Rahr-West Art Museum
photo by Weinetz Studio
Phillip Koch: Recent Work
From left to right: Darkening Cove, 1999, oil on
canvas, 24 x 36 inches; Susan, 1998, oil on canvas, 32 x 40 inches;
Alice in the Truro Studio, 1998, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches; Down
to the Bay, 1999, oil on canvas, 36 x 72 inches
The exhibition Phillip
Koch: Recent Work opens at the Rahr-West Art Museum on April 11, 1999
and continues to May 9, 1999. In the catalogue prepared for the exhibition,
Phillip Koch wrote in February 1999 on "Painting the Modern Landscape:"
- "In some ways my paintings were inspired by performance
art. It was in 1967 and I had been drafted by my Introductory 3D class
instructor to help him with a 'happening,' as such things were then called,
at a local community college. I was assigned to run around with him making
inappropriate and illogical use of plastic toys and common household objects.
Beyond his stated goal of 'breaking through the barrier' I had absolutely
no idea what we were supposed to be doing. To make matters worse, only
a brave handful of five people had shown up to comprise our audience. My
instructor insisted we stay the course and do the performance for the entire
scheduled hour. I dutifully did my part. It was painful for me and I can
only imagine what must have been going through the viewers' minds. But
prodded by my embarrassment, I began to grasp that I would have to find
my own path through the world of modern art.
- I knew that artists were supposed to be contemporary,
yet I repeatedly found myself drawn to the work of 19th century painters
of the Hudson River School. While their canvases were often too dark and
even sentimental, there was a vitality in their wholehearted embrace of
nature's power. Their paintings of slightly haunted forest interiors or
of the counterpoint of sea meeting the shore were images that fanned some
smoking embers far in the background of my imagination. Why couldn't a
modern artist revisit these places? What would my own eyes, fed a diet
of Abstract Expressionist brushwork and Rothko's color, find there? Where
many artists dismissed the traditions of 19th century landscape painting
as outmoded, I found my work wanting to say 'Not so fast.'
- It is a truism of contemporary art that we have to change
with the times. But change of any real significance has to signal more
than just the shifting of fashions. It has to remain true to our deepest
insights. Often these come unbidden into our work for reasons that lie
buried in our unconscious. They don't ask permission, they just appear.
Hopefully we have the good sense not to paint over them. On good days our
hands seem to find a mind of their own and turn out colors and shapes we
didn't know we had in us. If we can paint in ways true to our psyche, we
automatically become contemporary in the very best sense of the word."
Rahr-West Art Museum is located at Park Street at North
Eighth, in Manitowoc, WI.
When Resource Library publishes over time
more than one article concerning an institution, there is created as an
additional resource for readers a sub-index page containing links to each
Resource Library article or essay concerning that institution, plus
available information on its location and other descriptive information.
Unless otherwise noted, all text and image materials
relating to the above institutional source were provided by that source.
Before reproducing or transmitting text or
images please read Resource Library's user
Traditional Fine Arts Organization's catalogues provide many more useful resources:
Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American
Copyright 2009 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights