Fig­u­ra­tively Speak­ing

A new ex­hi­bi­tion at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery re­veals artis­tic her­itage.

American Fine Art Magazine - - Museum Preview: Doylestown, Pa -

A new ex­hi­bi­tion at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery re­veals artis­tic her­itage.

The paint­ings of Irv­ing Nor­man (1906-1989) are beau­ti­fully ter­ri­fy­ing. their bright colors and in­tense pat­terns con­vey im­ages of so­ci­etal dys­func­tion.the singer­song­writer Gra­ham Nash re­called look­ing at the paint­ings with the artist in 1972,“The im­ages were stun­ning, al­most as if Ge­orge Or­well’s 1984-ish night­mare had been brought vividly to life.” He con­tin­ued, “i felt a great affin­ity with Irv­ing; it seemed our souls had met be­fore, that he and I were part and par­cel of the same per­son, a per­son who wanted to make this crazy, beau­ti­ful/aw­ful world a bet­ter place for our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.

I be­lieve he rec­og­nized my pas­sion for singing about the world as it re­ally was, not as the state-con­trolled me­dia would por­tray it, and his work af­fected me on deep, deep, level.”

Years later, at the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery in Newyork, he saw sev­eral of Nor­man’s paint­ings. “in par­tic­u­lar Supreme Jus­tice, 1974, res­onated with me,” he re­lates, “the Supreme Court jus­tices with their closed, blind eyes and their empty notepads is so dis­turb­ing in light of what is hap­pen­ing to­day in our coun­try. One has to have great courage to speak truth to power and Irv­ing Nor­man found that courage, time and time again.”

Supreme Jus­tice has re­turned to the Michael Rosenfeld Gallery for the ex­hi­bi­tion, Fig­u­ra­tively Speak­ing, through Jan­uary 20.The work in the ex­hi­bi­tion ranges from the clas­sic magic re­al­ism of Jared French (1905-1987), Paul Cad­mus (1904-1999) and Ge­orge Tooker (19202011) to pow­er­ful por­traits by Bob Thomp­son (1937-1966), Charles White (1918-1979) and Alice Neel (19001984). It is an ex­tra­or­di­nary gath­er­ing of fig­ure and por­trait paint­ings that re­veal our artis­tic her­itage, as well as the

psy­che and so­cial stand­ing of the sit­ters.

White’s draw­ing I Been Re­buked & I Been Scorned, 1954, might rep­re­sent him­self as it rep­re­sents not only a par­tic­u­lar African Amer­i­can woman, but ev­ery African Amer­i­can.as a boy he was twice awarded schol­ar­ships to study art, but when he ar­rived to claim them he was told the schol­ar­ships were no longer avail­able.the gallery notes, “with the rise of Mccarthy­ism af­ter World War II, the FBI be­gan a sur­veil­lance file on White. Un­daunted, white con­tin­ued to ad­vance a pol­i­tics of strug­gle in his art, cel­e­brat­ing his­tor­i­cal fig­ures who re­sisted slav­ery, such as Truth and Har­ri­ett Tub­man, and de­pict­ing or­di­nary black farm­ers, preach­ers, moth­ers and work­ers with an un­wa­ver­ing strength and a silent, solid grace. In 1952, he be­gan to ex­e­cute these works in char­coal and sepia tones, ren­der­ing his sub­jects in mon­u­men­tal, rounded forms.”

Beau­ford De­laney (1901-1979) was an ac­com­plished col­orist. His Fau­vist Un­ti­tled (Self­por­trait with Odal­isque), ca. 1943, is in the ex­hi­bi­tion. De­laney “felt marginal­ized along the lines of race, class and sex­u­al­ity,” the gallery states. He moved to Paris in the mid-50s where he wrote, “one must be­long be­fore one may then not be­long. I be­long here in Paris. I am able to re­al­ize my­self here. I am no ex­pa­tri­ate.”

Benny An­drews (1930-2006) cre­ated his oil and painted fab­ric col­lage The Way in 1995 as part of his Re­vival Se­ries. He grew up as a share­crop­per and be­came an artist, ac­tivist and ed­u­ca­tor. He sat for a hu­mor­ous and mov­ing in­ter­view for the Archives of Amer­i­can Art in 1868.An­drews ex­plained,“…and one [thing] has al­ways in­ter­ested me be­cause, like I men­tioned about my back­ground and my her­itage and things, and I have this need to con­tribute now… In my way, I’m try­ing to con­tribute in this par­tic­u­lar in­stance, to the Ne­gro. I’m try­ing to con­tribute to the de­vel­op­ment of a kind of equal­ity, vis­ually. this is what I think I can of­fer in re­la­tion­ship to the Ne­gro. That is to present him as the man that he is. Now that might not sound like much but that’s a very, very big thing, the man that he is. Be­cause he’s al­ways been a man. He’s al­ways been. It is just that he has been de­picted—and I don’t just nec­es­sar­ily mean in art, I mean our whole psy­chol­ogy—of less than a man. And so my lit­tle con­tri­bu­tion is to do just that. Is just to make him the man that he is, what­ever he’s do­ing.”

Benny An­drews (1930-2006), The Way (Re­vival Se­ries), 1995. Oil on can­vas with painted fab­ric col­lage, 60 x 40¼ x 3/8 in., signed and dated. © Es­tate of Benny An­drews / Li­censed by VAGA, New York, NY. Cour­tesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.

Beau­ford De­laney (1901-1979), Un­ti­tled (Self-por­trait with Odal­isque), ca. 1943. Oil on panel,

231/16 x 311/16 in. © Es­tate of Beau­ford De­laney. Cour­tesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.

Charles White (1918-1979), I Been Re­buked & I Been Scorned, 1954. Char­coal and Wolff crayon on pa­per, 55 x 277/8 in., signed and dated. © The Charles White Archives. Cour­tesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.

Ge­orge Tooker (1920-2011), Foun­tain, 1950. Egg tem­pera on gesso panel. 24 x 24 in., signed. Cour­tesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.

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