Indepth Arts News: |
"Lowell Nesbitt (1933-1993): A Comprehensive Retrospective"
2003-09-12 until 2003-10-11
Eric I. Spoutz Gallery
USA United States of America
Lowell Nesbitt (1933-1993): A Comprehensive Retrospective opens at the Eric I. Spoutz Gallery, in Detroit, Michigan on September 12, 2003. More than 60 paintings on linen and works on paper created between 1955 through 1986 will be exhibited. Lowell Nesbitt was frequently grouped with the photo-realist movement, but his images were more interpretively distorted, somewhat loosely painted and boldly abbreviated. His subjects ranged from articles of clothing, piles of shoes, nudes, caverns, landscapes, groupings of fruits and vegetables, animals, birds, reptiles, mammals, architectural details and structures in Manhattan, including Neoclassical facades of Soho's 19th century cast-iron buildings, bridges, Victorian staircases, and studio interiors. The subjects of many of the studio interior paintings were based on those of his colleagues, including Claes Oldenberg, Alex Katz, Robert Indiana, Helen Frankenthaler, and Andy Warhol.
"The subject matter of my paintings has become so completely buried that it doesnít matter what I paint, whether it is my shoes, my dog, the work clothes, my easels, or the bridges of New York. It is the painting first and subject matter latter. In fact, I paint sometimes so much of one kind of imagery that I drown within imagery, which then ceases to become less important than what I can do with it."
Despite such thematic variety, Nesbitt was best known for gargantuan images of irises, roses, lilies and other flowers that he often depicted close-up so that petals filled the canvas. Dramatic, implicitly sexual and a little ominous, he remarked ìIíve been trying to treat the flower monumentally, to get beyond its prettiness.
Lowell Nesbitt was credited as the first artist to produce a series of x-ray-inspired paintings, a body of work that began in 1963. During this time frame he also produced a series of electronic interior paintings and drawings based on the early IBM ENIAC and Univac computers. Beginning in the 1960s he had a long-standing relationship with New Yorkís esteemed Howard Wise Gallery, a space devoted to art and new technology -- a radical departure from the focus of other Manhattan galleries during this period. It was also during the 1960s he began experimenting with printmaking, and during his lifetime produced more than 100 original prints primarily in the medium of dry point engraving.
In 1976, he moved from a small studio on West 14th Street in New York City to a 18,000 square foot space that he renovated located in the former police stable. Referring to his new home as 'The Old Stable,' it served as a studio and living quarters, and provided a befitting backdrop to Lowell's "larger then life artwork."
Lowell Nesbitt was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1933. He graduated from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, and the Royal College of Art in London, where he majored in stained glass & etching.
His first solo museum exhibition was held at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1964. In the mid 1970s, after a second solo show at the Corcoran, he bequeathed more than one million dollars to the museum, but in 1989, the gift was rescinded as a protest to the museumís cancellation of a controversial photography exhibition by Robert Mapplethorpe, Nesbittís long time friend. The Phillips Collection was then named the beneficiary of Nesbittís cash endowment.
During his career he had more than 130 solo exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the United States and abroad, including the Stable Gallery, Andrew Crispo Gallery, Gimpel and Weitzenhoffer, Brooke Alexander, Inc., Stafanotty Gallery in New York; the Baltimore Museum of Art; Galerie M.E. Thelen in Cologne; Gimpel and Hanover Galerie in Zurich; the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut; Museo de Bellas Artes in San Juan Puerto Rico; Hester Van Royen Gallery in London; the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio; the Henri Gallery in Washington, D.C.; and the Gertrude Kasle Gallery in Detroit. His work is included in the collections of more than 100 museums, government institutions, and corporations, including those of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. the Yale University Art Gallery; the Worcester Museum in Massachuset! ts; the Renwick Gallery and the National Collection of Fine Arts of the Smithsonian Institution; the Art Institute of Chicago, the Fogg Art Museum, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, the Cleveland Museum of Art the National Gallery of Art in Wellington, New Zealand; the Israel Museum in Jerusalem; and the Plateau Beaubourg of the Pompidou Center and Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, France in Paris, Amerada Hess Corporation, AT&T, Atlantic Richfield the Bank of New York, Celenese Corporation, Chase Manhattan Bank, Citicorp, and Prudential Insurance Company.
In 1980, the United States Postal Service issued four stamps based on Mr. Nesbitt's floral paintings. He also served as the official artist for the space flights of Apollo 9 and Apollo 13.
Flower, Legs, Skull, 1964
56" x 36"
Medium: Pastel on Paper