Spaightwood Galleries

Last modified 9/4/07

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The Capital Times, 10/27/99: "Impressionist show delights senses" by Kevin Lynch,

Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Prints and Drawings: Prints by Pierre Bonnard, Georges Braque
Charles Camoin, Mary Cassatt, Paul Cezanne, Henri Edmond Cross, Edgar Degas, Sonia Delaunay
Maurice Denis, André Derain, Susanne Duchamp, Raoul Dufy, Jean-Louis Forain, Pauk Gauguin
Marie Laurencin, Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Berthé Morisot, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Georges Rouault, Ker Xavier Roussel, Paul Signac, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Suzanne Valadon
Maurice de Vlaminck, James A. McNeill Whistler, and others.

Drawings by Albert Besnard, Andre Barbier, Henri Edmond Cross, Jean-Louis Forain, Eva Gonzales
Marie Laurencin, Maximilien Luce, and Georges Rouault.

Hand-colored prints by Mary Cassatt, Marc Chagall, Sonja Delaunay, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse, and
Pablo Picasso.

For a review of a 1999 show that concludes, "Art exhibits in Madison rarely get this good," click review.
An optical distortion can transmit truth, even if it takes the shape of a pleasant image. A quietly dazzling new show—"Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Printmaking" at Spaightwood Gallery, 1150 Spaight St—reveals this curious phenomenon and dispels some stereotypes. Running though Nov. 14, the exhibit is chock full of modern artists who were famed for the sort of hazy, attractive art that often lures huge audiences for big retrospectives of Claude Monet and the like. (Gallery hours are noon to six p.m. Saturday and Sunday and weekdays by appointment. Call 255-3043.) [SEE BELOW FOR CURRENT CONTACT INFORMATION]

And yes, there's plenty of art in the Spaightwood show that tantalizes the senses like a summer shower in a heat wave. But the meaning of this art bleeds through the visual mist, thanks to thoughtful curating. So you can allow your eyes their delights, but you needn't leave your brain at home.

Spaightwood is often perceived as a bastion of modernist attraction, and with good reason. But this is one of the gallery's most accessible and enjoyable shows by virtue of intelligence, taste and discrimination, rather than pandering. So Spaightwood gives you the qualitiy of work you expect of names like Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Pierre August Renoir, Mary Cassatt, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Gauguin, James Whistler, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. There's also superb work by such lesser-known names as Vuillard, Denis, Ker-Xavier Roussel and Charles Camoin, among others.

The exhibit allows you to contemplate how impressionism opened the doors to modernism, how these artists fore-shadowed in beautifully reflective ways the depths—and the darkness—of the 20th century. There is a stark black and white lithograph by Jean-Louis Forain, Le Repli Allemand: March 1917 ("The German Response"), wherein German soldiers cruelly prevent a woman from taking her dead child. You'll find several of Georges Rouault's gripping anti-war etching series "Miserere." And one of modernism's most gifted pure painters, Pierre Bonnard, manages to make a political statement with the blazing oranges and yellows of a landscape Sunset on the Mediterranean (1940). The lithograph was originally published in the fiercely patriotic French art periodical Verve, in an issue titled "France Eternal," published as the Nazi tanks were rolling through France. The image was, in effect, saying, Try to take our country—our defiance burns like these fiery hills, says Spaightwood owner Andrew Weiner.

Inspired by Paul Gauguin, daring colorists like Bonnard, Maurice Denis and Edouoard Vuillard formed an avant garde group called the Nabis [i.e., prophets], whose work rejected naturalistic color and conventional perspective and sometimes transformed the will to individualistic vision into implicit political statements. Their engaging images were often widely distributed, compounding their quietly subversive effect.

More than half of the 152 works in this show have never been shown before at Spaightwood. There are many small miracles that radiate historically, or with sheer brilliance: A watercolor-like 1929 pochoir (a type of stencil technique) by Matisse derives from his famous painting Odalisque au Tambourin. The unclothed woman's raised right arm winds around herself like a cobra, mimicking the melting elegance of her whole body. You'll also find a color pochoir of Picasso's cubist Les Musicians (1930), the guitar ensemble that, in the art world, may rival the Beatles as a poster icon. Dadaist Marcel Duchamp is rarely seen in such shows. Notorious for his 1917 urinal sculpture (titled "fountain"), Duchamp shows up at Spaightwood in a typically irreverent, cockeyed social station "Obligation Monte Carlo"—an oversized casino ticket from 1938, collaged with a photo of the artist's own face, adorned with a puckish grin and horns. "It's a portrait of the artist as a gambling devil," Weiner quips.

