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American Figurate Installation Photograph, Abbott Fuller Graves, Lawton Silas Parker, Lindsey Ross, Marion Blair

Press Release


Sullivan Goss – An American Gallery celebrates the opening of a landmark exhibition highlighting the grand tradition of figurative painting in American Art. For American Figurative​, the gallery has brought together a series of paintings from around the country that demonstrate the significance of the figure to many of the important developments in American art over the past 150 years.

The earliest pieces in the exhibition include a pair of Midwestern portraits from shortly after the Civil War by Marion Blair (1824­–1901) , a Catholic religious icon from the 1880s by Leon Dabo (1865­–1960), and four major American Impressionist masterworks by Edward Potthast (1857­–1927), Abbott Fuller Graves (1859­–1936), Lawton Parker (1868­–1954), and F. Luis Mora (1874­–1940).

In nearly every major period of Western art, from cave painting to Cubism, the human form has played a major role. With each new artistic innovation the figurative subject works as the experimental constant that allows artists and scholars to identify, discuss, and critique each aesthetic experiment. Even the great Non­Objective movements of the late 1800s and early 1900s, can be largely understood through their opposition to this tradition. However, during this same period, Modernists like Grace Libby Vollmer (1884­–1977), Jose Moya del Pino (1898­–1973), Pavel Tchelitchew (1898­–1957), and American Scene painters like Ben Messick (1891–1981) continued to advance the figurative genre with stunning results. 

For the Post­War period the exhibition includes work by New York’s Frank Taira (1913­–2010), as well as Californian’s Jean Swiggett (1910­–1990) and Joseph Knowles (1907­–1980). Contemporary examples are represented in this exhibition by John Nava, Angela Perko, Frank Kirk and Benjamin Anderson, each of whom demonstrate the continued vibrancy of this rich tradition in their own unique way.


2:29 | Susan Bush

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