Picture 07729 October – 23 December 2011

A one-man exhibition of paintings by Daniel “Alain” Brustlein will open at ACME Fine Art on Saturday 29 October 2011. A reception from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. will mark the occasion. For the gallery’s first exhibition devoted solely to the paintings of Daniel Brustlein, Gallery Director David Cowan has chosen a group of fifteen landscape themed canvases created between 1958 and 1986 that collectively form a sort of retrospective travelogue that reflects the artist’s interest in places and cultures around the world. The paintings themselves are studio paintings done from sketches that were created en-plein-aire in the locales they portray; however, they are also sensate reflections of Brustlein’s time spent in the places that he loved, including, France, Italy, North Africa, New York and Provincetown. In each of the paintings the artist poetically renders the architecture, and the natural environment of his subject, but he also captures a sense of each locale and conveys both mood and atmosphere, thereby allowing the viewer to travel with him from place to place, all the while seeing these enchanted locations through Brustlein’s uncanny eyes. In an era when much contemporary art turns its back on beauty and elegance, Brustlein –through paintings like these- restores our faith in such concepts.

Brustlein grew up in Alsatian, France, and as a young man he studied at the Ecole des Arts & Métiers, and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Geneva. At the urging of a former classmate he moved to New York in 1927, immediately finding work as an illustrator and cartoonist. By 1933 he had become a U.S. citizen. In New York, Brustlein quickly developed a wide circle of friends involved in the avant-garde visual and literary arts, as well as dance. Some of them included, E.B.White, Willem de Kooning, Edwin Denby, Rudy Burkhardt, Harold Rosenberg, Jack Tworkov, and Tworkov’s sister, the artist Janice Biala, whom he went on to marry in 1942.

To many, Daniel Brustlein is best known as the sardonic cartoonist “Alain” whose droll cartoons frequently graced the pages of The New Yorker magazine in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and for whom he contributed no less than 10 covers over the course of three decades. He also authored/illustrated numerous children’s books including such titles as The Elephant and the Flea, and Alain’s Steeplechase. The fine art of painting was Brustlein’s true vocation however, and his career as a painter is no less illustrious.

Brustlein’s talent was recognized early on. His paintings were frequently included in group exhibitions in France and Switzerland before he moved to New York. Since that time, some of the more notable venues where Brustlein’s work has been included in group exhibitions are: American Academy of Arts and Letters (NY, 1957, ‘67), Corcoran Gallery of Art (Annual, 1958, ‘60), Musee des Beaux-Arts (Rennes, 1962), New School Art Center (NY, 1965), Museum of Modern Art (travelling exhibition, 10 museum venues, 1969), Musee Cantini (Marseilles, 1973), Centre George Pompidou (Paris, 1977), and the Bronx Museum (NY, 1988.)

It was not until 1955 that Brustlein was given his first solo gallery exhibition in New York. That came at the groundbreaking Stable Gallery where his work was exhibited in group and solo exhibitions during the course of that decade. Prior to the Daniel Brustlein: Places exhibition at ACME Fine, Brustlein’s artwork has been featured in no fewer than twenty solo exhibitions in prestigious galleries in Europe and the United States.

Daniel Brustlein: Places will be on view from Saturday 29 October 2011 through Friday 23 December 2011 at ACME Fine Art, 38 Newbury Street, Boston MA, 02116, and it will be viewable on line beginning 29 October at www.acmefineart.com . Exhibition catalogues are available for purchase through the gallery. For further information please e-mail Leanne Tremblay at info@acmefineart.com .


HH Untitled1444617 September – 22 October 2011

On Saturday 17 September, ACME Fine Art will open its Autumn Season with a group exhibition of 20th century, landscape-inspired works-on-paper by esteemed abstract expressionist artists: Giorgio Cavallon, George McNeil, Hans Hofmann, Jack Tworkov, Tony Vevers, George Lloyd, Maurice Freedman, Myrna Harrison, Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed. A reception from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. will mark the occasion.

