Wednesday, October 28, 2015

WORK OF THE WEEK: Manhattan in the Moonlight by Jenness Cortez

Jenness CortezManhattan in the Moonlight
acrylic on mohogany panel, 36 x 30 in.

“Manhattan in the Moonlight” is a brilliant example of Modern Traditional Realism by artist Jenness Cortez.  This vibrant and meticulously wrought masterpiece is an acrylic painting on mahogany panel, measuring 36 x 30 inches. The work is included in our American Realism: Past to Present exhibition, on view through November 30th in New York. 

Jenness Cortez is a distinguished figure in the contemporary revival of classical realist painting. She was born in Indiana and exhibited profound talent for art at a very early age.  As a teenager, she took private lessons with Antonius Raemaekers, a well-trained Dutch-born painter and superb teacher whose early instruction continues to influence her work today.  She then went on to study at the Herron School of Art, one of the oldest independent professional schools of art in America. To add to development of her technical mastery, Cortez next went on to New York City to study at the Art Students League under another gifted teacher, Arnold Blanch - whose influence on the young art student was also profound.

Throughout her remarkable career Cortez has become proficient in a variety of subject matter including sporting and wildlife art, landscape, portraiture, interiors and still-life. Early in her career she worked as an editorial illustrator and etcher, then returned to her love of painting, with animals as her primary subject matter. For twenty years she became world renown for skillfully portraying horses––most notably, thoroughbred racehorses.  In the mid-1990s, Cortez moved on to landscapes, then to cityscapes and at last to interiors and still life painting where her focus remains today.

At the beginning of the 21st century, Cortez began concentrating on a form of still life painting inspired by the age-old tradition of “art in art.” This tradition was most notably employed by such 17th-century Dutch artists as Johannes Vermeer, usually to impart a hidden meaning to astute viewers.  Similarly, Cortez’s paintings offer layered meanings built on specific themes. Often starting with an iconic masterwork, she then surrounds it with meticulously rendered book covers, photographs, sculpture, antiques, and other objects with cultural or historic significance. Each intricate painting challenges the viewers’ intellectual curiosity. By depicting iconic artworks in her own paintings, Cortez underscores a classic paradox of realism: the painting as a “window” into an imagined space, and as a physical object; both a metaphysical presence and a material entity.

"Manhattan in the Moonlight" features tributes to Childe Hassam's “The Avenue in the Rain” and “Up the Avenue from Thirty-Fourth Street, May 1917”; Jean-Leon Gérôme's “Arabs Crossing the Desert”; “The New Yorker” cover by Harry Bliss, June 3, 2002; an Embellished, hand-made edition of “The Rubaiyat” by Sangorski and Sutcliffe book bindery, London, 1911, destroyed in the sinking of the Titanic, 1912; and a Chinese Archaic bronze “Hu” vessel from the Eastern Zhou dynasty, early 5th century B.C., among other unique objects and decor.

Jenness Cortez has been exhibiting her work since 1975, and has had more than 40 solo shows throughout the United States. Her work is in numerous public and private collections including those of President Ronald Reagan, President Bill Clinton, Governor George Pataki, Governor Hugh Carey, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Ambassador True Davis, Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, Congressman Gerald Solomon, Atlanta Braves General Manager John Schuerholz, Mr. Jerry Weintraub, the New York State Museum, Skidmore College and SUNY Empire State College, Fluor Corporation, Saratoga Harness, Inc., the Waterford Museum, Albany Institute of History and Art and many other collections.
Contact the gallery for additional information about this work: or 212.570.4696