Thursday, July 21, 2016

Contemporary Luminist Master: Joseph McGurl

Joseph McGurl (American, b. 1958)
Sankaty Light, 2016
oil on canvas, 30  x 40 in.
An accomplished plein air painter and contemporary luminist, Joseph McGurl is a highly sought after American landscape artist.  McGurl grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts, beginning his studies under his father, James, who was a notable muralist. His father taught Joseph crucial skills such as color theory, draftsmanship, and the skill of negotiating between preparatory studies and large-scale finished works. Joseph McGurl continued his studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The Massachusetts College of Art, and he attended summer programs in London and Florence. While in Florence, he took private lessons from Robert Cormier, a distinguished Boston artist devoted to French Academy methods. It is clear that Cormier influenced McGurl as his pupil’s works “indicate academic figure drawing skills with sight-size landscape painting resulting in a new and unique approach to addressing the landscape.”

McGurl’s artistic process is methodical. It begins with hours of en plein air studies using oil paints. He returns to his studio with his preparatory studies and transforms the images into a larger scale—relying solely on his memory and imagination to create a work that is inherently unique. McGurl is one of the few contemporary realists who notably refuses to rely on photography to create his landscapes. He declares, “I do not use photography because I feel it diminishes the artistic and intellectual experience of the intense observation and reinterpretation that I find so satisfying. My field studies painted on location are combined with my memory and imagination to form a framework for the larger studio pieces." Thus, when looking at one of his paintings, one is looking from McGurl’s unique perspective.

In Sankaty Light (2016), McGurl says he has looked down from the cliffs at Sankaty many times, and used his collective memories of the Sankaty cliffs to form the composition.  For example, in this piece the boat and certain details are derived from his familiarity with the subject. McGurl interestingly chose not to include the actual lighthouse, and instead use only the monument’s shadow. This is a deliberate visual pun, “where the presence of the lighthouse, whose purpose is to shine a light, is indicated by its shadow, which is created by the absence of light.” McGurl also emphasizes the calming bow-and-quarter waves, which add a sense of movement to the piece. Combining realism with his own memories of the Nantucket landscape, McGurl creates a work that is both modern and timeless.

McGurl is a member of the Plein Air Painters of America, and he was the youngest person ever to have won the John Singleton Copley Award from the Copley Society of Boston. He has also won theGrumbacher Gold Medallion from the Guild of Boston Artists. McGurl's paintings have been included in several museum exhibitions throughout the country including the Cape Cod Museum of Art, The Cahoon Museum of American Art, and the Saint Botolph Club of Boston.  

Please contact the gallery for additional details: or 508.325.4405


Friday, July 15, 2016

Stuart Davis: Leader of American Modernism

Stuart Davis (American, 1892 - 1964)
Private Way, 1916
oil on canvas, 18  x 22 in.
His work a forerunner of American modernism, an exhibition of Stuart Davis’s Ĺ“uvre is currently on view at the renowned Whitney Museum in New York City. A Philadelphia native born to artistic parents who had both studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Davis was introduced by his father to the likes of John Sloan and Robert Henri. He studied with Henri in New York City from 1910 to 1913 Henri progressively encouraged his students to open themselves to the influence of any artistic style they met. Although his style was certainly abstract, he kept his focus on social realism by choosing subjects such as run-down hotels or apartment interiors. Davis appropriated elements of Cubism while combining it with his own realism that exuded the spirit of popular mass culture in America.

Private Way (1916) is one of Davis’s early works from when he was developing his abstract style. Davis completed this painting after he participated in the 1913 Armory Show where he contributed five watercolors. The innovations that he had seen at the exhibition inspired Davis. With his unconventional colors, flattened forms, and visible brushstrokes, Davis was influenced by the European modernists such as MatisseVan Gogh, and Gauguin.  His early works display his movement away from realism and his experimentation with becoming a modern artist.

In the late 1920s, Davis spent time in Paris learning the conventions of the European avant-gardemovement including artists such as Alexander Calder and Piet Mondrian. He would remain in New York City for the majority of his career, keeping a studio in the City as well as Hoboken, New Jersey. From then on, his paintings strictly reflected the American spirit with inspiration drawn from jazz music and modernist styles.

