Vera Molnar: Drawings 1949-1986

March 23 - May 12, 2018

Vera Molnar (Hungarian-born French, b. 1924)
Structure de Quadrilatères (Square Structures), 1985
ink on paper
11.81 x 16.54 inches  (30 x 42 cm)

A pioneer of computer art, Hungarian artist Vera Molnar, born in Budapest in 1924 and a resident of Paris since 1947, has established a prominent position in the field of Constructivist-Concrete art but is virtually unknown in this country. Working in Paris alongside artists such as François Morellet, Julio Le Parc, Jesus Rafael Soto, and Victor Vasarely, Molnar was a founding member in 1960 of the Research Group for Visual Art (“Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel,” or GRAV), which espoused minimal, non-objective image-making, and gave rise to the Op-Art and Kinetic Art movements of the following decade. Still active today at 94, Molnar’s remarkable practice encompasses painting, drawing and collage, computer drawings, photography, and installation. The artist’s second exhibition at Senior & Shopmaker Gallery will feature computer drawings made between 1968 and 1986, as well as a small selection of pre-computer works on paper made between 1949 and 1970. An e-catalogue will accompany the exhibition.

Beginning in 1968, the computer became a central device in the making of Molnar’s paintings and drawings, allowing her to more comprehensively investigate endless variations in geometric shape and line. Molnar learned the early programming languages of Fortran and Basic, and gained access to a computer at a research lab in Paris where she began to make computer graphic drawings on a plotter, several of which are included in the exhibition. Using the computer’s high calculation speed and signal capacity to arrive at a large number of variables, Molnar nonetheless insists upon the importance of hazard and chance in the final outcome—by injecting small programming “interferences,” she offsets predictable outcomes.  

Molnar’s work has been the subject of retrospectives at the Kunsthalle Bremen, Germany, 2006; the Musée des Beaux Arts, Rouen, France, 2012; and the Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, Switzerland, 2015, co-organized with the Museum fur Konkrete Kunst, Ingolstadt, Germany. Group exhibitions include Dynamo, curated by Serge Lemoine and Matthieu Poirier, Grand Palais, Paris, France, 2013; Abstraction/Figuration, Musée des Beaux Arts, Rennes, France, 2014; From Minimalism Into Algorithm, The Kitchen, New York, 2016; and Sixfold Symmetry: Pattern in Art and Science, Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum of Art, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, 2017. Currently Molnar’s drawings are included in Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959-1989, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The Other Trans-Atlantic: Kinetic and Op Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America 1950s – 1970s, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, in collaboration with Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, and SESC, Sao Paulo. Her work is included in such notable public collections as The Morgan Library and Museum, New York; Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris; Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen; National Gallery, Budapest; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

For further information, please contact Betsy Senior or Laurence Shopmaker, at 212-213-6767 or at gallery@seniorandshopmaker.com.

Click here for e-catalogue.

William Wegman at The Photography Show, presented by AIPAD 2018

New York City | Pier 94 | Booth 803
April 5-8, 2018 (Vernissage: April 4)

Vija Celmins (Latvian-born American, b. 1938)
Untitled (Dark Sky 1), 2016
mezzotint on Hahnemuhle paper
22 1/2 x 19 inches (54.6 x 48.3 cm)

We are pleased to present a solo presentation of photographs by William Wegman at this year's AIPAD Photography show. In 2015, Wegman began a series of photographs showcasing America’s most iconic mid-century Modern furniture alongside his own best-known models: his Weimaraner dogs. As is the case in all of the artist’s photographs, extraordinary care is given to the lighting and pose of his subjects, both living and static, so that “Topper” and “Flo” share the spotlight with classic pieces by George Nakashima and Charles and Ray Eames. Wegman exploits the medium of the digital pigment print both for its immediacy and potential for intensely saturated colors. In tightly structured compositions, he highlights the bright shells and lustrous woods of various Eames chairs and slab tables, as well as the harmonious contrast between these furnishings and the silky coats of the hounds that balance dexterously atop them. Topper and Flo appear as sculptural objects, emulating the silhouette and style of the mise-en-scène, yet at the same time assume almost human expressions, adding Wegman’s signature humor, irony, and playfulness to the work. The result is a series that represents a surreal state of affairs captured in real time. The artist thus continues to refine the ideas explored in his groundbreaking video works of the 1970s, which lampooned the seriousness of 'high art.'

