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Archive for the ‘Modern’ Category

Rare Modernist intaglio works by Helen Phillips

October 20th, 2015

American sculptor and print maker Helen Phillips born 1913, Fresno, California.  She studied at the School of Fine Art in San Francisco and learned direct carving techniques from Ralph Stackpole, who introduced her to Diego Rivera but Phillips was more excited by Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art than Social Realism.    Phillips won Phelan Traveling Fellowship which allowed her to work in Paris in 1936.   There, she entered Atelier 17, the intaglio print workshop where she met it’s founder and future husband, Stanley William Hayter. Learning to engrave copper in Paris had an important impact on the development of her sculpture, forcing her to become conscious of negative space.  She fled to New York in 1939 and became a pioneer of the New York School, exhibiting with Wilfredo Lam, Roberto Matta, David Hare, Isamu Noguchi and Arshile Gorky.
Phillips’s sculpture and intaglio prints are in the permanent collections of the Albright Knox Gallery,  Peggy Guggenheim, Venice,  Dallas Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, San Diego Museum of Art. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, MOMA, New York, DeYoung Museum, San Francisco, Princeton University Art Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.  She died in New York in 1995.

Helen Phillips, Danseuses, c. 1959 and Saltimbanques, 1954

Danseuses, c. 1959 and Saltimbanques, 1954

Atelier 17 in New York, meet and marry

June 25th, 2015

We enjoyed a recent visit with artist Ellen (Abbey) Countey.  Ellen was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1923 and studied with William Zorach at the Art Students League. She is the model for Zorach’s 1942 marble bust, Quest, now at the Wichita Art Museum.  Ellen made the complex and beautiful engraving, Scattered Journey, in 1946 in New York at Atelier 17.  It came to us from Stanley William Hayter’s private collection of works by friends and artists who worked at Atelier 17, which is where Ellen met her husband, Edward Countey.  The Counteys remained in contact with Hayter and Ellen made more engravings at Atelier 17 in Paris in June of 1986.  It was there she met Margo Dolan and Peter Maxwell while they were visiting Hayter’s studio.  A few months later Ellen wrote asking about our Joseph Hecht (1891-1951) catalog.  Hecht introduced Hayter to engraving and they remained close throughout Hecht’s life.

Edward Countey (1921-1984), studied with Moses Soyer at the New School of Art in New York from 1938-42.   He served in the US Army Signal Photographic Corps in New Guinea in 1942-45.  Countey received a 3 year fellowship to study with Stanley William Hayter at Atelier 17 in New York shortly after his return.  He assisted Hayter and Jess Paley in producing the educational film, “New Ways of Gravure” and he drew the animated film, “Attack”, for the Signal Corp.  “Attack”  is part of film collection at MOMA.  Countey’s engravings were exhibited internationally with a show organized from MOMA’s collection and had two solo exhibitions in New York.  He later taught at SUNY Stony Brook in the engineering Department and subsequently in the Department of Art.  Countey’s Paw Paw, 1949, is a large and ambitious work with engraving, etching and stenciled color.  An impression was acquired by MOMA in 1949 and it was included in MOMA’s exhibition, “Some American Prints, 1945-50”.  Our impression also belonged to  Hayter, as did Countey’s Apollo.

One of the great joys of what we do is sharing the stories that are behind the works of art.

Engravings, Scattered Journey by Ellen (Abbey) Countey and Paw Paw by Edward Countey

Scattered Journey by Ellen (Abbey) Countey and Paw Paw by Edward Countey

Elizabeth Catlett (American, 1915-2012)

April 27th, 2015

We are proud to share here an important bronze, El Canto, 1968.  Catlett has taken cues from traditional West African sculpture while creating an iconic, Modern work.  Her works impress with the strength of her formal approach yet Catlett was more interested in the social power they convey: “I have always wanted my art to service my people — to reflect us, to relate to us, to stimulate us, to make us aware of our potential.”

The singer, or singing head is a theme Catlett returned to over the course of her long career.  Elizabeth Catlett ranks among America’s most respected sculptors.  A related work in marble is in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Elizabeth Catlett, El Canto 1968, bronze

El Canto 1968, bronze

 

John Wilson, 1922-2015

January 27th, 2015

Sculptor, painter and print maker John Wilson passed away on January 26.  Wilson made his life in Boston, graduating from graduating the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston with highest honors  in 1945 and received a bachelor’s degree in education from Tufts University in 1947.  With a traveling on fellowship from the School of the MFA, Boston, Wilson studied with Ferdinand Leger in Paris.  In 1950, a John Hay Whitney Fellowship took him to Mexico where he pursued his interest in  mural making.  His 1986 bronze bust of Martin Luther King stands in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC.  The Boston Globe quotes his wife, Julie: “Essentially, he felt that his main objective as an artist was to deliver a message to people about black dignity, about racial justice, about poor people trying to get a better deal in life.”

