The year 2018 has begun with the surprising rediscovery of a painter who is being added to the pantheon of significant abstract expressionist masters.
The Harry Bertschmann story first broke on Sunday, January 7th 2018 in The New York Times by writer Susan Chumsky, and has quickly achieved high acclaim from art historians while delighting collectors. Quogue Gallery will continue its rediscovery of the Harry Bertschmann Collection at the Art on Paper fair in Manhattan running from March 8–11. This follows the gallery’s successful launch of the abstract master’s works at the Art Palm Beach fair in January.
Peter Hastings Falk, Curator of the Bertschmann Collection, will be presenting at talk at the gallery’s booth on Saturday, March 10th at noon. Falk explains that the 87-year-old Bertschmann enjoyed many solo exhibitions at museums and galleries during the 1950s. In 1958 the jury of the prestigious Carnegie International selected him as its youngest exhibitor — and one of his large abstract expressionist paintings hung beside those by Mark Rothko, Franz Kline, Barnet Newman, Philip Guston, and Robert Motherwell. He was represented by the Howard Wise Gallery for eight years, and in 1961 Bertschmann’s solo exhibition followed one for Elaine de Kooning. But after settling in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s Bertschmann drifted from the gallery scene because he was leading a double life. His training at the famous Basel School of Design led him to become an innovator in graphic design, and many of his commercial logos and packaging have become pervasive in American culture. The logos and packaging for Kent and Newport cigarettes, Nestlé’s, and Bufferin are but a few of his creations. In 1997 the artist was honored with a retrospective in Basel. Despite earning a living from his commercial projects he was resolute in painting every day.
Art critic and historian Prof. Robert C. Morgan described Bertschmann’s vision as “abstract gestural signs that suggest a language.” He added, “Bertschmann is essentially an art world outsider looking inward. He is a seasoned artist, a highly creative artist, an articulate individual, and a nearly obsessive worker, always willing to stand back and examine what he does before moving ahead. He is also an exemplary draughtsman…His atelier is a phenomenon to behold.”
In a rarely-bestowed honor, Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President of the Fashion Institute of Technology will be presenting Bertschmann with a Lifetime Achievement Award at its May commencement ceremony at Radio City Music Hall. “The President’s Award is our way of acknowledging your passion, perseverance and productivity as an artist, your dedication to creative excellence — and commitment to the mission and high calling of art.”
The owners of the Quogue Gallery, Christy & Chester Murray, continue to be astounded upon every studio visit to the Bertschmann studio, as a large body of hidden works from the 1950s to now is uncovered. Stylistically unique and compelling, the artist’s works continue to open the eyes of seasoned art professionals. The rediscovery will continue in July when Quogue Gallery presents a solo exhibition for Bertschmann at its gallery in the Hamptons.