• Kiki Smith: Portraits, Celestial Bodies and Fairy Tales (Prints from 1990 through now)
    February 23 – April 22, 2017
  • Mary Ryan Gallery is pleased to present Portraits, Celestial Bodies and Fairy Tales, a solo exhibition of Kiki Smith’s prints from 1990 through now. Often known first as a sculptor whose transgressive early works confronted mortality and bodily decay, Smith is an innovative printmaker whose more recent work on paper explores nature, portraiture, and fairy tales. Printmaking became an essential part of Smith’s practice during the mid-1980s, and she persistently pushes the medium’s boundaries not only of style, technique, and imagery but also between print, drawing, and book.
    On view is a selection of Smith’s most important prints, including Sueño (1992) and My Blue Lake (1995), that demonstrate her experimental approach and survey her shifting concerns from physical vulnerability to mythological and natural subjects. The life-sized figure of Sueño is the form of Smith herself but represents her sister, Beatrice, who died in 1988 during the AIDS epidemic. A technician traced Smith’s outline onto the copperplate, which the artist then filled in with twisted patterns that recall medical musculature drawings. Smith again takes her own image in the hand colored photogravure and lithograph My Blue Lake, using the British Museum’s 360-degree periphery camera to create an encompassing self-portrait and blending her features into landscape. Also on view are Smith’s interpretations of fairy tales, including the ambitiously large-scale homage to Lewis Carroll Come Away From Her (2003), and two artist’s books, Free Fall (1994) and Tidal (I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me, 1998).
    Kiki Smith (b. 1954 Nuremberg, Germany) is an American artist known primarily for her sculpture and works on paper that employ non-traditional materials to address feminist, philosophical, social, sexual, and political aspects of human nature. Smith’s first solo exhibition was hosted by The Kitchen in New York in 1982. Major solo exhibitions have since been held at Brooklyn Museum, New York; Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva; Museum of Modern Art, New York with an accompanying catalog by Wendy Weitman; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; and Whitney Museum, New York. Smith has also participated in important group exhibitions, including the Whitney Biennial, New York (1991, 1993, 2002); La Biennale di Firenze, Florence, Italy (1996, 1998); and the Venice Biennale, Italy (1993, 1999, 2005, 2009). She has received awards such as Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture in 2000, the Athena Award for Excellence in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005, and the 50th Edward MacDowell Medal from the MacDowell Colony in 2009. In 2005, Smith was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Smith’s work is held in prominent museum collections, including the British Museum, London; Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Smith lives and works in New York.
    For press inquiries, please contact Bridget Casey at 212-397-0669 or bridget@maryryangallery.com.

  • Hugo Gellert: ADAA The Art Show
    March 1-6, 2016
  • This presentation of artwork by artist/activist Hugo Gellert (1892-1985) from the 1920s through 1943 from a career that spans seven decades, includes three rare paintings from the early 1920s, a selection of screen prints from his 1943 Century of the Common Man portfolio, eight of which were featured in the Whitney’s new downtown building inaugural exhibition, America is Hard to See, and lithographs from his Das Kapital, Comrade Gulliver, and Aesop Said So portfolios from the 1930s.

    This showing of Gellert’s paintings is especially important, as his paintings are very rare due to the fact that his primary output was in mural painting, illustration, and printmaking. In writing about Gellert’s paintings, Murdock Pemberton, inaugural art critic of The New Yorker, referred to the artist as “one of the most individual American moderns, painting from the inside rather than from some French source.”

    Also on view are drawings and collages from the 1920s and 1930s, a 1938 video clip and an installation of ephemera from the artist’s personal effects and correspondence, including photographs, pamphlets, letters, and publications, which underscore Gellert’s cultural importance as a radical art activist. He consistently fought against racism, fascism, and sexism to promote equal human and labor rights.

    Gellert was born in Budapest in 1892 and immigrated with his family to New York in 1906. After studying at Cooper Union and the National Academy of Design, the outbreak of WWI and the death of his brother flamed his interest in politics. He was an active contributor to radical political journals such as Masses, The Liberator, including its inaugural cover, and New Masses. Gellert was also a staff artist for The New Yorker from its inception in 1925 through 1946, and his portraits and illustrations populate many of The New Yorker magazines. His last major museum exhibition was in Hungary in 1968 at the National Gallery in Budapest. Throughout his life, Gellert was known for his involvement in Hungarian-American art and activism and is widely considered one of the most influential political artists of the first half of the 20th century. He died in 1985 at 93.

