MID-CENTURY: EXCERPTS FROM THE ESTATES
April 17 - May 17, 2019
Jason McCoy Gallery is pleased to present a curated selection of works hailing from the last Mid-Century, celebrating the Estates of Bernard Childs, Stephen Greene, Frederick Kiesler, and Charles Pollock, all of which are represented by the gallery. Dating from the early 1940s to the mid 1970s, this group of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper mark a period of unique explorations for each respective artist both in regard to material experimentation and formal investigation.
The work of Bernard Childs (1910–1985) spans almost four decades, truly beginning after Childs returned from World War II, spending three years in the South Pacific aboard a Naval destroyer escort and having been in hospitals twice thereafter. Years later, he reflected: “I did not get back to the world until October 1948. But those five years were invaluable. They gave me back to myself.” By the 1950s, when Childs matured as an artist, he was eager to carve out his vision without time or patience left for compromises. In the early 1960s, Childs was invited to exhibit in Japan, and during that time he began to experiment with a variety of unexpected materials. In the following years, he often employed sand, carborundum, and even brick dust to create texture. Structurally, works, such as Carmen (1962), evolve around geometric shapes that from a distance read as graphically flat, but upon close inspection feature heavy impasto.
Stephen Greene (1917-1999) first received critical acclaim for his figurative paintings in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and the following decade marked a significant change within his oeuvre. In the 1960s, he achieved a new authority with breakthrough compositions characterized by the artist’s distinctive and autographic method of abstract composition. In part inspired by the canvases of Barnett Newman, Greene sought to purge his paintings of narrative elements without sacrificing the qualities of myth and timelessness that had been his early inspirations.
In the last decades of his life, Frederick Kiesler (1890-1965) worked on a series of paintings and which translated his vision of space into multi-paneled installations that protruded from the wall, as well as focusing on several immersive sculptural installations. To Kiesler, the space between different elements was a reflection of the “inner necessity” of the work as a whole, explaining that it was the same as what “breathing is to our body reality.” In 1954, he wrote: “the traditional division of the plastic arts, sculpture, and architecture, is transmuted and overcome and their fluid unification is now contained within rather than combined from without.” Installed here are works on paper as well as sculpture elements, including from the monumental work Us, You, Me, (1963-1965), which further elucidate Kiesler’s vision of synthesizing painting, sculpture, architecture, and environment.
By the late 1960s, Charles Pollock (1902-1988) was focusing exclusively on color. In his New York series, which marks the artist’s return to the city after years spent painting abroad, biomorphic shapes have been replaced with vertical geometric structures. These totemic forms are divided by color stacks, which often slant diagonally with uneven proportions. Emanating a strong transcendental quality, these ethereal constructs seem to be floating in space, at once emergent from and receding into the surrounding atmosphere.