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Artists

Jared Freihoefer

All of my paintings seek to emphasize the importance of the individual and their experiences.  By painting these lost narratives, I am trying to assign significance to these untold secrets of the city.  Every person plays a part in the overall character of the sociological structure.  The manner in which we are all connected may manifest itself in circumstances that are unknown.  My paintings present an opportunity to expose and examine these connections.  I favor visually balanced, asymmetrical approach to imagery while simultaneously inspiring thought and conversation on a conceptual level.  Although I was taught and am able to execute traditional and realistic artwork, I prefer to draw and paint stylized figures, seldom depicting the world around me literally.  The primary intention of my paintings are to initially attract the viewer to the composition while simultaneously drawing them to examine the conceptual layers of artwork.  In an effort to appeal to the largest audience, the subject matter is universal and relevant to everyone.  The subjects of love, loss, death, relationships, and human gestures are felt universally.  I try to make images look the way they feel to me.  These paintings invite the viewer to see the surrounding world through a new artistic lens.

Dean Nimmer

Dean Nimmer was the Chairman of the Foundations program and head of the 2D Fine Arts department at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston where he holds the title of Professor Emeritus. Professor Nimmer has conducted hands-on workshops based on his art from intuition creativity techniques at Harvard, Yale, Vanderbilt, and James Madison Universities, and at the Central Academy of Art and Design, China, Burren College of Art, Ireland, and at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia. He has exhibited his work in more than 200 solo and group exhibitions across the U.S. and in China, Japan, Australia, Spain, Ireland, Germany, and France.

Professor Nimmer is the author of the successful book, Art from Intuition, published by Watson/Guptill, 2008. This book is the culmination of his teaching career that focused on helping artists and art students overcome the obstacles and fears that block creativity.

Winner of over 20 national awards for his art and teaching, Dean Nimmer was granted the “2010, Distinguished Teaching of Art Award” given by the 16,000-member College Art Association.

The core of Professor Nimmer’s artmaking and teaching philosophy is centered in his belief that, “The only thing you can do wrong in art is to not make art.”

Helen Frankenthaler

American b.1928, New York City

Born the daughter of a justice on the New York Supreme Court, Frankenthaler went on to study at Bennington College in Vermont and under the tutelage of Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo. It was her affair with the famed modern art critic Clement Greenberg which introduced her to New York’s blossoming avant-garde art scene of the 1950s. Taken aback by the honest spontaneity of Jackson Pollock’s splattered canvases, Frankenthaler was inspired to explore the possibilities of post-painterly methods, that is, painting realized without the use of a brush.

Her canvases communicate the semblance of an accident: oil paint diluted with turpentine is poured onto unprimed canvas allowing the paint to soak directly into the cloth. The resultant “soak-stain” is as physically flat as painting can be: the pigment and cloth become one entity, not even the miniscule depth of a brush stroke is visible. Nevertheless, the “halo-effect” produced by the diluted oil paint gives the illusion of disengagement from the canvas; Frankenthaler’s amorphous stains appear to float.

Some may argue that Frakenthaler is the most important female modern artist still living today, yet she was initially denied credit for her innovations. Allegedly embittered towards Frankenthaler after she ended their affair, Greenberg diminished her influence in the creation of Post-Painterly Color Field painting. Instead, he championed Morris Louis as its pioneer, when in fact he was directly inspired by Frankenthaler’s stains.

Nevertheless, she is not resentful of this art historical sexism; in regards to the women’s movements of the 1970s she said in an interview that “the question of sex will take care of itself”. Greenberg’s initial warping of her influence has been rewritten and, as Frankenthaler herself prophesized, the modern art world today recognizes and champions her contributions.

Jim Dine

American b.1935, Cincinnati

Dine’s work is overtly autobiographical. At the young age of twelve, his mother passed away leaving him to be raised by his grandparents, owners of a modest hardware store in Cincinnati. Much of his adolescence was spent surrounded by hand tools, which have become a staple of his aesthetic; Dine once explained that “I used [them] because they felt right. They felt like relatives of mine, as though their last name was Dine.”

After studying at the University of Ohio, Dine moved to Manhattan where he became close friends with the artists experimenting with Happenings, or performance art. Yet, unlike many young artists swept up in the vogue scene of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art in the 1960s, Dine refused to become a devout disciple of either.

While many art critics chose to classify his work as Pop Art for its incorporation of consumer products, Dine defiantly rejects this label.

Even if Pop Art and Dine both use the everyday objects, they reach extremely disparate conclusions: the items utilized in Pop Art are often impersonal, shallow, and mass-produced where Dine’s overall aesthetic is multi-layered and always self-referential. He himself denigrated Pop Art as too severely “cold”.

His incorporation of tools, often the actual tool itself attached to the canvas, create a virtual shrine to his childhood by incorporating the paraphernalia of his past. Nevertheless, many critics and art historians continue to understand his work as Pop Art; in many ways, Dine exemplifies the problems of art historical labeling in modern art which often polysemetic and defiant of any one category.

