Rawson Projects

2 Sep

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Leah Beeferman

Strong Force

Opening reception: Saturday, September 12, 6 – 8 PM

September 12 – October 25, 2015

For immediate release

Rawson Projects is very pleased to announce its upcoming fall exhibition, Leah Beeferman: Strong Force, the artist’s first show with the gallery, opening on September 12. The exhibition is also the artist’s first solo show in New York.

Leah Beeferman’s ongoing series of digital drawings, Strong Force (Chromodynamics), comes from an interest in the intangible and nonvisual space of theoretical physics and computer-based image-making. Using photographs and scans of objects from remote locations, Beeferman merges a very “real” space (from her own observation and experience) with the flatness and depth of “virtual” space (digital image-making) to create a physical object that lies somewhere in the space between a photograph, a drawing and a sculpture (the resulting works are face-mounted digital c-prints on metallic paper). And it is this notion of “in-betweenness” that connects the artist’s ideas about the non-uniform in her work to her interest in theoretical and quantum physics: “True “empty space” isn’t something we can access, and neither is dense emptiness” (BOMB — Artists in Conversation: Leah Beeferman by Lucas Blalock).

An interview between the artist and the gallery follows:

Rawson Projects: As this is your first exhibition at Rawson Projects, perhaps you can tell us a little bit about the process of making this body of work. The work combines many artistic practices— photography (though, I am never sure if using as scanner is considered photography or a photogram), digital manipulation, drawing, collage, etc. How did the process develop? Did you study a specific medium of artist practice, and did this development come from or move away from that study?

Leah Beeferman: These pieces, which are from an ongoing series called Strong Force, are made from photographs I’ve taken during residencies in the Arctic and in Iceland combined with digitally-drawn gestural marks and flat digital color. I developed them as a way of combining a “real” space from my observation and experience with an imaginary and intangible one informed by my interests in abstract physics and digital space. I think about my working process as a cross between drawing and photography, but it is crucial that the different elements appear to exist on the same plane, rather than feeling separate, as more traditional collage might. Working digitally allows this to happen. It also allows the pieces to still feel like they are drawings, and for the presence of my hand to remain without the distraction of materiality— which is important for the content I’m thinking about.

My work has been drawing-based for years, but my definition of drawing has always been very open, and has often incorporated digital processes alongside more traditional ones. I’ve always been very interested in photography, but had never used it in my work until I began this series in 2013. My art studies were very interdisciplinary and didn’t require focusing on a specific medium. In college, I did a lot of printmaking, and though I eventually gave it up to make drawings— which are so much more immediate and not process-oriented— I do think printmaking really influenced the ways I think about shape and form. I also spent a lot of time working on digital projects in college and, especially, in grad school. Ultimately, I would say that coming to the processes I am using now has really been a natural progression, one that still allows me to engage many of these ongoing artistic interests.

RP: You also spoke about your interest in abstract physics and intangible space in our studio visit. Can you elaborate on that a bit more? How do these issues present themselves in your work, and how do you think they interact with notions of aesthetics and the artistic process?

LB: My connection to physics really started in grad school, coming out of an interest in architecture and systems. Physics is a kind of architecture, but an invisible one: a set of rules meant to describe how the real world behaves and evolves. I’m most interested in particle physics, quantum physics, and cosmology because they attempt to describe things that humans cannot directly experience, but which are somehow meant to relate to what we can see, hear, and feel. The idea that phenomena on the tiny scale of quantum physics or on the huge scale of stars and dark matter can somehow come to bear on our experiences in the world is really exciting to me.

A few years ago, I read about a theory in quantum physics which states that pure empty space isn’t actually empty, but is dense, turbulent, and active. Thinking about this was really exciting for me. “Emptiness” and “density” are loose terms: they are formal, psychological, and scientific— and also paradoxical and provocative. For these reasons, they lend themselves very well to abstract forms and spaces.