According to the Whitney Museum of American Art, “Davis’s unique ability to transform the chaos of everyday life into a structured yet spontaneous order communicates the wonder and joy that can be derived from the color and spatial relationships of everyday things.” Davis exhibits such a remarkable ability particularly in his vibrant later pieces, but this quality is apparent in his earlier works as well.

Davis’s paintings have been often been likened to jazz music on canvas. In the dive bars he frequented, Davis developed a passion for the expressiveness and energy of jazz songs. According to the Columbus Museum of Art, “His paintings effectively form the visual equivalent to the spirit of improvisation embodied in jazz. They are composed of energetically-arranged geometric elements interspersed with simplified representational forms.” In Private Way, we see an absence of accuracy in his representation of forms, and a juxtaposition of hard edges with curved lines. This work prefigures his later works, which are starkly geometric, rhythmic, and Cubist in style.

Davis went on to teach at the Art Students League in New York and created murals for the Works Progress Administration during the 1930s. He continued teaching at New York’s New School for Social Research (1940-1950) and Yale University (1951). In 1964, Davis received the first commission by an American artist to design a postage stamp, which was issued six months after his death in that year.

Davis’s work can be found in countless esteemed institutions across the nation including the Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum in New York City; the National Museum of American Art andThe Phillips Gallery in Washington DC; and The Peggy Guggenheim Museum, in Venice, Italy.

 This work is currently on exhibit in our Nantucket gallery.
Please contact the gallery for additional details: or 508.325.4405

Friday, July 8, 2016

Final Weekend of Abstract Expressionism Exhibit

Paul Jenkins (American, 1923 - 2012)
Phenomena Prayer Rug, 1974
acrylic on canvas, 30 1/4 x 43 7/8 in.
          “Abstractions are extractions from nature. Concentrates of nature.”
                                     ▪ Paul Jenkins, monograph, 1985.Anatomy of a Cloud, 


Phenomena Prayer Rug, 1974, is featured in the exhibition, The New York School: 
Abstract Expressionism, at Cavalier Galleries in Greenwich, CT open through July 10th.

Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923, Jenkins became drawn to New York and the 
opportunities available for upcoming artists. He was a student of Yasuo Kuniyoshi 
at the Art Students League. Inspired by the eccentric paint application of Jackson 
Pollock, Jenkins himself became a leading Abstract Expressionist with his norm-
defying approach to paint.

By observing his works, it is evident that Paul Jenkins’s artistic mission remained 
the same despite his experimentation with different mediums. Jenkins’s “singular
use of color and flow” was a steady technique throughout his career. His works 
have gained widespread recognition with their sporadically-flowing, vibrant fields 
of color. Each of his works display a unique and calculated universe showing the 
natural forces at work. Unlike Pollock’s unconsciously-made splotches of paint unto 
canvas, Jenkins’s works require the careful manipulation of paint by controlling the 
flow as it is poured unto the canvas.

This emphasis on timing was inspired by his experience in high school working 
at a ceramics factory. His work parallels the experience of a ceramist controlling 
the timing of firing his work in the kiln with Jenkin’s experience manipulating the 
paint through the natural force of gravity.

He transitioned from oil paints and enamel in the 1950s to acrylic paints in 
the 1960s. 
This new medium allowed Jenkins to manipulate his canvas more. 
This choice resulted in a more minimalist approach, in addition to more translucency
in his works where the white of the canvas was more apparent to viewers. He began
the titles of his works with Phenomena, leaving them open to broad interpretation. 
Each canvas was grounded in its own world engaging the viewer with his or her own 
memories with no specific reference to nature, yet Jenkins pieces did refer to the
natural world in some way.

His pieces in the 1970s are said to be a culmination of his mastery of the medium 
where he gave himself permission to play with color and flow in order to engage 
the viewer’s imagination.Phenomena Prayer Rug, 1974, is said to “recall elements of
his 1950s works with its all-over composition and turbulent movement. Granular white 
veils now replace chrysochrome to provide accents of light. This painting has an
atmospheric quality with evocations of natural forces of weather and sedimentation.” 
His works abstractly imitate the forces of nature: wind, water, clouds, rocks, and plant 

Bearing resemblance to Georgia O’ Keefe with their jewel toned fields of color and 
abstract forms, his paintings attain a status all their own. They contain a brand of 
substance and vivacity associated with mysticism and reflection. In fact, Jenkins had 
an ongoing interest in Eastern religions and with philosophers such as Carl Jung, 
and this fascination he infused in his works all his life in order to make the viewer 
contemplate his or her own inner self.

