JAMES GAHAGAN at Mid-Century

15 February – 22 March, 2008

Following military service in World War II and with the help of the G.I. Bill, James Gahagan studied painting at the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art in New York. He went on to become the Assistant Director of the School, a position he held between 1952 and 1958. He was also Hans Hofmann’s chief assistant on two important large-scale mural projects at 711 3rd Avenue in New York City during 1956 and 1957. Gahagan exhibited his work at the H.C.E., Tirca Karlis, and Sun Galleries in Provincetown, and at the James Gallery – of which he was a founding member- in New York City. Gahagan was an important member of what has been called the second generation of the New York School, and he counted William Freed, Lillian Orlowsky, Robert de Niro Sr., Sidney Gordin, Myrna Harrison, Myron Stout, Jan Muller, and Joseph Stefanelli among his close friends and colleagues. Gahagan was a dedicated educator throughout his career. In addition to founding an eponymous summer art school on his property in Vermont in 1971, Gahagan held teaching positions at Pratt Institute, Columbia University, Goddard College, Notre Dame University, and the Vermont Studio School. Today his work is in the permanent collections of the Art Museum of the University of California, Berkeley, the Chrysler Museum of Art, the Cape Cod Museum of Art, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and numerous other public and private collections.

James Gahagan’s work from all periods is characterized by a bold and confident use of color, applied to the canvas in a variety of expressionistic means. While Gahagan’s paintings may at times seem to convey a sense of landscape or the heavens, his work is always fully abstract with a tremendous sense of depth and balance. In talking about his own work, Gahagan offered the following in a 1991 interview with Tina Dickey:

Most artists would avoid talking about the particularity of any content in painting. Most of them generalize about aesthetic theory, formal things; what do we mean by composition, balance and tension, and so on? There are times when we avoid what those balances and equilibriums might mean expressively. But, when we do talk to each other, and what we do demand of the work when we look at other people’s work, and what the audience does expect, is that it means something to them in their lives, some experience shared that they can translate, something purely emotional.

I’d gone through passages in my own development where I said ‘The aesthetic content and significance is what [I am] aiming for; that’s enough, in fact, everything else is superfluous.’ And then that changed because I realized for myself –and I’m going to underline it, for myself, because I was trying to broaden my view, not narrow it- I had to find some way in the work to make other comments on my life experience small as they might be, some area, some room in the painting for that.

ACME Fine Art’s 2008 exhibition of paintings by James Gahagan will feature a fine group of fifteen abstract expressionist canvases that date from between the mid-1950s and the mid-1960s. The gallery is delighted to honor the memory of this talented artist with his first solo exhibition in Boston. The exhibition will open with a reception from and will be on view through 22 March 2008. Please contact ACME Fine Art at 617 585 9551 or info@acmefineart.com for further information.

ACME Fine Art’s exhibition of artwork by William Freed and Lillian Orlowsky will open with a reception from six to eight on the evening of Friday 15 February 2008 and will be on view through 22 March 2008. ACME Fine Art is located at 38 Newbury Street, Boston.