Wednesday, December 10, 2014

CREATION MYTH by Tom Otterness and RECENT WORKS by Richard Estes

reporter/photographer: Miguel Dominguez

On October 22nd, Marlborough Gallery had a two men show featuring major artists of the contemporary art scene. Sculptor Tom Otterness and  and super-realist painter Richard Estes.

Tom Otterness (born 1952) is an American sculptor best known as one of America’s most prolific public artists. Otterness' works adorn parks, plazas, subway stations, libraries, courthouses and museums in New York City—most notably in Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City and Life Underground in the 14th Street – Eighth Avenue New York City Subway station—and other cities around the world. He contributed a balloon (a giant upside-down Humpty Dumpty) to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. In 1994 he was elected as a member of the National Academy Museum.

Otterness studied at the Art Students League of New York in 1970 and at the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1973. He was an active member of the artists' group Colab (Collaborative Projects) from its inception in 1977.

Otterness began his career as a public sculptor during his period with Colab and The Real Estate Show. He sold small, plaster figures for $4.99 at Artists Space in New York for the 1979 holiday season. His inspiration was the plaster replicas of Jesus and Elvis and Santería sculptures in botanica shops in the Bronx. "I thought 'Oh, this is public art…This is something that everyone can afford and take home.'" The next year he made a series of small plaster "proto monuments" for Colab's 1980 Times Square show, which he helped organize. This show featured inexpensive works by some 150 artists, including then unknowns Kiki Smith, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. He began showing with New York's Brooke Alexander Gallery soon after.

Known primarily as a public artist, Otterness has exhibited in exhibitions in locations across the United States and internationally, including New York City, Indianapolis, Beverly Hills, the Hague, Munich, Paris, Valencia and Venice. His studio is located in Gowanus, Brooklyn, in New York City.

Patricia Herrera and Roi Escudero

Tom's style is often described as cartoonish and cheerful, but also political. His sculptures allude to sex, class, money and race. These sculptures depict, among other things, huge pennies, pudgy characters in business suits with moneybag heads, helmeted workers holding giant tools, and an alligator crawling out from under a sewer cover. His aesthetic can be seen as a riff on capitalist realism.

Tom signs his book for Harvey Manes, M.D.

Many of Otterness's public works can be found in New York City. The Real World, located in Battery Park City was commissioned in 1986 and installed in 1992.

Otterness is well known for his 2002 Life Underground installation, located in the 14th Street – Eighth Avenue, New York City Subway station on the "A, C, E and L" services. It is a sculptural group with over 100 cast-bronze sculptures placed throughout the platforms and stairways of the station. Part of the Metropolitan Transit Authority's Arts for Transit Program, which has commissioned more than 170 permanent works of art to decorate the city subway stations, it is one of the most popular in the subway system. The piece took over 10 years to complete. The New York Times notes, "Mr. Otterness worked hard to find creative ways to place his sculpture, navigating around the rules of stations design." Examples of figures in the subway installation include a woman toting a nearly lifesize subway token under her arm; a well-dressed fare jumper crawling under a metal gate; a homeless woman being rousted by the police; two figures holding a cross-cut saw, about to cut into an I-beam that holds up a stairway. New York City visitor make sure you visit the station to gawk at the art. It's the closest subway stop to the HiLine Park's south entrance.

James Ewan with Patricia Herrera

Artist David H. Katz bookended by Katherine and Angela Sloan


Born May 14, 1932 in Kewanee, Illinois, Richard Estes studied fine arts at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1952–56), where he frequently studied the works of realist painters such as Edgar Degas, Edward Hopper, and Thomas Eakins, who are strongly represented in the Art Institute's collection. After he completing his studies, Estes moved to New York City and, for the next ten years, worked as a graphic artist for various magazine publishers and advertising agencies in New York and Spain. He had his one-man show in 1968, at the Allan Stone Gallery. His works have also been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In 1971, Estes was granted a National Council for the Arts fellowship. The same year, he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member, and he became a full Academician in 1984.

Richard Estes is an American artist, best known for his photorealist paintings, a style also called super-realism or hyper-realism in which Richard Estes often worked from photographic stills to create paintings that appeared to be photographs. He is regarded as one of the founders of the international photo-realist movement of the late 1960s, with such painters as John Baeder, Ralph Goings, Chuck Close, and Duane Hanson. Author Graham Thompson wrote, "One demonstration of the way photography became assimilated into the art world is the success of photorealist painting in the late 1960s and early 1970s."

His work has been considered using a variety of terms, ranging from super-realism, sharp-focus realism, neo-realism, photo-realism, to radical realism. The most frequented term is super-realism. Most of Richard's paintings from the early 1960s are of city dwellers engaged in everyday activities. Beginning around 1967, he began to paint storefronts and buildings with glass windows and, more importantly, the reflected images shown on these windows. The paintings were based on color photographs he would take, which trapped the evanescent nature of the reflections, which would change with the lighting and the time of day.

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