July 1 - 30, 2011
During its thirtieth anniversary season, Bellas Artes will present its eighth solo exhibition of works by Judy Pfaff, an artist whom the gallery has represented for the past twenty years. Pfaff started her career as a painter, yet her work evolved into large sculptural installations which pioneered the beginning of installation art. She also is well known for her complex dimensional drawings, prints, and wall constructions. Her influence resonates through the work of many young artists today.
The body of work that the artist will be showing at the gallery draws on her expansive curiosity about the world around her, as well as her extensive knowledge and masterful use of materials. Pfaff’s work has always been a response to the environment in which she lives and pursues her art. During the time she spent in New York City, images from signage and structures such as bridges and buildings found their way into her work. These were expressed using vivid colors and geometric forms. When she began working and living in the Hudson River Valley of upstate New York, she found sanctuary in and inspiration from the natural world. The flow of water along the river, the rhythms of the seasons, and the cycles of plant life became a focus. As she began restoring a Victorian mansion, her images were animated by elements such as pressed tin ornaments and chandeliers of that era. But the natural world outside her window prevailed. Recently she has created a large studio complex and vast network of gardens in Tivoli, New York, where her work has become more organic than geometric. Her use of color also is more in tune with nature—subtle, muted, and ethereal. Like the hue draining from a dying flower, sometimes color becomes almost transcendent.
Pfaff’s work has always been characterized by complex relationships, visceral immediacy, and perpetual motion. By inventively combining the natural and the man made, while paying attention to current events, she evokes the chaos, order, and dangerous beauty inherent in our world. Her imaginative process of laminating the physical with the psychological permits her to create complicated, spontaneous choreographies, revealing what poet Jorie Graham refers to as “understory shadows.” After the BP Oil Spill, the depth of the darkness was symbolically released as a black resin bubbled up through the images.
Judy Pfaff: Twenty Years at Bellas Artes will present three-dimensional drawings and wall constructions. These complex, gestural, and multi-layered works will be like small installations, fusing the beauty of the earth and natural materials with an awareness of the forces and power of nature—and of man. These works will continue Pfaff’s imaginative explorations of materials and spontaneous development of new techniques and visual vocabularies to magnify and share her thought-provoking, visceral, and insightful vision of the complexity of living in our world.
The artist was born in London, but moved to the US as a child. She received her BFA from Washington University in 1971 and MFA from Yale in 1973. In 1975 she was invited to participate in the Whitney Biennial. She exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1982 and represented the United States at the Sao Paolo Bienal in 1998. She has had more than 100 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 200 group shows. In 2004, Pfaff was named a MacArthur Fellow and in 2009, received the United States Artists Award. She also has received grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Nancy Graves Foundation.
Today her work may be found in many collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Detroit Institute of Art.VERY RECENT WORK
August 1 - 30 2008
Bellas Artes will present its seventh exhibition of works on paper by Judy Pfaff. Currently on view in the gallery's garden is her installation, Jardin de los Cuervos, made in 2000 that continues to engage visitors.
The artist was born in London, but moved to the US as a child. She received her BFA from Washington University in 1971 and MFA from Yale in 1973. In 1975 she was invited to participate in the Whitney Biennial. She exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1982 and represented the United States at the Sao Paolo Bienal in 1998. She has had more than 100 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 200 group shows. In 2004, Pfaff was named a MacArthur Fellow. She also has received grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Nancy Graves Foundation.
Originally a painter, Pfaff, now primarily known as a sculptor, pioneered the art of installation in the 1970s, opening doors and providing pathways for today’s installation artists. She continues to create drawings and prints that resonate with the same complexity, motion, and visceral and psychological immediacy as her large sculptural installations.
