D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc. is pleased to announce New Materials, New Approaches, an exhibition of 1960s-1970s works in plastic by Julian Stanczak, Mon Levinson, and Leroy Lamis. The exhibition focuses on the extension through plastic of abstract investigations of color, light, and line demonstrated in Lamis's sculptures, Levinson's constructions, and Stanczak's unique series of oil on plastic works created for a solo exhibition at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1972.
Over the past five years, the gallery has researched artists investigating new materials in the 1960s, a period that saw both enthusiasm for technology brought on by the Space Race and a renewed interest in the Constructivist and Bauhaus artists of the 1920s. For the exhibition New Materials, New Approaches, Mon Levinson (b.1926), Leroy Lamis (1925-2010), and Julian Stanczak (b.1930) were selected as each artist re-purposed industrial materials in innovative ways to create art that rewarded the engaged viewer with shifting imagery of line, color, and reflection.
Plastic was first incorporated into art in Europe by the Constructivist and Bauhaus artists of the 1920s. In the United States, Alexander Calder and Charles Biederman incorporated plastic into their sculpture and reliefs in the 1930s. The exploration of plastic in art went into a hiatus through the war years. It was not until the 1960s that artists again looked to plastic for its malleability as well as its smooth surface, luminosity, and ability to be opaque, clear, or colored. By the end of the decade artists working in plastic received attention in focused museum exhibitions like A Plastic Presence at New York’s Jewish Museum in 1969.
Mon Levinson began working in plastic in 1960 and an early work was included in Martha Jackson Gallery’s innovative exhibition New Forms-New Media that year. His layered Plexiglas constructions using moiré effects were included in MoMA’s influential exhibition The Responsive Eye in 1965. Levinson’s use of Plexiglas combined with electroluminescent panels (a predecessor to today’s LEDs) led him to be included in Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Kluver’s E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in 1968.
Leroy Lamis turned to plastic as early as 1958-1959 as an extension of his work with glass and prisms. The embedded color in plastic provided Lamis the opportunity to work in color as a Constructivist sculptor. From 1962 to 1978, Lamis made a series of plastic cube constructions that expressed in sculpture a three dimensional approach to Josef Albers’s color theory. Using just eight colors plus clear and white Plexiglas, Lamis developed multiple variations of the original source colors through layering and reflections. His sculptures of diminishing cubes read as enclosed architectural spaces within which are infinite mesmerizing reflections. Leroy Lamis’s sculpture was included in MoMA’s The Responsive Eye as well as the Jewish Museum’s A Plastic Presence.
Julian Stanczak turned to plastic as a drawing surface when Gene Baro, then director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, offered the artist a solo exhibition of drawings and prints for its 1972 season. For the exhibition, Stanczak developed a unique series of works using thinly sprayed oil on glossy surfaces including illustration board, polished aluminum, and plastic sheets. Stanczak selected reflective surfaces knowing that as drawings his framed works would be presented under glass and the resulting reflections would amplify the interplay of black and white lines in his compositions. Stanczak calculated that the resulting shifting imagery would engage the viewer to stop and further investigate the work.
The exhibition of 36 works will be on view from February 9th through April 28th. A catalogue with essay by Emily Lenz and biographies on each artist is available.