Wojciech Fangor: The Early 1960s
Fangor’s (1922-2015) painting, M63,1969, is part of the San Francisco Modern Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Recently his work has been experiencing a major resurgence of interest. M77, 1968 sold for $492,500, far exceeding its estimate of $200,000-$300,000, at Bonham’s’ Post-War & Contemporary Art sale last spring in New York. Additionally, Skira Editore released the first international publication dedicated to Fangor.
Challenging and re-inventing ideas about pictorial space, the nine large-scale paintings focus on the artist’s breakthrough period, and relate to California Color Field Painting and Op Art. Each work on view reflects Fangor’s distinctive use of saturated color and blurred silhouettes to create mesmerizing optical illusions. For example, #29, 1963 represents a standout among Fangor’s signature concentric circle paintings, which feature incandescent configurations of pulsating contours. Works such as Pink and Black Spindle, 1960, and Red Moons 2, 1961, feature bold abstract shapes accentuated by dispersed, edgeless transitions between colors, which create an illusion of movement. Taking a different turn, in Green Points, 1961, and #3, 1963, Pointillism magnifies the effect of the oscillating picture planes — drawing the viewer’s focus either to the transition of colors, or to the spaces between dots. The exhibition, is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by guest curator, Polish art historian Patryk P. Tomaszewski.
Fangor first gained international exposure in the U.S., having his painting included in the 1961 exhibition, 15 Polish Painters, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and his first U.S. solo exhibition that same year at the Gres Gallery, Washington, D.C. A Ford Foundation fellowship brought him to the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Washington, D.C. in 1962. The fellowship proved to be critically important by allowing him to solidify theoretical work he had begun in Europe concerning what he termed “Positive Illusory Space.”
According to Fangor, “I discovered that my paintings with diffused edges of color and shape create a spatial illusion, which is not directed to the inside of the surface (like perspective) but extends in the opposite direction toward the outside of the surface into the real space between the painter and the viewer.”
“As part of our mission to present solo exhibitions by visionary artists, this show celebrates Fangor’s experimentation and avant-garde treatment of color and space in the abstract, which continues to inspire some of today’s leading artists,” said Heather James Fine Art co-owner James Carona.