Elizabeth Neel and the Estate of Ruth Duckworth at Salon 94 in New York, NY

Each of these exhibitions at Salon 94 is worthy of it’s own blog post, but I am combining them as I catch up from my interlude in Minneapolis. I am eager to finally report on some of the truly excellent shows I saw on my last visit to NYC, and wanted to do so before I head back next week.

I am in love with the new Salon 94 gallery space and will make a point of seeing any show they host. Even at their other spaces, I have never been to a Salon 94 show I did not like. I shared with you my visit to the Huma Bhabha exhibition earlier this year, and on this last trip I wanted to go see the exhibition from the Estate of Ruth Duckworth, and enjoy the Magdalene A.N. Odundo DBE exhibition a second time.

I don’t think one can appreciate ceramics without knowing the work of Ruth Duckworth. Her work is fabulous, and to see a room full of her work, was a thrill. “Ruth Duckworth was a British sculptor who was best known for her smooth ceramic works of abstract forms derived from nature. Finding much of her inspiration from early Bronze Age Cycladic sculptures, Duckworth’s works have smooth and elongated silhouettes with slight details to insinuate the face and limbs. Born Ruth Windmüller on April 10, 1919 in Hamburg, Germany to a Jewish father and Christian mother, she was forced to leave Germany in 1936 and study abroad at the Liverpool College of Art in the United Kingdom due to Nazi restrictions on Jewish students. She initially worked as a tombstone engraver in England, and later moved to Chicago to teach at the University of Chicago in 1964. Her works are in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, among others. Duckworth died on October 18, 2009 in Chicago, IL where she had spent the last 45 years of her life.” (Artnet)

Before seeing her work, I had not heard of Elizabeth Neel, but as I read about her at the gallery, I learned that Elizabeth, of course, is Alice Neel’s granddaughter! How extraordinarily cool for them to both have shows so near one another, at the same time: Alice Neel at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Elizabeth Neel at Salon 94!

“Neel’s practice encompasses painting, drawing, collage and sculpture. Her work is an exploration of the hypnotic and complex nuances of abstraction, of chaos in co-existence with order. Her expressionistic technique involves pouring, brushing, printing, rolling, folding and dragging acrylic paint onto un-stretched raw canvas. This method allows her to embrace both the deliberate and the unpredictable, manipulating our senses of texture, layers, and perspective with surprising color juxtaposition and unconventional uses of negative space. Neel’s lexicon of symbols evolve throughout each body of work and the mirrored shapes often seen in her work mimic the bilateral architecture of the body and its movement through our changing habitats. Her work contains a multitude of collective interpretations that contemplate what exists on the surface, and what is omitted. The granddaughter of American portrait painter Alice Neel, she has honed a practice over decades wherein literature, music, nature, movement, poetry and history surface on the canvas in unexpected ways, pushing against any single meaning or narrative.” (Salon 94)

I really enjoyed this recent article about Elizabeth Neel. I’m glad I didn’t know who anything about Neel before seeing her work. I think it is fabulous.

I’d be remiss to not share some of the work of Max Lamb which was so beautifully displayed at Salon 94. I thought it was really great, and came away impressed by the variety of materials from which he creates. It was yet another unexpected bonus of my trip uptown to Salon 94. The building is enormous, with expanding gallery space. “Born in 1980, Max Lamb is a native of Cornwall, England. Lamb cites his upbringing in this bucolic landscape as the source for his creative spirit and his deep appreciation for natural materials. He earned a degree in Three Dimensional Design from Northumbria University in 2003, and, in the same year, he was awarded both the Hettich International Design Award and the Peter Walker Award for Innovation in Furniture Design. In 2006, he completed his Masters Degree in Design Products at the Royal College of Art.” (Salon 94) You can see better images of his work here.

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