flowers

Pattern, Crime and Decoration at Le Consortium, Dijon by Robert Kushner

“Pattern, Crime and Decoration” travels from MAMCO Geneva to Le Consortium in Dijon, France. 

16 May 2019 – 20 October 2019
Opening: Thursday, May 16, 6:00pm
Le Consortium Museum

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Pattern, Crime & Decoration, curated by Franck Gautherot and Seungduk Kim, takes a look back at a 1970s-1980s art movement that met with international success in the 1980s. Most of the artists involved were reacting to Postwar dominant schools of thought, most notably to Minimalism and Conceptualism while also criticizing the Western, patriarchal domination that generally permeates Modernism. This group gathered around “pattern” and “decoration” reconnected with forms regarded as marginal and claimed the concept of decoration was a truly repressed form of modernity. A mainly American movement, Pattern & Decoration was supported by Holly Solomon Gallery in New York and Bruno Bischofberger in Switzerland. It gathered artists such as Valerie Jaudon, Tina Girouard, Joyce Kozloff, Robert Kushner, Kim MacConnel, Tony Robbin, Miriam Schapiro, Ned Smyth, Mario Yrisarry, Robert Zakanitch, Cynthia Carlson, Brad Davis, Richard Kalina, Jane Kaufman, Rodney Ripps, Betty Woodman, George Woodman and Joe Zucker.

Robert Kushner and Encyclopedia Britannica Cover Flower Series by Robert Kushner

The Encyclopedia Britannica was considered the apex of scholarly writing. The Eleventh Edition of 1918 was generally the most comprehensive of them all. Many years ago  I saved these volumes from being given away or trashed. But in our current age, they are no more than century old relics.  And consequently their elegantly gold stamped leather covers have become the foundation for a series of paintings.

Robert Kushner, Calla Lily, 2018 They grew behind Aunt Sylvia’s house, untended. These miraculous waxen blossoms appearing out of the deep green tropical foliage ever summer.

Robert Kushner, Calla Lily, 2018
They grew behind Aunt Sylvia’s house, untended. These miraculous waxen blossoms appearing out of the deep green tropical foliage ever summer.

Robert Kushner, Euphorbia, 2018 This plant has been with me constantly for nearly forty years, blooming every year, by now growing considerably taller than me, and patiently providing prima donna blossoms for a myriad of paintings over the decades.

Robert Kushner, Euphorbia, 2018
This plant has been with me constantly for nearly forty years, blooming every year, by now growing considerably taller than me, and patiently providing prima donna blossoms for a myriad of paintings over the decades.

Robert Kushner, Petunia, 2018 Such ubiquitous and silly summer bedding flowers, but when you look at just one blossom with their conic form and ruffles, they are amazingly complex.

Robert Kushner, Petunia, 2018
Such ubiquitous and silly summer bedding flowers, but when you look at just one blossom with their conic form and ruffles, they are amazingly complex.

Robert Kushner, Sunflower, 2018 Any flower painter has to deal with Sunflowers and their intense association with van Gogh. It is a challenge to make them my own.

Robert Kushner, Sunflower, 2018
Any flower painter has to deal with Sunflowers and their intense association with van Gogh. It is a challenge to make them my own.

Robert Kushner: Portraits & Perennials at DC Moore Gallery, February 9 – March 11 by Robert Kushner

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Please join me at DC Moore Gallery for the Opening of “Portraits & Perennials.”
Thursday, February 9th, 6:00-8:00 pm
The show continues through March 11, 2017

PRESS RELEASE 
DC Moore Gallery is pleased to present Robert Kushner: Portraits & Perennials. In this exhibition of new paintings and works on paper, Kushner extends the boundaries of his compositions, infusing his iconic, organic imagery with vibrant color and increased geometric precision in a lyrical synthesis of styles and techniques.

Underscoring the evocative title of the catalogue’s essay, “Do REAL Men Paint Flowers?,” the exhibition seeks to disrupt the narrative surrounding the decorative while exploring the importance of beauty in contemporary art. In paintings such as Bossa Nova (2015), Ahavah (2016), and Nasturtiums­–Hot Season (2016), Kushner’s defining grid-like backgrounds have grown increasingly pronounced, as he employs a bold, energized palette of brilliant pinks, purples, and yellows that imbue this body of work with new vigor. “…I began to consider how I could introduce a more raucous color sense, and increase of scale of the individual floral and foliate elements so that they might go spilling off the confines of the canvas,” the artist explains. 

These tensions between the figurative and the abstract, achieved through interplays of organic movement and geometric configurations, are in full evidence in works such as Spring Rain (2016) and the artist’s monumental Tenderness (2015). At times the work’s imagery, created with oil and acrylic paint with gold leaf, evokes Matisse’s botanical cutouts, while their bright, vertical bands of color uncannily call to mind the works of Barnett Newman and Ellsworth Kelly. Reflecting on these fluid interchanges, Kushner wittily muses in the exhibition’s catalogue: “So, are geometry and botany at peace? In dialogue? At each other’s throats? I would like to think that when I am done after working on it for weeks and sometimes months, there is an interesting and intentionally confusing juxtaposition between pure abstraction and linear form—that they each balance one another and create their own tightrope act.”

The accompanying catalogue to the exhibition highlights these new developments through a series of thought-provoking questions posed to the artist by notable individuals in fields ranging from the art historical and creative to the spiritual and culinary realms. These included curators and art critics, two museum directors, a poet, a rabbi, a restaurateur, and a diplomat. Their inquiries covered a wide spectrum of Kushner’s artistic concerns and brought new critical insights into the artist’s ongoing body of work.