    His works are in the collections of the British Museum, London; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the Wolfsonian Museum, Florida International University, Miami among others.

    Mary Ryan Gallery is the exclusive representative of the Hugo Gellert estate.

  • Focus on Peter Sís: Animals
    January 7 – February 20, 2016
  • Mary Ryan Gallery is pleased to announce a focus show that looks at animals in the drawings by Peter Sís. The focus exhibition is held in conjunction with Peter Sís: Animations in RLWindow at RYAN LEE.

    On view is a selection of drawings that depict animal imagery from very small black stipple pen of individual animals to full-color watercolors and from animals as tiny elements in the costumes of his miniatures to animals as maps, such as his well-known whale as the map of Manhattan that was commissioned by the MTA for buses and subways.The focus is one wall of illustrations from the artist/author’s own books and his commissioned works for premier publications and organizations, including the New York Times, Harper’s magazine, and New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority. Included is a drawing for his 86th Street subway design, illustrations for Conference of the Birds, and two early oil on paper illustrations from the 1980s.

    Peter Sís is an internationally acclaimed artist, illustrator, author, and filmmaker. His most recent projects include a series of commissioned tapestries made in Aubusson, France for Amnesty International which are on view at Cape Town International Airport dedicated to Nelson Mandela, Prague’s Václav Havel Airport honoring Havel, Ellis Island’s Immigration Hall in honor of John Lennon, and Dublin Airport for Seamus Heaney. He was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1949, and attended the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague and the Royal College of Art in London. He began his career as a filmmaker, and won the Golden Bear Award at the 1980 West Berlin Film Festival for an animated short. He has also won the Grand Prix Toronto and the Cine Golden Eagle Award. In 1982, he was sent by the Czech government to Los Angeles to produce a film for the 1984 Winter Olympics, but when the project was cancelled and the government ordered him to return home, he decided to stay in the United States, where he was granted asylum.

    He went on to become a leading artist in the children’s book illustration field, as an eight-time winner of the New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, two-time winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Books, and winner of the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal and Silver Medal. In 2003, Sís won the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, and he won the 2012 Hans Christian Anderson Award, considered the most prestigious in international children’s literature. His work has been exhibited in Prague, London, Zurich, Hamburg, Los Angeles, and New York in both group and solo shows.

    For press inquiries, contact Derek Piech at 212-397-0669 or derek@maryryangallery.com.

  • Screenprints, Silkscreens, and Serigraphs
    Summer 2015
  • Artists choose to work with the screenprint medium for its graphic and bold qualities and for the ability to create an even, flat surface color. It is essentially a stencil process with one color printed at a time and requiring many screens for a multi-color final print. The terms silkscreen, screen print and serigraph are used interchangeably. MOMA describes screen printing and silkscreen printing as “a printing technique in which areas of a silkscreen, comprised of woven mesh stretched on a frame, are selectively blocked off with a non-permeable material (typically a photo-emulsion, paper, or plastic film) to form a stencil, which is a negative of the image to be printed. Ink is forced through the mesh onto the printing surface with a squeegee, creating a positive image.”

    A wide range of approaches to screen printing are employed by the artists in this selection of prints, which includes Josef Albers, Laurent de Brunhoff, Richard Estes, Hugo Gellert, Yvonne Jacquette, Deborah Kass, Alex Katz, Jiha Moon, May Stevens, and Donald Sultan. Hugo Gellert’s proto-pop looking silkscreens from 1943 are replete with visible squeegee marks and irregularities. May Stevens’s “Big Daddy with Hats” is one of her only prints of her infamous Big Daddy and also a strong example of political pop. Gellert’s screen prints and a May Stevens “Big Daddy” drawing are currently on view in the Whitney Museum’s inaugural exhibition, America is Hard to See.

    Richard Estes’ monumental “Holland Hotel” is mind boggling in its complexity and a photo-realist screen print tour de force depicting a New York City neighborhood mid-day and devoid of figures. Yvonne Jacquette’s “Chelsea” is a night view from the artist’s studio building roof-top on 29th Street in 1996. Jacquette re-arranged the buildings and used a simple outline for the fire escape in contrast to the multi-layered surfaces of New York’s water towers and building facades. Jacquette spent almost a year on this print before realizing that she had the traffic on Sixth Avenue going in the wrong direction. She added additional screens to reverse the brake and head lights.