Highlights of the exhibition will include a fine group of six rare landscape-based watercolors that were created in the 1970s by expressionist master George McNeil, and a suite of watercolors created en-plein-air in Provincetown between 1942 and 1970 by the noted first generation abstract expressionist Giorgio Cavallon. Two excellent abstract landscapes from the 1950s by Jack Tworkov, and two boldly expressed works from mid-century by the legendary artist/teacher Hans Hofmann will also figure prominently in the exhibition. Important early examples by Lillian Orlowsky, Myrna Harrison, Tony Vevers, William Freed, and more recent work by Maine contemporary artist George Lloyd will round out the landscape themed exhibition.

ACME Fine Art’s exhibition: The Expressionist Landscape will be on view from Saturday 17 September through Saturday 22 October 2011 at 38 Newbury Street in Boston. The entire exhibition will be viewable on line after 17 September. Please contact the gallery by e-mail at info@acmefineart.com or by telephone at 617.585.9551 for further information.



mcneil-beach-picture-lg9 July – 20 August 2011

ACME Fine Art’s SUMMER SALON exhibition will be on view from 9 July to 20 August 2011. The exhibition will feature new acquisitions and inventory highlights that celebrate the season, with several works depicting the New England coast.

Recently acquired works include a striking, cubist-influenced figure by modernist Milton Avery, an important Beach Picture from George McNeil’s transitional period, and Tony Vevers’ On The Road, an austere image in which a lone figure traverses a simplified landscape. A group of four outstanding drawings and sketches by Edwin Dickinson executed between 1924 and 1954 exemplify his accomplished draftsmanship.

Works by twenty-two artists that span nearly a century are included in this diverse collection that presents a variety of subjects and styles. Rare works by early modernists Edwin Dickinson and Ross Moffett join fine examples by mid-century artists such as Fritz Bultman, Peter Busa, Giorgio Cavallon, Nanno de Groot, William Freed, Maurice Freedman, Wolf Kahn, Charles Littler, Seong Moy, Lillian Orlowsky, Haynes Ownby, and Grace Martin Taylor. The exhibition also features a selection of paintings by late twentieth century and contemporary artists Robert Beauchamp, Dorothy Eisner, Lester Johnson, Tony Vevers, and Richard Baker.

ACME Fine Art and Design is located at 38 Newbury Street, Boston, Massachusetts, 02116. Summer Hours are 11:00 to 5:30 Wednesday through Saturday, and by appointment. For further information about the exhibition or the artists please contact ACME Fine Art at info@acmefineart.com or 617.585.9551. The entire exhibition will be viewable at www.acmefineart.com.



Edwin Dickinson, Ross Moffett, Tony Vevers, Richard Baker
at ACME Fine Art, Boston

14 May – 25 June, 2011

On Saturday 14 May 2011 a group exhibition will open at ACME Fine Art in Boston that explores the history and tradition of figure and landscape painting on Cape Cod. The four critically acclaimed artists represented in the exhibition all have long been associated with the Outer Cape, and all have well-established national reputations. They are: Edwin Dickinson, Ross Moffett, Tony Vevers, and Richard Baker. The exhibition will open with a reception from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, 14 May and will be on view through Saturday 2 July 2011.

The artwork selected for the exhibition was created over the course of almost a century. Edwin Dickinson and Ross Moffett were among what is now considered the early group of artists that “discovered” Provincetown as a painter’s place. They were considered by their colleagues at the time, and are considered by art historians today, to be pioneers of modernism in the early 20th century. Tony Vevers emerged at mid-century from the emotional frenzy of Abstract Expressionism as one of the original Figurative Expressionist avant-garde, and through his body of artwork, his teaching, and his writing became one of Provincetown’s most eloquent voices during the second half of the 20th century. Richard Baker is a contemporary artist whose work respects and acknowledges the rich tradition of the painters who have gone before, while simultaneously expressing a distinctly modern, transformative point of view that places him at the forefront of the contemporary art scene.