Jenkins work is exhibited in countless renowned American museums such as 
the Museum of Modern ArtWhitney Museum of ArtSmithsonian American Art Museum
The National Gallery of ArtThe Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Cleveland 
Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, BostonMuseum of Contemporary Art; and the 
Butler Institute of American Art.

Image of Paul Jenkins applying painting to his canvases
Please contact the gallery for additional details: or 203.869.3664

Final Week to view the exhibition in Greenwich, CT
Larry Poons Over the Hills
acrylic on canvas, 66 1/4 x 70 3/4 in. 
Albert Stadler Untitled (121)
acrylic on canvas 62 1/2 x 63 1/4 in. 
Esteban Vicente Sound
oil on canvas, 52 x 42 in. 
Cleve Gray Hermera
oil on canvas 70 x 60 in. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

IMPORTANT Maritime Painter James Edward Buttersworth

James Edward Buttersworth (British, 1817-1894)
American Frigates in a Storm
oil on canvas, 22 x 36 in.

“Just think of it—a span of sixty years of the greatest maritime development in history. He was with it all the way and depicted the entire spectrum of this interesting panorama, and he did it accurately, artistically and dramatically. […] His expert and detailed recording of those events was by all odds his single greatest contribution”
  • Rudolph J. Schaefer, J.E. Buttersworth, 19th-Century Marine Painter, Mystic, Connecticut, 1975, no. 487 (the pair), p. 257
American Frigates in a Storm, is a dynamic maritime portrait by James E. Buttersworth (1817–1894), who was known in the 19th century for painting lively vessels in their natural conditions. Appreciated alongside other American marine painters such as William Bradford and Fitz Henry Lane, he rendered temporal elements in his pieces, thereby reducing any static features and relying on dramatic sky effects to capture the viewer's eye. In this particular painting, Buttersworth uses this technique of a striking, golden skyline to illuminate his vessels.

According to a letter from John Carter, President of the Independence Seaport Museum of Philadelphia, Buttersworth “This particular work shows a central axis of sunlight so characteristic of his work and the dark middle tones are present in the clouds which go into pink and red tinting on the edges, again another tell-tale characteristic of the artist’s work.”

Hailing from what is now the northwest of Greater London, Buttersworth came from an artistic family. His father, Thomas Buttersworth, Jr., was a respected sea painter, and it was undoubtedly he who cultivated his son’s artistic persona. In 1845, Buttersworth sought to make a name for himself in America when he chose to settle in what is now Union City, New Jersey, where he quickly became a well-established marine artist. Signing his works, J.E. Buttersworth, magazines and newspapers often used his works to report on the yachting events of the day, and the firm Currier and Ives often copied Buttersworth’s pieces as lithographs. With a knack for meticulous detail, he could document the vessels residing in the New York Harbor and nearby areas. His reputation soared as he demonstrated his ability to portray faithfully the sailing yachts, steamers, and racing clipper ships of the time.

To account for the motion of these vessels, Buttersworth would elongate the hulls and sails to create a sense of speed along a low horizon line. Contrasting dramatic skies with his accurate detail, he romanticized the sailing ships in his pieces which remain timeless pieces of sophistication to the viewer, such as American Frigates in a Storm.

Buttersworth's paintings of the 1893 Vigilant vs. Valkyrie II Cup match—done one year before his death—completed the chronicling of America's Cup races through oil painting just before the advent of viable sports photography. As a result of his work, Buttersworth was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 1999; and nearly early 600 of his paintings are known to exist. Buttersworth’s works can be found in the collections of the Museum of the City of New York; the Mystic Seaport Museum; thePeabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts; and the Mariners’ Museum, Newport News, Virginia.

Please contact the galleries for additional detsils: or 203.869.3664