Robert Kushner has exhibited extensively in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum, in New York, and the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art. His work is featured in public collections such as The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Tate Modern, London, England; and the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Publications on Kushner’s work include the monograph Gardens of Earthly Delight (Hudson Hills Press, 1997) with essays by Alexandra Anderson and Holland Cotter, and Wild Gardens by Michael Duncan (Pomegranate, 2006). In 2012, Kushner was the editor of an important volume of art criticism by Amy Goldin (1926-1978) titled Amy Goldin: Art in a Hairshirt (Hudson Hills).

Oxbow School Students Create Mural with Robert Kushner by Robert Kushner

It was wonderful to visit Napa, CA in the riotous height of spring and particularly inspiring to work with a wildly talented, spirited, goofy, wonderful group of high school students.   Gathered together from all across the country for this one semester art immersion and academic program, I hope they learned some things, but I know that I felt renewed and restored by their optimism and buoyant energy. Drawing, drawing, painting the myriad of wild flowers and garden flowers at hand, then collectively composing and collaging this collection of blossoms done by the entire group was an education for them and a thrill for me.

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“This week, Robert Kushner has expanded Oxbow students’ knowledge on botanical art and art
itself during his ten day residency. Just finishing the two­ week research project, Project­X,
students were introduced to Kushner by a couple of sticks, jars of ink and flowers. They learned
how to sharpen sticks into fountain pens in order to observationally paint flowers on thin
Japanese paper. Kushner draws a lot of his inspiration from traditional Japanese art and his
interest in the natural world. His work is nationally acclaimed as the catalyst for the Pattern and
Decoration movement where his natural elements are placed in abstract and geometric
atmospheres which ultimately contributes to both a decorative and modernist style. His visit
ended with a large­scaled accumulation of the flowers on a big slab of wood to create the effect
of a dream garden. Preparing for Spring Break, Oxbow students are enjoying the sunny Napa
days and are finally finishing up big research papers and projects in their Humanities classes.
After Spring Break, the Oxbow School will readily enter its conquest into Final Projects!”
– Emily Y., student

Robert Kushner at Jerald Melberg Gallery, March 12 – April 23, 2016 by Robert Kushner

Robert Kushner,  Johnny Jump Up I , 2014, collage, ink and acrylic, 10 x 10 inches

Robert Kushner, Johnny Jump Up I, 2014, collage, ink and acrylic, 10 x 10 inches

Please join Jerald Melberg Gallery for an exhibition of new paintings and works on paper by Robert Kushner. In this recent body of work, Kushner continues expanding the style he has worked in for decades: boldly colored, opulent paintings patterned with flowers and plant forms. The exhibition also includes a series of mixed media collages composed of elements from varied times and worldly locales, overlaid with minimalist flora forms.

Coffee & Conversation
with 
Robert Kushner
Saturday, March 12 at 11:00am

Jerald Melberg Gallery
625 South Sharon Amity Road
Charlotte, NC 28211
704.365.3000

Robert Kushner,  Sungarden II , 2015, oil, acrylic, gold leaf on canvas, 30 x 60 inches

Robert Kushner, Sungarden II, 2015, oil, acrylic, gold leaf on canvas, 30 x 60 inches

Robert Kushner,  Huntington Library Cactus Garden II , 2014, collage, ink, gold leaf and acrylic, 30 x 37 inches

Robert Kushner, Huntington Library Cactus Garden II, 2014, collage, ink, gold leaf and acrylic, 30 x 37 inches

Listen to Robert Kushner’s Gallery Talk at Jerald Melberg Gallery:

Why Desire? by Robert Kushner

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One of my favorite modern composers is Maurice Ravel.  In listening to his music, it always seems to me that his mind was steeped in the elegance of the 18th century but, inconveniently, he found himself trapped somewhere in 20th Century Paris (admittedly a very pleasant place to be trapped) but still not the dix-huitième of our cultural fantasies.

With disturbing frequency, these days, I have begun to feel trapped that way about myself.  Consequently, one of the desires, one of the underpinnings of Scriptorium is the yearning for spatial and temporal relocation.  In drawing, I always leave my mundane concerns behind.  It has always been like that for me.  It is the one great escape of my life: being totally attentive to the object of my scrutiny, the technical reactions of my materials, and the ground I am drawing upon; going somewhere else for a few hours.  But there has been another sort of pleasurable dislocation in Scriptorium.

Often while working with the old papers, I began to wonder what it was like in Istanbul printing rows of flawless Arabic grammar in 1860?  What did the room look like?  What were the smells?  Who was the bookbinder in Hartford binding double volumes of Shakespeare and to whom did he give it over for stamping gold on the edges of the covers?  And just what was Hartford like in 1830?  Probably a lot nicer than it seems to be now. Or, just who wrote that Italian manuscript that I have rendered unreadable through my "art"?  And what was it about, anyway?  Or, I can picture the woodblock carver in Japan producing pages of text incorporating the most elegant curling script with no errors whatsoever.  Often during my drawing sessions, I have felt that I was in their workshops, or at least their milieu.

These flights of mind are the desires that are the basis of this work.  With our ultra sophisticated, and plugged-in contemporary world seeming to be dissolving or at least devolving slowly before our eyes, there is some comfort in these desires for what feels (and, of course, this is blatantly nostalgic) to be simpler times. Nostalgic reverie or not, I desire them.

Robert Kushner, New York, 2010