Ellsworth Kelly

American b.1923, Newburgh, New York

Kelly lived a modest childhood in upstate New York and New Jersey. Somewhat of an introvert, he spoke with a stutter until his teenage years and spent much of his time bird watching with his grandfather (an adolescent pastime to which he attributes a keen aptitude for “looking” at nature’s pure forms and colors). His parents, concerned with the livelihood of their child’s future, discouraged his artistic ambitions. After finishing his service with the US Army in 1943, he traveled to Paris to study at a Parisian academy with a grant he received from the G.I. Bill.

While his name eventually became synonymous with Minimalism and Elemental Hard-Edge Painting, styles noted for clean razor-edged lines and elemental reduction, Kelly initially had difficulty breaking into the art world when he moved to Manhattan in the 1950s. His defiantly two dimensional compositions of pure color and mass were immense in size and utilized multiple canvases, a concept relatively unheard of for the time.

Where some art critics categorize his work as completely non-objective, Kelly maintains that his compositions are inspired by nature, its forms reduced to pure elements: mass and color. Kelly’s minimalist compositions can be off-putting in their directness. But unlike generations of artists that preceded him, Kelly’s work is not concerned with painterliness, or the idiosyncrasies of the artist’s hand, but rather with the “presence of the work as a whole”.

In Hard-Edge Painting, defined by the art historian Lawrence Alloway, “the whole picture becomes the unit…figures on a field is avoided.” This is precisely Kelly’s challenge to us: to cease our traditional search for subject matter within the canvas and instead experience the canvas as an aesthetic entity in and of itself.

Roy Lichtenstein

New York City, 1923-1997

Lichtenstein was born into a wealthy established family on New York’s upper west side. After attending art school at the Ohio State University, he joined the Army Corps with which he traveled throughout Europe during World War II both contributing to the war efforts and continuing his art education in the grand museums of Paris. Although he settled into domestic life in Cincinnati, his artistic fame eventually divorced him from his familial life and pulled him back to New York City.

Only Andy Warhol can be compared to Lichtenstein for his contributions to Pop Art of the 1960s. Reproduced in a faithfully similar style, his monumental stills of melodramatic comic book scenes have become synonymous with his name. By employing the same bold black outlines, square format, flat colors and benday dots (a method of coloring used by comic books and advertisers to achieve various color shades with only primary colors), Lichtenstein elevated the ephemeral scraps of our daily pop culture to high art.

Like other Pop artists, his attitude towards the material culture he immortalized is ambiguous The comic book scenes and commercial aesthetic may be read understood as a celebration of our consumer culture. On the other hand, they may be read as ironic parodies: a social critique of a culture so deeply industrialized that even its artistic aesthetic has become mechanized.

Yet it is the neutral attitude of Lichtenstein that makes his work enigmatic. It is as though his comics take the temperature of our contemporary society. They acknowledge that this is what our material culture has become: mass-produced, capitalistic and industrial. By avoiding overt “social messages”, Lichtenstein prompts contemplation about our new material world, but allows the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions.

Cy Twombly

American b.1928, Lexington, Virginia

Twombly attended The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The Art Students League in New York and Black Mountain College in North Carolina, where he met Robert Rauschenberg, Merce Cunningham and John Cage.

In 1953 he was drafted into the Army and served as a cryptologist by day and made automatic drawings in the dark at night. From 1955 – 1959, he worked in New York where he was in close contact with Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. In 1959 he moved to Rome and has called Italy home since then.

Unlike many of his contemporaries who rejected the “macho emoting” of Abstract Expressionism, Twombly embraced some of its tenets as well as the materials commonly associated with Abstract Expressionism. But Twombly was a reclusive and private man and, by contrast, his work was quieter, more contemplative; often made up of sparse, fragile, hesitant scribbles, smudges, smears and drips. His palette was also more subdued – sometimes monochromatic with generous areas of white, grey, tan or black grounds.

It is difficult to categorize the work of Cy Twombly but he acknowledges influences that range from his studies with Franz Kline to the myths of antiquity, cryptology, poetry, the light of the Mediterranean and the automatic techniques of Dada and Surrealism.

The Menil Collection in Houston, Texas features a Cy Twombly Gallery which includes more than thirty paintings, drawings and sculptures executed between 1953 and 1994. Twombly exhibits around the world and in 2008, a major traveling retrospective opened at London’s Tate Modern Museum.

Robert Rauschenberg

American 1925 – 2008

Born Milton Rauschenberg to fundamentalist parents in Port Arthur, Texas, Rauschenberg claimed to have never seen an original painting until he visited a library in California while on leave from the Navy.

