Click image below for more "still life"

Click image below for more "still life"
Francis Cunningham "Three Baldwin Apples" (1964) Oil on linen 5'' x 16''

Friday, November 20, 2009

"New Realism" and Philip Pearlstein & Al Held Exhibition

UPDATE: See the James Kalm video from the opening reception of Philip Pearlstein & Al Held Exhibition here.

Philip PearlsteinI've just added Al Held and Philip Pearlstein "PEARLSTEIN/HELD: Five Decades" now on show at Betty Cuningham Gallery to Dick's "want to see" and "recommended" lists, found here Dick mentioned the show to me the day before it opened and my appetite was whetted further when I saw James Kalm's short interview with Philip Pearlstein at the opening, found on Facebook and hopefully also coming to James Kalm YouTube channel. Dick has not yet seen the show after his successful cataract operation left him a bit disoriented for "more than" a few days.

In September/October 1997, Dick worked with Philip Pearlstein, George Nick and John Moore in Israel on series of paintings for an exhibition in 1999 in Tel Aviv Museum entitled "90th Anniversary of Tel Aviv; Contemporary City Scapes; Israeli and American Artists."

Al Held and Philip Pearlstein "PEARLSTEIN/HELD: Five Decades" at Betty Cuningham Gallery compares careers of two artists, as explained in the press release, "born in the mid – 1920’s: Pearlstein in 1924 and Held in 1928. The artists arrived in the center of the “art scene” in the late 1940’s at the time of the birth of Abstract Expressionism. Both tried their hand in Abstract Expressionism in the 1950’s, but by 1960, both had left Abstract Expressionism behind. Philip Pearlstein chose the route of representation – particularly of the female nude, a classic subject throughout art history. Al Held moved toward clear abstraction. Both shared the position that “Expressionism” would be dropped from their paintings. By the late 1960’s Pearlstein had committed to the “New Realism”, as stated in John Perrault’s manifesto:
No stories; no allegories; no symbols.
No hidden meanings; no obvious meanings.
No philosophy, religion, or psychology.
No jokes.
No political content.
No illustration.
No fantasy or imagination; no dreams; no poetry."

Of the two artists, in my opinion, Pearlstein is more relevant to what Dick's practice is, so I'll just talk about him.
Dick considers Philip Pearlstein revolutionary for figure painting. One of their common subject matters is the nude.
Our conversation today ended up on the issue of breaking tradition in art, and “New Realism,” which Dick lived through, but was not swept away by, holding to the humanity of the subject and its emotional and intellectual manifestations as well as the physical.
Dick says that he's greatly indebted to Pearlstein. "Philip broke with the Western tradition of the idealized nude and freed artists to look at the nude with their own eyes, fresh."
Dick is also "preplexed by why it's not generally seen that Pearlstein is cut out of the same cloth as Signorelli and Michelangelo in his sense of form and space," which I find interesting as an issue in art history and tradition to bring up in this context.

Francis Cunningham
[Image: Francis Cunningham "Reaching"]

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