The unifying theme of the exhibition is the use of traditional artistic means, with respect to technique and subject matter, to achieve a modern end. The connective tissue is the landscape of the Outer Cape itself, and the crucial role it plays in the artwork of each of these groundbreaking artists.

Gallery Director David Cowan has assembled the paintings, drawings, watercolors and etchings that comprise the exhibition from a variety of sources including: private collections, artist’s estates, and other art galleries across the United States. Several excellent rare examples by Edwin Dickinson and Ross Moffett have not been publicly exhibited in a generation. Several of the seminal works by Tony Vevers that were created in the 1960s during the period when he had become a pioneer of the movement to recapture the power of the human figure in an abstract idiom will form a significant aspect of the exhibition. Important examples of Richard Baker’s work that were created as early as 1988 and as recently as last year will demonstrate Baker’s transformative approach to what might at first glance appear to be a traditional form. Collectively the artwork reads as a narrative of what is arguably America’s most important art colony in the past century.

For further information about the exhibition or the artists please contact ACME Fine Art at info@acmefineart.com or 617.585.9551. The entire exhibition will be viewable at www.acmefineart.com.


Richard Baker

Richard Baker

Maryland Institute, College of Art, Baltimore, MD, 1977-79
School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, 1979-81

Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship, Provincetown, MA, 1989-90
Fine Arts Work Center, Second Year Fellowship, Provincetown, MA, 1990-91
New England Foundation for the Arts Grant, 1992
Academic Appointment, Ohio Art Council Grant Review Panel, 1995
Academic Appointment, Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship Review Panel, 2000
Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant, 2002

Visiting Artist
Norwich School of Art, England, 1986
School of Visual Arts, New York, 1994
Boston University, School of Fine Arts, MA, 1994
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, 1994
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, 1995
School of Visual Arts, New York, 1995
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, 1997

Selected Solo Exhibitions
Provincetown Group Gallery, MA, 1988-91
The Southeast Center for Contemporary Art, Winston, Salem, NC, 1993
Louis Stern Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA, 1994
Universal Fine Objects, Provincetown, MA, 1992-96
Hackett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2001
Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2003
Washburn Gallery, New York, 1995-2003
Albert Merola Gallery, Provincetown, MA, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006
Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010

Selected Group Exhibitions
Van Buren-Brazelton-Cutting Gallery, Cambridge, MA, 1983
Boston Center for the Arts, MA, 1985
Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA, 1985
East End Gallery, Provincetown, MA, 1987
Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA, 1989
East Hampton Center for Contemporary Art, NY, 1990
Boston Center for the Arts, MA, 1991
Bard College, Annandale on Hudson, NY, 1992
Associated American Artists, New York, 1992
Neilsen Gallery, Boston, MA, 1992
Cape Cod Museum of Fine Arts, Dennis, MA, 1992
Hunter College, New York, 1992
Susan Cummins Gallery, Mill Valley, CA, 1992
Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA, 1993
David Beitzel Gallery, New York, 1993
Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CT, 1993
Tower Fine Arts Gallery, SUNY Brockport, NY, 1993
Higgins Gallery, Cape Cod Community College, MA, 1993
Washburn Gallery, New York, 1993
Karl Drerup Fine Arts Gallery, Plymouth State College, MA, 1993
L’École des Beaux-Arts de Lorient, France, 1994
Fine Arts Center, University of Rhode Island, Providence, RI, 1994
O’Hara Gallery, New York, 1995
Kraushaar Galleries, New York, 1995
Robert Steele Gallery, New York, 1997
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1997
Louis Stern Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA, 1997
Beth Urdang Gallery, Boston, MA, 1998
Castle Hill Center for the Arts, Truro, MA, 1998
Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY, 1999
Kraushaar Galleries, New York, 2001
Neilson Gallery, Boston, MA, 2001
Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA, 2001
Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, 2001
Cape Museum of Fine Art, Dennis, MA, 2001
Connecticut Graphic Arts Center, Norwalk, CT, 2002
Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2002
Cape Museum of Fine Arts, Dennis, MA, 2002
Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT, 2002
Westbeth Gallery, New York, 2003
Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA, 2003
Carrie Haddad Gallery, Hudson, NY, 2003
JG Contemporary, New York, 2003
Summer Light, Brick Walk Fine Art, West Hartford, CT, 2006
Zeuxis: Facets of Perception, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, Staten Island, NY, 2006
Eliminate, curated by John Waters, Albert Merola Gallery, Provincetown, MA, 2007
Reader’s Delight, McKenzie Fine Art, New York, NY, 2010
Sweetness and Light & Where There’s Smoke, Hampden Gallery, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA, 2010
Night, Albert Merola Gallery, Provincetown, MA, 2010

