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Alan Magee: Paintings -- Sculpture -- Graphics
(above: ©Alan Magee, "Portrait of Hannah Höch," 1992, digital photomontage on dye sub paper, 10 x 8 inches. Private collection)
The Farnsworth Art Museum announces the opening of the exhibition "Alan Magee: Paintings -- Sculpture -- Graphics" on Sunday, May 30, and continuing through September 6, 2004, in the Morehouse Wing galleries.
Organized by the Farnsworth Art Museum, this comprehensive traveling retrospective of the work of renowned Maine artist Alan Magee includes nearly 100 paintings, prints and sculpture created over three decades. The exhibition reveals Magee's extraordinary range of styles and techniques, from his exquisite realist works in watercolor, acrylic and oil, to his haunting monotypes and idiosyncratic sculpture made from found objects. (right: ©Alan Magee, "Alphabet," 1999, acrylic on panel, 16 x 22 inches)
New to his oeuvre and included in the exhibition is a series of large-scale tapestries based on images from his other works. A major monograph, "Alan Magee: Paintings -- Sculpture -- Graphics," with essays by Jonathan Weiner and Richard V. West, and an interview with the artist by Barry Lopez, was published by Forum Gallery in 2003, and accompanies the exhibition.
In his contribution to the monograph, author Jonathan Weiner writes, "like the best work in any medium, Magee's paintings seem to exist outside all schools. Partly, perhaps, because he grew up in small towns, not cities, his paintings are not about art, about trends or theories, but about the beauty and magic of the things seen, and the things unseen beyond it."
Alan Magee was born in 1947 in Newtown, Pennsylvania. He attended art school in Philadelphia and, in 1968, began working as an editorial and book illustrator in New York. Among his regular clients were Time, Atlantic, Playboy, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and Bantam, Ballatine, and Simon and Schuster Books. In the late 1970s, Magee began to concentrate on his personal paintings and in 1980 had his first solo exhibition in New York at Staempfli Gallery. Since that time he has had annual one-person shows throughout the United States and Europe. In 1991, the Farnsworth Art Museum presented a ten-year survey exhibition of his work that traveled to three U.S. museums. (right: ©Alan Magee, "Garland," 2001, acrylic and oil on panel, 10 1/4 x 8 inches, Private collection)
From the beginnings of his art career, Magee has been celebrated as one of the finest realist painters of our times. In an early review, art critic Theordore Wolff wrote, "His best paintings can stand beside the best modernist art produced since World War II, in much the same way that the best modernists can stand beside the good art of the past." And John Canady wrote in the Saturday Review, "Magee's sheer technical skill is astounding I cannot think of another living artist whose work has exactly the quality of his."
Perhaps best known among his varied work is the series of paintings of beach stones that he began in the 1980s and has continued to paint until the present. Presented in a range of mediums and scale, Magee's trompe l'oeil depictions of single and grouped stones invite contemplations about the larger order of things. Selected and composed by the artist, the stones allude to the timelessness of nature and the sheer beauty to be found in mundane things.
Firecrackers, pears, spark plugs and worn envelopes are other favorite Magee subjects. "From the clutter of the world, Magee isolates a few homely objects, much of it detritus, for intense scrutiny of their worn surfaces," wrote Maureen Mullarkey in 2000. "Like Buddhist brush painting, his artistry is as much a contemplative act as it is an exercise of skill. His paintings are meditations on the mutability of things, stand-ins for mortality." (right: ©Alan Magee, "Family," 1994, mixed materials, 14 3/4 inches high, Private collection)
Alan Magee has received awards for his painting from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design. He received a National Book Award for his illustration work in 1982. He works are in many private and public collections, including The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Portland Museum of Art, the Arkansas Art Center, the Arizona State University Art Museum, the Newark Art Museum and the Farnsworth Art Museum. He and his wife Monika live in Cushing, Maine.
The exhibition "Alan Magee: Paintings -- Sculpture -- Graphics" travels to the Museum of Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, and the Frye Art Museum, Seattle Washington, following its Farnsworth showing. The exhibition is supported in part by UBS, the Davis Family Foundation and an anonymous donor.
(above: ©Alan Magee, "Solaris" 2000, acrylic on canvas, 50 x 75 inches, Private collection)
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