News: Painter Judith Godwin dies at 91 leaving behind powerful pictures, June  3, 2021 - Joan Altabe for blastingnews

Painter Judith Godwin dies at 91 leaving behind powerful pictures

June 3, 2021 - Joan Altabe for blastingnews

Part of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Godwin was challenged by the male-dominated art world in the ‘50s

“Images generated by the female experience can be a powerful and creative expression for all humanity.”

Gender gap
That was painter Judith Godwin talking at Northern Michigan University in 1978. She died on May 29, 2021, at age 91. But it’s unclear why she believed her images were confined to the female experience because they so plainly transcend gender.

As an Abstract Expressionist, Godwin’s thrusting swaths of paint recall the big, bold paintings of Franz Kline, who favored vertical, horizontal, and diagonal slashes. Her work showed a similar pattern at times, Epic, Epic 2, Black Pillar, and Black Support.

I also recognize elements of Robert Motherwell’s pictures in hers.

Lessons learned
The connection between Godwin’s Abstract Expressionism and that of her male colleagues may stem from having studied with the same teachers. Including Hans Hoffman, of whom she said, “I think the main thing with Hofmann was that I felt completely free to do whatever I wanted to do.”

And what she wanted to do was be bold. According to the Johnson Collection Gallery, which carries some of her work, Hoffman’s use of bold colors “significantly influenced Godwin’s future work."

But finding her place in the male-dominated art world remained an issue for Godwin. An obituary from Berry Campbell Gallery, representing her work for the last ten years, reflected this by noting her “well-deserved place in the male-dominated world.”

The same point was made by the Johnson Collection, saying that because the Abstract Expressionist movement was so full of men, not many women got known.

Come to think of it, even when Lee Krasner became known, and she may have benefited from being Jackson Pollock’s wife.

Female experience
Female artists in other art movements besides Abstract Expressionism faced the same predicament. Underscoring the point that the art world was a men’s club, Sotheby’s just reported its most successful sale in an all-female art auction was a portrait by Francois Gilot of her daughter - one of two children she had with Pablo Picasso.

One can’t help wondering if the record sale had something to do with that relationship.

Lisa Stevens, head of Sotheby’s modern art online, seemed to confirm the point by telling ARTnews, “It isn’t commonly known that Gilot’s commitment to art was present long before her relationship with Pablo Picasso, and she was sadly often left in his shadow.”

Weaker sex?
So, it’s not surprising that Berry Campbell Gallery would place Godwin in a “contingency of strong female practitioners.” There wouldn’t be a need to invoke the words “strong female” unless being a female artist suggested weakness.

Godwin admitted that she felt pressured to create powerful, turbulent work to compete with her male counterparts for critical and commercial attention. The Johnson Collection quotes her saying, “If you were a [woman] painter in that period, you felt you had to paint as strongly, as violently as the men did.” 

News: Spotlight on the Arts: Eric Dever, Artist, June  3, 2021 - Spotlight on the Arts

Spotlight on the Arts: Eric Dever, Artist

June 3, 2021 - Spotlight on the Arts

News: Surface Magazine Design Dispatch | Edward Zutrau: Mandarin (Paintings from the 1950s), June  2, 2021 - Surface Magazine

Surface Magazine Design Dispatch | Edward Zutrau: Mandarin (Paintings from the 1950s)

June 2, 2021 - Surface Magazine

The first exhibition of the abstract expressionist painter’s works since his death, in 1993, “Mandarin (Paintings from the 1950s)” showcases how Zutrau blended precepts of the New York School with a strong physicality—geometric spatial divisions and strong gestural marks—to draw viewers into both the feeling and contemplation of movement. 

View Design Dispatch

News: In Memoriam: Judith Godwin (1930-2021), June  1, 2021 - Berry Campbell

In Memoriam: Judith Godwin (1930-2021)

June 1, 2021 - Berry Campbell

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Judith Godwin (1930 - 2021). Godwin was an innovative artist, who fought hard for her well-deserved place in the male dominated world of Abstract Expressionism. A painter for over seventy years, collectors, curators, and museums increasingly have acknowledged Godwin’s achievements in the past five years. She was among twelve artists included in the groundbreaking exhibition, Women of Abstract Expressionism, held at the Denver Art Museum, curated by University of Denver professor Gwen F. Chanzit. Included in numerous major museum collections, recently her works have been acquired by countless museums such as the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Mougins Museum of Classical Art, France; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; and the Sheldon Art Museum, Lincoln, Nebraska, among many others. Godwin was a playful raconteur and a passionate advocate for women in the arts. We feel fortunate to have worked closely with Judith Godwin for over ten years, and we will miss her sharp wit, her friendship, and her boundless energy and creativity.

News: Culture Type: Latest News in Black Art: Phylicia Rashad Named Dean of Fine Arts at Howard University, Chicago Artist Eugene Wade Has Died, Nanette Carter Joins Berry Campbell, May 14, 2021 - Victoria L. Valentine for Culture Type

Culture Type: Latest News in Black Art: Phylicia Rashad Named Dean of Fine Arts at Howard University, Chicago Artist Eugene Wade Has Died, Nanette Carter Joins Berry Campbell

May 14, 2021 - Victoria L. Valentine for Culture Type

Latest News in Black Art features regular news updates and developments in the world of art and related cultur

New York gallery Berry Campbell announced its representation of Nanette Carter on May 12. Active since the mid-1970s, Carter “creates abstract collages expressive of her sensitivity to injustice and humanity in the context of contemporary life and her responses to the drama of nature.” Her work is currently featured in two group exhibitions: “Affinities for Abstraction: Women Artists on Eastern Long Island, 1950-2020” at Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, N.Y., and “Creating Community. Cinque Gallery Artists” at The Art Students League of New York. Cinque Gallery was founded by Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, and Ernest Crichlow in 1969 and operated until 2004. Carter was the first artist-in-residence at Cinque and she co-organized “Creating Community” alongside guest curator Susan Stedman. Since 2001, Carter has been a professor of art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her first solo exhibition with Berry Campbell is scheduled for spring 2022.

News: Now Representing Nanette Carter, May 12, 2021 - Berry Campbell

Now Representing Nanette Carter

May 12, 2021 - Berry Campbell

Now Representing Nanette Carter
Exhibition Forthcoming 2022

View Works by Nanette Carter

An artist who has been exhibiting her work nationally and internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions since the mid-1970s, Nanette Carter creates abstract collages expressive of her sensitivity to injustice and humanity in the context of contemporary life and her responses to the drama of nature. Her shaped works, produced in multimedia on Mylar since 1997, are evocative of concepts in the history of abstract art and reflect the African American abstract art tradition, exemplified in the works of Alma Thomas, Sam Gilliam, William T. Williams, Howardina Pindell, Romare Bearden, and Alvin Loving Jr. In fact, Loving (1935–2005) was Carter’s mentor. A close friend, he inspired her in his view of invention in art as the result of process, in a manner akin to how jazz musicians create something new by riffing off of a melody.

In her art, Carter combines rectilinear structures with animated gestures, forming constructions that recall the lineage of African American quilt-making, while drawing on jazz, Japanese prints, Russian Constructivism, Abstract Expressionism, and other sources. She describes herself as a “builder, fascinated by the act of bringing pieces together to create a work of art,” while noting that “building is one of civilizations’ oldest endeavors.” In 2013 she began her Cantilevered series, metaphorically using an architectural term referring to structures anchored by a plinth at one end that extend horizontally—almost defying gravity—as a paradigm for the balancing act in all our lives in the twenty-first century. Her series, The Weight, begun in 2015, speaks to the weight “compounded on us as we reflect on our history and aspire to move forward to better ourselves.” Continue Reading

News: The Catholic University of America | Artist Lilian Thomas Burwell: 'On a completely different line of exploration', May 11, 2021 - Kevin M. Burke for The Catholic University of America

The Catholic University of America | Artist Lilian Thomas Burwell: 'On a completely different line of exploration'

May 11, 2021 - Kevin M. Burke for The Catholic University of America

"On a completely different line of exploration:" Artist Lilian Thomas Burwell

Any other serious artist would have leapt — lock, smock, and easel — at the opportunity: a solo show at a leading private art gallery in the trendy Chelsea section of Manhattan. But at 94, and having just entertained emissaries from the Smithsonian Institutions asking about the future of her archives, Lilian Thomas Burwell, M.F.A. 1975, was comfortable taking her time.

"Well, I didn't know who they were," says Burwell of Christine Berry and Martha Campbell, owners and purveyors of the eight-year-old Berry Campbell Gallery on W. 24th Street, in the shadow of the city's popular High Line. Despite a long and productive career as both a two-dimensional painter and, for roughly the past two decades, creator of innovative three-dimensional "wall sculptures," the longtime Maryland-based artist had never before had an exhibition of her work in New York City. (Although her paintings have been exhibited at The National Museum of Women in the Arts and are included in the permanent collections of prestigious museums such as the Phillips Collection, America's first museum of modern art, both located in Washington, D.C.)

"I never had an orientation to working [at art] to make money, and I knew that I was limited in terms of experience in the market," confides Burwell, who her made her living as an art teacher while living out another "spiritual" experience as an artist. "So, I needed to know who are these people and what were they trying to do. Can I trust them?

