Monday, December 1, 2014

NEW YORK: History

Mickalene Thomas, Les Trois Femmes Noires, 2006, C-print, Edition 1/5, 47.5 x 56.75 inches. Image via
November 20, 2014 – January 10, 2015

529 West 20th Street, 2E
New York, NY

From Bill Hodges Gallery press release:

Bill Hodges Gallery is pleased to present History, which features the work of several historic and contemporary artists on a medium that is arguably the most significant to the history of art.

History showcases works on paper and imparts a testament to the medium. Photographs, drawings, lithographs, serigraphs, and etchings by renowned artists Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, Lyle Ashton Harris, Carrie Mae Weems, Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Jacob Lawrence, Chester Higgins, and Roy DeCarava comprise the variety of mediums and artists exhibited.

Mickalene Thomas brings contemporary photographic style to the exhibition like none other. Le Trois Femmes Noires portrays the elegance of ebony skin through form, expression, and the juxtaposition of pattern. Also on view is a drawing by painter Kehinde Wiley, which served as a study for his work Passing Posing (The Martyrdom of St. Symphorian). Wiley’s work often plays on the statuesque figures depicted in classical painting. For this work, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ The Martyrdom of St. Symphorian provides the foundation in which Wiley expounds upon in a work of art entirely of its own respect.

The way in which African American artists have influenced one another, in turn influencing those who come after, is also considered in the curation of this exhibition. Minstrel, a striking photograph created during 1987 and 1988 by Lyle Ashton Harris, commands attention and is about as “in your face” as a photograph can get. Moreover, the late Roy DeCarava’s photograph Untitled (Man with Portfolio), while far less confrontational, still manages to permeate the viewer with its heaviness.

Jacob Lawrence’s artwork is impactful both when examined individually and within the context of art history. Included in this exhibition is a distinctive example of his work, a well-documented drawing, Children at Play (circa 1955). This is a work notably created during a period in between the making of some of Lawrence’s most influential works, evidencing his varying methods of process. Also included in the exhibition is Romare Bearden’s Introduction for a Blues Queen (Uptown at Savoy), a monoprint from his 1979 Jazz series. It is the original used to print the entirety of the sequence, as confirmed by the Bearden Foundation and the ink on the back of the work.

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