January 10-February 2, 2008
BIO | THUMBNAILS |
PRICELIST | * REVIEW * | ORDER CATALOGUE
If you wish further information, please
Spanierman Modern is pleased to announce the opening on January 10, 2008 of Charlotte Park,an exhibition and sale of works in oil and gouache by a leading figure in the American Expressionist movement. Almost unknown until after the death of her husband, the painter James Brooks, in 1992, Park’s work has only recently been discovered and given critical praise. Including works by Park from the early 1950s through the 1960s, this exhibition explores Park’s role within the context of Abstract Expressionism and her stylistic trajectory, as related to a period of rich inventiveness that has been called “the best and most golden of American art history.”
Born in 1918 in Concord, Massachusetts, Park graduated from the Yale School of Fine Art in 1939. During World War II, she worked as a volunteer at the Department of Federal Public Housing in Washington, D.C., and then for the Office of Strategic services (OSS), which produced information in support of overseas Allied military operations. In 1947 she married James Brooks, whom she had known at the OSS. After moving to New York, the two artists became part of the avant-garde that included Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. They also joined Pollock, Krasner, and other artists in establishing studios on Long Island, first in Montauk and then in The Springs, East Hampton, where Park continues to reside.
Park launched her own version of Abstract Expressionism in the early 1950s. In gouaches that were among her first works of this time, she limited her palette to black and white, a choice that many New York artists were using at the time to free their art from the demands imposed by color. For Park, such a path enabled her to concentrate on bolder, highly contrasted and clearly defined images, arranged within shallow and sometimes ambiguous post-Cubist spaces. Masque, a work in color from this period reveals Park’s predisposition to rounded shapes and complex, curved forms, with which she sought to capture the mysterious implications of a masque ball. In The Sun she joined yellow and red to create a dazzling effect. Park’s greater confidence as she moved into the mid-1950s is reflected in her production of works that were larger, more ambigious, and in subtle ways more complex. Painting mostly on canvas and expanding her color range, she replaced pure hues with modulated ones and created works that are either rich with cursive lines that echo nature or are characterized by rectilinear shapes that emphasize the verticality of forms. Park included such works in her first one-person exhibition, held at Tanager Gallery in New York in November 1957. In a review of the show, the noted art critic Dore Ashton wrote in the New York Times that Park’s “recent abstractions . . . are crisp, well-composed works. Some are very active in movement, suggesting openness, as if her theme were the sea.” Others, Ashton said “are more quiet, with resounding forms.”
In the second half of the 1950s Park began to investigate collage, as had her contemporaries Krasner and Conrad Marca-Relli. Culling from her earlier works for passages of color that she found interesting, Park cut them apart arranged them in new contexts. The abutting planes in these works opened a vista that the artist explored in the 1960s, in which, in works such as Tara, she created images that are platonic in their use of a square format and soft and sensuous in their mixture of pure color and luminous, blended hues. Later in life, Park evinced an avid interest in Piet Mondrian’s Neo-plasticism, which may have inspired her to create surfaces that serve as geometricized pictorial fields in which her colors whisper and shout.
An awareness that Park’s art deserves greater attention than it did during the era of Abstract Expressionism has been acknowledged since the late 1970s. Park was among the artists chosen to be represented in the exhibition, Around Jackson Pollock, East Hampton, 1946–55: 15 Abstract Expressionists, held in Paris at the American Cultural Center in the fall of 1979. In the following year, Park was featured in The Pollock Years, held at the Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York. Of the artists whose work was on view, including Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, and Brooks, David Shirey singled Park out in a review in the New York Times, noting that her work provided “splendid showing” and that her “runic strokes of light colors and light are full of interesting pictorial tensions.” Park’s art was given its first scholarly scrutiny in an exhibition held at the Parrish Art Museum in 2002. An exhibition of her oils from the 1950s, held at Spanierman Gallery, East Hampton, New York, in 2006, continued this process, as did the inclusion of her work in Picturing Long Island: Abstract, Figurative, and Historical, an exhibition held at the Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, Long Island in 2007. The current exhibition provides a further opportunity to observe the unique qualities of Park’s art and to see it within the dynamic milieu in which she was an active participant.