In quick succession he attended the Kansas City Art Institute, The Academie Julien in Paris, and intermittently, Black Mountain College in North Carolina where he studied with the Bauhaus guru, Joseph Albers. (Later he would say he owed much of his approach to art to rejecting everything about Albers.) He also attended the Art Students League in New York from ’49 into ’51. And after traveling through Europe and North Africa with fellow artist Cy Twombly he returned to New York where he soon began to bridge the gap between Abstract Expressionism and what would come to be called Pop Art.

He rejected the angst and seriousness of AbEx and in 1953 he made sculptures and assemblages of found objects – juxtapositions that could be both startling and humorous. In 1954 he produced the first combines – a new term that described his technique of combining sculpture with painting and collage.

Around this time he and fellow artist Jasper Johns, influenced by the irreverent Marcel Duchamp, were exchanging radical ideas about art. In ’58 Rauschenberg pioneered the use of solvent transfers on drawings and by ’62 he began combining silkscreened photographic images with paint and collage on paintings. In ’64 he was the first American to be awarded the Grand Prize for Painting at the Venice Biennale.

He worked in almost every medium and his friendships with avant-garde composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham drew him to performance pieces and to creating costume and set designs that were as innovative as his combines had been.

Later in life he traveled widely and his collaborations with artists and workshops abroad engendered The Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Exchange (1985 – 91), four posters from which are shown here.

Rauschenberg’s obituary in The New York Times noted that he often lent his hand to social causes and it praised his quiet support of struggling artists as well as his generosity to neighbors on Captiva Island, Florida where he had lived since 1970.

James Rosenquist

American b. 1933, Grand Forks, North Dakota

In 1954 Rosenquist painted his first billboard in Minneapolis. A year later he won a scholarship to attend the Art Students League in New York. He joined a sign painters union in 1957 and began painting billboards in Times Square.

By 1960 he had rented a studio in a low rent district of Manhattan where his neighbors included Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Robert Motherwell.

Within a year he created the first of his studio paintings which exploited the commercial techniques he used as a billboard painter. He was also employing the fragmented imagery that would become his signature style.

In 1962 he held his first solo exhibition and attracted the attention of noted architect and collector, Philip Johnson, who commissioned him to paint a mural for the New York World’s Fair. He was soon included in important exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim. In ’64 he exhibited in Europe and signed with the prestigious Leo Castelli Gallery in New York.

Rosenquist’s work shared the jarring “pop” imagery of his contemporaries but while some of them pushed the status quo intellectually and through technical innovations and adaptations, Rosenquist made his mark through social commentary and sheer force of scale. His landmark F-111, painted during the Viet Nam war, was eighty-six feet wide and juxtaposed seductively rendered images of modern weaponry with symbols of the American “good life”.

In 1982 he exhibited Four New Clear Women (17’ x 46’) at Castelli’s Greene Street Gallery. In ’85 a traveling retrospective opened at the Denver Museum and in ’91 he held retrospective exhibitions in Moscow and Spain. Rosenquist lives and works in Aripeka, Florida.

Claes Oldenburg

Swedish born American b.1929

Brought to America as an infant by Swedish parents, Oldenburg was raised in Chicago and attended the Art Institute of Chicago. After becoming a US citizen in 1953, he relocated to NYC’s East Village, the artistic epicenter of the 1950s.

Oldenburg first made a name for himself for his association with Happenings, precursors to performance art, and with Pop Art which looked to mundane products of consumer culture. With The Store (1961), more an artistic environment than a single ‘piece’ of art, Oldenburg rented a storefront in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and stocked the interior with roughly crafted and loosely painted objects common to “low culture.” This pivotal work helped define the concept of Pop Art for it declared, as Andy Warhol’s soup cans would, that the subject of visual art need not be grand or profound.

Yet, unlike Warhol who directly reproduced images of consumer culture, Oldenburg mutates their material, scale and setting. The props he created for The Store led to monumental soft sculptures such as Floor Cake; these large pliant sculptures, constructed from muslin, canvas, and vinyl challenged expectations and created an object in constant flux as gravity gradually took its toll on their supple forms.

Oldenburg is perhaps most renowned for his public sculptures such as the monumental clothespin in Philadelphia, which revitalize ordinary public spaces with unexpected aggrandizements of our “normal objects.” The monuments usually include a coy nod to their destinations: e.g., for Philadelphia, the clothespin’s spring clip forms a ‘7’ on one side and a ‘6’ on the other. His icons to material culture challenge the notion of what a public monumental sculpture can or should be. Since 1976, Oldenburg has collaborated closely with his wife, Coosje van Bruggen to conceive and execute sculptures. But, in January of 2009 Oldenburg lost his partner and collaborator when van Bruggen succumbed to breast cancer at the age of sixty-six. By now, so central was she to his thinking that he said he is inclined to continue adding her name to his work.

