REPEAT/RECREATE: Clyfford Still’s “Replicas” at the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver

I’ll freely admit that I had a religious experience on viewing REPEAT/RECREATE: Clyfford Still’s “Replicas” at Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum. It’s unusual to get inside an artist’s head but every now and then an exhibition does just that, and this is one of those shows.

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Left: PH-1074, 1956-59 (1956-J-No.2) Right: PH-225, 1956 (1956-J-No.2)

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PH-225, 1956 (1956-J-No.2), Oil on canvas, 115″ x 104 3/4″

Collection of Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Museum purchase, The Benjamin J. Tillar Memorial Trust

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PH-1074, 1956-59 (1956-J-No.2), Oil on canvas, 117″ x 108″

Clyfford Still Museum

The Clyfford Still Museum is unique among world museums in that it houses the work of a single artist and it’s holdings comprise 94% of Still’s creative output including his archive of personal effects and correspondence. Still who said, “My painting is a life statement, not an autobiography,” was notoriously prickly about how his work was viewed and eschewed wall cards and any explanation of the work itself, preferring that the viewer find their way into the work on their own. REPEAT/RECREATE is a fascinating window into the artist’s thought process and how subtle shifts in scale, texture and color can influence one’s perception of what is, at first glance, a similar image.

What is unique about this exhibition, and what I found particularly moving,  is that it illustrates what many working artists experience in their creative practice; the constant investigation and questioning that takes place on a daily basis in the studio. Still made “replicas” of more than 50 works. These were not copies but in depth “re-explorations”. In some instances a similar composition was kept but the chromology was radically re-imagined. In most cases though there were more subtle changes; shifts in medium, shifts in application of paint, shifts in texture, shifts in the play of light across the paint surface through the manipulation of the reflective properties of the paint. All of these re-imaginings profoundly effect the viewer’s perception of the composition.

“Although the few replicas I make are usually close to or extensions of the original, each has its special and particular life and is not intended to be just a copy. The present work clarified certain factors and, paradoxically in this instance, was closer to my original concept than the first painitng, which bore the ambivalences of struggle.”

More information about the Clyfford Still Museum and it’s extraordinary collection can be found on their website.

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PH-855, 1928-29, Oil on canvas, 34 1/4″ x 44 1/2″

Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of International Business Machines Corporation

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PH-422, 1929, Oil on canvas, 23 1/2″ x 31″

Clyfford Still Museum

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PH-938, 1937/39 (?) (Study in Line; 1937-No 1), Oil on canvas, 51″ x 34″

Lent by Sara & Edward Germain in memory of Ashley & Alysse Weeks

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PH-553, 1937 (1937-No-2), Oil on canvas, 56 1/2″ x 36 1/2″

Clyfford Still Museum

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PH-938, 1937/39 (?) (Study in Line; 1937-No 1) Detail

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PH-553, 1937 (1937-No-2) Detail

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PL-21, 1943, Lithograph, 16 5/8″ x 12 1/2″

Clyfford Still Museum

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Left: PH-244, 1953 (1953-No.1), Oil on Canvas, 108 1/2″ x 91 1/2″

Right: PHX-27, undated, Oil on Canvas, 114 1/2″ x 104 1/2″

Clyfford Still Museum

What’s interesting about these two images, it’s difficult to see in the photographs, is the application of paint. In the painting on the left the paint is applied almost vertically from top to bottom and in the painting on the right the paint is applied in a sweeping pattern. From across the room the paintings feel similar, but when the viewer gets closer their emotional impact shifts because you become aware of the textural gesture of the paint and the energy of the paint surface.

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PH-244, 1953 (1953-No.1) Detail

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PHX-27, undated, Detail

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Left: PH-1111, 1952, Oil on Canvas, 91″ x 69 3/8″       Right: PP-135, 1956, Pastel on Paper, 13 3/4″ x 11″

PH-816, 1951 (1951-No.2/3?), Oil on canvas, 46 3/4″ x 38″

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Bequest of Caroline Wiess Law

This is another interesting example of how the medium influences the “feeling” of the work. The painting on the left has an almost muscular paint surface, with thick grainy applications of paint, and the image on the right is a very soft pastel. The powdery surface completely changes the way the work feels. Same composition, same colors, but very different feeling as a viewer from these two works.

