Monday, August 24, 2015

New Exhibition at Heather James Fine Art: Matisse, Cassat, Glackens, Ruscha

An exhibition spanning more than 100 years and including some of the biggest names in art — from Mary Cassatt to Pablo Picasso to Andy Warhol — has opened for the summer at Heather James Fine Art and is on view through September.

An exquisite mixed media piece by Robert Rauschenberg and a bronze horse by Deborah Butterfield share a space with a stunning Cubist work by Pablo Picasso, and works on paper by by Anish Kapoor and Sean Scully. The Impressionist and Modern salon includes early California paintings, including a portrait by Joseph Kleitsch, and landscapes by William Wendt. This salon also features an intimate pastel by Mary Cassatt, a Surrealist canvas by Salvador DalĂ­, a Cubist painting by Maria Blanchard, and one of the earliest and best bronze sculptures by Henri Matisse.
The exhibition also includes paintings by Hung Lui, sculptures by Sophie Ryder, and Pop prints by Chuck Close, Jim Dine, Damien Hirst, Ed Ruscha, and Andy Warhol. Heather James Fine Art welcomes you to visit the gallery and enjoy a world-class, museum-quality experience in the heart of beautiful Jackson.
Exhibition Video

Friday, August 21, 2015


This fall, the Whitney Museum of American Art will present Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, the first retrospective of this pioneering artist in New York City in more than two decades. One of the most important figures associated with the Harlem Renaissance, Motley was a master colorist with a daring sense of spatial invention, qualities he combined with keen observational skills honed on urban culture. The exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to carefully examine Motley’s dynamic depictions of modern life, and will be on view from October 2, 2015, through January 17, 2016, in the Museum’s eighth-floor Hurst Family Galleries.

Prior to its presentation at the Whitney, it traveled to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas (June 14–September 7, 2014), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (October 19, 2014–February 1, 2015), and the Chicago Cultural Center (March 6–August 31, 2015).

Comprised of forty-two paintings spanning 1919 to 1963, the exhibition is a full-scale survey of Motley’s career and a rare opportunity to see such a large collection of his relatively small surviving body of work. Although the artist worked in Chicago most of his life, he was also inspired by Jazz Age Paris, and, later in his career, visits to Mexico. Motley’s bold use of vibrant, expressionistic color and keen attunement to issues of race, society, and class make him one of the great visual chroniclers of his era.

According to Carter E. Foster, Steven and Ann Ames Curator of Drawing at the Whitney: “Archibald Motley’s achievement is on par with the greatest American artists of his generation. He inflected his paintings with an extraordinary visual rhythm and highly unusual sense of artificial light and color—his version of modernism is a unique and thrilling one. The presentation of this landmark exhibition at the Whitney and in the context of its collection argues for his long overdue place in the canon of great American painters.”

Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, and Dean of Humanities at Duke University, who curated the exhibition, writes: “Archibald Motley offers a fascinating glimpse into a modernity filtered through the colored lens and foci of a subjective African American urban perspective. Fusing psychology, a philosophy of race, upheavals of class demarcations, and unconventional optics, Motley’s art wedged itself between, on the one hand, a Jazz Age set of iconographic cultural passages, and on the other hand, an American version of Weimar Germany.”

Arranged thematically, with some chronological overlap, the exhibition has six sections, each looking at a particular facet of Motley’s oeuvre. It begins with a selection of the artist’s portraits, a traditional genre he treated with great sophistication, combining his strong sense of art history with an interest in changing social roles. The artist first achieved recognition for his dignified depictions of African Americans and people of mixed race descent, which challenged numerous contemporary stereotypes of race and gender.

In 1929, Motley received a Guggenheim Fellowship that allowed him to work for a year in Paris, where he created several lively paintings that vividly capture the pulse and tempo of the city. These canvases, which make up the section “Paris Blues,” depict diverse social worlds in Paris’s meandering streets and congested cabarets. Some of Motley’s greatest works came about during this period, including Blues (1929), a closely cropped image of couples dancing amid jazz musicians that is among the artist’s masterworks and an icon of the Harlem Renaissance.

Upon returning to the United States, Motley built further on the visual rhythms he honed in Paris in his scenes of “Bronzeville,” the common contemporary term for the thriving African-American neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago that greatly inspired the artist. His resulting works occupy the fourth section, “Nights in Bronzeville,” and together form a loose series that, taken together, is one of the most significant visual statements on modern urban life in America.

Paintings in the following section, “Between Acts,” reflect on leisure activity and societal changes within the African-American community. These urban scenes of dance halls, bars, parks, and playgrounds, at once celebrate the modernity of the Jazz Age, and simultaneously address influx of African-Americans from the south to northern cities as part of the Great Migration.

