24 East 78th Street
New York, NY 10075
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Laura Roberts
GP Contemporary Presents The First U.S. Solo Sam Middleton Exhibition: The Sam I am is Collage
NEW YORK, NY (January 15, 2017) GP Contemporary, a celebrated branch of Gerald Peters Gallery, presents an exhibition of work by Sam Middleton. The first solo show of Middleton’s work in the US, the pieces in the exhibition, entitled The Sam I am is Collage, reflect Middleton’s New York City roots, and the jazz that surrounded him during his upbringing in Harlem. Working in watercolor, gouache and collage, his mixed media work offers expressive improvisations of movement and energy in color and form. They also present a cultural exchange, with collage elements offering a peek into the global exploration that played a considerable role his life. The exhibition opens Wednesday, February 1st and remains on view through Saturday, February 25th. GP Contemporary is located at 24 East 78th Street, New York, NY, and gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 10am - 5pm, Saturday 12-5pm. www.gpcontemporary.com
“We are honored to present the first solo exhibition of Sam Middleton’s work in the United States,” said Gavin Spanierman, Managing Director of GP Contemporary. “The pieces selected for this show span three decades, demonstrating the progression of his artistry. His work personifies the concept of global art, while intertwined with his love of music. The result: melodic abstract compositions that are full of joy and soul for all the world to enjoy.”
About Sam Middleton
Born in in 1927, Middleton grew up in Harlem across the street from the Savoy Ballroom. There he acquired his jazz education as a young boy by listening to musicians rehearse while perched on the Savoy’s fire escape after school. Influenced by his experiences with Louis Jordan, Jimmie Lunceford, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday among others, Middleton began to draw. Throughout his life, memories of Harlem and jazz music inspired much of his work.
After travelling the world for a decade with the Merchant Marines, Middleton returned to New York’s Greenwich Village Cedar Tavern scene. There, he joined a host of now famous artists and writers at this incubator for the Abstract Expressionist movement. He frequented the Five Spot Café, where he listened to jam sessions and met musicians who would go on to become jazz greats, including Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane. Ellington reportedly once told Middleton that he “was a painter of music.”
In the mid-1950s, on the advice of Franz Kline, Middleton sought success outside of the US market. He went on to live in Mexico, where he attended the Instituto Allende, then Spain, Sweeden, and Denmark before settling in the Netherlands in 1961. From then on, the rich colors and steady gray light of the Dutch landscape played a significant role in his collages. Middleton lived in the Netherlands until he died at age 88.
About The Exhibition
It was important to Middleton that he have his own identity; his own style of abstract expressionism. He took his cue from the jazz musicians that he admired most, noticing that each had their own tone and technique that gave them a unique sound. The works in this exhibition are spectacular examples of Middleton’s distinctive voice, offering a freedom of expression with origins in sound and harmony.
Each work in the show demonstrates Middleton’s free spirit taking chances and expressing ideas in a complete, well rounded composition. There are landscapes and waterscapes that interpret where Middleton was living at the time, while other pieces depict his opinion on topics that have universal appeal. Most, however, visually explore music; in these pieces the titles themselves –Crescendo, Concerto, Encore Solo and others–reveal the music that was playing constantly in his studio while he worked.
Middleton was frequently included in American exhibitions during the late 1950s-early 1960s, including at New York’s Whitney Museum and Brooklyn Museum and the Baltimore Museum of Fine Art. His work was featured in several important books on African-American art, and his work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum, Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., the Hampton (Va.) University Museum and Washington, D.C.’s Howard University. Internationally, his work can be found in museums in Australia, Israel and The Netherlands, including Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum and Venlo’s Van Bommel Van Dam Museum. In 2015, Middleton’s work was represented in the Whitney Museum’s inaugural exhibition in its new location.
For more information, please contact Gavin Spanierman, Managing Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 212.628.9760.