In celebration of The Art League's 60th Anniversary in 2014, the Gallery is revisiting and reflecting upon the major art movements from the last six decades.
June 4–July 7, 2014
Artist Self-Portrait by Donald Cicconi
Juror's Dialogue with George Miller
For the fifth in our 60th anniversary series, The Art League Gallery turned to art critic, writer, and curator Kim Levin, author of Beyond Modernism. As a longtime curator, Levin said the jurying process for “Neo-Expressionism” was both fun and difficult. Where a curator seeks out artists and knows why they’ll be included in a show, a juror is presented with a wide variety of artists and artwork — new, unexpected, and not always easy to make decisions about.
For this exhibit, artists were asked to take inspiration from the Neo-Expressionist movement of the 1980s. None of the work submitted was strictly Neo-Expressionist, but reflected the current era in which Art League artists are working. Because the Neo-Expressionist influence could go in a number of different directions, the theme by itself wasn’t a major factor in Levin’s decision-making process, she said.
Instead, taking each work in isolation, she asked one question: how well does the artist express what he or she is trying to express?
In blind jurying, the juror doesn’t see the artwork label but can ask for the medium and title. Levin said she rarely asked for a piece’s title.
Levin took note of two presentation issues that detracted from some pieces. While it isn’t a hard and fast rule, a large or intrusive signature on the front of an artwork hurts the piece as a whole, she said. A poorly chosen frame can also conflict with the work.
Levin chose three pieces for awards. Artist Self-Portrait by Donald Cicconi won the Anne Banks Collage Award. Among the many faces depicted in this exhibit, this one was the most perceptive and interesting, Levin said, adding that the artist had engaged in a kind of psychological cubism.
Two abstract pieces won awards: Spring, the painting by Guy Rando, winner of the Urquhart Award for best in show, stood out for its use of a grid. Levin said Marsha Staiger’s Above & Below, Steel Armature, selected for the juror’s choice, was appealing because of its use of form and space in a “slightly irrational” way.
Kim Levin’s credits include The Village Voice, The Brooklyn Rail, and ARTnews, among many others. She is the author of Beyond Modernism: Essays on Art from the ’70s and ’80s, has taught at the Philadelphia College of Art, Parsons The New School for Design, Claremont Graduate School, and The School of Visual Arts. She was advisor to the 1995 Kwangju Biennial in Korea and has organized exhibitions in Denmark, Germany, Japan, Norway, Poland, Korea and the United States. President of the International Association of Art Critics from 1996 to 2002, her awards include the Art/World Award for Distinguished Newspaper Journalism in 1986 and the SECA Fellowship for Criticism by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1993. In 2004, she was selected as a Fellow for the Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program.
Promotional support for our 60th Anniversary has been generously provided by the Alexandria Marketing Fund.