My work largely consists of constructing spaces of flatness and infinite depth which, like I said, combine elements of the “real“ world with elements from an intangible one. When I begin a new series of artworks, I develop a system of formal and conceptual rules which guide how all of the component parts in each piece will interact with one another. Each series, then, becomes an exploration and extrapolation of these rules, which grow from my own intuitive interpretations of what I read in physics books and online. I make production decisions to present these images (or videos) as flat and infinitely deep: in-between spaces which are akin to the intellectual and emotional experiences we have of abstract science, but also, importantly, of the digital spaces we engage with so continuously.

RP: What is the relationship between these systems and their aesthetic outcome, is there a struggle to reconcile how the work looks versus the interpretation of underlying ideas? Can you elaborate more on the “rules” that you developed for this series?

LB: I’ve thought a lot about this, and I have spent a long time negotiating the relationship between the information and experiences that drive my work and the abstract work I make. I’m generally interested in the processes of interpretation that artists go through— where ideas for work come from, and how you get from those ideas to finished pieces.

For me, one of my main goals is that the work gives the impression that it’s grown from a system of logic, but it’s not at all important if a viewer doesn’t understand the specifics of that logic. When I first started thinking about physics and looking at diagrams of data, I thought a lot about how these graphs mean something to physicists but not to anybody who doesn’t know how to read them. For the average person, they are abstract, but they’re still totally compelling if you let them be. The idea that information is as abstract as it is “informative“ has been really important for me to think about.

My rules are largely formal rules, but they are determined for conceptual reasons. For example, I use certain types of shapes and gestures and not others, certain colors and not others, certain photographic images and not others. Together, the forms in the pieces have to achieve a particular kind of hanging-in-balance, flatness, and depth— otherwise they don’t work, and that’s how I know they’re done. Honestly, it’s actually really difficult reaching an end-point a lot of the time. My rules aren’t arbitrary whatsoever, and I’m really interested in the challenge of making work that is grown from a strict set of parameters look intuitive, animated, and psychological.

Leah Beeferman is a New York City-based artist working with digital drawing, video, and sound. She received a BA from Brown University and an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, and has participated in residencies including LMCC Workspace (NYC), The Arctic Circle (Svalbard), SIM (Reykjavik), Experimental Sound Studio (Chicago), Kökarkultur (Finland) and Diapason (NYC). Recently, she has shown work at Klaus von Nichtssagend, NY; Essex Flowers, NY; Fridman Gallery, NY; Ditch Projects, OR; and Interstate Projects, Brooklyn. She also co-runs Parallelograms, an ongoing online artist project.

For more information please contact the gallery at info@rawsonprojects.com or call 212 256 0379


Grey Art Gallery’s opening reception, Wednesday Sept 9, 6-8 pm

2 Sep

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Check out the recent article in the New York Times on Art Advisers featuring Departmental Alumna Amy Cappellazzo (Art History ’89)

24 Aug



Amy Cappellazzo, in her home in Manhattan, left her job as a top executive at Christie’s to become a private art adviser. Credit Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times

Todays NY Times: Uncovered in a Manhattan Lobby, a Mural Won’t Be Lost Again (includes quote from Ken Silver!)

19 Aug

Read this interesting piece including a quote from our very own Professor Ken Silver:



Construction workers discovered a mosaic mural by Max Spivak in the entryway to 5 Bryant Park in March. It will be preserved as part of the new lobby. Credit Richard Perry/The New York Times

Professor Carol Krinsky in The Allgemeine Zeitung: Rhine-Main Presse, Mainz, Germany

3 Aug

Historikerin Carol Krinsky stellt in Mainzer Synagoge jüdische Gotteshäuser vor

Die amerikanische Architekturhistorikerin Carol Krinsky in der Mainzer Synagoge. Mit dabei ist Joachim Glatz. <br /> 	Foto: hbz / Stefan Sämmer

Die amerikanische Architekturhistorikerin Carol Krinsky in der Mainzer Synagoge. Mit dabei ist Joachim Glatz.
Foto: hbz / Stefan Sämmer