Selected Collections
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
Newark Museum, NJ
Provincetown Art Association and Museum, MA


ACME Orlowsky Figure Drawing 01Drawings from the Hans Hofmann School of Art, a virtual exhibition of drawings created between 1938 and 1954 in Hans Hofmann’s figure drawing classes can now be viewed online on the ACME Fine Art website.

Hofmann is considered by many to be the foremost teacher of modern painting and drawing technique in the twentieth century. The list of artists who studied with him at his Schools of Fine Art in New York City and in Provincetown Massachusetts contains many of the century’s most well recognized names. ACME Fine Art’s gallery director, David Cowan, has assembled a group of more than a dozen superb drawings by well-known and not-so-well known artists who participated in Hofmann’s figure drawing classes. The artists whose work will be included in the exhibition are: William Freed, John Grillo, Myrna Harrison, Seong Moy, Lillian Orlowsky, Haynes Ownby and Steve Wheeler.

Hofmann’s notion of “plasticity” was one of the primary principles of his theory of modernism. He wrote in his essay The Resurrection of the Plastic Arts that plasticity means “to bring the picture surface to ‘automatic’ plastic response.” This “plastic response” was one of the fundamental aspects of the figure drawing exercise, and this important teaching tool or “exercise” was one used by Hofmann consistently throughout his teaching career. Haynes Ownby -who studied with Hofmann in the early 1950s- described Hofmann’s concept of plasticity by saying, “Plasticity in his theory refers to the lively movement of compositional flat areas toward and from the picture plane, resulting in continuous movement and vitality.” Continuous movement and vitality are certainly hallmarks of the drawings chosen for ACME Fine Art’s virtual exhibition.

Hofmann insisted that all of the drawings be done in charcoal in a 25 x 19″ format. Despite the uniformity of medium and format, the resulting drawings are surprisingly varied. In most cases they reveal early signs that connect directly to the unique expressions that can be seen in each of the artist’s mature later work. The aspect of drawing as a teaching exercise is clearly revealed in a number of the drawings when one sees a diagrammatic sketch by Hofmann outlined in the corner of the sheet. As one might expect, some of the drawings are bold and powerful, while others are lyrically expressed; some are directly, spontaneously conveyed, and others are carefully composed and rendered. What is common to all is the fresh revelation of the modern spirit of each of the artists directly translated and graphically demonstrated.

The works featured in Drawings from the Hans Hofmann School of Art are available to be viewed at the gallery by appointment.




Johnson Polyklyton Head

19 March – April 20130

ACME Fine Art’s third solo exhibition of the work of Lester Johnson will be a memorial to the artist, who passed away late last spring. Johnson was a immensely talented artist who became a primary force in the development of the Figurative Expressionist movement in the second half of the 20th century, and in his position in the Art and Architecture Department at Yale University, he was a dedicated and thoughtful educator of the next generation of artists. LESTER JOHNSON: IN MEMORIAM will be open for viewing from Saturday, 19 March to Saturday, 30 April 2011. ACME Fine Art will host an opening reception on the afternoon of Saturday, 19 March from 2:00 to 5:00. A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue is available through the gallery.