    The Josef Albers screen print is part of his “Homage to the Square”— an exquisite and deceptively simple image based on the relationship of these yellow colors and a sheer overlay of colors within a square.

    Jiha Moon’s one-color silkscreen, “Procession-Detourist,” is printed on a handmade lacquer Hanji paper. Moon’s ribbon-like blue line encompasses Disney’s Snow White along with a Chinese spirit. Laurent de Brunhoff, the author/illustrator of the Babar books, spent a year making four screen prints including “Celeseteville by the Sea.” Here the architecture of Celesteville is inspired in by the Hotel Negresco in Nice and Babar’s family can be found throughout the scene, including the Old Lady on the balcony.

    Donald Sultan’s “Red Poppies” at first glance appears to be two colors: red and black. To achieve the richness and depth of color and texture Sultan used seven layers of red to create the final color and added flocking for the black center. Deborah Kass’s “Being Alive” is based on a painting from her “Feel Good Paintings for Feel Bad Times” series and borrows its title from the Bee Gees’ disco song.

    Alex Katz’s “Black Dress” is one of nine in a series of women in black dresses, all in the same pose. Katz’s screenprints typically begin with a painting. For “Black Dress,” he made drawings based on the painting that he then used for the screen prints. As the prints were made after the paintings, Katz had time to re-work areas that he thought needed more attention. The prints are another approach to the image. “Black Dress” series was two years in the making and are the most recent prints on view.

  • Focus on Richard Segalman: Muses, Magic & Monotypes
    July 23 – August 3, 2015
  • Mary Ryan Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of work by Richard Segalman in celebration of his latest book, Black & White: Muses, Magic & Monotypes (2015). The exhibition highlights his new and ongoing black and white study of the muse as well as a selection of early pastels and oil paintings of his iconic Coney Island imagery and Naples beach scenes.

    Segalman’s romantic figurative realist paintings, largely executed in watercolor, oil, or pastel, feature anonymous figures in domestic settings, on beaches or before city architecture whose emotions are evoked by their physical positioning or clothing. Color and the depiction of light is essential to these works. When his shift to monotypes occurred more than 30 years into his career, it introduced the absence of color into his later works. The unpredictable, accident-prone, experimental nature of the monotype intrigued Segalman as it pushed him to return to a drawing quality.

    Richard Segalman (b. 1934, New York) began his career in the early 1960s, working with watercolor and oil, gradually adding printmaking and pastel to his oeuvre. His iconic groups of people in tranquil settings capture the true beauty of a shared contemplative moment. Segalman uses clothing and physical positions to communicate feelings and emotions left unknown by expressionless and nondescript faces.

    Notable collections that include Segalman’s works are Bass Museum, Miami, FL; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH; Harvard University, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D. C.; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, MN; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; St. Louis Art Museum, MO; and Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA, among others.

    Richard Segalman: Black & White: Muses, Magic & Monotypes with text by Susan Castle and Anthony Kirk is to be released by The Artist Book Foundation in Winter 2015.

    For press inquiries, contact Derek Piech at 212-397-0669 or derek@maryryangallery.com.

  • Alex Katz Black Dress: A Suite of New Prints
    May 14 – June 27, 2015
  • Mary Ryan Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of work by Alex Katz that will feature the debut of his latest large-scale screen prints. The artist will be present at the opening reception, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 6-8PM.

    A consummate printmaker, Katz’s practice of painting and printmaking are deeply entwined as many of his print projects are based on his paintings. The “Black Dress” project was first completed as a series of paintings done on door panels, depicting standing woman in the classic fashion design. The exhibition is centered around this new suite, consisting of nine original screen prints each rendered at a monumental size of 80 x 30 inches, which mimic the size of the paintings. Each one is screen printed in 25 to 35 colors and follows Katz’s signature style of exploring portraiture and monochromatic elements.

    In response to this project, noted fashion designer Calvin Klein wrote:

    I also love what a simple black dress says about the woman who wears it. By making such a subtle and concise choice, she’s letting the world know she is strong and her sense of self is powerful. She’s not in need of embellishment or exaggeration. She doesn’t expect to have all eyes on her, although, probably, if she carries herself proudly, she will. And that’s just the most modern and wonderful attitude anyone can have.