Von Bernd Funke

MAINZ – Nein, über die neuen, architektonisch teilweise hochinteressanten Synagogen in Europa will Carol Krinsky keine neue Veröffentlichung anstreben. „Schauen Sie, ich bin 78 Jahre. Und für das hier”, weist sie auf ein knapp 450 Seiten starkes Buch, „habe ich sieben oder acht Jahre gebraucht.” Das Buch, von dem die Rede ist, „Die Architektur der Synagogen Europas”, 1985 erschienen, ist längst Standardwerk für Architekturhistoriker. Vier weitere Bücher hat die Professorin verfasst, zahllose Fachartikel, aber um ihr weltweit gefragtes Synagogenbuch geht es an diesem Tag. Der von der Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe auch nach seiner anstehenden Pensionierung mit der Betreuung der Schum-Städte betraute Landeskonservator Dr. Joachim Glatz hat den Auftritt der zierlichen Historikerin, die sich zu einer Konferenz in Berlin aufhielt, in der Mainzer Synagoge vermittelt.

Das eigenwillige Manuel-Herz-Gebäude kennt die New Yorker Jüdin („Aber nicht sehr religiös”) bislang nur durch eine Broschüre. Erste Einschätzung: „Expressionistisch, dramatisch.” Damit stehe die Mainzer auf jeden Fall im krassen Widerspruch zu neuen geometrisch-einfachen Synagogen in Polen (Kubus), Dresden („Ein eher geometrisches Gebäude”), dem „Prisma” in München oder dem Neubau in Berlin „mit sehr vielen Ecken”. Die Expertin will keine Noten vergeben, stellt aber fest: „Die Mainzer Architektur ist passender.”

    Carol Herselle Krinsky (geb. 1937 New York) ist eine amerikanische Architekturhistorikerin. Sie studierte am Smith College und der New York University, Krinsky ist Professorin für Architekturgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts an der New York University. Quelle: Wikipedia

Zu ihrem Synagogen-Werk wurde Carol Krinsky eigentlich erst durch ihre Studenten animiert, denen sie über europäische Kunst referierte. „Als sie mich fragten, ob ich schon mal in einer europäischen Synagoge gewesen sei, musste ich verneinen – aber damit war die Idee geboren”, lächelt die 78-Jährige. Mehr als 100 jüdische Gotteshäuser hat sie in ihrem Buch beschrieben. „Und bis auf die in Bulgarien und in Russland habe ich sie auch alle besucht.” Wichtig sei ihr, dass sie nicht über Religion habe schreiben wollen, sondern über Baukunst und Geschichte.

Die Synagogen waren nicht immer die besten und größten Gebäude der Stadt, denn Juden waren immer in der Minderheit”, hat Carol Krinsky festgestellt. Und sie hat Geschichtliches zusammengetragen. Etwa, dass Juden bis zum 19. Jahrhundert in vielen Städten und Ländern die Vorschrift einhalten mussten, Synagogen-Fassaden nicht direkt in einen Straßenzug integrieren zu dürfen. „Dann erst kam Schritt für Schritt die Emanzipation – wenigstens auf dem Papier“, blickt die Professorin zurück. Die Frage sei immer nur gewesen, in welchem Stil Juden ihr Gotteshaus hätten bauen dürfen: „Gotisch war zu christlich, Romanik zu europäisch.“ Auflage der Behörden: Juden mussten „maurisch“ bauen. „Denn, so sagte man: Juden sind Fremde, kommen aus dem Osten“, hat Carol Krinsky fast ein Lächeln für eine derartige Einschätzung, deren architektonische Umsetzung sich in Mainz noch an der Jüdischen Trauerhalle an der Unteren Zahlbacher Straße nachvollziehen lässt. Entworfen von einem Christen, Stadtbaumeister Eduard Kreyßig.

Deutschland sei, so freut sich die Historikerin, wieder Heimat für jüdische Menschen geworden. Und ebenso erfreulich sei, dass das Erinnern „in Deutschland größer ist, als in anderen europäischen Staaten.“ Die neu entstandenen Synagogen seien „ein Zeichen eines neuen Selbstverständnisses“, das „perfekt in die Kunstgeschichte“ passe. Und dann wagt Carol Krinsky einen Blick über den Tellerrand: „Auch im Islam wird man sich überlegen, wie künftig Moscheen in Deutschland gebaut werden: Türkisch, ägyptisch, marokkanisch? Deutsch, modern, alt?“ Und dann wagt die 78-Jährige eine kühne Prognose, die nur auf den ersten Blick nun gar nichts mehr mit der Architektur von Gebetshäusern zu tun haben scheint: „Noch zwei Generationen, dann werden nicht nur in den USA 50 Prozent der Juden einen Christen oder einen Moslem heiraten.“ Und damit werde sich die Architektur der Gotteshäuser wieder wandeln.