In “Hokum,” the artist’s penchant for outrageous humor and satire comes to the fore, his approach to his subject here sharing much in common with the genre of blues music from which the section takes its title. The final segment of the exhibition, “Caliente,” gathers works that were inspired by Motley’s travels through Mexico, where he created vivid and often surreal depictions of life and landscapes. The exhibition ends with a highly unusual, allegorical painting: a moving and disturbing meditation on race relations in America.

Archibald Motley is organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and curated by Richard J. Powell, John Spencer Bassett Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies and Dean of Humanities at Duke.


Archibald John Motley Jr. (1891–1981) was born in New Orleans but moved to Chicago, the city with which he is most closely associated, in 1894. His father was a Pullman porter, who lived and worked for the first half of the twentieth century in a predominately white neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest side, providing a middle class lifestyle for his family.

Motley studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1914 to 1918. Following his graduation, he participated in a string of group shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, receiving several awards for his work. In 1928, an exhibition of his paintings at New York City’s New Gallery garnered coverage in both The New York Times and The New Yorker.

Throughout the 1930s and 40s, Motley’s work was included in several exhibitions in the United States, including Contemporary Black Artists in America at the Whitney (1933), as well as group shows at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. (1933), the Baltimore Museum of Art (1939), and the Library of Congress (1940).

In the 1950s, Motley made several lengthy visits to Mexico, where his nephew, the writer Willard F. Motley, lived. He largely stopped painting in 1972. In 1980, he was one of ten African-American artists honored by Jimmy Carter at the White House. He died in Chicago in 1981.


Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist is accompanied by an illustrated exhibition catalogue with critical texts by scholars Davarian L. Baldwin, David C. Driskell, Oliver Meslay, Amy M. Mooney, Richard J. Powell and poet/essayist/novelist Ishmael Reed. The catalogue is published by the Nasher Museum and distributed by Duke University Press.

From the Duke Chronicle (images added):

Staring at the viewer from his 1933 “Self-Portrait (Myself at Work)” is Archibald J. Motley Jr., a painter who here, donning a navy beret, long triangular mustache and thick tan bohemian jacket, paints a nude woman. His room has a few relics: a small cross on the wall, an elephant statue, a small bottle of alcohol and a palette spotted with bold and blended paints...

Motley’s paintings are modern and jazz-influenced, navigating pieces from familiar—sometimes voyeuristic—portraits to depictions of wild Saturday nights.

His 1924 “Mending Socks” captures a rustic image of his grandmother in an orange shawl, working in a rocking chair next to a table with a bowl of fruit.
“Brown Girl After Bath” (1931) features a woman—with a distinctly more Modern-looking face—wearing nothing but hoop earrings, red lipstick and dance shoes. She looks into a mirror; not at herself, but at her viewers, questioning traditional representations of race, sexuality and art’s engagement with its audience.

And in the much more stylized cultural scene, “Barbecue” (1934), the canvas is filled with movement, conversation and a night sky that blends into the orange background...

The palette in “Bronzeville at Night” (1949) is mostly blue, with highlights in red stoplights, gauzy windows and women’s dresses. There’s a mixture of romance and nervousness, leisure and labor. Thin lines of orange paint create neon reflections and highlights on the bodies of Motley's subjects.

In “Street Scene” (1936), a woman wails in song, arms lifted and high-heeled feet spread wide apart. A dog howls, three women chorus with trumpets, one man blows into his trombone. The onlookers look more uncertain, more suspicious. A white police officer glares out of the corners of his eyes, and a small child cocks her head and watches.
From an outstanding review in Bloiun Artinfo:

“Archibald Motley: Jazz-Age Modernist,” now at LACMA, could be mistaken for two shows. Motley came to attention in the 1920s with riveting portraits of persons of color (above, Woman Peeling Apples, 1924). Not long afterward Motley’s output shifted to the work he’s mainly known for: colorful, cartoonish crowd scenes of black nightlife in Paris and Chicago (below, Saturday Night, 1935). It’s possible to feel that Spike Lee had turned into Tyler Perry.

One key to Motley’s career arc is the “New Negro” movement. The African-American intellectual Alain Locke called for blacks to create literature and art presenting their race in a dignified manner. Motley’s early portraits exemply this and prove that “dignified” does not have to be boring. Below is Motley’s 1933 Self-Portrait (Myself at Work). It recalls the the New Objectivity of Germany (which, by the way, will have a LACMA show next fall). Germans of the period favored occupational portraits with a magic-realist slant. While the French developed surrealism, the New Objectivists—and Motley—understood the power of the Dutch proverb, “Be yourself, and you will be strange enough.”

