This post is the beginning of our “Previews,” giving our readers, and in particular our growing audience of collectors and curators, a sneak peak at coming shows. Although good luck in this case, Matthew Marks has one of the most daunting front desks in the business and the show is probably pre-sold.
Above image: Ron Nagle, Handsome Drifter, 2015; ceramic, glaze, catalyzed polyurethane, epoxy resin; 3 3/4 x 4 x 3 inches
The ceramic world has been buzzing and rightly so with the news that Marks is adding Ron Nagle to his stable. Marks is one of the top galleries internationally and so this is another high point for the acceptance of the ceramics in the fine art stratosphere. I have to admit that when I looked up the stable of artists and saw Nagle’s name followed alphabetically by Ken Price it did bring a tear to my eye. They were close friends and more than other artist Price was his early inspiration and mentor. Sometimes karma is sweet.
For my partner and husband, Mark Del Vecchio, this is an exciting moment after a long arduous climb for this artist. We represented Ron Nagle in our galleries (Garth Clark Gallery) in Los Angeles and New York from 1995 and in the latter space until we closed in 2008. I had beginning to lose my passion for dealing when Nagle joined us and reignited the flames. Show after show sold out and the thrill came back, he was an extraordinary engaged creative to represent with a wit as sharp as a razor (note the titles), a work ethic second to none an imagination that would not quit.
His glowing review from Roberta Marks in the New York Times from one of shows is included in an imaginative press release by the gallery. It is a scrapbook of reviews that the artist has garnered over the years. It can be downloaded here. For scholars and students alike it an excellent read, tracking years of critical responses to this inspired pop abstractionist.
His solo exhibition, Five O Clock Shadow (New York, September 11 – October 24, 2015) is at Marks’ 522 W 22 Street space. In all there will be 35 works on show plus drawings. The gallery claims this is the largest show of his in New York. Nagle’s works will be displayed here in specially made niches and plate-glass vitrines designed in close collaboration with the artist. Nagle has always strictly controlled the viewing context for his work.
Also on view is a group of bronze sculptures from Nagle’s Hands On series (1991), which use the cup as a formal vehicle rather than a utilitarian tool, employing slight variations in structure and texture to create abstract geometric and architectural forms.
Nagle’s recent sculptures rarely measure larger than four by six inches. Their inventive shapes, vibrant colors, and contrasting textures make it clear why he cites not only Giorgio Morandi as an inspiration but also Philip Guston, Japanese Momoyama ceramics, and “Krazy Kat” cartoonist George Herriman. Produced using a variety of techniques, including slip-casting and hand-molding, in traditional and non-traditional materials, including glazed ceramic, Sculp-metal, polyurethane, and epoxy, Nagle’s works are displayed here in specially made niches and plate-glass vitrines designed in close collaboration with the artist.
Prescient as always, in 1998 Dave Hickey wrote in Artforum, “If Fabergé had lived in California, loved hot rods and surfboards, and had been blessed with an impudent art-historical wit, on his best day he couldn’t compete with Nagle. No larger than teacups, Nagle’s pieces shine, glow, swoop, curve and blend—each with its ghostly presence and haunting silhouette. We don’t know what they are but clearly they couldn’t be better. ”
Garth Clark is the Chief Editor of CFile.
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