Barnett Newman

American 1905-1970 b. New York City

The son of Russian immigrants, Newman was raised in a Jewish community of New York City in the 1920s. Although he graduated with a degree in Philosophy from the City College of New York, he quickly turned his attention towards art. After failing the exam to become a public school art teacher four times, Newman focused his efforts on painting and writing theoretical essays about modern art and spirituality in art. For lack of critical recognition, it was an incessant struggle for Newman and his wife to support themselves financially well into the 1950s.

Although he is often labeled an Abstract Expressionist, his lack of visible brush strokes and reductiveness make it more apt to consider Newman as a pivotal figure towards movements like Post-Painterly Abstraction and Minimalism. His most emblematic canvases follow a certain formula: a massive field of unmodulated color, at times 8×20 feet in size, interrupted by thin vertical lines of contrasting color – figures he nicknamed “Zips.” One experiences more than views a work by Newman; the immense scale of the canvases can consume the entire peripheral vision of the spectator.

Newman insisted that the human scale of his work is intended to demonstrate that abstract art indeed has a human quality. While modern art is commonly misunderstood for its obtuse lack of subject matter, Newman maintained that “no good painting is about nothing.” Abstraction, instead of alienating the public, could be used as a tool towards depiction of emotion or spirituality on a universal level.

Critical reception of Nemwan remained divided throughout most of his working years. Painting mostly in the 1950s, he was overshadowed by the fame and cult-like following of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Newman was often excluded from major modern art shows where he clearly deserved representation. Even during the height of his productive years, Newman at times refused to exhibit or even paint because he felt so personally offended by the art critics who failed to see the value of his work.

Today art historians are in accordance on the significant role Newman played in contributing to Minimalism, large-scale painting and theoretical discourse written about modern art. After his death in 1970, his wife, Analee Newman, created the Barnett Newman Foundation to promote the work of her late husband.

Frank Stella

American b.1936, Malden, MA

Born into an affluent family in Massachusetts, Stella was never far from the New York art scene. After graduating from Princeton University with a degree in History, he immediately moved to Manhattan where he would become one of the most celebrated modern painters of the 1960s. At the precocious age of 23, Stella signed to the Leo Castelli gallery, the premier modern art dealer of the time. In 1970 he officially became the youngest artist to ever be celebrated in a retrospective by the Museum of Modern Art.

Although Stella’s work today ironically tends towards a Baroque dynamism, he is most recognized for his contributions to Minimalism, a near opposite aesthetic. The art historian Clement Greenberg maintained that the trajectory of art over the past two hundred years has been in the pursuit of flatness, or rather in admitting the two-dimensionality of the canvas. Eschewing the vogue of Abstract Expressionism and Jackson Pollock’s all-over compositions of movement, Stella sought control, restraint and Greenberg’s flatness. His most revolutionary paintings feature parallel and perpendicular interlocking lines, blocks and shapes of pure color. Stella famously declared that, “what you see is what you see,” implying that his work is not imitative or representative of anything, but rather declares its own “objecthood” in and of itself.

While Stella is noted in the art history textbooks for evolving the tenets of flatness and minimalism in modern art, his aesthetic since the 60s is increasingly complex and three-dimensional. In the 1980s, Stella began using lacquer paint on laser-cut aluminum to execute chaotic abstractions that blur the line between painting and sculpture. In regards to this paradox, the artist declared, “a sculpture is just a painting cut out and stood up somewhere.” Although the explosive three-dimensionality of Stella’s current work may be in some sense antithetical to his freshman work, he remains a dominant figure in the art world today. Stella continues to work in his studio in Manhattan and has become a leader in the Artists’ Rights Society advocating just copyright laws for visual artists.

David Smith

American 1906-1965 b. Decatur, Illinois

Smith grew up in a middle-class household in the small Midwestern town of Paulding, Ohio. He abandoned his undergraduate studies at Ohio State University in order to work as a welder at an automobile plant in Indiana where he was first introduced to metalwork. Drawn to the arts scene in New York City, Smith moved there in order to study at the Art Students League where he met Dorothy Dehner who would become a successful artist in her own right and Smith’s wife. With the outbreak of WWII, he enlisted into service at a locomotive factory which helped him hone his skills working with steel and iron.

By the 1950s, a new trend in sculpture was emerging; instead of casting or carving, artists began constructing works of art through additive processes like welding. Smith’s work epitomizes modernity in sculpture; he not only utilized the industrial material of our modern-age but also drew inspiration from Minimalist trends in painting at the time. The austere geometric steel forms may seem simple, but the way in which the open spaces makes volume out of void add a dynamic dimension to his work. The art critic Clement Greenberg noted in an essay about Smith that “substance [is] entirely optical…matter is incorporeal, weightless and exists only optically like a mirage.”

In 1950, he received a Guggenheim fellowship, which freed him from economic burdens and allowed him to work on a much larger scale. Smith maintained a sizeable studio in upstate New York in order to complete his increasingly massive industrial sculptures. In the midst of completing Cubi, arguably some of the most important sculptures of the 20th century, Smith died in a car crash. Today his work continues to be exhibited in museums and sold in galleries around the world.