The artwork selected for the exhibition touches on phases of Johnson’s artistic history. The exhibition will be organized as a small-scale retrospective, featuring eighteen important paintings from all phases of this prodigious artist’s more than six-decade-long career. All of the paintings, regardless of period or scale, are bold and vigorously expressive, and they demonstrate the poetic virtuosity and power that became Lester Johnson’s hallmark.

Lester Johnson was one of the relative handful of avant-garde artists who abandoned non-objective painting in the 1950s in order to harness the power of the human figure as a primary vehicle for artistic self-expression. Today Johnson is recognized as one of the most important and influential painters of his generation.

Since his first solo exhibition at New York’s Artists Gallery in 1951, Johnson’s work has been featured in more than 100 solo exhibitions, and included in important group exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to name just a few. Lester Johnson’s work is in the permanent public collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University.

Speaking about his own work Johnson once offered the following: “There is no balance in my paintings because balance seems to me to be static. Life, which I try to reflect in my paintings is dynamic…. To me my paintings are action paintings –paintings that move across the canvas, paintings that do not get stuck, but flow like time.” To which the noted critic and art historian Dore Ashton added: “And so they did.”

In his essay titled Lester Johnson: A Leading Figurative Expressionist, Charles Giuliano writes, “Lester was striving to find the essence of universal man. The details and specifics failed to engage him. The figure was a metaphor for the turmoil and conflict flowing through him. The resultant works were among the most potent conundrums of his generation.” Mr. Giuliano’s essay is published in its entirety in the exhibition catalogue, and he will be speaking about Lester Johnson in a Gallery Talk at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, 9 April 2011 at ACME Fine Art.

ACME Fine Art is located at 38 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116. Gallery Hours are 11:00 to 5:30 Tuesday through Saturday. The entire exhibition will be viewable online after 18 March at www.acmefineart.com. Exhibition catalogues are available for purchase online or by contacting the gallery.


Picture 00914 January – 5 March 2011

ACME Fine Art’s first exhibition of 2011 will be a solo exhibition of mid-career oil paintings by noted twentieth century American modernist George McNeil. This is the gallery’s fourth solo exhibition of McNeil’s work, but the first focused on paintings from this period. In fact, this will be the first exhibition anywhere that is exclusively devoted to McNeil’s paintings from this important pivotal period of his career – at least since the paintings were contemporary, nearly fifty years ago. The exhibition will open to the public on Friday 14 January through 5 March 2011. An Opening Reception will be held at the gallery from 2:00 to 5:00 on Saturday 22 January. A Gallery Talk featuring the artist’s daughter, Helen McNeil, speaking about George McNeil’s life and work will be held on Saturday 26 February at 2:00 p.m.

George McNeil has often been referred to by colleagues and modern art cognoscenti as a painter’s painter. This is undoubtedly reflects their own admiration of and respect for McNeil and the artwork that he produced, coupled with the general lack of awareness of him by the public at large. While never a celebrity, in his day McNeil was well known by those at the center of the avant-garde art world, and he remains a key figure in the history of twentieth century modern art in America. This is borne out by the following partial list of his accomplishments: He was a co-founder of American Abstract Artists (1936). He was one of only 6 artists invited to participate in the World’s Fair Exhibition (1939) who showed non-objective work. A true first generation Abstract Expressionist, he was one of the original Egan Gallery artists along with De Kooning, Kline, Tworkov and Cavallon. He was among the first to move successfully beyond Abstract Expressionism to become a founder of the Figurative Expressionist movement.