    Alex Katz’s Black Dress series is just as modern and wonderful. And, ironically, it has absolutely nothing to do with fashion. His portraits have such strong color fields and clean lines. And despite their apparent simplicity, they’re extremely expressive and perfectly capture the essence of his subjects. You can’t help but notice these women, these beautiful enigmas drawn in bold and certain strokes. You wonder who they are, how they live, what they feel, just exactly what they have going on.

    Also on view is one of the artist’s earliest screenprints, the 1986 “Blueberry Field,” as well as a portfolio of six aquatints called “Small Cuts” that Katz made in 2008 inspired by the early collages he made in the late 1950s. These small collages depict figures in landscapes from hand-colored strips of delicately cut paper.

  • Jean Pagliuso: Poultry and Raptor Suites
    April 9 – May 9, 2015
  • Mary Ryan Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of photographs by Jean Pagliuso in celebration of her latest book, The Poultry Suite (April 2015). On view is a selection of work from her newest book, as well as earlier photographs of owls, hens, and roosters from the ongoing The Poultry Suite and The Raptor Suite series that began in 2006 and 2011, respectively.

    The unusual subject matter of the The Poultry Suite and The Raptor Suite, beginning as an elegy to her late father who raised show chickens during her childhood in Southern California, is presented through Pagliuso’s technical expertise and history in fashion and celebrity photography, taking on an element of documentary photography. Employing formal elements of photography and portraiture, Pagliuso emphasizes the plumage, stance, form, and countenance of each bird on a minimal background to give a certain air of dignity, sophistication, and luxury. The birds, which are equal parts expressive and distinguished, take on anthropomorphic qualities as Pagliuso ascribes a sort of humanness to each one. Pagliuso shot more than 30 breeds of chickens in her New York studio, using a medium-format camera.

    Integral to her work is her traditional printing process. Pagliuso experiments with darkroom techniques, printing each photograph by hand in her studio. She carefully applies a silver gelatin emulsion onto handmade Thai Mulberry papers before exposing the negative. These carefully considered images are simplistic and minimalist in form, creating painterly photographs that are at once distinct and penetrating.

    The Poultry Suite: Photographs by Jean Pagliuso is to be released by Hirmer Publishers in Spring 2015.

    For press inquiries, contact Derek Piech at 212-397-0669 or derek@maryryangallery.com.

  • Laurent de Brunhoff: Babar on Paradise Island
    November 15 – December 23, 2014
  • Mary Ryan Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of original Babar illustrations by Laurent de Brunhoff in celebration of his latest book, Babar on Paradise Island (2014). The show features a selection of works from de Brunhoff’s newest book as well as graphites, studies, and published watercolors from Babar’s Museum of Art (2003), Babar and the Ghost (1981), Babar’s Little Girl (1987), Babar’s Celesteville Games (2011), and Babar’s Book of Color (1984).

    Laurent de Brunhoff (b. 1925, Paris) is the acclaimed author and artist of Babar the Elephant books. The classic series started as a bedtime story first invented and told by Laurent’s mother, Cecile de Brunhoff, and later illustrated in book form by his father, Jean de Brunhoff (1899-1937). Jean de Brunhoff’s The Story of Babar, was published in 1931. After completing only six books, Jean died in 1937 and Laurent, then only 13 years old, colored and designed the cover illustration for the publication of his father’s seventh and last book. Laurent went on to study art at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, and lived in Montparnasse, working as an abstract painter. In 1946, at the age of 21, Laurent brought Babar back to life in his own first Babar book, Babar’s Cousin: That Rascal Arthur. Laurent has since written and illustrated more than 50 Babar books. Laurent’s wife, author Phyllis Rose, has written the text for his most recent books, extending the story that began with Cecile.

    In the 1980s, Laurent moved to the United States and married Rose, and later gave Babar and Celeste a new family member: the adventurous Isabelle in Babar’s Little Girl. In Babar on Paradise Island, Isabelle has grown up; Babar and Celeste are grandparents. Some characters age, while some remain the same age. Paradise Island is inspired by de Brunhoff’s love of Key West. Here, his color palette for the hot tropical setting is bright and intense, in contrast to the more subdued palette he uses for Celesteville’s dry climate.

