Each December, Sager Braudis Gallery brings significant 20th-century masterpieces to Columbia, Missouri for the Masters Exhibit. This year's exhibit features women of Surrealism and Abstraction, who may just be the most important names in modern art history that you've never heard.Read more
The 2016 Masters Exhibit opens to the public tonight, December 2, at 6 PM with a First Friday reception. For the past month, we've utilized this blog to share the stories of our 6 featured masters. These artists' lives and work influenced the course of art history in the 20th century, and we are honored to bring their original masterpieces to Columbia, Missouri for the month of December. All artwork on display for the Masters Exhibit is available for purchase, and we encourage those impacted by this significant work - whether new to collecting or regular patron - to inquire about private viewing and personalized tours of the exhibit. Our final Masters Preview post is a look at the life and work of Surrealist painter Leonor Fini.
Leonor Fini was the only woman fully inducted into the original circle of Paris Surrealists, led by Andre Breton and including Dali, Max Ernst, and the writer André Pieyre de Mandiargues, among others. Fini’s work, like that of the other Surrealists, dealt in imagery of the subconscious rather than depicting the world as seen by the eye. It is interesting to consider, with Fini, the difference between what one sees and what one envisions. Her initial, surreal works came about after an eye infection that kept her bandaged - essentially blindfolded - for nearly a year in her young adulthood. Shortly after, she began to paint the waking dreams and visions she had experienced while without her sight. One significant, distinguishing characteristic of Fini’s Surrealism is the role of the female character, which, unexpectedly for her time, was unabashedly depicted as powerful, dominant, and even subjugating.
Fini was such an undisputed master of portraiture that her talent was sought out by elite figures all over Europe, even before she was 20 years old, and despite that she was a woman working in a field of men. Her portraits are meticulously rendered and often slightly alter her subjects to a softer, more feminine, even more feline visage. For Fini, the powerful, regal quality of a portrait need not be equated with masculinity, and indeed one of the intriguing qualities of her work is the confident melding of the feminine and the powerful.
Fini’s fame through the 1930s, 40s and 50s regarded her public persona as much as her painting. She dressed theatrically, appeared at every party of note in Paris, and generally failed to fit the mold of the proper, polite woman. She openly shirked the prescription of marriage, and engaged multiple, very public affairs before settling - if it can be called such - with her two favorite lovers in a Paris apartment in 1946, where she lived and worked for the subsequent 5 decades.
Fini’s individualism and disregard for societal norms allowed extreme productivity throughout a decades-long artistic career, well beyond the lifespan of the formal movement of Surrealism. She manipulated and distorted her subject matter to convey her attitudes about power, sex, relationship, and the political world at large, yielding a vast portfolio rich in dreamlike scenarios and re-imaginations of social roles.
“Leonor Fini,” Weinstein Gallery, 2016. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://www.weinstein.com/artists/leonor-fini/
Peter Webb, Sphinx: The life and art of Leonor Fini (New York: Vendome, 2009).
“Biography,” Leonor Fini, 2016. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://www.leonor-fini.com/en/biography/
The Masters Exhibit is an annual, one-month departure from Sager Braudis Gallery’s usual schedule of contemporary art exhibits, to bring to Missouri masterworks by historically influential mid-century artists. Because some background understanding can aid in the appreciation of these significant works, we’ll feature a blog post on each artist whose work will be on display at the 2016 Masters Exhibit, to share with you the stories of our featured masters. The Masters Exhibit will open to the public with a First Friday reception at 6 PM on December 2nd, and will run through December 31st. All works on display will be available for purchase, and we encourage both budding and established collectors to inquire about private, guided tours, which include details, valuation, and histories of works of interest.
Rolph Scarlett, a Canadian-born painter and designer, was a contemporary of Rudolf Bauer, Vassily Kandinsky, and Hilla Rebay, and contributed to the rise of non-objective art in the U.S. both an extensive portfolio of vibrant abstract paintings, and a series of lectures and teachings at the Museum of Non-Objective Art, the precursor to the Guggenheim Foundation Museum.
After travelling to New York as a young man in 1908 and meeting Paul Klee, Scarlett embraced abstraction and was among the first of his peers to move to full non-objectivity, making paintings that did not refer to any recognizable subject matter, but relied on emotionally charged arrangement of pure color, shape, and line. This appealed immensely to Hilla Rebay, the abstract painter and curator of Solomon Guggenheim’s non-objective collection, when she met Scarlett in 1933, and she is said to have referred to him as “Rolph Scarlett, my great find.” When Rudolf Bauer immigrated to the U.S. in 1939, Scarlett was teaching and lecturing at the Museum of Non-Objective Art under Rebay’s direction, and Bauer became a friend and mentor.
Scarlett’s work ranges from balanced, static, outlined abstract forms early on, to fully Abstract Expressionist dripping and pouring of paint in gestural, thick lines from around the 1950s. The constants throughout his creative career are rich, vibrant hues and a reliance on composition rather than recognizable subject matter to convey feeling and energy.
Though the Guggenheim collection changed shape after the death of Solomon Guggenheim in 1949 and the forced resignation of Hilla Rebay in 1952, the Museum still retains a large collection of Scarlett’s abstracts. His long career yielded exemplary works in early abstraction, Non-Objectivity, and Abstract Expressionism.
“Rolph Scarlett,” Weinstein Gallery. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://www.weinstein.com/artists/rolph-scarlett/
“Rolph Scarlett,” FL Fine Art. Accessed November 29, 2016. http://www.rolphscarlettpaintings.com/html/artist_biography.html
Vivian Barnett, Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, Robert Rosenblum, Brigitte Salmon, Karole Vail, and Roland von Rebay, Art of Tomorrow. (New York: Guggenheim Museum, 2005).
Our November blog posts highlight the mid-century greats whose work will be on display during the month of December for the annual Masters Exhibit. Today's feature: Pablo Picasso.Read more
Today's blog post focuses on Enrico Donati, an Italian-born painter often categorized as Surrealist, but whose work spanned multiple movements through his long and prolific artistic career, which ended only somewhat recently with his death in 2008.Read more