It is this transition from Abstract Expressionism to Figurative Expressionism that is the focus of this ACME Fine Art exhibition. For McNeil, the transition began in the late 1950s when Abstract Expressionism had become mainstream, and most first and even second generation practitioners in the movement were realizing the limitations of the Abstract Expressionist idiom. In Jack Tworkov’s case this led to a move towards a more platonic exploration, but for McNeil and other artists such as Lester Johnson, Jan Muller, and Robert Beauchamp, it meant harnessing the power of the human figure, while remaining true to their expressive voices.

The paintings selected for inclusion in this exhibition follow McNeil’s path from his late 1950’s era work -where forms and compositions were beginning to coalesce into vaguely figurative formations- to the late 1960s and early 1970s canvases, where key aspects of the human anatomy became powerful meaning-laden tools for this expressionist master. Also included is an important group of landscape-inspired paintings that McNeil referred to as “abstractscapes.” These date from the mid-1960s and were often painted en-plein-aire, while back in his studio the artist’s work was evolving in a more distinctly anthropomorphic direction. Collectively this group of paintings is a powerfully coherent body of work that beautifully demonstrates George McNeil’s at times poignant transition from the non-objective to figural representation; however, they also speak this artist’s desire to speak more directly to his audience, and they ultimately became the portal through which the Figurative Expressionist or later Neo-Expressionist trail emerged.

A fully illustrated exhibition catalogue with essays by Eleanor Heartney and Helen McNeil is available through the gallery.

ACME Fine Art is located at 38 Newbury Street, Boston MA 02116. Gallery Hours are 11:00 to 5:30 Tuesday through Saturday. The entire exhibition will be viewable on-line after 22 January at www.acmefineart.com .







cavallon-untitled-1947-lgThe ArtLex Art Dictionary defines mosaic as a picture or design composed of small pieces of stone, glass, or paper called tesserae that are inset in a medium or adhered to a surface. The earliest known examples of mosaics date from the 8th century BC. Those examples were created in Mediterranean regions using pebbles. Greek and Roman artists and artisans further refined techniques and craftsmanship used in making mosaics during their centuries in power. Fine later mosaic examples can be seen in the famous Byzantine churches of Ravenna and Istanbul and in Barcelona in the brilliantly idiosyncratic early 20th century masterpiece Parc Güell by Antonio Gaudí. Today the term mosaic is used more broadly, and is frequently used to refer to collaged combinations of aerial photographs or more generically as “compositions made up of a variety of elements.”

ACME Fine Art’s exhibition of paintings opening on 12 November 2010 will be comprised of a group of modern and contemporary American mosaic artworks created from the mid-20th century forward. The tesserae in the examples selected by Gallery Director David Cowan for this exhibition are dabs or swatches of oil or acrylic paint applied to canvas or panel to a totally modern affect. Some of the mosaic paintings in the exhibition are nature-based abstractions. Others are entirely non-objective, and still others can be characterized as neo-plastic compositions. What they all share is the formal conceit of using distinct small pieces composed to create an artistically complete whole.

During the late 1940s and early 1950s a number of artists who were then studying with, or had recently completed their studies with Hans Hofmann, began experimenting with a painting technique in which small distinct dabs of pigment were applied over most –if not all- of the their canvases. Giorgio Cavallon can be credited with being one of the first to study and popularize this genre. Two of Cavallon’s rare 1940s mosaic canvases will be included in the exhibition.

Another artist who was among the first of this circle to explore mosaic composition in his work was John Grillo, who did so in his Provincetown studio as early as the late 1940s. A separate exhibition of twelve of Mr. Grillo’s important and brilliantly colored early mosaic paintings in oil and in watercolor will run concurrently with the aforementioned group exhibition at ACME Fine Art. Grillo explored the possibilities of non-objective mosaic expression well into the 1950s.

