“Empty Plates (2007) calls attention to the burden of people who struggle economically. Three collaged spoons spaced almost evenly in the background of the painting possibly suggests the number of people in a household. The emptiness of one sullen gray plate and its lack of any remaining crumbs reinforces a sense of scarcity. Stacked coins lining the rim of the plate suggest the household’s poverty. The equation on the right of the canvas also adds to the element of scarcity in this painting, as the question mark represents the question of whether the family has enough. Jansen has seamlessly used his mastery of brushstroke and collage techniques to create this work of art.”
Mt. Katahdin—November Afternoon (1942)
Oil on Masonite
After years of travel, Marsden Hartley proclaimed himself “the Painter from Maine.” This painting of Mt. Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak, belongs to a series focused on the mountain. Following a visit there in October 1939, Hartley painted multiple canvases over a three-year period. He modified his palette to suggest different seasons in each painting. In Mt. Katahdin—November Afternoon, the contrast between the blue sky, purple mountains, and auburn woods evokes an early-winter day. Hartley identified with the remote peak, seeing it as an emblem of his own lonely resilience.
Fallen Angel (1959)
Oil on canvas
“A prime example of Abstract Expressionism, Fallen Angel (1959) features a gestural scene of an abstracted angel-like figure. This work showcases his signature style of organic abstract shapes with his studies from nature. Byron Browne was a founding member of the American Abstract Artist, an association to promote and understand Abstract art. Browne and Willem de Kooning (American, 1904-1997), another founder, whose work is also featured in this exhibition, use a range of techniques, from gestural mark making to more detailed brushstrokes and figural abstraction. Jansen echoes both Browne and de Kooning’s painterly gestural strokes in the collaged squares and pavement in Streets, attesting to Jansen’s contemporary conversations with Abstract Expressionism.”
Corner of Studio (1973)
Oil on canvas
Jane Freilicher began her career as an abstract painter and later turned to representational paintings of still lifes and landscapes. Corner of Studio depicts the Long Island landscape as seen from the windows of her art studio. She uses minimal details o identify the interior space. At the far left, a drawing or unfinished painting is attached to the wall, and a section of a painted landscape leans against the wall’s surface. Both scenes, the landscape in the painting-within-the-painting and the landscape viewed through the set of windows, share the same sense of flatness, or lack of implied distance.
Untitled (Malcolm X) – 2008
Glenn Ligon – American
Acrylic, vinyl based paint, and graphite on paper mounted on fiberboard
Untitled (Malcolm X) is the result of a workshop Glenn Ligon conducted. He presented children with 1970s-era coloring books that had an agenda — to “normalize images of Black Americans to make them part of history. But to a 3-year-old, none of that matters,” he recalls. Eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick on the man once deemed the most dangerous in America by the New York City Police Department may seem transgressive, but the irreverence intrigued Ligon. He silkscreened the image onto canvas, then faithfully painted the Muslim minister, activist, and black nationalist leader just as the child colored him.
The Mirror (1966)
Fairfield Porter (1907-1975)
American, oil on canvas
Fairfield Porter’s The Mirror explores the complex relationship between reality and illusion. In this image, the artist depicts himself painting a portrait of his ten-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. Her gaze, from within the illusionistic space of the canvas, acknowledges the viewer’s presence in “real space”. Simultaneously, the artist’s reflection in the mirror establishes another level of space that is neither ours nor Elizabeth’s.
Porter entered the art world just as the Abstract Expressionists were gaining international recognition. Yet he retained a commitment to the figure and to the traditional painting subjects: landscapes, interiors, still lifes, and portraits.