Exhibitions

Leon Polk Smith: Prints, Drawings, and Collages

Through July 26

 Senior & Shopmaker Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of drawings and collages by abstract painter Leon Polk Smith (1906-1996), its second at the gallery. Organized in cooperation with the Leon Polk Smith Foundation, the exhibition will be on view from June 6 through July 19, 2019.   Polk Smith holds a unique place in the tradition of American Geometric Abstract painting together with such artists as Burgoyne Diller, Fritz Glarner, Al Held, and Ellsworth Kelly.  Drawing and collage held a primary place in Polk Smith’s practice, complementing and paralleling his work on canvas. Of the drawings on view, which range in date from 1942 to 1979, several have never before been exhibited, such as the collage Dracenia, 1954.

Shortly after his arrival in New York from Oklahoma in 1936, Polk Smith departed from his earlier Cubist style and began working with a new geometric vocabulary inspired by the De Stijl paintings of Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg which he encountered for the first time.  Three excellent examples from the 1940s are included in the exhibition.  His respect for the work of the Dutch constructivists formed the foundation of his methods upon which he built a highly original painting practice that questioned ideas of space, perspective, and color.  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 movements.

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. Recent exhibitions include Geometry in Motion: Leon Polk Smith Works on Paper, organized by the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York, 2017-2018. In 2017, Lisson Gallery, New York organized an exhibition of Leon Polk Smith's shaped, multi-part “Constellation” series of paintings from the late 1960s and 70s.

Josef Albers and Robert Mangold: The Essence of Form

Senior & Shopmaker is pleased to present: Josef Albers and Robert Mangold: The Essence of Form, a survey of selected prints presenting the artists’ work in dialogue.  The exhibition includes examples of Albers early monochromatic woodcuts and lithographs from the 1940s and selected Homage to the Square screenprints from his iconic series. Among Robert Mangold’s works on view are early “X” and “+” screenprints dating from 1981, the elongated rectangles of the Frame series from the mid 1980s, and examples in aquatint and woodcut from his architectonic Column series. 

Josef Albers was among the most innovative printmakers of the twentieth century, making use of numerous print media, including etching, engraving, woodcut, lithography and screenprint. Mangold, whose first prints date from the late 1960s and for whom drawing is a central endeavor, has similarly incorporated printmaking as an integral component of his practice. Both artists have explored, in the form of serial or related images, the relationships of constructed geometric form and the enlivening impact of color on these compositions.

Josef Albers, a founding member of the Bauhaus and chair of Yale’s Department of Design from 1950 to 1958, had retired before Robert Mangold’s enrollment in 1960 in the school’s graduate painting program, but his influence pervaded teaching methodologies in succeeding years. A visionary educator, Albers’ emphasis on the experiential nature of art-making rather than the final product, and the primacy of discovery over theory, had a lasting impact on generations of students including Mangold. The latter, whose early interests lay more in the abstract expressionist paintings of the New York school and the work of Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg exploding on the New York art scene, acknowledges an increased recognition of Albers’ theories in his work of the 1970s, and his investigative approach to color and form can be traced to Albers’ early influence.  Common threads that link the printed work of the two artists are ineffable color combinations, a selective use of surface texture, and geometric forms governed by an architectural logic of construction as much as by abstract formal principles.

Senior & Shopmaker maintains the online catalogue raisonné of the prints of Robert Mangold, a digital archive of graphic works created by the artist between 1968 and present day. The website offers comprehensive documentation of two hundred and forty prints from seventy-five separate projects (www.robertmangoldprints.com). For further information, please contact Betsy Senior or Laurence Shopmaker at 212.213.6767, or at gallery@seniorandshopmaker.com

Eyes Wide Open: Saul Steinberg & Philip Guston Prints, Drawings, and Objects

Philip Guston,  Studio Forms,  1980 Lithograph on J. Barcham Green Crisbrook paper, 32 x 42 1/2 inches

Philip Guston, Studio Forms, 1980 Lithograph on J. Barcham Green Crisbrook paper, 32 x 42 1/2 inches

November 12- January 12 at Senior & Shopmaker Gallery

Senior & Shopmaker is pleased to present an exhibition of drawings, prints, and objects by Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) and Philip Guston (1913-1980).  This expanded exhibition, which originally opened in a smaller format at the IFPDA Fine Art Print Fair, will run through December 22. The exhibition was then extended through January 12.

Friends for more than two decades, both artists were deeply affected by the social and political turbulence in America in the mid-1960s and 70s, and social commentary, be it veiled or pointed, is prevalent in their work.  The modernist theories that provided the underpinnings of abstract painting did not serve their immediate goals of depicting the human condition, and Guston notoriously abandoned its precepts around 1965 in favor of figuration. Each employed cartooning skills in service of their primary artistic aims, exemplified in Guston’s Poor Richard drawings of the early 1970s caricaturing Richard Nixon, and Steinberg’s satirical images of poseurs, figures in social isolation, and American materialism. 

Working in collaboration with the The Saul Steinberg Foundation, the exhibition will include never-before-seen unique prints with handwork and collage, in addition to a selection of drawings, painted wood objects, and painted ‘masks’ by the artist. Steinberg, perhaps best known for his work in print in The New Yorker magazine, embraced the medium of drawing early in his career in the 1930s as a cartoonist for  Milan-based humor newspapers. Fleeing Fascist Italy during the war, Steinberg arrived in New York in 1942. Imbued with satirical wit, the drawings, which often incorporate collage, reflected the artist’s keen fascination with the architecture and hurly-burly street life of his adopted city. His work of the 1950s, with its roots in humor and popular observation, set the stage for the succeeding generation of Pop artists.

Philip Guston, disenchanted with the making of the gestural Abstract Expressionist paintings that characterize his work of the late 1950s and 1960s, refocused the content of his painting to a highly original figurative style better adapted to his narrative intentions. Guston will be represented at the booth presentation by a selection of black and white figurative lithographs editioned at Gemini G.E.L. shortly before his death in 1980, as well as drawings from the late 1960s. These bold works are inhabited by the artist’s iconographic motifs including books, clocks, severed legs, clenched fists, and the hooded Klansman, a frequent protagonist that first appeared in his work in 1930. Like Steinberg’s masks, the hooded figure is emblematic of the protective disguises individuals, including the artist, use to hide behind as well as their obvious political symbolism.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated e-catalogue with an essay by Antonia Pocock, Ph.D. candidate in Art History at New York University Institute of Fine Arts.  Senior & Shopmaker Gallery is the sole representative of Saul Steinberg’s editioned work from the The Saul Steinberg Foundation. 

Recent institutional exhibitions include: Along the Lines: Selected Drawings by Saul Steinberg at The Art Institute of Chicago (2017);  Saul Steinberg at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2018); and Philip Guston and the Poets at Gallerie dell’ Accademia, Venice, Italy (2018).

 

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.