New YorkSummer Selections: Works on Paper - 20th Century Modern + Contemporary
BYRON BROWNE / LEONARD EDMONDSON / JOHN FERREN / DAVID FINN / GEN PAUL / WARD JACKSON / RONNIE LANDFIELD / GORDON ONSLOW FORD / FRITZ RAUH
Findlay Galleries presents a group exhibition of works on paper by various artists displaying a wide breadth of formats and styles. Artists included in the exhibition are Byron Browne, Leonard Edmondson, John Ferren, David Finn, Gen Paul, Ward Jackson, Ronnie Landfield, Gordon Onslow Ford and Fritz Rauh.
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(1907 – 1961)
Byron Browne’s received his formal artistic training at the National Academy of Design from 1924-1928. In 1927 he and his friend Arshile Gorky visited Albert E. Gallatin’s Gallery of Living Art, where they saw works by Picasso, Braque, and Miró. Stimulated from what he saw there, Browne began to study Cahiers d’Art, the French magazine devoted to progressive European art. As he experimented with Cubism, Browne’s conviction that abstraction represented the future of art grew. His complete break from traditional art is perhaps best expressed in his decision to destroy his early representational work.
By 1930, the direction of Browne’s work was clearly established. By the mid-1930s, he found work and support within the Works Progress Administration Mural Division, as Burgoyne Diller, the Division’s head, began to advocate and organize on behalf of abstract artists. Browne became a founding member of the American Abstract Artists.
According to Byron Browne, the roots of abstraction could be found in the natural world, and as such, abstraction could not be separated from life itself. He saw abstraction as an extension of the physical world rather than generated by spiritualism. The distinction was an important one to Browne, who had little tolerance for the mysticism that Hilla Rebay and others believed to be at the foundation of abstraction.
In the 1940s, his paintings had relaxed into softer, biomorphic forms reminiscent of Arp and Miró. In the 1950s, in response to the emergence of Abstract Expressionism, his work became more gestural and painterly.
In addition to his career as a painter, Browne was also a teacher. He taught at the Art Students League beginning in 1948, and in 1949 he became a professor of advanced painting at New York University. Byron Browne died in New York in 1961.
Findlay Galleries has represented the Byron Browne estate since 2004.
(1916 – 2002)
Leonard Edmondson was born in Sacramento in 1916 and became widely respected as a prominent figure in the abstract expressionist movement in the United States. Edmondson spent his career in California, where he eventually served as President of the California Watercolor Society and the Los Angeles Printmaking Society. During the Watercolor Society’s annual exhibits at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the artist was acclaimed one of the “radically modern” painters as he made an abrupt change from figuration to abstraction, cited by him as a journey of discovery, inspiration, and meaning in his work.
Edmondson’s abstract works present biomorphic shapes (his signature motifs) floating through an atmosphere of soft color. Often, his palette consisted of limpid hues of translucent rose, terra-cotta, pink, gray-blue, and yellow. Following the 1950s, Leonard learned advanced intaglio techniques from Ernest Freed at the University of Southern California.
His first solo exhibition in 1951 was at the prestigious Felix Landau Gallery in Los Angeles. Afterward, his paintings continued to gain praise, appearing in important national venues, such as the 1954 exhibition “Young American Painters” at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1956.
(1895 – 1975)
Gen Paul was born in a house in Montmartre on July 2, 1895. The painter and engraver began his artistic career at a young age, drawing and painting as a child. However, when his father died in 1910, Paul found work to support himself and his family. He began working on decorative furnishings and was able to continue to be creative and artistic. At the outbreak of World War I, Paul joined the French army and was subsequently wounded, losing a leg. It was only then, during his recovery, that Paul turned back to the love of his childhood – painting.
Gen Paul found himself constantly inspired by his surroundings. At the time of his youth, Montmartre was a hub of creativity, luring talented painters, writers, poets, and musicians from all over the world. Gen Paul interacted with and befriended many of the avant-garde painters of his time, including Juan Gris, Utrillo, and Vlaminck. He also befriended artist Jean Dufy, and the two often inspired and challenged each other to create newer, better work. Against this heavily artistic backdrop, Paul began to develop his signature style, a dynamic new form of expressionism.
