|For RS 1978-80,69" x 61", Oil on Linen|
We are very fortunate here in Watertown to have amongst us a number of interesting residents, both past and present, who have contributed greatly to the evolution of American culture. Notably among them, are important painters such as Charles Cajori and Barbara Grossman. Last Saturday I had the privilege of hitching a ride with these two artists to attend Cajori’s opening at the David Findley Jr. Gallery in NYC.
The ride was peppered with bits of 20th century art history of the both the west and east coast avant garde art scene of the late 50's and 60's. Cajori was full of anecdotal musings about his fellow painters and the contemporary jazz musicians of his time, such as Diebenkorn, de Kooning, and jazz great, Sonny Rollins. Music has always been a deep passion of Cajori's. Interwoven into his canvases is the influence of jazz. His color and compositional structures reverberate with such visual translations and improvisations on his perceptual experience.
|Landscape 1956 50" x 42", O/C|
The opening was well attended by many artists,(I was lucky enough to meet Richard Haas in person!)friends and a myriad former students.Reportedly Will Barnet had a sneak peak the night before! The Findlay gallery's gorgeous new space, in 724 building on 5th Avenue, was a perfect setting for Cajori's work.
Cajori, is considered a member of the second generation of AbEx artists, whose influence spurred the avant garde practices that defined the New York School and still continues to influence subsequent generations of American painters. He has had a rich history of contribution to American painting through the platforms of exhibition, teaching and involvement with the early artist cooperatives of E. Tenth Street in NYC.
The “Tenth Street” gallery environment fostered the experimental leanings of the second generation AbEx artists.Though not all strictly abstract expressionistic painters, these artists explored the conceptual confluences of painting, music, and poetry. Conceived in this artists neighborhood, were new art forms that pushed the boundaries of what could be accepted art practice.The Tenth Street studio neighborhood provided an environment conducive to impromptu jazz performances and forum discussions on contemporary art philosophy.
Lois Dodd's Apartment, Cajori back row 3rd to the left
The Tanager, in particular, of which Cajori was a co-founder, held an important place of the “Tenth Street” gallery scene in the late 1950’s.Artists who showed at that gallery included Franz Kline, Rudy Burkhardt, Phillip Guston, Al Held, and de Kooning, who lived right next door to the Tanager.
Cajori's career as an educator spans both coasts and many decades. He is an original founding instructor of the New York Studio School. The NYSS, was founded by a group of artists including Cajori, Mercedes Matter, Sidney Giest, George Spaventa, and Nicholas Carone in revolt of the art school system of the time.Mercedes Matter wrote in an article in ArtNews that they sought to create a space that was devoted to "the painfully slow education of the senses." The vision for the school was a perceptually oriented and studio intensive experience. Unlike the academies of the past the this perceptual study involved the infusion of contemporary thought and music leading to an open ended exploration of the visual world.Teaching along side Cajori were Philip Guston, Louis Finklestein, Alex Katz, Earl Kerkam, George McNeil, and Esteban Vicente. Art historians Meyer Shapiro and Leo Steinberg also taught there. Musician and contemporary composer equally Morton Feldman served as the Dean of the school for a period of time.
|"3", 1951, 32" x 36", O/C|
A complete raisonne' on this artist would be far too extensive for this post and outside my purview of expertise. Provided below is an excerpt from the Lohin Geduld Gallery’s short biography. Sprinkled through out this post and below are a collection of links for your own exploration.
Charles Cajori has held a revered position as an extraordinary artist and influential teacher since the 1950s. His interaction and friendship with defining New York artists of the time such as Willem De Kooning, Franz Kline, and James Brooks helped shape the bedrock of his artistic and philosophic concerns. Through exposure to leading Jazz musicians such as Lester Young and Charlie Parker, Cajori drew parallels between the rhythms, harmonics, and abstractions found in music and painting. These parallels along with an intense observation of the world are the cornerstones of Cajori’s methodology.
|Charcoal on Paper|
|Charcoal on Paper|
|Charcoal on Paper|
draws incessantly from life looking for possibilities and truths that only perception can bring.
|By the Sea 65" x 70" Oil on Linen|
It is that matrix which leads to the paintings which are done entirely from imagination, involving memory, desire, anxiety, and a certain celebration. Through these visual meditations Cajori informs us about the shifting nature of reality. As one savors the specific complexities to be found in Cajori’s work, an overriding sense of flux and potential movement dominates.
These are paintings for both the eye and the intellect. Beauty and sensual pleasure coexist with the hard-won understanding of the nature of optical phenomena and its effects on perception. This exhibition reveals a master who continues to find great joy and revelation in the process of painting...
|Seated Figure 1961 56" x 60",O/C|
...Cajori’s work is represented in public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Hirshhorn Museum, Walker Art Center, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, the Denver Art Museum, and the National Academy of Design. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Grant, a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and a Fulbright Grant, among others. ...... His work has been reviewed in publications such as the New York Times, Art in America, Art News, Arts Magazine, The New York Observer, and Art New England.
|Bigtown Bathers with Tree,1987|
The Gallery: David Findlay Jr. 724 5th Ave. (8fl) New YorkShow Dates Feb. 1 - 25th
For further information on this artist