Jasper Johns

American b.1930, Augusta, Georgia

Born in Georgia and raised by a succession of relatives in Allendale, South Carolina, Jasper Johns came of age as an artist in New York when Abstract Expressionism was at its height. And though he took from it what he could use, it was not for him – especially after his introduction to the work and musings of artist, Marcel Duchamp.

One night in 1954 Johns dreamed of painting the American flag. The next day he did it and a door opened for him. The flag was followed by targets, numbers, letters, maps – things that are already two-dimensional and things that we commonly look at but don’t see. He was using encaustic, a mixture of pigment and liquid wax, which dries immediately and would thus capture precisely the stroke of the brush. This technique also allowed for instantly applying layer upon layer of paint without looking overworked. He was and is always interested in process.

The work of Jasper Johns can be traced and dissected but maybe never known. A complex and private person, Johns’ work is a chronicle of his life; his interests, his childhood, his knowledge of philosophy and poetry, the history of art and his observations and concerns from the banal to the most mysterious – life and death among them. He seems to be constantly questioning what we (and he) think we know and turning those concepts inside out.

Through irony, paradox and ambiguity he creates visual and mental puzzles, often incorporating three-dimensional objects or the traces they make into his paintings. As some artists of his time sought to be more mechanical, Johns’ elegant nuances of touch were highly personal and they could turn the mundane into the sublime.

His interest in process also led to his association with emerging print studios and he became a brilliant printmaker – reviving and exploiting the possibilities of various techniques, always with an eye to how that could uniquely contribute to the outcome.

Never one to “milk” his successes and ever attuned to life, Johns drew considerable criticism after 1982 when his new work began to incorporate allusions to three dimensionality, figures and cryptic references to personal issues and milestones.

In 1988 Johns was awarded the Grand Prize at the Venice Biennale and in 1996 The Museum of Modern Art presented a major retrospective of his work. He currently lives in Connecticut and on St. Maarten Island.

Robert Motherwell

American 1915-1991 b. Aberdeen, Washington

While his name may not be immediately familiar, Motherwell did more than any other modern artist in both paint and words to articulate the tenets of Abstract Expressionism and solidify its legacy. The son of a wealthy banker in San Francisco, Motherwell studied Philosophy at Stanford and Art History at Columbia University.

After a trip to Paris in 1938 where he became acquainted with European Modernism and various Surrealist painters, he returned to New York with a desire to paint. Motherwell also credits conversations with Alfred Whitehead, the first philosopher to write extensively about abstraction, and Meyer Schapiro, a prolific art historian, as compelling to his artistic career.

Living and working in Greenwich Village in the 1950s, Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline, William de Kooning and Motherwell constituted what Motherwell coined The New York School. While in accordance with European Modernism’s rejection of realism as easy and shallow, the group of American Abstract Expressionists imbued their painting with a potent emotional charge.

Motherwell once wrote, “without ethical consciousness, a painter is only a decorator.” Inspired by the Surrealists’ use of automatism, or the process of intuitive, accidental artistic creation, he set out to paint universal and “authentic” feelings. Visual abstraction, he argued, had the power to strip away the unnecessary in order to reach the essential emotions of the human experience.

Similar to other AbExers, Motherwell’s works are visual records of his body interacting with the canvas: the gesture of his arm flinging diluted paints and moving across the canvas are as idiosyncratic as the scraps of papers from his daily life that he collaged into the paintings. His first series, which he titled Elegies, mediates on the heroism and loss of life in the Spanish Civil War. This renowned series of more than 150 works features variations on the theme of black columnar swaths suspending bulbous ovoids; he named the paintings “emblems for universal tragedy” in which white signified life and black, death.

In the 1970s, inspired by Matisse, Motherwell began a series of “opens” or “wall and window” paintings in which featureless landscapes of a single subtly modulated color are asymmetrically divided by lines and depth modulations. “There is something in me that responds to the stark beauty of dividing a flat solid plane,” he wrote.

Although the youngest in age, Motherwell was a crucial actor in the New York School whose other members died young, like Pollock, or were painfully shy, like Rothko. Trained in rhetoric and a capable writer, Motherwell was able to wield his powers for communication to explain Abstract Expressionism to the public in text and speeches.

He continued to work and teach until his death at the age of 76. Today, his paintings are a staple of any significant modern art collection, public or private.

Richard Serra

American b.1939, San Francisco, California

While today Serra splits his time between New York and Nova Scotia, he still considers the Bay Area home. As an undergraduate at Berkeley University, he worked at Bethlehem Steel where he earned enough money to support his studies and also became familiar with how to mold steel. After receiving scholarships to study Fine Arts at Yale University as well as schools in Paris and Florence, Serra returned to America to embark on a career as a Minimalist sculptor.