Other notable artists whose mid-20th century work will be represented in the group exhibition are William Freed, Robert Henry, Myrna Harrison, James Gahagan, Selina Trieff, and Jan Müller. Müller was an artist’s artist whose early mosaic explorations -in a variety of shapes and scales- were delightfully lyrical fully abstract color poems.  By  the mid-1950s Müller’s tesserae were arranged by the artist into figural compositions that led the way to his becoming one of the pioneers of the figurative expressionist movement.

The formal part-and-whole conceit that goes to the essence of the mosaic as a work of art continues to fascinate artists. This will be demonstrated through a wonderfully diverse group of contemporary artworks that have been assembled for the exhibition. Excellent examples by contemporary artists such as Helen Miranda Wilson, Erik Koch, Paul Bowen, and Aviva Sklan will also be featured.

ACME Fine Art’s group exhibition of mosaic paintings will open with a reception from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on 12 November and run through 23 December 2010. For further information please contact the gallery at 617.585.9551.


ACME Grillo Untitled Mosaic 10-12An exhibition of twelve rare mosaic watercolors and oil paintings dating from the early 1950s by noted abstract expressionist artist John Grillo will open on Friday 12 November 2010 at ACME Fine Art in Boston. A reception from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. that evening will be held at the gallery. This will be Mr. Grillo’s first solo exhibition at ACME Fine Art.

John Grillo was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1917 and was raised in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was inspired to become an artist by an exhibition of portraits that he saw as a teenager at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Grillo’s first formal training was at the Hartford School of Fine Arts from 1935-39 where he studied painting. Grillo suspended his studies between 1944-46 to serve in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific theatre of World War II. At the conclusion of his military service, Grillo enrolled at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts on the GI Bill. While in San Francisco Grillo played a seminal role in forming the San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism and he is today recognized as one of the most original and influential artists of that movement. In 1948, Grillo returned to the East Coast and entered the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Arts in New York, and later in Provincetown. Grillo went on to take up permanent residence on Cape Cod in the town of Wellfeet where he lives and paints to this day.

In New York during the 1950s, Grillo worked alongside such artists as Willem deKooning, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Nanno de Groot, and Lester Johnson. The mosaic paintings that are featured in this ACME Fine Art exhibition were executed between 1950 and 1952 and are a Grillos’ singular, personal, and directly painted response to the concepts espoused by his teacher, Hans Hofmann. Their exuberant spontaneity is immediately evident and they convey an almost contagious joi-de-vivre. Although the underlying structure of these paintings may not be apparent, they are loosely based on a grid structure overlaid with a series of interlocking painterly patches and/or circles of color. The overall effect is deeply emotionally expressive without being chaotic.

Also in the early 1950s, Grillo introduced the notion of the shaped canvas to his work. Two rare examples are featured in this exhibition: Oval Mosaic, a modern interpretation of the Renaissance tondo and Untitled Mosaic, where the artist used a tall trapezoidal wooden ironing board as a substrate. Perhaps these pieces prefigure works by Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg who first began working with shaped canvases later in the same decade.

Although a number of his contemporaries explored the mosaic conceit in their work –Jan Muller and William Freed among them- Grillo was one of the few who painted purely abstract, non-objective mosaic paintings. Although intensely colorful, Grillo’s mosaics seem to emerge from a limited palette, often on a neutral ground with just a few, almost -primary hues. Grillo has said that, “Abstract painting is on a level with music. It’s a physical outburst from your whole being. It’s not the idea that is created and then you start painting. It’s always a challenge to shape something from nothing, to do the impossible.”  Grillo’s affinity with music is evident in the vibrancy and motility of his mosaic paintings.

Grillo’s work is featured in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The British Museum, Walker Art Center, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Worcester Museum of Art, and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, among many others.

JOHN GRILLO: THE MOSAIC PAINTINGS will be on view at ACME Fine Art in Boston from 12 November to 23 December 2010. Gallery hours are 11:00 to 5:30 Tuesday through Saturday. The exhibition can be viewed on-line at acmefineart.com. Please contact the gallery for further information.