Is bigger better? This exhibit explores the impact and challenge of painting a large canvas. A dozen works from eight artists explore the advantages of painting big. James Sullivan Lincoln (1811 – 1888), James Herbert (1896 – 1970), Louise Marianetti (1916 – 2009), Robert Hamilton (1917 – 2004), Gordon Peers (1909 – 1988), Florence Leif (1913 – 1968), Frank Gasbarro and Robert Thornton show works dated from 1852 – 2000.
Historically, portrait painters such as John Singer Sargent enjoyed painting “life size” making sensational works like Madame X. Edouard Manet’s provocative Olympia was the sensation of the 1865 Paris Salon, a 6-foot by 4-foot canvas that could not be ignored.
For the “Grande” Paintings on view at Bert Gallery, Louise Marianetti’s (1916 – 2009) copy of Michelangelo’s Libyan Sibyl in the Sistine Chapel is an excellent reference to the drama of large-scale works. Husband and wife Gordon Peers (1909 – 1988) and Florence Leif (1913 – 1968) felt professional pressure to create complex large size canvases to garner serious critical recognition in the 1950’s with the advent of Abstract Expressionism. Contemporaries Frank Gasbarro and Robert Thornton just can’t paint small. Gasbarro’s geometric abstractions and expressionist style demand big to explore the relationship of objects and shapes in space. Thornton is wedded to 20th Century German artist Max Beckman’s scale and allegorical figures to create his darkly humorous compositions.
Bert Gallery is fond of the historic continuum of painting. This exhibit explores that “grande” canvas size is not just a 20th century phenomenon. James Sullivan Lincoln’s (1811 – 1888) double portrait of John Brown’s great – grandchildren, the Eaton brothers 1852, is the earliest dated monumental painting on exhibit at Bert Gallery. Artists render “big” paintings no matter what time period. These works reflect artistic insight and technical craft of subjects that inspire, provoke or soothe, resulting in perplexing and intriguing works of art.