September 2010 – Recent work by Alan Magee, known as one of the most accomplished and imaginative figurative painters working today, will be on view at Forum Gallery from October 22 to November 20, 2010. Alan Magee: In Sight will mark Forum Gallery’s first exhibition in its new location in the historic Crown Building, 730 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street, New York City, where The Museum of Modern Art opened its first gallery in 1929. Celebrating the exhibition and the new space, an opening reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, October 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
In the artist’s tenth anniversary year at Forum Gallery, Alan Magee: In Sight will include 18 paintings as well as eight sculptures. Among the highlights of the exhibition are astonishing trompe l’oeil paintings which honor three of the artist’s heroes: Herr Friedrich, 2010, depicts Ernst Friedrich (1894-1967) who founded the Anti-Kriegsmuseum (Anti-War Museum) in Berlin in 1924 and wrote War Against War, a book published in five languages that documents, with explicit photography, the horrors of the battlefield; the museum was closed by the Nazis and Friedrich was imprisoned in 1933.
The German Lutheran pastor and theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), inspired Reading Bonhoeffer, 2010, an elegy to a man who had a deep understanding of Christianity’s role in the secular world. The pastor bravely assisted members of the German Military Intelligence and was executed by the regime for his role in a plot to assassinate Hitler.
Tante Käthe (Mitbringsel), 2010, represents an imaginary journey back in time. If the German socialist, pacifist and artist, Käthe Kollwitz (1867-1945) invited Magee to her home, what would he bring in the way of a small house gift (Mitbringsel)? Magee’s painting pays tribute to Kollwitz, whose graphic and sculptural expressions of empathy are, in his view, “unsurpassed in modern art. These three caught my attention and all of them in some way showed moral courage: their lives and careers were jeopardized,” explains Magee, who has traveled extensively in Germany.
In the early 1980s, Magee saw the work of the Quay brothers, friends from the Philadelphia College of Art, who are now well known as stop-motion animators. “What stuck was the making of the figures,” Magee notes. His sculpture, Der Künstler, 2009, which uses found objects that take on a life of their own, can be traced back to the artist’s interest in animation and is “in effect a portrait of the artist,” as Ronald R. Bernier notes in his essay about the exhibition. Other sculptures reference art history from late Gothic wood carvings to Modernism’s relationship to African art.
Bernier notes, “There is an astute crossing of boundaries here between history and art, fact and fiction, what literature folk refer to as ’metafiction.’ That will do as a useful descriptor, one that suggests a discourse, an art, like Magee’s, which places itself on the borderline between fiction and criticism, between art and life, between representation and history – a self-consciousness of the artifice of art…”
Work by Alan Magee has been the subject of six monographs and can be seen in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Columbus Museum of Art; The Arkansas Art Center and many others.
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An opening reception for with the artist will be held on Thursday, October 21 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Forum Gallery’s new space at 730 Fifth Avenue at 57th Street.