William Wegman's photographs, drawings and video works are currently featured in Before/On/After: William Wegman and California Conceptualism at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, continuing through July 15, 2018. 

For further information, please contact Betsy Senior or Laurence Shopmaker, at 212-213-6767 or at gallery@seniorandshopmaker.com.

Vija Celmins: Recent Prints

February 2, 2018 - March 17, 2018

Vija Celmins (Latvian-born American, b. 1938)
Untitled (Dark Sky 1), 2016
mezzotint on Hahnemuhle paper
22 1/2 x 19 inches (54.6 x 48.3 cm)

Senior & Shopmaker is pleased to present Vija Celmins: Recent Prints, an exhibition of etchings in which the artist explores her enduring themes of night skies and ocean surfaces. Produced over a three-year period with Celmins’ longtime collaborator, master printer Doris Simmelink, the prints, with their careful exploration of process and mark-making, are among her most masterful to date.

In its most traditional sense, printmaking is a vehicle for monochromatic image making and therefore ideally suited to Celmins’ work. Since the 1970s, her body of prints has evolved naturally from her virtuoso drawing skill and found form through diverse printmaking techniques including mezzotint, etching, and aquatint. The primary subject of Celmins’ new prints, a horizon-less night sky, is rendered in mezzotint surfaces that range from velvety blacks to filmy grays, peppered by stars so varied in shape, number, and luminosity they demand slow examination. Simultaneously expansive and intimate, Celmins’ subject matter is an armature on which to build variation. Vija Celmins: Recent Prints features a series of five night sky images that share the same plate and sheet size alongside artist’s most ambitiously-scaled print to date, Untitled (Large Night Sky). Two additional ocean surface images represent a notable technical departure: In Untitled (Ocean Drypoint), the image is entirely constructed of tiny lines rather than tonalities, and in Untitled (Ocean Mezzotint), waves are expressionist and blurred, implying movement over stillness.

Vija Celmins was born in Riga, Latvia in 1938 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1948. She received her MFA from UCLA in 1965 and moved to New York in 1980. She has been the subject of numerous international museum exhibitions, including a solo drawing show at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel, in 2001, and a print retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2002. The Centre Pompidou, Paris, organized a drawing retrospective in 2006, which traveled to the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, in 2007. In recent years, Celmins has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Menil Collection, Houston, Texas (2010); the Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany (2011); the Saint Louis Art Museum (2014); and Secession, Vienna, Austria (2015). A retrospective of the artist’s paintings, drawings, objects and printsVija Celmins: To Fix the Image in Memory will open at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in December 2018.

Leon Polk Smith: Prints And Related Works

November 10, 2017 - January 27, 2018

Leon Polk Smith (American, 1906-1996)
Color Forms (F), 1974
33 x 23 1/4 inches

Senior & Shopmaker Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of prints and related unique works by abstract painter Leon Polk Smith. Polk Smith (1906-1996) holds a unique place in the distinguished tradition of American Geometric Abstract painting (together with such artists as Burgoyne Diller, Fritz Glarner, Al Held, and Ellsworth Kelly). Polk Smith's printmaking activity, begun in 1965, additionally resulted in close to 70 distinct images, characterized by buoyant forms floating on solid backgrounds with a vibrant and high-contrast color palette. These explorations of non-objective imagery put Polk Smith at the forefront of such art historical movements as Color Field, Minimalist, and Hard Edge painting.

Senior & Shopmaker Gallery will present a selection of early color lithographs dating from 1968 that Polk Smith created at Tamarind Lithography Workshop in Los Angeles; large-format screenprints from 1987 printed at Edition Domberger, Stuttgart; and rare, self-published silkscreens on metal from 1962. A small selection of related drawings will also be on view.