Videos about Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist from the Nasher Museum at Duke University: 

Another video about Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist:

Monday, August 17, 2015


The most comprehensive career retrospective in the U.S. to date of the work of Frank Stella, co-organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, will debut at the Whitney this fall.

The exhibition will be on view at the Whitney from October 30, 2015 through February 7, 2016, and at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth from April 17 through September 4, 2016; it will subsequently travel to the DeYoung Museum, San Francisco.

Frank Stella: A Retrospective brings together the artist’s best-known works installed alongside lesser known examples to reveal the extraordinary scope and diversity of his nearly sixty-year career. Approximately 100 works, including icons of major museum and private collections, will be shown. Along with paintings, reliefs, sculptures, and prints, a selection of drawings and maquettes have been included to shed light on Stella’s conceptual and material process. Frank Stella: A Retrospective is organized by Michael Auping, Chief Curator, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, in association with Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, with the involvement of Carrie Springer, Assistant Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

This is the first comprehensive Stella exhibition to be assembled in the United States since the 1987 retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. “A Stella retrospective presents many challenges,” remarks Michael Auping, “given Frank’s need from the beginning of his career to immediately and continually make new work in response to previous series. And he has never been timid about making large, even monumental, works. The result has been an enormous body of work represented by many different series. Our goal has been to summarize without losing the raw texture of his many innovations.”

“It’s not merely the length of his career, it is the intensity of his work and his ability to reinvent himself as an artist over and over again over six decades that make his contribution so important,” said Adam D. Weinberg. “Frank is a radical innovator who has, from the beginning, absorbed the lessons of art history and then remade the world on his own artistic terms. He is a singular American master and we are thrilled to be celebrating his astonishing accomplishment.”

Throughout his career, Stella has challenged the boundaries of painting and accepted notions of style. Though his early work allied him with the emerging minimalist approach, Stella’s style has evolved to become more complex and dynamic over the years as he has continued his investigation into the nature of abstract painting.

Adam Weinberg and Marla Price, Director of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, note in the directors’ foreword to the catalogue, “Abstract art constitutes the major, and in many ways, defining artistic statement of the twentieth century and it remains a strong presence in this century. Many artists have played a role in its development, but there are a few who stand out in terms of both their innovations and perseverance. Frank Stella is one of those. As institutions devoted to the history and continued development of contemporary art, we are honored to present this tribute to one of the greatest abstract painters of our time.”

The exhibition begins with rarely seen early works, such as

East Broadway (1958), from the collection of Addison Gallery of American Art, which show Stella’s absorption of Abstract Expressionism and predilections for colors and composition that would appear throughout the artist’s career.

Stella’s highly acclaimed Black Paintings follow. Their black stripes executed with enamel house paint were a critical step in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Minimalism. The exhibition includes such major works as

 Die Fahne hoch! (1959), a masterpiece from the Whitney’s own collection, and

The Marriage of Reason and Squalor II (1959) from The Museum of Modern Art’s collection.

 Telluride (1960-61), Creede I (1961), Creede II (1961)

A selection of the artist’s Aluminum and Copper Paintings of 1960–61, featuring metallic paint and shaped canvases, further establish Stella’s key role in the development of American Minimalism.

Even with his early success, Stella continued to experiment in order to advance the language of abstraction. The chronological presentation of Stella’s work tracks the artist’s exploration of the relationship between color, structure, and abstract illusionism, beginning with his Benjamin Moore series and Concentric Square Paintings of the early 1960s and 70s—

including the masterpiece Jasper’s Dilemma (1962).

In his Dartmouth, Notched V, and Running V paintings, Stella combines often shocking color with complex shaped canvases that mirror the increasingly dynamic movement of his painted bands.

These were followed by the even more radically shaped Irregular Polygon Paintings, such as

Chocorua IV (1966) from the Hood Museum, with internally contrasting geometric forms painted in vibrant fluorescent hues; and the monumental Protractor Paintings, such as

Harran II (1967) from the Guggenheim's collection, composed of curvilinear forms with complex chromatic variations.

The Polish Village series marks the beginning of Stella’s work in collage. He begins to increasingly incorporate various materials into large scale constructions in order to further probe questions of surface, line, and geometry.

In Bechhofen (1972), from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the interlocking geometric planes of unpainted wood stretch the purely pictorial into literal space.