"And at this age, I have to be realistic about what happens to my work. I may have never thought of it as a way to make money, but I don't believe in just throwing it all away, either," adds Burwell with a sly chuckle. She "absolutely" agreed to donate her records to the Smithsonian. Contained in that history are her then-design of Washington, D.C.'s public school pre-secondary art curriculum and papers from her subsequent time as a member of the visual arts faculty at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. She also served as a board member of the Smithsonian Institution Renwick Alliance and the Arlington Arts Center, founded the Alma Thomas Memorial Gallery, and was curatorial director of the Sumner Museum and Archives in Washington, D.C., from 1981 to 1984.

On the other hand, the extent and future of Burwell's personal art collection is (as every artist and art dealer knows) not a topic for public conversation.

What she and her partner are trying to do, Christine Berry was finally able to convince a hesitant Burwell, is represent post-war American artists that they consider overlooked or neglected, often because they are women and other times due to race or geography. Earlier this year, the gallery's presentation of works by Louisiana painter and sculptor Ida Kohlmeyer (1912-1997) was reviewed by The New York Times. Berry Campbell's curatorial vision also has sparked fruitful relationships with senior curators at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the National Gallery of Art, and Houston's Museum of Fine Arts, among others.

"It's shocking to say and hard to believe for me, but when I first saw Lilian's work, I did not who she was, either," says Berry, an Upstate New Yorker who earned her undergraduate degree from Baylor University and a master's in art history and criticism from the University of North Texas. Her introduction to Burwell came in 2017 via the artist's inclusion in the acclaimed Magnetic Fields touring exhibition curated by Melissa Messina, the first U.S. presentation dedicated exclusively to "the formal and historical dialogue of abstraction by women artists of color."

"Really spurring me on, though, was this collector — a client of mine," Berry says. "He collects mostly African American art and had actually purchased a work from the show, and he said, 'You've got to see this woman. No one knows who she is and she does these fabulous wall sculptures.'"

What followed was a roughly yearlong courtship of Burwell by Berry Campbell, with help from Messina, who had established a relationship with the artist through Magnetic Fields. What resulted is Soaring, also curated by Messina, showcasing 15 examples from Burwell's portfolio and continuing at the gallery through May 28, 2021. The exhibition centers on the pivotal painting Skybound (1984), which marks the first time the artist cut into her canvas to create positive and negative space, and eventually leading to her now signature style of three-dimensional, painted wall sculpture.

The show's title also is an homage to the late David Driskell (1931-2020), Burwell's friend and contemporary and fellow Catholic University alum, who for many years served as Distinguished University Professor of Art at the University of Maryland. In 1997, on the occasion of Burwell’s survey exhibition at Hampton University Museum in Virginia, Driskell wrote the essay "Soaring with a Painterly Voice," in which he described Burwell's work as "transcendental in showing stylistic diversity of earthly beauty and cosmic vision."

Widely heralded for bringing African American art into greater public exposure and appreciation globally during the latter half of the 20th century, Driskell received the National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton in 2000. He died from coronavirus in April 2020 at the age of 88.

Got to be starting something

Asked whether her New York debut and growing reputation as an important voice in American abstract art is a "Better late than never" or "It's about time" story, Lilian Burwell looks patiently at her inquisitor through eyes that first opened in 1927 and indicates that she doesn't much care for the question, because it presumes the end of something when she has always been more interested in starting something.

"My whole motivation is I'm more of a teacher and preacher than anything else," says the grandchild of a Baptist minister, who married a Catholic and actually first arrived at CatholicU in order to study the foundations of catechism.

"If I can bring something out in you that you didn't know existed before, that's like I'm throwing a pebble in the water," she says. "It's starting something I have no idea where it's going to go. But to this day I hear things from [former] students that I had decades ago telling me one or two things I taught them that started them on a completely different line of exploration. That's worth 200 paintings to me."

Asked the same question about Burwell's ultimate arrival on the contemporary art scene, Berry says, "I think Lilian could have been a full-blown professional artist 100 percent. But, she loves teaching. So, for that reason, I don't think her work was included in as many shows, exhibitions over her life, and I think she was simply overlooked."

At the same time, says Berry, "I don't feel that there's any missed opportunity here. Lilian is somebody who, thankfully right now people are looking back at shows like Magnetic Fields and are opened to seeing beyond what is just in the canon of art history. As a woman, as a sculptor, as an African American, she fits in a lot of categories, and we have people walking in here saying to us, 'Who is this artist? Why have I never heard of her? These are fantastic!'

"I think this is the right time for her."

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