We are honored to share 2 important lithographs, Dialogue, 1955 and Urbanites, 1964 by the excellent John Wilson

John Wilson Dialogue 1955, lithograph

Dialogue 1955, lithograph

John WIlson Urbanites 1964, lithograph

Urbanites 1964, lithograph

 

An important abstraction by Alma Thomas

January 15th, 2015

We are pleased to offer this important painting by Washington Color Field artist, Alma Thomas (1891-1978).  Thomas was born in Columbus Georgia and moved to Washington DC with her family n 1907.  In 1924 she became the first graduate of the Art Department at Howard University, and in 1935 received a Master of Arts in art Education from Columbia University.  Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Columbus Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Howard University Gallery of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Phillips Collection, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum and the Whitney Museum of American art.  Our painting was made in 1972 and shimmers with carefully modulated color.  Please be in touch if you’d like to know more.

 

Alma Thomas Untitled 1972, acrylic on paper

Untitled 1972, acrylic on paper

A rare work by Raymond Steth

October 18th, 2014

Heaven on a Mule c . 1940 is one of Raymond Steth’s best loved works.  Steth depicts a deeply moving narrative of a devout African American farmer and his family.   This poignant image was taken from a folk tale showing a poor family standing on a hill wearing cloth wings in the hope of being taken to heaven.  They’ve brought their few possessions and have made wings for their mule and dog. Steth rewards them with ghost-like angels.  Steth’s work was rediscovered in the landmark 1993 exhibition and catalogue, Alone in a Crowd, which was organized by David and Reba Williams  to share their thoroughly researched collection of prints by African American artists.  The exhibition traveled throughout the USA and brought about new appreciation for an important group of artists who’d been largely forgotten.  We are very pleased to offer this excellent work by a master storyteller.

Raymond Steth, Heaven on a Mule c. 1940 lithograph

Heaven on a Mule

Norman Lewis in the 1950s

September 11th, 2014

We are pleased offer 2 important works on paper made in the late 1950s by Norman Lewis, (American, 1909-1979).   He studied at Columbia University and found work during the Great Depression with the WPA at Harlem Art Center.

Norman_Lewis-Abstration  c. 1957. watercolor & ink on paper

Norman_Lewis-Abstration c. 1957. watercolor & ink on paper

Norman Lewis Figures 1957 ink & oil on paper

Norman Lewis Figures 1957 ink & oil on paper

Lewis exhibited at the seminal Willard Gallery in New York City from 1946- 1964.  He was part the Studio 35 sessions–closed door meetings led by MOMA’s Alfred J Barr Jr, which helped define the Abstract Expressionist movement.  He exhibited with the Abstract American Artists group and was included in MOMA’s 1951 exhibition, “Abstract Painting and Sculpture in America”.

 

Early David Driskell watercolor

August 13th, 2014

We are pleased to share a very beautiful, early watercolor by renowned master painter, printmaker and curator, David Driskell Colorado Scape, 1960.  was made while Driskell was pursuing a MFA at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.   The strong, clear colors and the abstracted landscape of this important work indicate Driskell’s early predisposition toward European modernism.  The paintings and prints of this era explore nature–trees in particular as a means of understanding abstract form.  With Colorado Scape Driskell creates a very satisfying overall intensity, fluid and aggressive line balanced by deeply saturated color.

David Driskell Colorado Scape 1960 watercolor

Colorado Scape 1960

Letterio Calapai’s 1946 Underground

July 24th, 2014
Letterio Calapai Underground, 1946

Letterio Calapai Underground, 1946

Underground by Letterio Calapai (1902-1993) is a dynamic work that shows a keen awareness in the methods of Stanley William Hayter’s Atelier 17, incorporating a combination of engraving, soft ground and aquatint techniques.  Calapai’s vivid reaction to the crush of people commuting on the subway at 42nd Street is well matched to the rich surfaces and charged engraved lines.  The subject brings to mind the social realist works of the WPA prints of the 1930s which Calapai knew first hand from his work in the New York print shop.  It is also interesting to consider this work in the context of Benton Spruance’s 1937 series of lithographs, The People Work.  Views to multiple levels of trains and spaces bring to mind the imagined 18th Century interior Prison etchings of Giovanni Battista Piranesi.  In Calapai’s hands the space is flattened out, and a sense of folded space is created by forced angles.  We are above and below the action, seeing it all simultaneously.

 

A rare bronze by Richmond Barthé (American, 1901-1989)

February 27th, 2014

Head of a Dancer is an elegant portrait of Czech-born dancer Harald Kreutzberg. Kreutzberg was active on the stage and German cinema. Kreutzberg befriended Richmond Barthé when he performed in the United States in the 1930s. Barthé was working in Harlem and the performing arts were a constant interest and theme in his work.  Barthé studied Martha Graham dance techniques to better understand movement and the human form. We have found other examples of Head of a Dancer in the public collections at the Driskell Center, University of Maryland, the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, the Scad Museum of Art in Savanah, GA, and in two private collections. Ours is the only example with the rich, green patina visible here.

Richmond Barthé Head of a Dancer, bronze

Richmond Barthé Head of a Dancer, bronze