An exhibition of paintings, sculpture and works on paper featuring works from 1912-2018
by Bell, Jackson, Lesko, Strautmanis and Willis
Couturier Christian Dior quipped, “Midnight blue is the only color that can compete with black”. Looking at the work featured in BLACK + BLUE, one can also make the case for royal blue. The impetus for this exhibition was the acquisition of Black Wedge by Thornton Willis (1980). The geometric simplicity of the composition and the limited palette of black, blue and white are somehow spiritual. It led to further inquiry and exploration about the use of black and blue in paintings and inspired this exhibition.
Henri Matisse, the twentieth century’s leading colorist opined, “a certain blue enters your soul”. His Nasturtiums and “The Dance” from 1912 (Puskin Museum, Moscow) uses a deep blue / black background to great effect. Towards the end of his life, in 1947, Matisse created his iconic pochoir, Icarus, for the illustrated book Jazz. The black figure of Icarus floats against a royal blue evening sky. Matisse’s masterful use of black and blue in his work, early and late, certainly inspired all the artists featured in BLACK + BLUE.
The earliest work in the show is a c. 1912-16 Tabletop Still Life with Coffee and Tea Pots and Three Pitchers. This School of Paris painting, painted with thick impasto, has an inky blue/black background and a black coffee pot. Vanessa Bell’s post-impressionist c. 1929 View out the Window shows a round black table set in front of a royal blue sea. Three geometric abstractions by the African-American artist Gerald Jackson all feature royal blue and black elements. The large and wonderfully expressive Untitled, 1982 by Edvins Strautmanis, who, like Gerald Jackson, was also part of renowned gallerist Allan Stone’s stable of artists, has deeply moving blue black passages of thick, shimmering and viscous paint. Known for her fabulous color sense, Joan Mitchell is represented by her inky blue and black illustrated poem Mornings on the Bridge, a lithograph from 1992. Contemporary artist Jim Lesko has five works in the show. Three abstract bluish black steel sculptures and two silkscreen variations on blue and black geometric abstractions titled For Clyfford Still from 2018.
Our hope is that once you have seen BLACK + BLUE you will have a new appreciation for these two colors and the deep visual and emotional impact they can exert. This show is on view from Friday, June 14 through Sunday, August 11, 2019. Gallery hours are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11-5 pm and at other times by appointment.