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"Myth and Mirage: The Art of Avel de Knight"
2001-08-22 until 2001-09-30
University of Richmond Museums
USA United States of America
This first major retrospective of American artist Avel de Knight (1921-1995) features more than 100 of his works on paper made with oil, watercolor, casein, and pastel. Spanning more than 50 years, this selection of works includes watercolors made during his travels in France, Italy, Russia, and North Africa, studies of the figure and landscape, and visionary paintings that combine African imagery with Western mythology. Also included in the exhibition is his portfolio of illustrations for Thomas Wentworth Higginson’s 1870 book on the Civil War, Army Life in a Black Regiment.
De Knight’s mostly figurative art has been called poetic, lyrical, and symbolist in style. Dream imagery reappears as frequently as classical and African art references. His veils of colors, created by various media, suggest movement, atmosphere, and emotion in these history-laden works.
While my life is firmly rooted in the present, my art has consistently looked to a vanished past. . . and forward to a yet more imagined future.
— Avel de Knight
His “Mirage” series, created between 1969 and the early 1980s, features a synthesis of the influence of French artist Odilon Redon (1840-1960), exposure to Islamic and Byzantine cultures during a trip to the former Soviet Union, and his interest in Northern African imagery. In most of these works, horizontal bands of color seem to fix the compositions far into the distance, suggesting a vista into a fantasy landscape containing pyramids, rainbows, and seashells. Human figures in these works are anonymous and oftentimes have wings or halos.
Avel de Knight (American, 1921 - 1995)
Parthenon Horse, 1988
oil on paper, 25 x 30 1/2 inches
Private collection, photograph by Manu Sassoonian
©Estate of the artist.