Fascinated with jazz, Paul traveled through the U.S., from New York to New Orleans and on to California, discovering subjects that begin to appear in his paintings. His style broadened, and he began to solidify his place in the art world. Through his use of gestural brushstrokes, Paul created inherent motion within his works, leading many art historians to name him the first action painter and a precursor to the abstract expressionists of the 1950s. Even his later works, made during a period of heavy alcoholism, feature a rhythm within the strokes that makes them easily identifiable as Gen Paul’s pieces.
Gen Paul never received any formal training, yet he was able to make a living from his art for almost 60 years, even achieving such honors as being awarded the Legion of Honor in 1934. Only in 1964, at the age of 69, did Paul stopping painting. However, he could not keep himself from creating in some way and continued to draw and produce lithographs until he died in 1975.
(1905 – 1970)
John Ferren was born in Pendleton, Oregon, in 1905. At the age of twenty, he apprenticed with an Italian stonecutter in San Francisco. Ferren’s early experiences with stonecutting influenced his style, particularly evident in the sculptural quality of his paintings, achieved through flat backgrounds and curving planes. Though Ferren was known later in his career as an intellectual among his peers, he avoided academe and formal art institutions, preferring to develop his own artistic style and theories nourished by his adventurous lifestyle and curious mind. Going to Europe in 1929, he attended the Sorbonne in Paris and also studied briefly at the Universita Degli Studi in Florence and the Universidad de Salamanca. His travels in Europe exposed him to the modern art movements of the early 20th century, such as cubism, surrealism, and expressionism. In 1930 Ferren returned to San Francisco for his debut solo exhibition at the Art Center; however, the lack of energy and artistic stimulation on the west coast at that time led Ferren to return to Paris in 1931.
In Paris, Ferren was introduced to William Stanley Hayter’s Parisian Atelier 17, where some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, such as Joan Miró, Max Ernst, and Marcel Duchamp, participated in experimental workshops. Like them, Ferren explored Hayter’s revolutionary theories on “the nature of space in a linear world,” inquiries that transformed Ferren’s style.
Ferren returned to the United States in 1938, settling in New York. He established himself in New York’s art community by becoming a member (and later president) of The Club, an informal group of artists representing the social and intellectual center of abstract expressionism in New York. Always exploring new forms of art, in the late 1950s, Ferren collaborated with film director Alfred Hitchcock, for whom he served as artistic consultant for the films The Trouble with Harry (1955) and Vertigo (1958). Ferren remained active in the art world until his death in 1970.
Findlay Galleries has been the exclusive representative of the Ferren estate since 2011.
(1920 – 2011)
Fritz Rauh was born in Wuppertal, Germany. He began his art studies at the Braunschweig Art School in 1938. His artistic career was interrupted by World War II when he was drafted and served on the Russian front. He was eventually captured and spent six years in a Russian prison camp. Af- ter his release, he immediately resumed his formal studies and attended Braunscgweig Art School and Academy (1952), Germany, for four years. He became associated with Richard Bowman, Lee Mullican, and Fred Riechman, who were abstractionists that painted based on sources both in nature and Oriental art. During this time, he also met his future wife Alix, who emigrated to the United States, with Fritz following in 1954 and settled in Marin County.
Rauh had his first U.S. exhibition at the De Young Museum in 1956 and exhibited at many other U.S institutions and galleries, mainly in San Francisco as a prominent Bay Area abstractionist. In May 1968, San Francisco Chronicle writer Alfred Frankenstein cited Rauh as one of the most original painters in the Bay region: “[Painting] hundreds, perhaps thousands, of small, writhing connecting shapes on his canvas imitating nature and leading to a certain mysticism, the effect is ‘Magnifi- cent.’”
Findlay Galleries has been the exclusive representative of the Fritz Rauh estate since 2017.
Born in 1947, Ronnie Landfield knew from an early age that painting was his passion. Before his formal education, he would spend his free time in the avant-garde galleries viewing works by Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, and Willem de Kooning. By 20 years old, Landfield was invited to exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art, from then on his works were included in the museum’s biennial exhibitions.