Professor Krinsky’s translation:

No, Carol Krinsky isn’t going to write a new book about the new and sometimes very architecturally interesting synagogues in Europe. “You see, I’m 78 years old, and this book,” she points to a thick book of about 450 pages,” took seven or eight years to write.”  The book in question, Synagogues of Europe: Architecture, History, Meaning, published in 1985, has long been the standard work for architectural historians. The  professor has written four other books and many scholarly articles, but today, her world-famous book on synagogues is the subject.. Under the auspices of the Historic Heritage office and the State Conservator, Dr. Joachim Glanz, this petite historian, who was at a conference in Berlin, delivered a lecture in the synagogue of Mainz.
The New Yorker, “Jewish, but not very religious,” previously knew the powerful building by the architect Manuel Herz only through a publication. Her first opinion: “Expressionist, dramatic.” And thus the Mainz synagogue stands in strong contrast to new simple geometric synagogues in Ulm, Dresden, Munich (a prism) [but it is similar to]  the Jewish Museum in Berlin “with many angles.” The expert did not want to give it a grade, but said that “The Mainz synagogue is compatible with it [the Jewish Museum].”
Carol Krinsky first became interested in synagogues through people to whom she lectured. “When they asked if I had ever been in one or another synagogue, I had to say no, but their questions gave me the idea for the book,” said the elderly lady.  More than a hundred houses of worship are described in her book. “There are some as far afield as Bulgaria and Russia. I visited most of them [but not in those two countries].” She emphasized that she did not write only about religion, but primarily about architecture and history.
“Synagogues weren’t always the best and largest buildings of a city, because Jews were almost always in the minority,” she said. And she brought in historical information.  For instance, Jews until the l9th century were in many countries and cities forbidden to build synagogue facades directly on the street, “but then step by step came legal emancipation, at least on paper.” The question then became one of selecting a style that the Jews could or should use. “Gothic was too Christian [but] Romanesque was [broadly] European.” Often the city officials said that Jews should build in “Moorish” style, “which led people to say that  Jews were foreign, originating from the east,” and Carol Krinsky almost smiled at the idea, which is still manifest in Mainz at the cemetery hall in Unter Zahlbach Street, designed by a Christian, the city architect Eduard Kreyssig.
This historian was glad to say that Germany can again be the homeland for Jewish people. And she is glad,too, that historical memory “is greater in Germany than in some other European countries.”  The newly-built synagogues are “signs of a new self-consciousness,” that conforms “perfectly to art history.”  And then Carol Krinsky contemplated the expanding horizon. “Also in Islam, people are looking at the way in which mosques should be built in Germany: In Turkish styles? Egyptian” Moroccan? German” Modern” Old?” And then the 78-year-old offered a bold forecast: ” In two generations [after mass immigration],  you may see– not just in the USA—, that fifty percent of Jews marry Christians or Muslims.”  And thus the architecture of religious buildings will change further.

Professor Kenneth Silver’s Hans Hoffman Exhibition Reviewed in the NY Times

31 Jul


Hans Hofmann’s Murals Add a Blast of Color to a Muted Legacy


A replica of the elevator bank at 711 Third Avenue where Hans Hofmann created a mural.

JULY 30, 2015
GREENWICH, Conn. — You have to love Hans Hofmann for his exuberant late-blooming paintings, and for his eponymous art school, which formed one of the foundations of Abstract Expressionism. His paintings are, fittingly, usually seen as part of that heroic art movement, even though they replace its existential undercurrents with a stylistic capriciousness that sifts through European modernism with abandon.