    Mary Ryan Gallery is the exclusive representative for Laurent de Brunhoff’s art including all Babar published watercolor illustrations, studies and drawings. The gallery has organized numerous traveling museum exhibitions of his work and held solo exhibitions in 1987, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2002, and 2008.

    In 2012, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris held major Babar exhibitions of Laurent and Jean’s work, organized by curator Dorothée Charles. In 2008, the Morgan Library and Museum in New York mounted a major exhibition of original drawings and manuscripts by Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff, for which a catalog was published, Drawing Babar: Early Drafts and Watercolors by Christine Nelson, including an essay about Babar by Adam Gopnik, which was later published in The New Yorker.

    Major exhibitions of Laurent and Jean’s work were held in 1981 at the Centre Culturel du Marais in Paris; in 1983-84 at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Baltimore Museum of Art, Toledo Museum of Art, among others; in 1987 in Japan; and in 1989-90 at the National Academy of Design in New York and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, among others. There have been solo exhibitions of Laurent’s work at many museums throughout America, several organized by Mary Ryan Gallery, recently at the Customs House Museum in Key West, FL; the Dixon Gallery in Memphis, TN; the Speed Museum in Atlanta, GA; and the Davison Center of Wesleyan University, Middlebury, CT.

    Original Babar manuscripts and artwork by Laurent and Jean are in the collection of The Morgan Library and Museum, New York, and the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Laurent de Brunhoff holds both French and American citizenship and was made an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur.

  • Artists of the East End
    Online exhibition
  • The Eastern End of Long Island has long been a post of artistic production for important modern and contemporary artists who have found themselves settling in or passing through the South Fork Hamptons communities and North Fork neighborhoods. The following is a brief history, more of a teaser, as there are far too many names of artists past and present to include.

    William Merrit Chase and Childe Hassam were among the earliest artists to arrive at the turn of the 19th century. Robert Motherwell arrived in the 1940s, followed by Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Willem de Kooning stayed with Pollock and Krasner for a weekend before buying a house in the 1950s and moving his studio there in the 1960s. Stanley William Hayter lived in Amagansett in the early 1940s, and Joan Mitchell summered in East Hampton during the early 1950s. Fairfield Porter settled in Southampton in the 1960s. By the early 1970s, Andy Warhol and Richard Avedon set down roots in Montauk, while Roy Lichtenstein lived in Southampton.

    Louise Bourgeois stored her sculpture unattended outdoors in the fields of the Hamptons in the 1970s, and Bruce Nauman worked in Roy Lichtenstein’s studio for nine months. Three communities in Sag Harbor are historically African American, and became a home to artists in the 1960s, including Nanette Carter, Frank Wimberley, and later Al Loving. Donald Sultan, Eric Fischl, April Gornik, Cindy Sherman, Carroll Dunham, and Vija Celmins all located to Sag Harbor in the 1980s. John Chamberlain settled in Shelter Island; Dan Flavin, George Condo, and Chuck Close in Bridgehampton; Francesco Clemente, James DeWoody, Clifford Ross, Lynda Benglis, and Barbara Kruger in East Hampton; Richard Prince in Southampton; and Annie Leibovitz in Wainscott. In recent years, Matthew Barney, Elizabeth Peyton, and Richard Serra have made Orient Point their home. Stuart Davis did not live on Long Island but is buried in the famous Green River cemetery in East Hampton as are Pollock, de Kooning, and Ad Reinhardt.

    Working across disciplines, this group of artists share only the presence of Long Island as their subject matter has little to do with the area. It’s rather astonishing then that Willem de Kooning’s beautiful black and white Abstract Expressionist lithographs are the works that most specifically reference the beaches of the East End.

    Now, with the stunning new Parrish Museum designed by Herzog and de Meuron in Southampton, ongoing exhibitions at Guild Hall and the Pollock Krasner House, and other institutions, such as The Watermill Center, Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, and LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, the East End has become an important destination for anyone interested in American art of the 20th century through today. It is an exciting time to collect work by this extraordinary body of artists who settled in these ocean, bayfront, and farm communities, past and present.

Selected Past Exhibitions

  • Another Past Exhibition
    December 1st, 2014
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  • A past Exhibition
  • Test for a Past Exhibition