The work of the mid-1970s and 1980s constitutes yet another form of expressive abstraction and illustrates Stella’s absolute insistence on extending his paintings into the viewer’s space. During his tenure as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor in Poetry at Harvard University (1983–4), Stella said that “what painting wants more than anything else is working space—space to grow with and expand into, pictorial space that is capable of direction and movement, pictorial space that encourages unlimited orientation and extension. Painting does not want to be confined by boundaries of edge and surface.”

Works from the artist’s Brazilian; Exotic Bird; Indian Bird; Circuit; and Cones and Pillars series, including

St. Michael’s Counterguard (1984) from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, address this interest. In these works, sheets of cut metal project out from the picture plane, creating gestures that are further activated with drawing and the addition of various reflective materials. The radical physical and material nature of these works was quite influential to a younger generation of painters in the 1980s.

In the last thirty years, much of Stella’s work has been related in spirit to literature and music.

The large-scale painted metallic reliefs in the Moby Dick series (1985–97), titled after each of the chapters of Melville’s novel, exemplify Stella’s idea of “working space.”

 Frank Stella, The Tail 1988 (Chapter 86)

The complexity of this series, made primarily in metallic relief with fabricated, cast, and found parts; prints; and freestanding sculpture, is a tour de force.

Extraordinary abstractions such as Loomings (S-7, 3X—1st version) (1986) from the Walker Art Center

and The Grand Armada (IRS-6, IX) (1989) from the Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, suggest visual elements, such as waves and fins, which recur in Melville’s narrative.

Since the 1990s Stella has explored this concept in increasingly complex two- and three-dimensional works of various materials, such as the large-scale aluminum and steel sculpture

Raft of the Medusa (Part I) (1990) from the collection of The Glass House,

and the mural-size painting Earthquake in Chile (1999), (right detail above) part of the artist’s Heinrich von Kleist series (1996–2008), which take as their point of departure the writings of the early nineteenth-century German author.

Paintings from Stella’s Imaginary Places series (1994–2004),

Frank Stella, Spectralia (Imaginary Places I) 1995

extraordinary metal reliefs from his Bali series (2002–2009), as well as the lightweight and dynamic sculpture from his Scarlatti Sonata Kirkpatric series (2006–present), whose delicacy and intricacy suggest the musical compositions of the Baroque master, represent the final segment of the exhibition. In many of these works Stella has used computer generated images and modeling to extend the complexity, layers, and allusions of his material process well beyond traditional media for painting and sculpture.

Frank Stella: A Retrospective underscores the important role Stella’s work plays within the art historical framework of the last half century. It provides a rare opportunity for viewers to discover the visual and conceptual connections within the extraordinarily expansive and generative body of work of an artist restless with new ideas.


Born in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1936, Stella attended Phillips Academy, Andover, and then Princeton University, where he studied art history and painting. In college, he produced a number of sophisticated paintings that demonstrated his understanding of the various vocabularies that had brought abstract painting into international prominence. After graduating in 1958, Stella moved to New York and achieved almost immediate fame with his Black Paintings (1958–60), which were included in The Museum of Modern Art’s seminal exhibition Sixteen Americans in 1959–60.

The Leo Castelli Gallery in New York held Stella’s first one-person show in 1962. The Museum of Modern Art, under William Rubin’s stewardship, presented his first retrospective only a few years later, in 1970, when Stella was only thirty-four years old. A second retrospective was held at MoMA in 1987. Since then, Stella has been the subject of countless exhibitions throughout the world, including a major retrospective in Wolfsburg in 2012.

Frank Stella: A Retrospective is the first survey of the artist’s career in the U.S. since 1987. He was appointed the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University in 1983. “Working Space,” his provocative lecture series (later published as a book), addresses the issue of pictorial space in postmodern art. Stella has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the 2009 National Medal of Arts and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center, as well as the Isabella and Theodor Dalenson Lifetime Achievement Award from Americans for the Arts (2011) and the National Artist Award at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Aspen (2015).


The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue, published by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and Yale University Press. The publication addresses in depth such themes as the artist’s complex balancing of expressionist gesture and geometric structure, his catholic referencing of the history of art (abstract, figurative, and decorative), the importance of seriality in Stella’s process, and his work’s impact on subsequent generations of American artists.

The catalogue includes an essay by Michael Auping that encompasses Stella’s entire artistic output and connects the many different series and transitions in the artist’s 60-year career. Adam Weinberg addresses Stella’s formative years at Andover and Princeton and his earliest influences. Art historian and artist Jordan Kantor contributes an essay about the artist’s more recent work, and artist Laura Owens interviews Stella. Stella’s highly articulate Pratt Lecture (1960) is also included. The book concludes with a substantial chronology.