The Hollis Taggart 2021 Armory Show booth will feature a selection of premier Abstract Expressionist and Post-war artworks with an emphasis on the contribution of women artists during the period between 1945 to 1985. We plan to highlight works by Leon Berkowitz, Dusti Bongé, Friedel Dzubas, Audrey Flack, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, Idelle Weber, and Michael (Corinne) West, among others. For more information on the gallery's booth presentation please contact us at +1 212.628.4000 or email@example.com.
Created the same year as Dusti Bongé's first solo exhibition, Untitled (White, Yellow, and Black) (c. 1956), features strong, vertical pole-like forms, a recurring motif in her paintings. The imagery emerged throughout the 1940s as the artist simplified biomorphic, figurative shapes into elongated calligraphic brush marks. The dense black verticals, piercing a brighter color field of blue, yellow, white, and brown, may also reflect her awareness of Jackson Pollock’s acclaimed 1952 painting Blue Poles. However, Bongé never veered towards Pollock’s tangled drips, preferring to maintain a well-defined cubist framework. Her broad marks, made with oversized brushes, invite comparison to Franz Kline’s paintings and Willem de Kooning’s landscapes of late 1950s and early 1960’s.
Algonquit, painted in 1986 is a prime example of Leon Berkowitz's all-over color canvases that seem to radiate light towards the viewer. Here, the luminescent border draws the viewers attention inward to the central radiating form of orange and red. Berkowitz's technique differed from contemporaries in that he didn't employ Frankenthaler's "staining" method on unprimed canvas and he made use of oil instead of acrylic. He applied as many as 40 layers of paint, blotting with rice paper or using a a hair dryer between layers to dry and eliminate brushstrokes, rendering sumptuous, super-saturated canvases. Berkowitz’s fascination with perceptions of light connected him to the artists of California’s Light and Space Movement, and indeed, his canvases exude a captivating luminescence that seems to emanate from deep within. When a selection of his paintings was displayed at the Phillips Collection in 1976, he said of his work, “I am endeavoring to find that blush of light over light and the color within the light; the depths through which we see when we look into and not at color.” (1)
1. Quote drawn from: American Art at The Phillips Collection, “Biography: Leon Berkowitz (1919-1987)”. phillipscollection.org
Explorer recalls the forms of Audrey Flack’s Totem, painted the previous year. The vaguely anthropomorphic central black form that stretches across the center of Explorer mirrors the sweeping orange form of Totem, linking this piece with the Abstract Expressionist interest in totemic imagery. Roots in Surrealism and the influence of Jungian psychology let many artists at midcentury to an appreciation of Native American artistic traditions, which they would have seen displayed at New York’s Museum of Natural History. Artists such as Pollock and David Smith used the idea of the totem as a way to tap into the symbolic underpinnings of the collective psyche. Flack’s work reflects this interest, but here her gestural forms have morphed into a kind of all-over scaffolding that contains areas of translucent color, almost like panes of stained glass. She would develop this system of ordering her compositions throughout the early 1950s, and would continue to employ similar systems even in her later photorealist work.
Working in and amongst the vibrant New York art scene of the 1960s, Idelle Weber produced an impressive body of work that poignantly reflected America’s postwar culture. Weber pithily depicted the many elements that characterized America during the time, from the corporate culture immortalized in Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, to the “Mod” fashions garbing the country’s urban population and the “Mad Men” determining the evolution of American consumer culture, as well as the turbulent political times of the Vietnam War and the Kennedy assassination. Employing a clean and nuanced language of silhouettes and outlines, Weber distilled these subjects down to their essential elements, setting her apart from her fellow Pop art contemporaries such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, who used a louder appropriation of mass consumer imagery. Weber’s silhouettes act like portraits of the time, invoking social and political issues in simple ways that belie their true complexity – an intelligent approach to these subjects that represent the artist’s, as well as the country’s, ambivalent attitudes towards them. As a woman working amongst this “gentleman’s club” of Pop artists, Weber’s unique approach to these iconic subjects was both progressive and courageous, and is certainly an important contribution to the cultural atmosphere of this complex period of American history and art.