Exhibitions

Spheres Of Influence: Al Held, Michael Craig-Martin, Judy Pfaff, And Stanley Whitney

September 13 – October 27, 2018

 Al Held (American, 1928-2005),  Midnight Symphony , 1996, watercolor on paper mounted on board, 193/4 c 29 3/4 inches (50.2 x 75.6 cm)

Al Held (American, 1928-2005), Midnight Symphony, 1996, watercolor on paper mounted on board, 193/4 c 29 3/4 inches (50.2 x 75.6 cm)


Senior & Shopmaker is pleased to present Spheres of Influence: Al Held, Michael Craig-Martin, Judy Pfaff, and Stanley Whitney, a group exhibition of drawings by preeminent abstract painter and former Yale professor, Al Held (1928-2005), along with three illustrious former students from the Yale School of Art graduate program in the 1960s and 70s. Michael Craig-Martin (MFA 1966); Judy Pfaff  (MFA 1973); and Stanley Whitney (MFA 1972) have each acknowledged the impact Held had on the development of their critical thinking and practice during their student years and beyond. This exhibition brings together works on paper by each artist, suggesting overlapping spheres of influence rather than linear attributions. Within the works on view, which date from 1963 to 2018, common themes emerge: the depiction of volumetric space, underlying or overt geometry, and the use of color as a structural element.

Yale University’s art department in the early 1960s emphasized a pluralist approach, featuring teachers with wide-ranging practices who encouraged students to master different techniques, media, and styles. Following the transformational teaching methodologies Josef Albers established during his tenure as chairman of the department (1950-58), Jack Tworkov, Albers’ successor from 1963-69, continued to innovate by inviting artists active in the New York art scene to teach at the school. At Tworkov’s invitation, Al Held, like Albers a hard-edged abstract painter, joined the graduate faculty in 1963 as Visiting Critic, and assumed the title of Associate Professor in 1966, and Adjunct Professor of Art in 1970. Held was a role model, representing to his students the successful professional engagement possible for a working artist. He was to continue teaching at Yale until 1980, later revealing in an interview teaching’s impact on his own work: “… every year there are two or three or four kids who you begin to believe in, you develop a relationship with and because of that kind of credibility and believability from you to them they force you to see things that you wouldn't have looked at very seriously by yourself.”  The dialogue between teacher and student was a dynamic and multi-directional one.

 

Michael Craig-Martin (b. 1941 Dublin, Ireland) grew up in the United States, and received both his B.A. (1963), as well as his M.F.A. (1966) from Yale. In the mid-1960s, he returned to Europe, becoming one of the key figures in the first generation of British conceptual artists. Through exacting draftsmanship, Craig-Martin uses composition to explore spatial relationships between disparate objects from contemporary life. “I'm essentially a constructor, a putter-togetherer of things. I see my paintings as being informed by my years of making sculpture. I think of my paintings as flat sculptures.”

Judy Pfaff  (b. 1946, London. England) immigrated to the United States when she was thirteen; she received her BFA at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, and her MFA from Yale in 1973. A pioneer of installation art in the 1970s, Pfaff continues to synthesize sculpture and painting into dynamic, architectural environments in which the perception of space fluctuates between the two- and three-dimensional. The illusion of space is a binding characteristic between Pfaff's early and current work, as is her use of bright and receding color as a spatial tool. Included in the exhibition is a selection of multicolored tape drawings on graph paper titled Drawings for Prototypes, which relate to Pfaff’s spare stick figure sculptures of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Stanley Whitney (b. 1946, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) holds a BFA from Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, Missouri and received his MFA from Yale University in 1972. Following time spent in Italy and then later in Egypt in the mid-1990s, Whitney developed an architectural approach to abstraction that has become his signature style. In his watercolors, rectangles of vivid, solid colors are arranged in deliberately irregular grids. In contrast, in Whitney’s graphite drawings space is compressed with energetic and improvisational line and mark-making.  

Al Held (b. 1928, Brooklyn, NY- d. 2005, Todi, Italy) is considered a prominent figure among second-generation Abstract Expressionists, but his persistent exploration of illusionistic potential within abstraction defied many of the labels of post–Abstract Expressionist movements. In the early 1960s, Held’s paintings underwent an evolution away from expressionism towards the sharpened contours, geometric forms, and gradually enlarged scale associated with Hard Edge painting. Held, however, was steadfast in his rejection of critic Clement Greenberg’s modernist doctrine and its insistence on pure flatness. In the late 1960s, tiring of reductivist aesthetics, he strove to incorporate space and volume into his canvases. His paintings of 1967–68 were exclusively black and white; subsequently, he began to explore three-dimensionality by structuring his compositions using vanishing points, culminating in the illusionistic geometric compositions and vibrant color of the late 1970s and beyond. His works on paper represent, on a more intimate scale, Held’s intent towards ordered abstraction and illusionism.

 

For further information, contact gallery@seniorandshopmaker.com or 212-213-6767.

Georgia Marsh: Arc Paintings

May 17 - July 20, 2018

Georgia Marsh (American, b. 1950)
Arc X: Double Pitch, 2017
Oil on Duralar mounted on Plexiglas
40 x 60 inches (101.6 x 152.4 cm)

Senior & Shopmaker is pleased to present Arc Paintings, an exhibition of recent work by New York-based artist Georgia Marsh. In this new body of work, the artist continues to advance the tradition of still life painting and more specifically, the rich history of representations of flora in art. Marsh, who began her career in the early 1970s in Paris and New York, arrived at landscape painting through the prevailing language of minimalist abstraction. The tension between representation and abstraction, and the organic and the geometric, have been enduring themes in her drawings, paintings and prints.

The Arc Paintings consist of seductively rendered flowers and plant forms, painted on a translucent polyester film called Duralar and mounted to a clear Lexan “canvas”— a coolly mechanical white surface suggestive of the screen of a digital device. To further distance her floral subject matter from verisimilitude, the artist crops and contains her images between curvilinear borders and sharply defined shapes filled with opaque fields of color, removing the flowers and branches from any suggestion of the real landscape. This truncated, interrupted vision of nature serves to break down any narrative possibility and to underscore the tension between artifice and reality.

The acuity of Marsh’s vision is reflected in the finely differentiated and complex forms of her floral subjects, meticulously observed and painted.  Influenced by sources such as Chinese scroll painting, 18th century wallpaper panels, textiles, and other forms of decorative arts, she draws upon the ubiquity of floral depictions across the arc of cultural traditions. By imposing a formal structure over the unruliness of nature, she elevates traditional still life from the illustrative and mimetic and forces a rereading of the genre.

Marsh’s work has been included in recent years in group exhibitions at the RISD Museum of Art, Providence, RI; the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; and the Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT. Her work is found in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Musee Nationale d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; and the Cleveland Art Museum, Cleveland, OH, among others.

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

Click here for e-catalogue.

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.