Utilizing his experience from steel mills, Serra is most renowned for his monumental sculptures of thin sheets of steel which precariously tower or tilt twelve to thirteen feet above the ground. The massive scale of his work invites the viewer to approach and enter his sculptures which often have an architectural three-dimensionality. In fact, it is the viewer’s interaction with the sculpture that completes the artistic experience. It is their physicality more than any visual quality that makes Serra’s works impacting.

Serra is also faithfully honest to the industrial materials he works with. Instead of transforming his media, he draws inspiration from the gritty textures of steel and the beauty of gradually oxidizing metal.

As his work progressed, the scale of Serra’s sculptures became increasingly massive prompting him to move his work to large outdoor public spaces. With Titled Arc, Serra installed a 120 foot-long, 12 foot-tall curved sheet of steel in the Federal Plaza in New York prompting an enormous public debate. Critics claimed that the sculpture obstructed pedestrian traffic through the plaza and prohibited protests, concerts and other leisurely events often held there. Serra argued that the work was conceived to be site-specific and moving it would null its status as a piece of art. After a long legal battle, it was dismantled by government workers and scrapped.

Given the monumentality of his aesthetic, which sometimes borders on obstructive, Serra’s controversial work has been challenged several more times since the Titled Arc dispute. Today, he works almost exclusively on commissions from museums and private collectors.

Andy Warhol

American 1928-1987 b. Pittsburgh, PA

Born to working-class parents in Pittsburgh, Andrew Warhola suffered from a childhood disease that kept him at home for long periods of time where he lined his bedroom walls with pulp magazine images of movie stars and drew.

After graduating from the Carnegie Institute, he moved to New York and quickly became a successful illustrator but he was drawn to the Fine Arts and by 1952 he was exhibiting his own work. In 1956 he was included in a group show at the Museum of Modern Art.

In the early 1960s he began silk-screening paintings – a commercial process that could easily and quickly produce identical images. It also allowed him to remove his “hand” from paintings – a rebuke to the highly personal, emotive traits of Abstract Expressionism. And to further remove himself from the process, he hired assistants to execute them. Their inexperience, manifested by misregistrations and other “mistakes” often became part of the paintings – possibly in reaction to his years of pleasing commercial art directors.

More than anyone, it was Warhol who commodified art – thinking of it and treating it like a product. And it was during the early 60s period that Warhol produced his most controversial and iconic multiple images: the Brillo boxes, Campbell’s Soup cans and Marilyn Monroes, to name a few.

So as not to have to worry so much about his appearance, Warhol began wearing a silver wig and sunglasses (constantly). This affectation allowed him to act more as a social voyeur than a participant because, paradoxically, in his silver foil lined studio (The Factory) on 47th street, it was a detached Warhol who hosted an infamous New York “underground.”

He began producing boring, black and white 16 mm films. He also formed an alliance with rock musicians, Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. But it all came to a halt when a disgruntled hanger-on, Valerie Solanas, walked in and shot Warhol.

He survived, and consequently, got serious about business – particularly launching and promoting Interview magazine. He was now an international celebrity and he began producing celebrity portraits – mostly of his circle of Studio 54 friends and drop-ins. By the 1970s he called himself a “business artist.”

In February of 1987 Warhol, who was morbidly afraid of doctors and hospitals, died of complications from an undetected infection after routine surgery. He was buried wearing his wig and sunglasses. In 1989 The Museum of Modern Art mounted a major retrospective of his work.

Aaron Fink

American b.1955 Boston

Fink was born into a family intimately involved with Boston’s art scene, his father a co-owner of a prominent art gallery and his mother an artist herself. He often paints the mundane: flowers, light bulbs, cups, hats, fruit, cigarettes, the unexpressive face of a passerby. Yet his artistic endeavors have less to do with the routine objects of our daily lives and more to do with the manner of painting itself.

Swatches of nearly palpable paint reveal that Fink uses his paintbrush almost like a trowel, amassing paint onto the canvas and imbuing his ordinary subjects a newfound vitality. His highly-charged stroke prompts us to pause and reconsider not only the subjects in our daily lives taken for granted, but also the abilities of paint itself.

Sam Francis

American 1923 -1994

The product of a modest Californian family, Francis followed his generational call of duty and enlisted to fight in WWII during which he contracted spinal tuberculosis. Upon returning to California for treatment, he first picked up a paintbrush after being prescribed “art-therapy” to treat his physically debilitating disease.

Yet it is Francis’ abandonment of the paintbrush that set him apart. Throughout the 1950s Abstract Expressionism, a style characterized by relating the gesture of the artist’s arm and individual brush stoke, held a near hegemonic grasp on New York’s art world. But in the 1960s, Francis, himself once a disciple of “AbEx” decided to renounce the aesthetic and desert his paintbrush.

The art critic Clement Greenberg, who labeled Francis’s work as post-painterly, noted the “physical openness of design or linear clarity” of his composition. His splatters, although inspired by Jackson Pollock, are nevertheless unique as they lie in dynamic contrast to the linearly defined white spaces of the canvas.

