Catherine Murphy – Nighttime Self-Portrait



Catherine Murphy's work has always expressed both her acute perceptions of her personal world and her  sense of the geometries underlying its ordinary objects and places. Nighttime Self-Portrait shows the view seen by the artist looking through a nighttime upper window of her house at an outside porch entrance, which intersects with the dim reflection on the glass pane of her face, shoulders, and a bit of interior door and wall. The mullions of the interior window frame are rendered with such illusionistic care that they seem to protrude into our space. This transforms the window's surface into the picture plane. Catherine  Murphy's reflection places her on  "our" side of the picture plane, while through the window  "in the picture" lies an assembly of cubic steps and building parts. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Murphy studied at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute (B.F.A. 1967), and spent the summer of 1966 working at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Early on, Murphy was hailed as ...

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Barbara Hepworth – Square Forms



Barbara Hepworth initiated a radical new approach to European abstract sculpture in the 1930s. Hepworth's signature work consists of smoothly polished biomorphic shapes carved directly from stone, often punctuated by an ovoid cavity. This piercing was a major contribution to the sculptural vocabulary at the time and allowed a new understanding of possibilities in modern sculpture. Hepworth recalled, "When I first pierced a shape, I thought it was a miracle. A new vision was opened." Along with her friend Henry Moore, Hepworth attended the Leeds School of Art before moving to the Royal College of Art, where she graduated in 1924. Though she lost the prestigious Rome Scholarship to John Skeaping, she married him and traveled to Italy, where she studied Romanesque and early Renaissance sculpture and architecture. Hepworth's other interests included Egyptian, Cycladic and Archaic Greek sculpture, which are reflected in her carvings of the late 1920s. In 1932, after ...

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Joseph Hirsch – Depostition



Joseph Hirsch was born in Philadelphia and studied at the Philadelphia College of Art and with Henry Hensche in Provincetown and George Luks in New York. Luks was a member of The Eight, a group of painters at the beginning of the century who took ordinary people and everyday life as their subject. Their work, in turn, helped spawn the Ashcan School of urban realism and the Social Realism of the 1920s and 1930s that focused on the realities of American life, particularly during the Great Depression. Hirsch retained a lifelong focus on social commentary, once responding to a question about his art by saying, "I make cudgels"-evoking the social commitment of artists such as Raphael and Moses Soyer, Ben Shahn, Jack Levine, and Jacob Lawrence, all of whom were his friends. Painted during the height of United States involvement in the Vietnam War, Deposition represents a modern pieta. Hirsch depicts a ...

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Kenneth Noland – Burnt Beige



Over the course of the past four decades, Kenneth Noland has arrived at various solutions in his attempt to make work in which all elements of the picture, especially shape, serve as a vehicle for color. "I wanted to have color be the origin of painting. I was trying to neutralize the layout, the shape, the composition in order to get at the color," said Noland about the project of his artmaking. "I wanted to make color the generative force." At Black Mountain College in North Carolina, formal training in pure abstraction with Ilya Bolotowski and the Bauhaus master Josef Albers stressed the importance of attaining an equilibrium of color within a painting. A second formative experience in Noland's development was a 1953 trip from Washington, D.C., to New York City with his friend Morris Louis, the Color Field painter, to see the Abstract Expressionist artist Helen Frankenthaler. Frankenthaler poured paint ...

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Jules Olitski – Darkness Spread-9



For Jules Olitski, one of the preeminent practitioners of 1960s Post-Painterly Abstraction, color, surface, scale, and experimentation with technique have been central to his art. Born in Russia, Olitski emigrated to New York with his family in 1923 where he later attended the National Academy of Design and the Beaux Arts Institute. After serving in World War II, he studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Paris, from 1949-50, and New York University from 1952-54. Initially influenced, like other artists of his generation, by the thick, impastoed surfaces of vanguard painting in the 1950s, Olitski and his Post-painterly contemporaries—Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and Kenneth Noland­ soon began to stain or dye acrylic paint (just becoming widely available in the 1960s) directly into an unprimed canvas. The result, a smooth, texture-less surface, glowed with luminous, high-keyed hues and broad swaths of color. By 1964 Olitski had moved on to the execution of large ...

