Marlborough Fine Art presents an exhibition of Stephen Hannock’s recent paintings, ‘The Oxbow, from Thomas Cole to Alfred Hitchcock’. The exhibition coincides with The National Gallery’s survey of 19th Century English-born American painter Thomas Cole, a rare chance to see Cole’s epic works, most of which are travelling from America, including his masterpiece ‘The Oxbow’.
Cole continues to fascinate and inspire Hannock and his own interpretation of ‘The Oxbow’ has become the artist’s signature motif, attracted by the pivotal role it has played within Art History. The dialogue is extended in this new show to encompass the wider evolution of American storytelling. Hannock’s multi-layered approach to painting includes the landscapes of Cole, the stage-like settings of the pre-Raphaelites, and the sweeping panoramas and mis en scène in the films of Alfred Hitchcock.
Cole is also particularly central to Hannock’s work because he connects Europe to America. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, founded in 1848, the year Cole died, approached landscape as a vehicle for stage- setting and composing stories. The narratival concepts that emerge in Hannock’s art are rooted in his close study of Hitchcock’s films, inspiring new compositions that express Hannock’s interest in film and how directors employed settings for visionary stories. In working through Hitchcock’s own storyboarding, set design and location shooting process on North by Northwest, Hannock has been enlightened regarding his own process of similarly using modified locations from the history of art and his own experience.
Hannock describes his approach to image-making as ‘kidnapping vistas’ which take on new forms and atmospheres through his painting. He moves between historical periods, accruing layers of meaning rather than taking Cole’s literal approach to landscape painting. Hannock is drawn to the way mood is composed within the work to create a story that is literally written into the fabric of the piece. Personal texts woven into the geological strata of his paint contribute to this layered effect, and have become critical to the finished image.
Born in Albany, New York, in 1951, Stephen Hannock lives and works in Williamstown and North Adams, Massachusetts. The works on show bear the artist’s signature technique of working with acrylics, resin, pasted papers and photographs, specialized brushes and power sanders to produce extraordinary light effects. His approach involves layering subtly modulated acrylic or oil paint across the support, repeated polishing with sanders, and veneers of reflective resin burnished to a matte sheen allowing light to penetrate the stratum of the picture and reflect back with exceptional illumination.
Stephen Hannock began his career as an apprentice to Leonard Baskin (1922-2000) while studying art on exchange at Smith College. In the early 1980s he moved to Manhattan and fully engaged with the downtown contemporary art scene before returning to Massachusetts in 2003. His work is found in public collections throughout the United States, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Whitney Museum of Art, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the Yale University Art Gallery, and numerous other collections.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an introduction by Jason Rosenfeld, Ph.D., Distinguished Chair and Professor of Art History at Marymount Manhattan College, New York.