The unifying theme in this collection of works is the color red. The impetus for the show was my acquisition of Joan Mitchell’s large diptych, Trees I. The size and raw, explosive power of this important lithograph from Mitchell’s 1992 collaboration with storied printmaker Ken Tyler of Tyler Graphics dominates the show. Each of the other works, all from different periods and by disparate artists, hold their own. Hung on the walls of our new gallery on Bellevue Avenue, in Newport, Rhode Island, the Bluemner, Sultans, Westfall and Zakanitch dialogue with the Mitchell and with one another.
The fiery red fall foliage of maple trees in Westchester County, New York inspired Mitchell’s Trees I. The red color is astonishingly rich - a testament to Mitchell’s well-deserved reputation as one of the twentieth century’s pre-eminent colorists. In his 1924 watercolor Cider Mill, Oscar Bluemner displays his own fascination with color. An exhibitor at the seminal 1913 Armory show, and a member of the Stieglitz group, Bluemner used the moniker “vermillionaire” – to connote his red obsession. Donald Sultan’s Poppy series is iconic, particularly the red/black series. These two prints, Red and Black and Black and Red from 2007 are in the still-life tradition. Simultaneously representational and abstract, Sultan utilizes the poppy form and color, flattens the plane and experiments with lithography to create flocked and enameled passages. Robert Zakanitch uses the same three colors, red, yellow and black as Mitchell in his elegant lithograph Untitled, 1983. He, like Sultan, also experimented with textures in this print. Executed at the apogee of the Pattern and Decoration Movement it is an ode to the unbridled exuberance of 1980’s New York.
El Norte by Stephen Westfall is cubes within a cube, a wonderful example of Geometric Abstraction. The cubes are all different colors but the red ones really stand out. Colorful, rectilinear, flat and hard-edged this painting is more rational than the other works. It is the red, like the red found in all the other works in the show; that makes this painting both expressive and impassioned.
Andrea S. Keogh Art & Design, LLC is located across from the Redwood Library and The Newport Art Museum at 59 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island. We can be reached at (401) 340-9977 or firstname.lastname@example.org.