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Dana Tilou Arts Presents the HSBC Art Collection Exhibit and Sale

"Seated Woman" by Hugo Scheiber (ca. 1930) and "Neon Bands" by Richard Anuszkiewicz (1969).

20th Century Art Tour

In the early 1980 I was an art sales rep on the college circuit out of Philadelphia, traveling all over the undergraduate universe offering out of the trunk of my 1977Chevelle, a variety of artistic lithographs, etchings, and silk-screen prints for sale just as Reaganomics began to take hold of the disposable income of middle-class students. Sales were regionally what one would expect, depending on the particular institution of higher learning where I set up shop, but two artists whose work regularly sold, neatly matted under crinkly acetate covers, were Harold Altman and Robert Kipness. Both had a kind of formal landscape style: foreground views of tourist-quality seasonal vistas in green and sepia, trees and hedges exactingly pruned, a dependable two-point perspective down a lane or boulevard, a casual chair—images devoid of human presence seeming to offer a safe place to look, contemplatively passive, perfect for a serious student’s dorm room or college administrator’s often otherwise barren office.

The “corner store” that is Dana Tillou Fine Arts has passed 51 years at the same location. Long respected though not really popularly known, the gallery has offered 19th- and early 20th-century art and rare antiques to a discerning but dwindling class of gallery-goers and collectors.

Following strong sales of selected works by Sam Francis, Seymore Drumlevitch, and Victor Vasarely at the Echo Art Fair this past summer, Tillou has mounted the rest of the collection for an extensive display at his townhouse gallery.

Currently the deacquisition of over 40 works of art from the late offices of HSBC is on display at 417 Franklin Street. A variety of works displayed floor to ceiling and wall to paneled wall are shown to best advantage within its inviting interiors.

I spent a morning surveying three rooms of artwork from the 1920s through the 1980s—internationally, nationally, and regionally known artists work of all genres. Marine-scape paintings such as Hugh Laidman’s Erie Docks and Tom Sullivan’s small oils of sailboats and island flowers are evocative, technically strong. There are many examples of academically well wrought still life, also some distinctly interesting pieces: a fine example of 1930s Modernist style, Seated Woman (1930) by Hugo Schrieber; a singular gouache by Morris Shulman, a student of Hans Hoffman; two 1989 etching aquatints by Sol Lewitt; a piece from an early ribbon series by Lucas Samaras; large prints by Victor Vasarely, Robert Anuszkiewicz, and Ellsworth Kelly; a 1969 lithograph by Karel Appel; a fine still life by Martha Vissert Hooft, a small watercolor by Walter Prochownik; Charles Clough’s painting study for his subway commission based on a Burchfield landscape; Fran Noonan’s jewel-like Last Light, displayed next to a large Jack Youngerman print.

(Youngerman was married to Delphine Seyrig, the actress that starred in Last Year at Marienbad, a 1961 French film by Alain Resnais presently featured in an audacious image-appropriation audio/video work by Koto Ezawa on view at the Albright-Knox’s Media Projects Gallery. I digress…)

There are examples of landscape by Virginia Cuthbert, and Colleen Browning’s 59th Street Subway, a dynamic articulation of the familiar depths of that Manhattan underground landmark. A 1920s scene of skaters dashing about reminded me of Henry Darger’s dangerous daughters, but without the R-rated appendages. It turns out 20 years ago gallerist and framer Don Siuta was awarded a bid for framing the artwork before the collection was installed in the bank’s suites at the Minoru Yamasaki-designed office tower, back then known as Marine Midland. It was over $40,000. He said he took on extra liability insurance while the works were in his shop.

With the HSBC exhibition, Tillou Fine Arts begins a welcome transition to show post-modern and contemporary art, striding into the burgeoning panoply of Buffalo’s cultural arts venues. Take the opportunity on a November day (1030am-5pm, Tuesday-Saturday) to peruse the collection and take a leisurely stroll through a near century of artistic styles, a varied trove for artists and collectors alike. Prints by Messrs. Altman and Kipness are in full view. The exhibition will be extended into December and additional works will be displayed over the course of the show, which ends November 27.

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