Jacob Lawrence (1917-2000)
Jacob Lawrence (1917–2000) is one of the most prominent American painters of the twentieth century, and his work is held in public collections throughout the country. Lawrence frequently chose to treat American historical subject matter, with a resolutely modern aesthetic. Whether drawing attention to leaders of the past or depicting the everyday challenges of African-American life in his day, Lawrence saw his art as a means to underscore the universality of shared experience. His work is direct and forceful, in keeping with his lasting conviction that art can affect social change.
Patricia Hills, author of Painting Harlem Modern: The Art of Jacob Lawrence, writes, “although the work is often specific in its references to historical figures, such as Toussaint L’Ouverture, Frederick Douglass, John Brown, or Harriet Tubman, the ethical message addresses the aspirations of all humankind.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York recently exhibited Lawrence's rarely-seen 1954-56 Struggle Series paintings in the exhibition, Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, which is traveling to museums throughout the country next year. Other recent exhibitions include One Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series at The Museum of Modern Art in New York (2015) and Between Form and Content: Perspectives on Jacob Lawrence and Black Mountain College at The Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center in Asheville, NC (2018–19).
Carrie Moyer's paintings extend the narrative of American Abstraction, engaging the legacies of many of its key female figures, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Helen Frankenthaler, and Elizabeth Murray. The work is both knowing and playful and rife with visual precedents, referencing Color Field, Pop Art, and 1970s Feminist Art, while proposing a new approach to fusing history, research, and experimentation in painting. Some works depict strange, convoluted spaces; others are theatrical, one stage flat in front of another. Once inside a picture, viewers are presented with a natural world, stylized or “queered” through humor and the graphic regimens of design and decoration. Treating color more like a three-dimensional substance, Moyer pushes its possibilities past the concrete and obvious towards a kind of "embodied" abstraction. In Moyer's compositions color is the sole character, playing every role: energy, matter, figure, ooze, architecture, the cosmic, and the cosmos. With a wry sense of humor, her art also draws from pop culture, media, and design, blurring the gap between high and low culture.
Moyer's work has been exhibited widely in both the United States and Europe. Most recently she and Sheila Pepe were the focus of a two-person exhibition Tabernacles for Trying Times, Portland Museum of Art, ME, traveling to Museum of Art and Design, NY next year. Previous museum shows include a traveling survey, Carrie Moyer: Pirate Jenny, that originated at The Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs, NY (2013) and Interstellar, at The Worcester Art Museum, MA (2012). Moyer's paintings have been included in numerous group exhibitions as well, including, Aftereffect: Georgia O' Keeffe and Contemporary Painting at The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Denver, Colorado (2019); Queer Abstraction at The Des Moines Arts Center in Des Moines, Iowa (2019); and Inherent Structures, at The Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH (2018).
Whitfield Lovell’s installations and individual works incorporate hand-drawn images of African Americans with found objects. His imagery is derived from his personal collection of hundreds of photographs mostly taken during the era between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement. Lovell often pairs his subjects with vintage items, evoking personal memories, ancestral connections, and the collective past. The human significance and the quality of the drawn images with evocative objects draw a connection to the past, points to the future and reaches across racial and gender lines.
Lovell lives in New York City, is a MacArthur Fellow, and has recently had a solo exhibition at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC accompanied by a monograph published by Rizzoli, and a one-person, one work exhibition at MoMA in New York. His installations have been shown at museums across the country and his work is in many public collections including the Whitney Museum, Metropolitan Museum, MoMA, Brooklyn Museum, Bronx Museum, Baltimore Museum, High Museum, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Robert Kushner has continually addressed controversial and often subversive issues, involving the interaction of decoration and art. Kushner draws from a unique range of influences, including Islamic and European textiles, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, and Chinese Literati and Japanese Rimpa-style painters. Kushner's work combines organic representational elements with abstracted geometric forms that synthesize decoration and Modernism. These recent compositions are anchored by the elaborate repeating patterns and textures, and floating fields of transparent colors.
They are unapologetically decorative, celebrating a mixture of expansiveness, openness, and complexity. Color, line, drawing are the major elements in his painterly repertoire. His new works in this presentation demonstrate a sense of grandeur, simplicity of composition and exploration of unexpected color harmonies.
Most recently, Kushner’s work has been included in several national and international museum exhibitions focusing on the Pattern and Decoration movement: With Pleasure: Pattern and Decoration in American Art 1972-1985, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2019-2020); Less is a Bore: Maximalist Art & Design, Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2019); Pattern and Decoration: Ornament as Promise, Ludwig Forum, Aachen, Germany, Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Vienna, Austria, and Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary (2018-2019); Pattern, Decoration & Crime, MAMCO, Geneva, Switzerland, and Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2018-2019).
Valerie Jaudon redefines the parameters of abstraction. She explores a richly evocative arena of structural complexity, conceptual abstraction, formal clarity, and restrained but lush brushwork. Her regularized linear forms, geometrically ordered yet crisply hand-painted, create elaborately articulated continuous lines, which wend their way across and through each painting. Her recent paintings continue her longstanding examination, begun in the mid-1970s, of the bounded, yet infinitely expandable world of the finely wrought, intricate, and maze-like abstract image. Her paintings are complex, exact, and combine clarity, flatness, precision, and ready apprehension with a slowed-down, demanding part-to-part, part-to-whole read. It is an arena where sensual, carefully worked and refractive surfaces push up against the steady rhythm of structured lines. A simplified palette, evocative of the classical world – white, black, the rich umber of exposed linen, the occasional blued steel gray – gives the work a certain deliberate (and deliberative) cadence and calm.