers to see it?

Wynne’s work is held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, NY; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Centre Pompidou, France; the Columbus Museum of Art, OH; and the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris.

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