Since the mid-1960s, Ronnie Landfield has been at the heart of American abstract painting and his name belongs amongst the pioneers of Lyrical Abstraction. Respected by his colleagues, influential among his peers, and inspiring to younger painters, Landfield continues to achieve success as his abstract works have become icons of the modernist Colorfield movement. He was among the group of artists who saved “post- painterly” abstraction from itself by giving it back its painterliness. Beyond that, he carved out a niche for himself where for decades, he has rung infinite changes onto a beautiful and straightforward vision, one as volatile and yet as fixed as the sky.
Today, Landfields works can be found in prominent museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, and more.
GORDON ONSLOW FORD
(1912 – 2003)
British-born American painter Gordon Onslow Ford was associated with the Paris Surrealists. He also became interested in spontaneous creation and such metaphysical concerns as psychologist Carl Jung’s idea of the collective unconscious. The grandson of a sculptor, Onslow Ford served in the Royal Navy (1927–37) but, determined to pursue his interest in painting, resigned and went to Paris, where he worked briefly with André Lhote and Fernand Léger. He also met the Chilean painter Roberto Matta, who introduced him to André Breton, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, and other Surrealists. Onslow Ford abandoned the pictorial images of his early work and embraced techniques such as psychic automatism.
In 1941 Onslow Ford lectured on Surrealism in New York City to an audience that included Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and other young American painters who felt his influence and created some of the most vital Abstract Expressionist work of the 20th century. (Indeed, years before Pollock became famous for the technique, Onslow Ford practiced what he called coulage, a method of pouring paint directly onto a canvas.)
Onslow Ford lived with his wife, poet Jacqueline Johnson, in Mexico (1941–47; during which time he formally broke with the Surrealists) and then in California, where Vedanta philosophy, calligraphy, and Buddhism were among the influences he absorbed. Onslow Ford also wrote about what he called a primary visual language of line, circle, and dot; his books included Painting in the Instant (1964) and Creation (1978).
Findlay Galleries has been the exclusive representative of the Onslow Ford estate since 2000.
(1928 – 2004)
Inspired by Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers, Ward Jackson and his hard-edge geometric compositions held a presence in the New York art scene for more than 50 years. His works are in permanent collections of world-class museums and have been included in significant exhibitions. In the early ‘60s, Jackson was generating a forceful series of black and white compositions that very much played off a consistent lozenge format – and very boldly relied on the symmetric disposition of forms while going back and forth between rectilinearity and eccentricity. Jackson, who had begun as a landscape painter, returned to color at the end of the decade, generating a series of vibrant, deeply hued paintings throughout the ‘70s that play with flat, often-veil like forms, offbeat arrangements, and, often, a sense of lateral or even forward movement, as if projecting off the canvas.
Findlay Galleries is dedicated to Jackson’s legacy and furthering his contribution to the Minimalism movement of the 1960s. Gallery owner James R. Borynack commented, “Jackson’s contribution to hard-edge painting and to Minimalism was profound and lasting. We are honored to represent his estate as we continue our efforts to build on the legacies of important American post-war painters.”
— Peter Frank | October 2016
Findlay Galleries has been the exclusive representative of the Ward Jackson estate since 2016.
David Finn has had an outstanding career as a widely known author and photographer. Spending his life studying the art of sculptures, Finn has published more than a dozen books and articles on that subject and established an enormous collection of photographs featuring various sculptures. Although mostly recognized for sculptural photography, his watercolors have always been his personal outlet for his creativity. He was interested in painting ever since he was a child, using his bedroom as a makeshift studio and passing time on his commute to school sketching the people he saw and his surroundings.
He continued to draw and paint as he grew older; however, it was through photography and publishing that he gained recognition. During the 1990s, Finn often wrote for the National Sculpture Society’s quarterly journal Sculpture Review, which he headed as editor-in-chief. Finn brought wide attention to contemporary sculpture and dozens of accomplished living sculptors utilizing his position and skill. His photographs have appeared in over 100 books on the history of sculpture and also have been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The works included in this exhibition focus on the trees surrounding his Westchester home and utilize various styles, varying from works displaying bold colors and lines to works with a delicate quality, almost oriental in style.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)