Jim Dine arranges tools within his composition to create larger symbols, allowing his work to be both moderately autobiographical and open to interpretation. Untitled (2000) uses a hammer, wrench, pliers, blow torch, drill and bolt cutters which create what looks like a phoenix rising from ashes. The bolt cutters serve as its legs and the drill, handle, and blow torch as its wings. At this time in his career, Dine was creating different bird motifs. The phoenix—a symbol of rebirth—relates to themes in Marcus Jansen’s work that respond to a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his time in the United States Army. He used painting as a therapeutic release and as a way to re-emerge from the challenges and suppression of PTSD.
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.
Soldier with Death before a Carousel
Graphite and oil on poster board
‘Artist Arthur Kraft’s experience in World War II influenced Soldier with Death before a Carousel (ca. 1947-51). In this painting, a skeleton wearing a helmet and boots holds a champagne flute. This image likely symbolizes the alcohol abuse many veterans face as a result of their traumatic experiences at war. Both Kraft and the artist Marcus Jansen utilize symbolism in their works. Kraft uses the champagne flutes, figures representing death, and white doves; Jansen depicts empty dishes and a few coins in Empty Plates (2007) to emphasize the economic effects of war on communities, families, and individuals. These signs and symbols reveal personal and universal reflections on war across generations.’
Sonnet of the Wishing Stone
If I were rain, and on your earth could rain
If I were a candle, could light your way
If I were fire, could set your bed aflame
If I were a pen, could write on your page
If I were sky, carmine blue
If I were desert, scorpion yellow
If I were stone, heavy black
If I were water, froth white
If I were a soul, if I could fly, a bird
If I were flesh, if I could swell, the sea
If I were body, if I could blow, the wind
If I were mist, could drop upon you, morning
If I were cloud, descend to your world, evening
If I were a candle, could expire inside you, night.
poet: Enis Batur
translated: Cas Stockford
at DAM, Istanbul, September 2016