The show includes a sunny floral still life by Duchamp's sibling Susanne, who managed to get into the historic 1924 Armory Show by submitting art signed with only her first initial—a sorry reflection of the art world's sexism at the time. This show brims with rare work. Paul Cezanne created only five original etchings in his lifetime. Three of those are on display here. Spaightwood also displays the only linoleum print that Joan Miró ever made. But one can also see the social relationships of artists as well as their attitudes toward their times in the way Weiner has organized the artwork. Time and again, these works show that Impressionists and those influenced by them were interested in more than making pretty pictures.

Art exhibits in Madison rarely get this good.

A note to gallery visitors: You will find that some of this show's works are unsigned, which can be disconcerting to art buyers. In fact, artists did not commonly sign the multiple prints of graphic art editions until the 1950s, Weiner explains. Also, artists' signatures are sometimes forged posthumously, to increase the work's market value. Which is why a great artist's style remains the most important signature.
"Among the post-imppressionist works on show at Spaightwood Galleries is Henri Matisse's Odalisque sur fond rouge, which shows his liberated sense of color and figure" (original caption). Odalisque sur fond rouge. Color pochoir (hand-colored stencil print) after a painting, 1929. 500 impressions for Florent Fels' Henri Matisse, published in Paris by XXeme Siecle. The pochoirs were executed under Matisse's supervision. This beautiful hand-colored piece is one of the few early color prints in Matisse's print oeuvre. Image size: 154x224mm. Price: $2,875.
Pablo Picasso, Les Musiciens. Color pochoir after a painting, 1930. 1250 unsigned impressions for Eugenio d'Ors's Picasso, published in Paris in 1930. Executed with Picasso's consent and under his supervision. The first 50 copies contained an original signed and numbered Picasso lithograph exectued for this book. Image size: 252x187mm. Price: $2275.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Nude (for Mallarme's "Pages") (Stella 3 ii/ii). Original etching, c. 1890. a brilliant impression of the second state. Edition: 50 impressions of the first state with the printed signature; second state: 325 on Holland paper (as ours) plus 50 on Japan paper after the signature was effaced. Jean Leymarie believes this was Renoir's first etching. There are no pencil-signed impressions. A very rare and sensual nude showing Renoir's mastery of the human form. Image size: 198x107mm. Price: SOLD.
Marcel Duchamp, Obligation Monte Carlo. Color lithograph, 1938. As published in the Christmas 1938 issue of XXeme Siecle. C. 1200 impressions signed Rrose Selavy and Marcel Duchamp in the stone. The cover of the May 1999 issue of the Museum of Modern Art members' magazine reproduced the collage on which this work is based. Image size: 318x229mm. Price: SOLD
Suzanne Duchamp (French, 1889-1963), L'arbre de Jade / Jade tree. Original etching, 1960. 200 pencil signed & numbered impressions on BFK Rives paper. Signed, titled, and dated in the plate. The sister of Marcel Duchamp and Jacques Villon, Susanne Duchamp exhibited her work at the 1924 Brooklyn Armory show of avant-garde art as a man to escape the prejudice against women artists. Image size: 407x307mm. Price: SOLD.
Joan Miró, Femme pour XXè Siecle (Dupin 40). Original color linocut, 1938. Edition size unknown (c. 1200 unsigned impression published in XXème Siecle, 1938. Signed in the block. A beautiful fresh impression. Although Miró was later to do many woodcuts, this is his first and only linocut. There is a reduced size reproduction of this work in different colors in Sam Hunter's book on Miro's Prints. Image size: 315x245mm. Price: $4850.
Paysage à Anvers (Salomon 5). Original etching printed in color, 1873. Edition: 600 impressions pulled in1914 for Homage to Cezanne. Salomon says there was a subsequent edition, of which no details are known. Ours is a good strong impression. Another impression of this print (with pale mat stain) sold in auction at Swann Galleries (11/2000) for $2530. Image size: 135x114mm. Price: $2200.

Spaightwood Galleries, Inc.

To purchase, call us at 1-800-809-3343 (508-529-2511 in Upton MA & vicinity) or send an email to spaightwood@gmail.com. We accept AmericanExpress, DiscoverCard, MasterCard, and Visa.

Spaightwood Galleries is located at 120 Main St (aka Highway 140) in Upton MA at the corner of Main St and Maple Ave in a rehabilitated Unitarian Church. For directions and visiting information, please call. We are, of course, always available over the web and by telephone (see above for contact information). Click the following for links to past shows and artists. For a visual tour of the gallery, please click here. For information about Andy Weiner and Sonja Hansard-Weiner, please click here. For a list of special offers currently available, see Specials.

Visiting hours: Saturday and Sunday noon to six and other times by arrangement. Please call to confirm your visit. Browsers and guests are welcome.