Lucian Freud

British b.1922, Berlin

It is difficult to deny the thematic tie between Lucian Freud and his renowned grandfather Sigmund Freud who defined modern psycho-analysis. Although born in Berlin, Freud and his family relocated to Great Britain in 1933 to escape Nazi Germany. At a precocious age, he had already honed a near scientific ability in drawing yet it is his grotesquely thick use of paint for which he would become famous.

Freud paints those who are familiar to him: friends, children, family, lovers and often himself. While his subjects are at times surrealistically fleshy, they are nevertheless powerfully realistic. It is the body, not the mind like his grandfather examined, through which Freud translates psychological intensity.

In May of 2008, Christie’s auction house sold Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping for $33.6 million dollars, setting a record for the most expensive work of art ever sold by a living artist.

Howard Hodgkin

British b.1932, London

Born, raised and educated in Great Britain, Hodgkin continues to be one of England’s most prominent modern artists; In 1992, he was knighted by Queen Elisabeth II for his artistic achievements. Hodgkin is an assiduous worker, sometimes spending several years on one canvas attempting to perfect a single line.

While the broad enigmatic strokes of his canvases may seem to be complete abstractions, all of Hodgkin’s paintings depict actual concrete subjects. He is often quoted as referring to his works as manifestations of “emotional situations” – either a specific event in his life or an experience common to every man such as this SUNSET. Even if his subjects are at times abstracted beyond recognition, his carefully chosen color palette effectively relates the mood of the scene. It is this emotional response, not the “trivial” detail of the story, for which Hodgkin aspires.

Valerie Jaudon

American b.1945, Greenville, Mississippi

Born and educated in the South, Jaudon became associated in the 1970s with an artistic movement entitled Pattern and Decoration (P&D). The foremost objective of P&D was to elevate their aesthetic, often pejoratively labeled “decorative” for its similarity with folkloric crafts, “women’s work” and anonymity, to that of “high” (respected) art.

Jaudon’s aesthetic cites Islamic and Celtic interlaces, folds and knots. What may seem legible is complicated by a virtual labyrinth of flattened shapes, intricately under and over-lapping each other. While once denigrated for its “decorativeness”, Jaudon’s all-over patterning is undeniably dynamic and demands viewer contemplation.

Alex Katz

American b.1927, Brooklyn

Born in Brooklyn and educated in fine arts at The Cooper Union in New York City, Katz has always been a manhattanite. In the 1950s, the Abstract Expressionist movement, a style noted for its loose stroke and gestural qualities, was blossoming. Yet, even though Katz lived and studied within blocks from the AbEx epicenter, his aesthetic took a decidedly different, if not opposite, course.

Katz’s scenes are noted for their simple lines and reduction; the human figure itself is streamlined into basic shapes filled out by large areas of unmodulated pigment. His monumental simplicity, both shockingly large in scale yet aesthetically schematized, is inspired by Japanese prints, billboard advertisements and cinema. Katz’s eerily calm portraits which often feature the sitter from the bust up reference a Renaissance and Baroque template while simultaneously utilizing a minimalist aesthetic, a common current in 20th century modern art. This dual aesthetic has been deemed by art historians as Stylized Naturalism.

While artists around him experimented with ways to challenge tradition by deconstructing the human figure, Katz defiantly chose to “rescue the figure”. His clean lines, defiantly opposed to AbEx’s explosive gestures, precluded him from avant-garde circles. While he never received, in his words, an “avant-garde card” Katz has nevertheless received much critical acclaim and success in the broader art world.

Terry Winters

American b.1949, Brooklyn

Winters was born, raised and educated in the borough of Brooklyn in New York City. Although he graduated from the Pratt Institute of Design in 1971, he would not show his work publicly until 1982. Since breaking onto the New York art scene, his name has become synonymous with abstraction in the 1980s.

While Winters is clearly familiar with Abstract Expressionism, his work takes a decidedly unique course. More legible than pure abstraction, his compositions reference biology, cells, electronic grids and astronomy. Even if specific figures cannot be deciphered, Winters’ structures connote the action of multiplication and the organic generation of shape and texture. Although his paintings are more ordered than his predecessors, he maintains a sense of “all-over” composition in that the eye cannot rest on any one specific point.

Winters continues to work and live in New York. Today, he works primarily in printmaking and has become arguably one of the most prolific print-makers working today.

Jack Tworkov

American 1900-1982 b. Biala, Poland

Tworkov and his mother left their small Polish town in 1913 in order to immigrate to the United States. He enrolled in Columbia University in New York in order to study writing, but after encountering the works of the early modernists Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse he decided to turn his creative efforts towards the fine arts. After studying at the Art Students League of New York and briefly serving in the military in WWII as a draughtsman, Tworkov began to create vividly expressionist compositions.