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Left: PH-89, 1949 (1949-A-No.1)   Right: PH-177, 1949 (1949-A-No.2)

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PH-89, 1949 (1949-A-No.1), Oil on canvas, 93″ x 79″, Private Collection

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PH-177, 1949 (1949-A-No.2), Oil on canvas, 80″ x 68 1/2″, Glenstone

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PH-89, 1949 (1949-A-No.1) Detail

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PH-177, 1949 (1949-A-No.2) Detail

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Left: PH-235, 1944 (1944-N-No.1) Right: PH-671 (1944-N-No.2;Red Flash on Black Field)

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PH-235, 1944 (1944-N-No.1), Oil on Canvas, 105″ x 92 1/2″

Clyfford Still Museum

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PH-671 (1944-N-No.2;Red Flash on Black Field), Oil on canvas, 104 1/4″ x 87 1/4″

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Sydney and Harriet Janis Collection, 1967

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Left: PH-813-(1951-T-No.2) Center: PH-814 (1951-T-No.3) Right: PH-812, 1951 (1951-T-No.1)

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PH-813-(1951-T-No.2), Oil on canvas, 93 1/4″ x 75 3/4″, Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase

W. Hawkins Ferry Fund

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PH-814 (1951-T-No.3), Oil on canvas, 94″ x 82″

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Blanchette Hooker Rockerfeller Fund, 1954

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PH-812, 1951 (1951-T-No.1), Oil on canvas, 115″ x 104″

Clyfford Still Museum

What’s interesting about this image is that the painting is labeled No.1 but this is indeed the fourth “replica” of this painting. The first was destroyed by the artist. Versions 2 and 3 are in correct order.

Nick Theobald: With Honey From The Rock at Richard Taittinger Gallery

There is a particular sensation that comes with rain. Time slows and one’s tactile appreciation of touch, sound and smell is heightened. One luxuriates in that sensation as the perception of time slows with the elongated drumming pause that accompanies the steady fall of liquid from the sky. I felt that sense of suspension while viewing Nick Theobald’s almost reverential solo at Richard Taittinger Gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The works present in the gallery slow one’s sense of time and bathe the viewer in their tranquil, organic materiality like rain.

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More information about Nick Theobald and Richard Taittinger Gallery can be found on their websites below. With Honey From The Rock runs through December 12th. Richard Taittinger Gallery , 154 Ludlow Street, New York, NY.

http://richardtaittinger.com

http://nick-theobald.com

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William Perehudoff at Berry Campbell Gallery

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I really enjoyed being introduced to William Perehudoff’s beautiful works on display at Berry Campbell Gallery in Chelsea. Perehudoff, a Canadian artist who died in 2013, was one of Canada’s foremost abstract colorfield painters. You can find more information on Perehudoff’s work on the Berry Campbell website and there’s also an interesting interview with the artist on youtube.

http://www.berrycampbell.com/artist/William_Perehudoff%20(Estate)/works/#!1090

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between a place and candy: new works in pattern + repetition + motif

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David Poppie, Wandering Stars II, 2013, Colored Pencils on Panel

Courtesy Pavel Zoubok Gallery, New York

Great work lingers, and the works that were a part of between a place and candy: new works in pattern + repetition + motif, organized by Norte Maar and curated by Jason Andrews at the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Gallery, were no exception. They lingered. And they are still lingering 4 months later. The exhibition ran in New York from March 16 – June 12, 2015, and I had the great pleasure of seeing it in June before it closed. I had meant to write about the work right away but life got in the way and this post kept being put off, but the lingering power of the work haunted me. I am still struck, months later, by how immediate the work is, even in the photographs. The works still have a confident, visceral impact; Look at me and remember.

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There is a curious power to pattern and repetition. Many of the works in between a place and candy felt to me like emotional maps. Through the repetition of color, shape and line the works guide the viewer to look deeper, closer, both within the depths of the visual confines of the frame and also within the depths of the viewers own internal emotional memory. Through shape, delicate line, color, form and material substance the artists whose works comprised this exhibition reminded the viewer of the power of form, the resonate heft of replication and the guiding influence of line, both colored and not. These visual forces compel us to linger, to ponder, to wonder and to reflect. There is great power in that.