Reflecting his energetic, optimistic personality, Hofmann’s paintings have an easy openness with which they reveal and revel in the formal mechanics of modern picture making. The obvious butting of opposites — especially flat geometric planes of brilliant from-the-tube color and flourishes of automatist brushwork — might almost be termed Abstraction for Dummies, were it not so visibly intelligent. Still, Hofmann, who was born in Germany in 1880 and died in New York in 1966, left a complex, slippery achievement often overshadowed by his stature as a teacher, and these days his name rarely figures in the first rank of Abstract Expressionism.

“Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans Hofmann,” a small but substantial exhibition at the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science here, gives us a new handle on Hofmann. Examining his little-known forays into mosaic in the 1950s, it is like a spotlight that illuminates all around it, specifically his last decade, when he wrestled his opposing stylistic elements into their finest expression.


A mural fragment from 1950.

Hofmann came by his broad modernist reach through firsthand experience. By 1904, he was in Paris, where he got to know Picasso, Braque, Matisse and Robert Delaunay — all roughly his age — before they were struck by fame. Fauvism was just heating up, Cubism was close behind, and these movements’ innovations, one based on uninhibited color, the other on exposed infrastructure, became the basis of Hofmann’s teaching and his art.

He first came to the United States in 1930 to teach at Berkeley, riding on the reputation of the art school he had established in Munich in 1915. With German politics darkening, he stopped in New York in 1932 and stayed, opening his school the next year.
Hofmann’s teaching distracted him from serious art-making for nearly two decades, especially since his New York school had a Provincetown, Mass., branch that occupied his summers. He would close his school in 1958 to concentrate on art. But by the mid-1930s, he had taken up drawing and painting again, making marvelous freehand sketches of the towns and dunes of Cape Cod that rallied reality toward automatist abstraction. His paintings combined outlines of terrain and architecture scribbled on smeary backgrounds, mixing the lightness and speed of Raoul Dufy with something more aggressive: Action Painting before the term was coined.

Hans Hofmann’s “Studio in Blue, No. II” (1954), left, and “Opulence” (also 1954), right.

The Bruce show focuses on four commissions for mosaics that Hofmann received or considered in the 1950s. Only two were finally executed and are luckily still intact in Manhattan. One is public and at the moment not well maintained: the ground level exterior wall of the New York School of Printing (now the High School of Graphic Communications Arts) at 439 West 49th Street. The other covers the four sides of an elevator bank in the lobby of 711 Third Avenue, between 44th and 45th Streets, a building designed by the Swiss-born New York architect William Lescaze in 1954. It is in impeccable condition, but since Sept. 11, it has been most visible to people who work in the building.

“Walls of Color” has been organized by Kenneth E. Silver, a professor of modern art at New York University and an adjunct curator at the Bruce, which is a short train ride from Manhattan and a very brief stroll from the town’s Metro-North station. The show has limited space, but Mr. Silver has counterintuitively placed in its midst a roughly half-scale re-creation of the 711 elevator bank, papered with a full-color digital image of the mosaic. It almost literally jostles visitors. But that doesn’t stop the work from detonating in mind and eye. Mr. Silver has assembled about 30 studies on paper and canvas, along with architectural plans and photographs, and a handful of late paintings.

As you move from one collision of modernist styles to another, it makes sense that the painter-sculptor Frank Stella has called Hofmann “the artist of the century,” who “produced more successful color explosions than any other artist.”

A detail from “Studio in Blue, No. II.”

From the show’s first three paintings, Hofmann is all over the place, but with the constant of blasting red, yellow, blue and green vigorously applied with brush, palette knife or squeezed point tube and a distinct bravura. The subjects oscillate among popified Constructivist abstraction (“Awakening,” 1947), jumbled interior (“Studio in Blue, No. II,” 1954) and Cubist still life (“Opulence,” also 1954).

Inside the elevator bank model, a short video of Hofmann at work is worth watching. On audio, Mr. Silver presents his thinking on the mosaics. First, His studies for the mosaics led him away from easel painting and spurred larger, more ambitious works. This is visible in nine paintings (oil on paper on board) executed in preparation for a 50-foot-tall mural for a campanile in Chimbote, a port city in Peru, as part of a renewal project by the architect Josep Lluís Sert and the urban planner Paul Lester Wiener. Measuring as much as 8 by 4 feet, the studies depict tilting, implicitly Constructivist crosses in red, yellow and blue, so cheerful they seem almost blasphemous, and more open figurative-like improvisations that bring to mind David Smith’s welded sculptures.

