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Giving Thanks To The Benefactor

An installation view from A Tribute to Gavid K. Anderson at UB Anderson Gallery
Giving Thanks To The Benefactor
David Anderson honored with exhibit in the gallery that bears his name

The current UB Anderson Gallery exhibit is a tribute to eponymous benefactor David Anderson, who gave the university the art in the show as well as the gallery itself, an old public school building he renovated and ran his art dealership business out of during his final years. Anderson was the son of Martha Jackson, who ran one of the important art galleries/dealerships in New York City in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the heyday of abstract expressionism and other art world new directions of the era, particularly or generally related to the New York scene new congeniality and interaction among the different art genres: visual arts, written word, jazz music, performance. And since mom had New York, son went to Paris and started a gallery and dealership there, not in rivalry but cooperation with his mom’s work. Between mother and son, they represented many of the significant young artists of the day, trading them back and forth, providing them exposure on both sides of the Atlantic. And both mother and son were avid collectors as well as dealers. The exhibit comprises works from both of their substantial private collections.

Paul Jenkins (American painter, 1923-2012) Phenomena Heaven Bound, 1969, acrylic on canvas. 119 1/4 x 88 inches. University at Buffalo Art Galleries: Gift of the David K. Anderson Family, 2000. Copyright 2016 Estate of Paul Jenkins

Some great works, such as Joan Mitchell’s Ode to Joy huge abstract painterly interpretation of Frank O’Hara’s poem of the same name. Dual emblems of the heady art historical moment and paeans to the city of New York as its locale. In its sanguine optimistic idyllic vision, the poem out-Schillers Schiller. It begins, “We shall have everything we want and there’ll be no more dying.” And goes on, “the imagination itself will stagger like a tired paramour of ivory / under the sculptural necessities of lust that never falters.” This just prior to the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic. Celebration of the city portions elsewhere, in language such as, “Buildings will go up into the dizzy air as love itself goes in / and up...” Elsewhere still, “organs...rise like buildings.” The Mitchell painting consists of blocky segments in disparate paint application techniques ranging from messy impasto to even-toned liquid pour that read as layered jumble of high-rise buildings. New York cityscape. But equally, painting for the joy of it.

Another great piece—in the sense of big as well as artistically interesting, significant—is Mike and Doug Starn’s The Ascension. A multiple photo segments mosaic remake of seventeenth-century artist Philippe de Champagne’s painting The Dead Christ that hangs in the Louvre. With adjuncts to do with framing and presentation, and an apparently unrelated inset photo in the mosaic of some sort of arid landscape, underscoring the art as artificial quality of the new work, and then by extension the old work as well, and differences of reception and interpretation of the old and new works, and old work then and now.

Some of the other artists represented in the show, usually with multiple works: Karel Appel, Allan Kaprow, Christo (several lithograph conceptuals for his project to wrap the equestrian monument to Vittorio Emmanuele in Milan), Lester Johnson, John Hultberg, Norman Bluhm, Jim Dine (his Crash series of lithographs), Red Grooms, William Scott, Julian Stanczak, and Hans Hoffman (one of Martha Jackson’s art teachers when she was an aspiring artist, who suggested to her that maybe she should concentrate on buying and selling and collecting art).

The upstairs corridor is given over to print works, lithographs, etchings. While the upstairs main space features four huge-format abstract works, by Antoni Tàpies (Brown, Black, and Red), Michael Goldberg (The Bed), Paul Jenkins (Phenomena Heaven Bound), and Sam Francis’ splotch application askew posts and lintel configuration painting (Number 18). Nearby in the prints corridor is a mate pair of Sam Francis’ lithographs, that is, printed from the same prepared stone, with the same base design, a posts and lintel configuration. Not the same as in the painting, but similar, reminiscent. Something in the artist’s craw.

The David Anderson tribute show continues through March 6.

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