|Walter Randel Gallery is pleased to present our yearly combined historical/contemporary exhibition. This year’s theme is wood sculpture. In Part I of the exhibition, works from a myriad of world cultures covering a span of 1000 years will be shown in the company of sculptures by two contemporary artists, Peter Mallo (top left, Pendant, 2009) and Karl Mann (bottom left, Eye of the Tiger, 2000).
Sculptures of pine, mahogany, linden, fruitwood and exotic tropical hardwoods from Polynesia, Africa, Italy, Spain, Korea, China and India will be included. Fine art and decorative art, and small meticioulsy-crafted furniture will be shown. Two inlaid chests and a shaker box from the estate of renown philanthropist and collector Charlotte Albright of Buffalo, New York will be part of the exhibition.
The thirty works of art in this show highlight both the preciousness of this versatile and venerable material and the mastery required in transforming it into art. In early Europe, for instance, wood was considered so valuable and important that professional guild connections, proof of accomplished artistry, and considerable sums of money were necessary for an artist to procure a block for a large-scale work. One such important sculpture is a standing, gesturing figure of Saint Dominic by Gregorio Hernández and his workshop, circa 1630.
Among the African sculptures in the exhibition, the gallery is especially pleased to offer an early and rare ancestor figure, from the Hemba people of modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo. This figure bears the prestigious provenance of the legendary pioneering collector-art dealer J.J. Klejman of New York. (1906 -1995).
Also featured is a large American floral trophy, ca. 1800 (pictured on home page), carved in white pine, with original paint and patina, attributed to the celebrated French-American ébéniste Charles-Honoré Lannuier (1779-1819). This robust burst of flowers reflects the energy of our new Republic in the Federal Period and it also manifests the refinement of a long French carving tradition.
An “Adze God” from the Cook Islands of Polynesia, a very unusual object collected in the first quarter of the 19th Century by a mariner from Massachusetts, is exhibited as well. This large, intricately carved, open-work wooden pylon is surmounted by a carefully wrapped stone blade. This work of “primitive/ethnographic” art is an example of where the truth comes to the forefront in a way that present-day concepts do not. An instrument or tool which aided in the creation of artistic works was viewed in this culture as being holy. It is of the earth and also shaped by human knowledge and human hands; the tools used to create works of art were perceived as divine.
The past is ever-present. Familiarity with the art of our collective histories informs the visions of the contemporary artist and the collector; it augments the experience of the viewers of contemporary art. Walter Randel Gallery, dedicated to bringing contemporary and historical art to Chelsea, aims to show how knowledge of the past renders contemporary art more comprehensible, accessible and relevant. Art from past centuries and cultures reflect the times and places in which they were created. Experiencing them in context with the new and having proximity with these works—dynamic bouquets and contemplative religious sculptures among them—helps us to better understand and appreciate our own dynamic and intense art and times.