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David Poppie, Wandering Stars II (Detail)

http://davidpoppie.com

http://pavelzoubok.com

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Robert Zakanitch, Hanging Gardens Series (By the Seal), 2011/12, Gouache and Colored Pencil on Paper, 96 x 60 inches

Courtesy of Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York

http://www.nancyhoffmangallery.com

http://www.zakanitch.com/page2.html

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Robert Zakanitch, Hanging Gardens Series (By the Seal) Detail

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Lori Ellison, Untitled 2010, Gouache on wood panel

Courtesy McKenzie Fine Art

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Lori Ellison, Untitled 2012, 2013, 2008 & 2010 & Bedford Boogie Woogie Blue 2010, Gouache on wood panel

Courtesy McKenzie Fine Art, New York

http://www.mckenziefineart.com

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Leslie Kerby, The Contained World, 2015, Oil on Cardboard

http://lesliekerby.com

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Leslie Kerby, The Contained World (Detail)

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Mary Judge, Bacio, 2015, Flasche on Linen on Panel, 25 x 25 inches

http://www.maryjudge.com

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Jessica Weiss, Queen for a Day, 2014, Silkscreen, collage and acrylic on canvas, 70 inches x 68 inches

http://www.jessicaweiss.net

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Jessica Weiss, Queen for a Day (Detail)

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Colin Thomson, Medium, 2015, Oil on Canvas, 58 x 52 inches

Courtesy of Outlet Fine Art, Brooklyn

http://www.outletbk.com

http://www.colinthomsonstudio.net

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Margaret Lanzetta, Air Chrysalis, 2014, Oil and acrylic on canvas

http://margaretlanzetta.com

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Samantha Bittman, Untitled (2004 – 009), 2004, Acrylic on Handwoven Textile, 25 x 20 inches

Courtesy of Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Chicago and Outlet Fine Art, Brooklyn

http://www.andrewrafacz.com

http://www.outletbk.com

http://samanthabittman.com/home.html

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Libby Hartie, Untitled #21 (Arrow), 2015 Graphite Collage on Paper Mounted on Panel, 45 x 90 inches

http://www.outletbk.com

Seeing Differently

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Joan Miró, Man and Woman in Front of Pile of Excrement, 1935, Oil on Copper, 23 x 32cm

Great work can open your eyes, and Joan Miró’s Man and Woman in Front of Pile of Excrement opened mine to modern art. I first saw the painting in Scotland in 1980 when I was 14 years old. I remember laying eyes on it and feeling the room shift. Artistically, this small painting on copper was tantamount to a new pair of glasses. It was the visual equivalent of someone smacking me on the face and saying, “Snap out of it!” or my first great kiss. I engaged the world differently after experiencing it. I saw myself in the world differently.

 I was visiting my Scottish Grandmother at the time, and she was horrified at my fascination with this work. I couldn’t stop looking at it. It was like looking into my own reflection, at times beautiful, subversive, rude, familiar and yet grotesque. It encapsulated the way I felt at 14.

I know now that the painting was one of twelve “Wild Paintings” that were Miró’s response to the tragedy of the Spanish Civil war. I knew none of that then. I just knew that this picture moved me. I left changed on exiting the gallery after seeing it.

I saw the painting again just recently while visiting the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona. I turned a corner and there it was, suddenly, like a treasured mentor I hadn’t seen in decades and I wept. 36 years had passed since I had first seen that painting but I could still feel the way it moved me when I first looked upon it. Like opening a box of long lost journals it reminded me of the power of freshly seeing. The sensation of blinking until the world comes into focus. The power of looking.