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Larry Poons – Wildcat Arrival



The use of geometric patterns in bright, often contrasting colors, which produce a sense of visual stimulation and palpitation, was a hallmark of Op art painters in the 1960s, whose practitioners included Larry Poons and artists such as Richard Anuszkiewicz, Bridget Riley, and Victor Vasarely. In Poons' painting Wildcat Arrival, a loosely slanting grid of ochre, salmon, and lemon covers a larger-than-life canvas of gold; its small dots and ellipses seem to pulsate. One of Poons' early viewers told the artist that looking at his paintings often produced a sensation of after-images on the retina, and Poons tried to reproduce these effects in order to create the feeling of after-images while viewing. Poons worked in the lower-keyed, richly saturated hues used by painters he admired such as Morris Louis and Jules Olitski, thus combining the techniques of Op art with the palette of the movement that seemed its antithesis, Color ...

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Nicholas Krushenick – The Battle of Bull Run – 1963



Nicholas Krushenick's The Battle of Bull Run blazons forth, presenting the viewer with a jaunty display in red, yellow, mauve, black, and white. The shapes are familiar, linked to the contemporary mass culture urban scene, yet impossible to absolutely identify. The title has no dear connection with the composition. The artist habitually lifted titles from suggestions by family and friends. or from the titles of the rock and roll music with which he filled his studio while working.Variously linked in the  1960s with Pop Art, Systemic Painting, and Hard Edge Abstraction, Krushenick's work sits uncomfortably within any one of these categories, existing in a dynamic world all its own. The Battle of Bull Run, like the majority of Krushenick's work, has a sense of bilateral symmetry, energized by wavy shaped edges that impart a pulsating organic quality to the parts. The forms are large, crowding the canvas edges, suggesting that we stand close-up in the midst of this brilliantly hued ...

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Alfred Jensen -Atlantis, Per II



Emblazoned with brilliant "checkers" of prismatic color, the paintings of Alfred Jensen are hard to categorize, and even harder to decode. Formally related to Hard Edge Abstraction, Op Art and the "sign" phase of Pop Art, his paintings embody mythical meanings that reference, among other fields of knowledge, Peruvian, Mayan and Egyptian calendars and architecture; ancient Chinese and Greek mathematical and numerical systems drawn from the I-Ching and Pythagoreanism; physics and astronomy; the color theories of the German writer Goethe and the French theorist Michel Chevreul; and the optics of the prism. Born to a German-Polish mother and a Danish father, Jensen was raised in Guatemala City and Denmark. After traveling extensively as a seaman, he began his formal art training in California before traveling to Munich to study for a year with Hans Hofmann. During the next twenty-four years, he traveled and studied throughout Europe, North Africa and the United ...

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Jim Dine- The Heart at Sea (in a Non-Secular Way)



With its aggressively worked surfaces and attached objects, The Heart at Sea (in a Non-Secular Way) is a reminder of Jim Dine's artistic formation in earlier mid-century contexts of Abstract Expressionism and Neo-Dada. Joining ordinary things to expressive fields of paint, Dine joined company in the early 1960s with Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. These artists wished to reconcile art and life or, in Rauschenberg's words, "to act in the gap between them." This idea was the wellspring for a new sensibility in contemporary art that would be quickly known as Pop art. Dine was one of its central figures. As a painter, sculptor and printmaker, Dine took as themes Tools, Robes, Trees, and Gates, later adding Venus de Milo, Skulls, Birds, and Flowers. One of his best-known themes has been Hearts. Dine's Heart shape, that of the Victorian valentine, is an emblem of both romantic and sexual love. He speaks ...

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Jo Baer – Untitled



Jo Baer, born Josephine Gail Kleinberg, is one of the few female artists recognized for her pioneering presence among the generally male, Minimalist movement of the 1960s. Like her friends and fellow proponents of the style—Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Dan Flavin—Baer applied a cerebral, almost ascetic approach to creating her systematic, abstract work. Unlike her peers, however, Baer did not remain true to the Minimalist ethos. In 1975, Baer abruptly retrenched. She renounced abstract painting altogether and dramatically reconfigured her approach to making art. Baer began to practice "radical figuration," an approach to painting she characterizes as having "no pre-eminence of image or space," but in which figurative imagery is undeniably present. For this reason alone, Untitled stands not only as a prototypical minimalist abstraction but as important evidence of a voice that is no longer heard-if one that silenced itself. That this painting is also as a stellar example of ...

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Cranbrook Art Museum's Lower Level Galleries are open. Enjoy Pay-As-You-Wish Admission through October 29.