"Exploring 100 Years of Figurative Art" Exhibition


poster for "Exploring 100 Years of Figurative Art" Exhibition

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This four month series combines contemporary and 20th century artwork dating from 1910 to 2010.

Inspiration for Part I of this series came from Edith Halpert, Director of the Downtown Gallery, who established her gallery in 1926 and dominated the modern American art scene for over 40 years. Edith Halpert’s Downtown Gallery artists, modernists who were heavily influenced by figurative art, were combined with Figureworks contemporary artists. Downtown Gallery artists included George Biddle, Alexander Brook, Arthur B. Davies, Bernard Karfiol, Jack Levine, Reuben Nakian, Mitchell Siporin, Abraham Walkowitz, and William Zorach. Figureworks artists included MacWillie Chambers, Matthew Greenway, Meridith McNeal, and Susan Newmark.

Part II of this series explores artists who have retained a sense of realism in their work. These artists are masters of detail and directly depict their subjects in clearly defined settings. These deft portrayals evoke personal responses with intimate details. Included in this grouping are 20th century works by Emil Ganso, Kyra Markham, Eugene Speicher, and George Tooker. Contemporary Figureworks artists include Jorge Alvarez, Reina Gillson, and Mary Westring.

To compliment the previous two series, Part III introduces the commercial and decorative arts. Commercial art forms have played a valuable role in shaping American’s view of the arts. Many artists support themselves by illustrating books and creating advertisements for consumer products. Heavily figurative in design, these illustrations often represent a central figure in a domestic environment either telling a story or adorning an item for sale. Figureworks honors and respects these masters. This exhibition includes early 20th century illustrators Maurice Bower, J. C. Leyendecker, and Saul Tepper. This coming spring, Figureworks will present a more extensive exploration of how the figure is used the commercial art world.

From another commercial perspective within the arts, Figureworks is pleased to show original, 1950’s Paint By Number objects from the Palmer Paint Company Archives. Most of the original archives were donated to The Smithsonian Museum of American History which held a major 2001 exhibition in Washington D.C., “ Paint by Number: The How-to Craze that Swept the Nation.” Popular, figurative images in the paint by number repertoire include ballerinas, celebrities and religious figures.

Use of the figure in decorative arts is a challenging art form as it requires executing the human form in various media onto unusual, often utilitarian, objects. This part of the exhibition will include works by Figureworks contemporary artists. Highlights include lamps by glass artist Bonnie Faulkner and an impressive floor standing tri-fold painted screen by McWillie Chambers.

To show contrast and broaden the exposure of all mentioned artists, a number of the works from Part I & Part II will remain on display within this new grouping. Contrasting this work, many created in the same years, gives testament to the diversity and explorative directions in figurative art over these last 100 years.

Covering 100 years of figurative work is very daunting and, as Figureworks is such an intimate space, a great deal of editing must be done to achieve a diverse overview. Armed with a vast collection of work from inventory to choose from, I will edit my series to reflect on influencial 20th century artists that compliment my fine stable of contemporary artists. As noted, Part I will address important American artists from the Edith Halpert collective. These artists, deriving inspiration from the figure, stylized and abstracted their work to challenge traditional views of fine art. Part II will address those artists who use the figure in more traditional and representational means to convey their message. Part III will explore how the figure has been used in commercial and decorative fields. These artists will include illustrators, designers, and craftsmen.



from September 10, 2010 to December 19, 2010

Opening Reception on 2010-09-10 from 18:00 to 21:00

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