My world, indeed the entire world, is much different now than it was almost 4 decades ago. But the power of seeing never changes, and looking, really looking can change the way we see.

http://www.fmirobcn.org/en/

Ben Quilty “Straight White Male” at Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong

Ben Quilty’s solo “Straight White Male” at Pearl Lam Galleries was the highlight of a day spent gallery hopping in Hong Kong. The canvases are a mixture of portrait and landscapes, but what sets them apart and what appealed to me was the muscular application of paint and the fashion with which it is applied and manipulated. The work has a freedom and coiled psychosis that is both beautiful and nightmarish. Many of the works use a technique that borrows from mono printing where the canvas is literally printed with the mirror image of it’s other half. By folding the canvas in two and printing it, Quilty references and exploits the ink blot tests created by Rorschach in the 19th century. The works are both test and test subject, blurring the line for the viewer between what is perceived and what is experienced.

http://www.pearllam.com/city/hong-kong/

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Maria Lassnig at MOMA PS1

Maria Lassnig’s recent retrospective at MOMA PS1 was one of the most beautifully honest and strangely grotesque showings of work I have seen in some time. I saw the exhibition in July during a trip to NY and I can still feel the work.

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Maria Lassnig Kopf (Head) Oil on Fiberboard, 1956

Maria worked in relative obscurity and became known to a larger audience later in her life. She died just recently in May in Vienna at the age of 94. The work in the exhibition is marked by a distinct palette and a muscular, expressive, raw and often off putting energy. The exhibition and much of Maria’s studio practice was devoted to the self-portrait. The impulse behind her works came from what she described as “body awareness”, a surrealist take on painting guided by one’s mental perception of oneself . Laceratingly honest, and self-reflective in ways that would make one blanch, these works positively vibrate.

For more information regarding Maria and her work check out the MOMA PS1 website and the website of Hauser & Wirth. There’s also an overview of her career in her New York Times Obituary written by Randy Kennedy.

http://momaps1.org/exhibitions/view/376

http://www.hauserwirth.com/artists/19/maria-lassnig/biography/

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/arts/design/maria-lassnig-painter-of-self-from-the-inside-out-dies-at-94.html?_r=0

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Maria Lassnig Selbstporträt/Abstrakter Kopf (Self-Portrait/Abstract Head) Oil on Canvas, 1956

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Maria Lassnig Kopfheit (Headness) Oil on Fiberboard, 1956- 57

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Maria Lassnig Zwei Formen übereinander/Schwarze Flächenteilung (Two Forms Superimposed/Black Surface Distribution)                  

Oil on Jute, 1952

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Maria Lassnig Ungeteilte Form (Undivided Form) Oil on Jute, 1952 – 53

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Maria Lassnig, Both works:  Ohne Titel (Untitled) Oil on Canvas, 1960

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Ohne Titel (Detail)

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Maria Lassnig Left: Woman Laokoon (Woman Laocoön) Oil on Canvas, 1976

Right: Dreifaches Selbstporträt (New Self) Oil, Charcoal on Canvas, 1970 – 72

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Woman Laokoon (Detail)

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Dreifaches Selbstporträt (New Self) Oil, Charcoal on Canvas, 1970 – 72

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Dreifaches Selbstporträt (Detail)

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Dreifaches Selbstporträt (Detail)

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Maria Lassnig Selbstporträt unter Plastik (Self-Portrait Under Plastic) Oil on Canvas, 1972

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Maria Lassnig Selbstporträt hit Maulkorb (Self-Portrait with Muzzle) Oil on Canvas, 1973

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Maria Lassnig Left: Das Innere nacho auBen (Inside Out) Oil on Canvas, 1992

Right: Selbstporträt hit Nervenlinien (Self-Portrait with Nervous Lines) Oil on Canvas, 1996

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Das Innere nacho auBen (Detail)

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Das Innere nacho auBen (Detail)

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Maria Lassnig Ohne Titel (Untitled) Oil on Canvas, 2002

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Ohne Titel (Detail)

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Maria Lassnig Ich trage die Verantwortung (I Bear Responsibility) Oil on Canvas, 1981

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Ich trage die Verantwortung (Detail)

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Maria Lassnig Dame hit Hirn (Lady with Brain) Oil on Canvas, Undated

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Dame hit Hirn (Detail)

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Maria Lassnig Eiserne Jungfrau und fleischige Jungfrau (Iron Virgin and Fleshy Virgin) Oil on Canvas, 2004

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Eiserne Jungfrau und fleischige Jungfrau (Detail)

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