Harmony Hammond at Alexander Gray Associates

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Bandaged Grid #1, 2015, Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas 44.25″ x 76.5″ x 5″

I’ve never thought of canvas like skin but these works by Harmony Hammond in her recent solo at Alexander Gray Associates have a corporeal aspect. They are distinctly mortal. From the moment one enters the gallery and turns left to see Bandaged Grid #1. One feels the presence of body and all of the serene messiness that comes with being human. These works are peeled, torn, painted, pierced and layered. Yet nothing is obvious. One must lean in to really listen to them and see them as they are. These pieces felt like the doors between the living and the dead in Egyptian Mastabas. One foot distinctly in the physical world at once fleshy, mortal and concrete, and yet simultaneously of the mystical realm.

For more information about Harmony Hammond please check out the Alexander Gray Associates website at:

http://www.alexandergray.com/artists/harmony-hammond/

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Bandaged Grid #1 (Detail)

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Bandaged Grid #1 (Detail)

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Ledger Drawings, 2015, One of Suite of Five Ink on Paper, 11.75″ x 9.5″

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Ledger Drawings (Detail)

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From left: Naples Grid and Things Various

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Naples Grid, 2015, Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas, 80.25″ x 54.5″ x 5

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Things Various, 2015, Oil and Mixed Media on Canvas, 80.25″ x 54.25″ x 5

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White Rims #7, 2015, Monotype on Paper with Metal Grommets, 47″ x 33.5″

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White Rims #7 (Detail)

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White Rims #4, 2015, Monotype on Paper with Metal Grommets, 47″ x 33.5″

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.

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)

Steven Baris at DM Contemporary

Another highlight on my recent gallery rounds in New York was the terrific exhibition from Steven Baris at DM Contemporary.

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Steven Baris (from left) Geometries of Flow E6 Geometries of Flow E4

I became familiar with Steven’s work through Facebook, but photographs did not prepare me for the subtleties of the work. They are strong striking compositions, yes, but it was the trace marks that drew me in. The works with their vibrant color feel very alive, but the ghostly  marks in the paint speaks of other histories. The great blocks of color allude to a type of abstract landscape. They seem like vast lonely plains of color with deserted buildings, and yet the trace marks ground the paintings in the human somehow. The marks give the works a past even though they are most certainly grounded in a graphic present. I am particularly in love with the framed Oil on Mylar works. We are still taking about Geometries of Flow D13. I was unable to take a good picture of it because of the sunlight spilling from an adjacent window, but that particular work on Mylar stood out. You can see that piece and learn more about Steven’s work on the DM Contemporary website and on Steven’s site as well.

http://www.dmcontemporary.com/index.html

http://www.stevenbaris.com

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Steven Baris Geometries of Flow E4, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 50″ x 50″

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Steven Baris Geometries of Flow E4 (Detail)

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Steven Baris Geometries of Flow E6 ,2014, Oil on Canvas, 48″ x 48″

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Steven Baris (From left) Geometries of Flow D10 & Geometries of Flow E5

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Steven Baris Geometries of Flow D10, 2013, Oil on Mylar, 31″ x 31″ Framed

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Steven Baris (From left) Geometries of Flow D12 & Geometries of Flow D11

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Steven Baris Geometries of Flow E3, 2013, 79″ x 79″ 

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