Eric Firestone Gallery continues its scholarly reinvestigation of the New York School with a series of Fall exhibitions at its East Hampton location. Each show will focus on a single decade, while presenting a wide range of artists. The first exhibition will include work all from the 1950s by the following artists:
Josef Albers | Elaine de Kooning | Dorothy Dehner | Charles DuBack | Martha Edelheit | Jorge Fick | Jane Freilicher | Sidney Geist | Joseph Glasco | Sidney Gordin | Mimi Gross | Earl J. Hooks | Norman Lewis | John Little | George McNeil | Fred Mitchell | Joan Mitchell | Louise Nevelson | Pat Passlof | Carl Pickhardt | Milton Resnick | Thomas Sills | Miriam Schapiro | Theodore Stamos | Joe Stefanelli
Many artists, working even within abstraction, were in fact referencing personal narrative, the body, and old master painting. Miriam Schapiro’s monumental “Fete Champêtre (Homage to Giorgione),” 1954 was originally exhibited at the historic artist-run Tanager Gallery. Schapiro was drawn to the sensual qualities of the Giorgione painting, which allowed her to explore - even within gestural abstraction - the figure, a sense of mystery, and a layered evocation of nature. These aesthetic qualities would later connect to her feminist project.
Joseph Glasco (1925 - 1996) also turned to Venetian Renaissance painting as inspiration for his “Salome” (1955). It shows a pair of monumental, sculptural figures - one partially clothed - set against a dense mixed-media surface forming an intricately patterned ground. The painting was included in the Whitney Museum’s 1955 exhibition “The New Decade: 35 American Painters and Sculptors,” which traveled to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and other venues throughout the country. Glasco eventually became disenchanted with the New York art world, moving to Texas. His partner at the time was the experimental novelist William Goyen.
Joe Stefanelli’s painting “Occasion” was shown at a Whitney Annual in 1957 and acquired by the Chrysler Museum. He was part of the 9th Street show, and numerous Stable Annuals, but the curator Judith Stein has written that it was really “in the neo-expressionist eighties that fashion caught up with Stefanelli.” His forms and shapes are marked with an expressive, energetic handwriting.
The exhibition includes a selection of works on paper by Dorothy Dehner (1901-1994), which presage the sculpture she would begin making in the late 1950s. Dehner was married to artist David Smith from 1927-1951, and they lived together in Bolton’s Landing in the 1940s. There, Dehner discovered Ernst Haeckel’s seminal 1904 study of natural forms, Kunstformen der Natur. These images were often the inspiration for her whimsical, lyrical works on paper.