William Scharf

Imagining the Actual

October 13 – November 12, 2016

William Scharf, Young Shepherd Moves His Sheep Away From The Storm, 2007
William Scharf, Top Sphinx, 1956
William Scharf, To A Dead Poet, 1956
William Scharf, Of the Square and by the Night, 1956
William Scharf, Untitled (Cut-Out), 1961
William Scharf, The Hero's Step, 1962
William Scharf, Watched White, 1965
William Scharf, The Hen Lady, 1969
William Scharf, Untitled, circa 1970
William Scharf, Untitled, circa 1970s
William Scharf,  Madonna Sphynx, 1970-71
William Scharf, The Sun Arch & The Ice Bride Are Above The Lilac Walk, 1979
William Scharf, Arched Annunciation, 1979
William Scharf, At the Forgiving, 1980s
William Scharf, Untitled, 1985
William Scharf, Untitled, 1985
William Scharf, Of Menaced Madness, 1986
William Scharf, Green Bridge, 1986
William Scharf, The Giver Threatened, 1993
William Scharf, The Arches Ladder, 1992
William Scharf, The Magic Fragments, 1997
William Scharf, The Martyr's Ladder and The Harm Angel, 1998-2002
William Scharf, A Pending Sorrow, Totem and the Ice Shoal, A Wile After Goya, (From left to right), 2000, 2001, 2002-7 (From left to right)
William Scharf, In a Cloy of Sky, Angel of Tongues, Sun Edge Shower (From left to right), 2000, 2001, 2002 (From left to right)
William Scharf, On the Ether Swing, On to Adjacency, Gull White (From left to right), 2000-1, 2000, 2001-2 (From left to right)
William Scharf, To Golden Wreath, The Geometric Smile, On the Trance Branch (From left to right), n.d., 2001, 2007 (From left to right)
William Scharf, Planted Heart, Negligee of Snow, An Amulet for a da Vinci (From left to right), 2005, 2004, 2002-6 (From left to right)
William Scharf, The Sigh Weapons, 2002-6
William Scharf, Vernal Equinox, Shrine Climb, On the Path's Map (From left to right), 2005
William Scharf, The Heaven Hole, Whale Gold, Bow Gold Wing Black (From left to right), 2005, 2004-5, 2006 (From left to right)
William Scharf, The Priestess Wore Herself, 2005-2007
William Scharf, The White Elephant Lies Down, 2007
William Scharf, Under Salted Sails, 2008
William Scharf, Eclipse Finds the Golden Ladder, 2008
William Scharf, The Golden Anchor Escapes, 2009-10
William Scharf, From Matisse's Balcony, 2011
William Scharf, The Sun Shines On The Opening Volume, 2011-2012
William Scharf, Self Portrait, 1956
William Scharf, The Night Mare's Acrobat, 5 Loaves + 2 Fish = 7, Quaternity in White (From left to right), 2000, 2002, 2000 (From left to right)
William Scharf, Piscinian Smile, Surprise by Pendulum, Tyr Rite (From left to right), 2001, 2000, 2000-1 (From left to right)
William Scharf, Green Grew the Moss Dew, Blond Lack, Wing Totem (From left to right), 2001, 2002, 2000 (From left to right)
William Scharf, The Postman's Message, Angel Anchor, Torso of the Furnace (From left to right), 2001, 2005, 2006 (From left to right)
William Scharf, An Accidental Liking, The Sold Soldier, In the Enmity Tree (From left to right), 2002, 2002, 2000 (From left to right)
William Scharf, Wisconsin Relics, The Deafened Day, King Fall (From left to right), 2002-4, 2005, 2007 (From left to right)
William Scharf (b. 1927) To Bonnard, The Painter's Terrace, Flowering Phoenix, Hour Rite (From left to right), 2004, 2004, 2001 (From left to right)
William Scharf, Cage's Metal, Omentum Move, In An Earlier Ago (From left to right), 2005, 2006, 2006, (From left to right)
William Scharf, Cauldron Altar, Irth Hast, The Her Moth (From left to right), 2005-6, 2006, 2007 (From left to right)
William Scharf, Spiral Gale, Gray Angel, Wither of Eggs (From left to right), 2006, 2005-6, 2004-6 (From left to right)
William Scharf, The Thermometer's Wedding, Another End of Dark, Gold Henge (From left to right), 2006
William Scharf, Admiration of the Frame, In Folded Guilt, The Relics Remember (From left to right), 2006-7, 2003-7, 2002 (From left to right)
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view
William Scharf: Imagining the Actual - Installation view

Press Release

Hollis Taggart Galleries is pleased to present William Scharf: Imagining the Actual, a retrospective exhibition of the work of visionary painter William Scharf. Selected in collaboration with the artist’s close friends and family, this exhibition reveals the genius of a man whose oeuvre is too little known. Though often grouped with the Abstract Expressionists, the sixty-five works on display will demonstrate how Scharf’s art springs not from collective philosophy, but rather from a very unique artistic vision, one that has fueled Scharf’s oeuvre over a career that spans more than six decades.

The individuality of Scharf’s oeuvre resists art historical categorization. His abstracted compositions of organic and geometric formal elements recall the free associations of Surrealism and the all-over grandeur of Abstract Expressionism, and at the same time embody a very individual and immediately recognizable pictorial sense. Scharf combines virtuoso paint handling, vibrant color, and rich symbolic language in canvases that engage the viewer in a transcendent and emotional dialogue. This dialogue is accomplished in part through recurring symbols, which allude to hidden, mysterious narratives. Scharf plumbs the psychological wells of collective myths for symbolic content: the crown of thorns, the ladder, the fish, and the cross can be found throughout, functioning not, as one might expect, as religious symbols, but rather as a means through which to access a deeper, symbolic level of visual communication.

Born in 1927 in Media, Pennsylvania, Scharf received a formal art training in Philadelphia before moving to New York in 1952, where he has lived and worked ever since. Though he maintained many art-world friendships, most notably a close relationship with Mark Rothko, Scharf’s paintings function on a more personal, mystical level than those of many of his contemporaries. This exhibition turns a retrospective eye on this powerful body of work, following his evolution from midcentury into the new millennium with works that range from diminutive paintings to wall-covering canvases. Throughout, one finds that Scharf’s bold, evocative compositions offer glimpses into a unique artistic mind.

William Scharf: Imagining the Actual is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an insightful essay by Christopher Rothko, whose longstanding friendship with the Scharf family allows a singular perspective on the artist’s work. Rothko is a graduate of Yale University and practiced clinical psychology before devoting himself full-time to managing the legacy of his father, Mark Rothko. He most recently published Mark Rothko: From the Inside Out, a collection of eighteen essays responding to his father’s work.

PRESS CONTACT
Ashley Park
ashleypark@hollistaggart.com
212.628.4000