A maquette for Hofmann’s mural at the New York School of Printing (now the High School of Graphic Communications Arts).

Second, moving around big pieces of painted paper for the mock-up of the elevator bank mosaic led Hofmann to the signature motif of his late work: little floating planes of color, squares and rectangles of pure color locked together across the surface or isolated on fields of murkier colors. These elements, which exemplify his theory of spatial “push-pull,” are seen here in two charming all-red paintings (Mr. Silver rightly connects them to Matisse’s “Red Studio,” painted in 1911). The video shows Hofmann arranging the paper with assistants, bringing to mind images of Matisse working on his late cutouts at the same time.

The planes of color mutate into collage in studies for unrealized mosaics for an apartment building and in those for the School of Printing mosaic. In two of these, Hofmann adorns narrow horizontal boards with additional pieces of board, some monochromatic, some stained with flurries of watery brush strokes similar in style to that of Helen Frankenthaler, a former student, as if to indicate that we’ll never know what he might do next. The persistent objection to Hofmann was that his stylistic inconsistency implied a lack of core, which in a sense is true. His work is not deep or soulful, but completely unclouded. He loved and excelled at making paintings that actively and aggressively worked, by whatever stylistic means. In addition, it is to his advantage that now, thanks to polymorphous artists like Sigmar Polke and Albert Oehlen, consistency is no longer what it used to be.

“Walls of Color: The Murals of Hans Hofmann” is on view through Sept. 6 at the Bruce Museum of Arts and Science, Greenwich, Conn; 203-869-0376, brucemuseum.org.

Ink and Image 7 has been published!

29 Jul


Ink and Image, New York University’s journal of undergraduate research in the history of art, architecture, and urban design, published its seventh issue last month.

The articles published in each issue of Ink and Image develop out of term papers and other research conducted by students in advanced Art History and Urban Design courses, independent studies, and senior honors theses.

The journal’s Senior Editor for the 2014-15 academic year was Zachary Fine (Gallatin ’15); the Associate Editor was Jesslyn Guntur (Urban Design & Architecture Studies ’15). Zachary, who concentrated in art history and philosophy, served as a co-editor of the journal’s sixth issue and was a contributor to Ink and Image 5. Once again, Professor Carol Krinsky provided invaluable guidance and assistance as the journal’s faculty advisor and editor.

Four articles, all by current NYU undergraduates or departmental alumni, appear in the seventh issue. The authors and their essays are as follows:

Caroline O. Fowler (Art History ’05; Ph.D. Art & Archaeology, Princeton University ’13), “The City of God as Source for the Mosaic Program at Monreale;”

Nora Gorman (Art History; History minor ’15), “Manuscript Collecting as Statecraft in the Courts of King Charles V of France and Jean, Duke of Berry, 1364-1416;”

Alex Greenberger (Art History ’15), “The Spiritual Unity of Bill Viola’s Going for by Day;”

Elizabeth Meshel (Urban Design & Architecture Studies; Art History minor ’15), “Reevaluating Romanization: The Arches of Septimius Severus.”

Ink and Image was founded in 2008-09 by department alumni Malcolm St. Clair (Urban Design and Architecture Studies ’09) and Alexis Wang (Art History ’09) with the goal of expanding the community of scholars at NYU by publishing original undergraduate research in the history and theory of art and architecture. Former College of Arts & Science Dean Matthew Santirocco and Dean Sally Sanderlin provided crucial support toward the launch of Ink and Image, which continues to benefit from the support of the current CAS Dean, Gabrielle Starr, the CAS administration, and the CAS Student Council. Read about previous issues of the journal, including the roster of past authors and editors here and here.

Ink and Image is distributed to the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Getty Research Institute, as well as Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and Technical University in Dresden, Germany.

Hearty congratulations to the authors and editors on their splendid achievements. Please stop by the Department of Art History and pick up a copy of Ink and Image 7.

Kathryn A. Smith


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