Tagore Gallery to present a landmark retrospective of work by Edith Schloss (1919-2011),
NM announces major retrospective of Edith Schloss (1919-2011)
on January 22, 2015
Norte Maar is pleased to announce its collaboration with Sundaram Tagore Gallery to present a landmark retrospective of work by Edith Schloss (1919-2011), one of America’s greatest expatriate artists whose paintings, assemblage, collage, watercolors and drawings border on the bittersweet, fragile, intimate and naïve. Intrinsically linked to the milieu of Postwar American Art, every aspect of the artist’s eccentric personal iconography will be on view for rediscovery. This is the first show of the artist’s work in New York in twenty-five years. This exhibition continues Norte Maar’s mission of re-presenting the work of under represented emerging, mid-career and historic artists.
The exhibition will open with a public reception on Thursday, February 26, 6-8pm and will continue through March 28. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11-6pm. A lecture in advance of the exhibition will be held at the Art Students League, Tuesday, February 10, 7pm. More information on the lecture here.
Curated by Jason Andrew and organized in collaboration with the Brooklyn-based nonprofit arts organization Norte Maar, this exhibition represents the most comprehensive showing of the artist’s work, offering historic examples from all genres of her career beginning with early still lifes of the 1950s and painted scenes of Penobscot Bay in Maine, to seascapes from her beloved studio in Lerici, Italy, and finally to the mythological abstractions she painted up until her death.
The exhibition also includes a gallery dedicated to Edith’s friends and acquaintances, with work by Ellen Auerbach, Nell Blaine, Rudy Burckhardt, Joseph Cornell, Alberto Giacometti, Willem de Kooning, Helen DeMott, Rackstraw Downes, Philip Pearlstein, Yvonne Jacquette, Fairfield Porter, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, Cy Twombly, Jack Tworkov and Francesca Woodman among others (full list of artists can be found at the end of this release).
Additionally a selection of ephemera including letters, photographs and diaries from the Edith Schloss Estate archive will be on view.
Art is a nourishment which is made from the fabric of our daily life but lifts us beyond it to make us see a world bigger than ourselves.—Edith Schloss, La Serra, 1976
What I really do is what any painter worth his salt has always done. I abstract color and line from life around me, and make another life out of it.—Edith Schloss
Schloss’ work is beautiful and explosive, moved at once by strength and lightness, by a vibrating breath contained in spaces that can be as small as the palm of a hand.—Toni Maraini, Rome, 2011
About Edith Schloss. Edith Schloss is best known for knowing “everyone who counted in Manhattan’s legendary postwar art scene.” From the moment she was first introduced to Willem de Kooning by her friend Fairfield Porter, she became an integral member of the Chelsea New York art scene, which flourished around the New York School and included photographer and filmmaker Rudy Burckhardt (whom she married in 1947) and the Jane Street Group around Nell Blaine.
Born in Offenbach, Germany, Edith studied languages and art as a young student. In Florence she learned about the Renaissance and in Frankfurt she saw her first Van Gogh. In London, while working as an au pair, she learned English and was inspired by the great Greek sculptures at the British Museum, which also reinforced her dream to become an archeologist.
Edith Schloss, Ravenna, 1947. Photographer unknown. Courtesy Estate of Edith Schloss
During the London Blitz, Edith sailed to America in a convoy. Arriving in New York she met the political refugee Heinz Langerhans, who introduced her to Bertolt Brecht, prominent Communist Ruth Fischer and others. She listened to lectures by American pragmatists like John Dewey at The Cooper Union and other great thinkers at The New School for Social Research. There never seemed to be a moment when she didn’t consider herself an artist. “Somehow I always drew, made pictures,” she wrote. From 1942 to 1946, she studied at the Art Students League of New York with Will Barnet, Harry Sternberg and Morris Kantor.
In 1945 Edith met Willem de Kooning through painter Fairfield Porter. It was a turning point. In turn she met the poet Edwin Denby, the photographers Ellen and Walter Auerbach and the filmmaker Rudy Burchkhardt. Elaine de Kooning became a staunch ally. “I happily absorbed the Chelsea climate apart from politics,” she wrote, “and I’ve settled down to paint for painting.” And she settled into loft living on West 21st Street.
Around the same time Edith met painter Nell Blaine. Together they spent “long winter nights listening to bebop records” and raced uptown and downtown “listening to Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Lester Young and Miles Davis in person.” Edith liked jazz for its “intuitive purity and improvisation,” qualities that became important elements in her maturing work. She joined the Jane Street Group, New York’s first artist cooperative gallery founded by Blaine, Hyde Solomon, Leland Bell, Louisa Matthiasdottir, Albert Kresch and Judith Rothschild. In 1947, her first one-person show opened at the Ashby Gallery.
In 1947, Edith married Rudy Burckhardt and the couple set off to tour Europe where they met Jean Arp, Meret Oppenheim, and briefly Giacometti, Brancusi and Max Bill. Upon their return to New York, she exhibited with the Pyramid Group and American Abstract Artists. Summers were spent with Fairfield Porter and his family on Great Spruce Head Island, Maine. This retrospective includes watercolors exploring the summers on the bays and shores of Maine.
In 1949, her son Jacob was born. One of the first paintings in the retrospective, Egg Eater, c. 1952, features a bird’s-eye view of a young Jacob standing before a breakfast table set with a scattering of white antique dishes including a bowl of fruit. It’s a naive painting with historical references yet the versatility of the composition demonstrates modern avant-garde ideas.
Edith Schloss (1919-2011) “Agon,” 2000, Oil on canvas, 27 1/2 x 23 5/8 in. (70 x 60 cm). Courtesy Estate of Edith Schloss
Edith Schloss (1919-2011) “Air Mail,” 1966, Oil on canvas, 23 3/4 x 19 3/4 in. (60 x 50 cm). Courtesy Estate of Edith Schloss
As Abstract Expressionism took hold in New York and action painting grew more dogmatic, Edith set aside her figurative intensions and turned to collage and assemblage “because it was in an avant-garde technique it was considered alright by the abstractionists.” Assemblage bridged her interest in writing and art and for a time, she become better known for her boxes than for her paintings. In 1961, she was included in The Museum of Modern Art’s landmark exhibition The Art of Assemblage. These boxes housed the precious things she found on beaches and on walks through the city. Sailor or Countryman (1962) is a small cupboard containing rocks, a wood carving of a boat, and a sea horse. Night Voyage: Homage to Joseph Cornell (c. 1962) is the perfect tribute to Edith’s friend, complete with a collaged gallery label from Cornell’s exhibition at the Charles Egan Gallery in the early 1950s.
Over the years she exhibited in New York at the Tanager Gallery, Green Mountain Gallery and Ingber Gallery.