Polk Smith's work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Whitney Museum of American Art; and the National Gallery of Art, among others. In 1995, the Brooklyn Museum hosted a retrospective of the artist's work, Leon Polk Smith: American Painter. Earlier in 2017, Lisson Gallery organized an exhibition of Leon Polk Smith's shaped, multi-part “Constellation” series of paintings from the late 1960s and 70s, and an exhibition of drawings, Geometry in Motion: Leon Polk Smith Works on Paper, is currently on view at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York through December 3. 

Senior & Shopmaker is the representative for Polk Smith's editioned works from the Leon Polk Smith Foundation.  Established by the artist himself, the foundation has actively sought to preserve and promote Polk Smith's art and legacy since his death at the age of ninety in 1996. 

For further information, please contact gallery@seniorandshopmaker.com.

Edda Renouf: Structures and Fields, Drawings 2011-2017

September 13 - November 4, 2017

Edda Renouf (American, b. 1943)
Open Field-2, from Open Field Series, 2017
Incised lines, ink, graphite, and yellow pastel chalk on Arches paper
15 x 15 inches

Senior & Shopmaker Gallery is pleased to announce Edda Renouf: Structures and Fields, Drawings 2011-2017, the artist’s second exhibition at the gallery since 2013.  The exhibition is comprised of four distinct bodies of drawings created over a six-year period, which, despite different techniques and imagery, are linked by the artist’s thematic concerns and interest in revealing the properties inherent in her materials. Born in Mexico City in 1943 and educated in New York, Renouf, an American, has lived in Paris since 1992.

A painter of subtle, layered, abstract canvases, Renouf is also a quintessential and deeply intuitive graphic artist, approaching paper as a sculptor handles plaster or marble, teasing out materiality by rubbing, scoring, and incising its surface. These interventions may take place either before and after the artist draws on the sheet with ink, graphite, and oil or chalk pastel. The paper support thereby becomes an integral element in a dynamic interplay between process, material, and image.

While Renouf’s vocabulary is emphatically reductive, the new drawings suggest psychological and/or topographic spaces, and engage the viewer in a visual journey generated by the rhythms of an evolving body of work made over time. The focus of the Changed Structure series is the purest essence of the paper itself, which Renouf scores to create networks of incised lines whose raised edges cast minute shadows across the surface. Delicate nets of black ink or graphite dots tattoo the surface. In the second group of drawings, a ladder motif appears in different variations against the ground of the paper, an unmistakable metaphor for an aspirational journey heavenwards towards light and the immaterial. Black ink and white oil pastel tether these ladders to their metaphysical locations, weighting them against the barely visible texture of the cotton rag paper.

The exhibition crescendos in the drawings from the Light Field series of 2016-2017 in which a sunlight yellow oil pastel that fills Renouf’s finely drawn geometric forms appears like a bolt of light entering a room. This bright yellow is sometimes juxtaposed with a dense white oil pastel that forms a contrasting counterweight. Each drawing in the series explores the logic of an internal architecture of floating solid or empty shapes, as in Light Passage, 2017, the most ebullient with its four bands of syncopated bright color. The series shows Renouf ‘s hand at its most assertive and insistent in consigning light to paper.

The show concludes with very recent chalk pastel drawings titled Open Field in which Renouf rubs the dusty, earth-based pigment over the entire sheet, revealing the texture of the paper before incising it with lines. The surface is subjected to erasure in certain areas, creating an overall sense of a weathered and ancient frescoed wall. Suffused with a gentler, more nuanced light, these drawings represent a return to landscape with their linear structures suggestive of horizons and enclosures, the end of a journey or perhaps the beginning.

This year, Edda Renouf's work was included in the group exhibitions, The American Dream: Pop to the Present, organized by the British Museum, London, and 500 Years of Drawing, Bowdoin College Art Museum, Brunswick, Maine. Edda Renouf- Visible Sounds, a solo exhibition of recent paintings and drawings, was presented at Annely Juda Fine Art, London in spring 2017. The artist’s work is found in numerous public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Centre Pompidou in Paris; the British Museum in London; and the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, among many others.

For further information, please contact gallery@seniorandshopmaker.com.