Her drawings juxtapose the natural and man made into a seemingly spontaneous cauldron of order and chaos, bringing forth structured images that invite the viewer to experience a penetrating physical and emotional environment. She gathers visual information from the world around her, as well as from books and magazines on physics, medicine, biology, zoology, astronomy, Western and Eastern religions, among other sources. From these she selects, weaves together, and improvises a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts. Her stream of consciousness approach brings forth freshness and vibrancy, but feels deeply connected to our cellular memory. Her friend, Irving Sandler - prominent arts writer, critic, professor, and supporter of emerging artists and spaces - has written in the monograph Judy Pfaff, “As she views it, one way or another, everything in the universe is linked. The imagery she collects constitutes a visionary chart or model of universal knowledge.”
He goes on to say, “The complexity that Pfaff values in each piece also extends over time from work to work. Each issues from a different experience; often inspired by the particular place she happens to be in, and each expresses a different mood or sensation, reflecting a different psychological state, ranging from elation to melancholy, from hedonism to pain.”
In Very Recent Work Pfaff will present three-dimensional drawings. These complex, gestural, and multi-layered works seem like small installations, capturing the energy and pilgrimage of her larger works. Choreographing the drawings beyond the plane - out into the space of the gallery - expands Pfaff’s fertile journey of exploring materials and developing new techniques and visual vocabularies to amplify and share her thought provoking and viscerally engaging vision of the world.
Today her work may be found in many collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Detroit Institute of Art.
July 10 - September 24, 2004
Bellas Artes is pleased to present its sixth exhibition for Judy Pfaff. In addition to the installation Jardin de los Cuervos which remains on view in the sculpture garden, Pfaff has created a new type of work, constructions of various materials which jut out from the wall several inches. In her shows at Bellas Artes since the early 90s, Pfaff's two-dimensional works have been layered, mixed media works contained in the artist's frame which becomes part of the work. These new, unframed constructions are related to her installations and past wall reliefs which projected far into a space.
London born and Yale educated, Judy Pfaff has been known since the 1970s for her spontaneous and chaotic installations with a painterly sensibility, made of industrial and natural materials. Characteristic of her work, her public art commission, cirque CIRQUE, evokes the heavens across 700,000 square feet of space at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, formerly the Reading Railroad Terminal in Philadelphia.
The new constructions are discrete works of art except for the largest work, Tsubo, 103 x 162 x 6 inches. Pfaff made various parts from different materials (bamboo, hosho paper, ink, wood, gauze, formica) in her studio, making final decisions about assembly in the gallery in the same manner as when making her site-specific environments.
The top section of Tsubo (courtyard garden in Japanese), with Pfaff's characteristic grids, refers to the floor plan of an old house in Kyoto with many interior courtyards. Pfaff, having spent the last two years restoring a Victorian house, feels possessed by the house. The left side of Tsubo refers to the Victorian house and wallpaper juxtaposed with references to Japanese architecture and gardens on the right. She likens the work to a musical composition or personal narrative which combines her interest in the East and the West.
Pfaff has exhibited worldwide and has works in major museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum and the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo. She represented the United States at the 24th Sao Paolo Bienal in 1998, where she constructed a large-scale, site-specific installation. The monograph Judy Pfaff by Irving Sandler was recently released by Hudson Hills Press.
August 13 - September 14, 2002
We are pleased to announce that Judy Pfaff was recently awarded the medal for sculpture by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York. This award is given only every six years.
The work which was exhibited at the Academy of Arts and Letters through June 9th will be included in Pfaff's fifth exhibition at Bellas Artes. This new body of mixed media works on paper was inspired by Pfaff's move to a Second Empire Victorian house on the corner of Chapel and Brook. Hence, the title of the exhibition. The restoration of the Victorian house began Pfaff's involvement with that era. She has used images from plaster, tin and brickwork from the house as well as other Victorian patterns in her new work.
London born and Yale educated, Judy Pfaff has been known since the 1970s for her spontaneous and chaotic installations with a painterly sensibility, made of industrial and natural materials. Characteristic of her work, her public art commission "cirque, Cirque" evokes the heavens across 70,000 square feet of space at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
Pfaff has exhibited worldwide and has works in major museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum and the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo. She represented the United States at the 24th Sao Paulo Bienal in 1998, where she constructed a large-scale, site-specific installation.