He, along with Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and William DeKooning,came to form what would be called The New York School, a group of artists all working in the Abstract Expressionist vein. Tworkov shared a studio space with DeKooning on 4th Street in Manhattan where they articulated the tenants of AbEx in literature and on canvas. While his earliest works are marked by their “flame-like” swaths of force and energy, Tworkov’s aesthetic gradually developed into restrained hard-lined geometric compositions.

He taught at various institutions of higher education including Columbia and Yale Universities. Tworkov remained active up until his death in 1982, traveling to various universities around the country as a visiting artist.

Jack Youngerman

American b.1926, St. Louis, MO

After attending the University of Missouri, Youngerman enlisted to fight in WWII and was shipped overseas to Europe. Taking full advantage of the G.I. Bill, he continued to live and study in Paris after the war for almost ten years. He attended the Ecole de Beaux- Arts in Paris and married the French-Lebanese actress Delphine Seyrig. With the lessons of Paris under his belt, Youngerman returned to New York in 1956 where he connected with other artists of the New York School and showed in the Museum of Modern Art’s pivotal exhibition “Sixteen Americans” in 1959.

While his work is categorized within the Hard-Edge Painting school, with the likes of Elsworth Kelly, Youngerman’s aesthetic demonstrates a more liberated sense of rhythm. Instead of rigid rectilinear geometry, his forms undulate and evoke the patterning of the natural world. While his shapes took an idiosyncratic course, Youngerman’s use of flat unmodulated pools of pure color is in-line with the Hard-Edge vein. His unique combination of organic shape with color field produces compositions that can trick the eye – positive and negative space are reversible and the relationship of figure to ground is indefinite.

Youngerman has enjoyed critical acclaim throughout his working years showing in dozens of group and solo-exhibitions. In 1976 he received the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. He maintains a studio in Bridgehampton, NY and continues to paint and show his work in New York galleries

Sam Gilliam

American b.1933 Tupelo, Mississippi

Sam Gilliam is considered one of the most successful African American modern artists of the 20th century. Born the seventh of eight children to a railroad-working father and hard-working mother, Gilliam was raised primarily in Louisville, Kentucky. After serving in the US Army and receiving a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Louisville he and his wife relocated to Washington, D.C. where he became part of what has been deemed the Washington Color Field school of painters.

Inspired by the hanging laundry he saw outside of his apartment window, Gilliam was the first to hang and drape painted canvas to create an entire three-dimensional environment. By liberating the canvas from its stretcher, he gave a new spatial dimension to painting. In the 1970s, his aesthetic moved towards flat compositions that resemble African American patchwork quilts. While his body of work is extremely diverse, Gilliam constantly challenges the boundaries between sculpture, architecture and painting.

Today, he continues to split his time between Louisville and D.C. working, teaching and exhibiting.

Jennifer Bartlett

American b.1941 Long Beach, California

After attending undergraduate school in Oakland, Bartlett went on to study Fine Arts at the Yale School of Art. With professors such as Robert Rauschenburg, Claes Oldenburg and James Rosenquist, Bartlett received a thorough and intimate education in 20th century modern art.

Seeking to produce a fresh aesthetic, Barlett began executing works with dots of paint silkscreened on graph paper or square steel tiles. Her idiosyncratic “color-dot” painting gives a coherence to her body of work while allowing her to depict anything from lines, squares or pure color to “realistic” trees and mountains. In terms of exhibition design, Bartlett plays with number systems, grids and process. Her most notable work, Rhapsody (1976), was composed of 987 steel squares each with a unique painting.

She continues to work and exhibit, splitting her time between New York City and Paris.

Elizabeth Murray

American 1946-2007 b. Chicago, Illinois

Born in Chicago into tough circumstances (her father had chronic health issues which sometimes left the family homeless), as a child Murray found solace in drawing.

She attended the Art Institute of Chicago expecting to become a commercial artist but after “getting lost” in a Cezanne still life on her way to a class, her life took another direction. In 1967 she moved to New York City and fell under the influence of other artists. She met Susan Rothenberg and Robert Moskowitz both of whom loved paint and were devoted to a revitalization of painting at a time when Minimalism, Conceptualism and Process Art were preeminent.

Her mature work is characterized by a combination of figurative and abstract elements rendered in thick oil paint on several shaped canvases that are often arranged as variations on a vortex which give “motion” to the whole. Her imagery, titles and references were often personal, campy or cartoonish – a challenge to the seriousness of “high” art and as much a tip of the hat to Disney as to masters like Picasso, Miró and Stuart Davis to whom she owes obvious debts.

In 2006 The Museum of Modern Art mounted a retrospective exhibition of her work making her one of only a small number of women to gain such recognition.

  • Land Trust and Cummins Station launch Saving Acres for all Community Members

  • Community Arts Program selects Artist in Residence Jared Friehoefer for train car studio #1

  • Look for the Artisan Fair on December 9th for Holiday Shopping…

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