Journal Archives,Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Archives,Reviews
Barbara Schwartz: Dispersions
March 10, 1988
Kevin J. Conallen
"Once dry, her paper-covered forms become three-dimensional working surfaces."
March 10 through April 24, 1988
This exhibition has been supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, a Federal agency.
Dispersions can be viewed as a delicate synthesis of painting and sculpture. Claiming to be neither a painter nor a sculptor primarily, Barbara Schwartz skillfully balances each of these disciplines. The relief paintings communicate emotion, movement, and content through a sensual range of colors, the painterly inclinations of the brushstroke, and the expressionistic quality of the textured surfaces. Schwartz inspires the viewer to participate actively in each piece. She encourages us to move across the frontal plane, propelled by the inherent energy and optical and physical flow of the work. Inspired by the gestures and costumes of Thai dancing, Schwartz has transformed her inanimate forms into animated dances. There is in these works a sense of elegance and a graceful ease which harks back to those views of the ballet painted by Edgar Degas. Like the earlier master’s paintings, Schwartz’s work is also based on a strong formalistic sense, expressed in her carefully manipulated compositions, which contrast with the organic nature of her forms and her design.
Dissatisfied with oil on canvas, which she used in the early seventies, Schwartz has extended her range to include handmade papers. Stretching this paper over wire mesh, like a painter stretches a canvas over an armature, she has developed a unique working surface which is both contemporary as well as art historical. Paper, revered highly in Asian art, is, according to Schwartz, “a very underrated material, which is more expressionistic than a canvas,” and more accepting of the watercolors and dry pigments that she uses to color their surfaces, Schwartz cuts the wire mesh in geometrically inspired shapes, most often the triangle, and submerges them in paper pulp. Once dry, her paper-covered forms become three-dimensional working surfaces. She then thoughtfully paints each side, synthesizing a tension between the organic flow and the geometry of the shaped surfaces.
The five pieces here were created especially for the Morris Gallery. These site specific works have allowed Schwartz to explore new visual effects. For the first time, shapes are laid flat to the wall, contrasting with her earlier work which projected from the same surface.
Kevin J. Conallen
Checklist All works courtesy of Hirschl & Adler Galleries
Dispersions PAFA I (31 elements), 1987-88 Watercolor and acrylic on handmade paper over wire mesh screen 9-1/2′ diameter x 2′ deep
Dispersions PAFA II (6 elements), 1987-88 Dry pigments and acrylic on handmade paper over wire mesh screen 6′ high x 5’2 ” wide x 18-1/2″ deep
Dispersions PAFA III (41 elements), 1987-88 Watercolor and acrylic on handmade paper, over wire mesh screen 28′ long x 7′ 3″ high x 2′ deep
Dispersions XII (10 elements), 1982 Powdered pigment and casein on handmade paper over wire mesh screen Dimensions variable, approximately 12′ 1″ wide x 4′ high x 20″ deep
Dispersions JABI (7 elements), 1986 Acrylic and modeling paste on handmade paper over wire mesh screen 58″ high x 48″ wide x 18″ deep
Barbara Schwartz, born in Philadelphia in 1948, has lived and worked in New York City since the 1970s. She is a graduate of Girls High School, Philadelphia. Schwartz received her B.FA. from Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1970, and also studied at the Cit” des Arts in Paris, France. Her work is represented in many private collections and in such public collections as Albright-Knox Museum, Buffalo, New York; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York; and Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City. Among her commissioned work is Marina Square Dispersions, at Marina Square in Singapore.
Selected Individual Exhibitions
1979 Willard Gallery, New York, NY
1980 Dart Gallery, Chicago, IL Hewlett Gallery, Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
1981 Willard Gallery, New York, NY
1982 Linda Farris Gallery, Seattle, WA
1983 Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York, NY
1984 Dart Gallery, Chicago, IL
1987 Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York, NY David Heath Gallery, Atlanta, GA Gloria Luria Gallery, Miami, FL
Selected Group Exhibitions
1975 Whitney Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art, New York, NY
1977 Collection in Progress, Moore College of Art, Philadelphia, PA
1978 Constructions, Organization of Independent Artists, New York, NY
1979 Whitney Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art, New York, NY
Ten Artists/Artists Space, Neuberger Museum, Purchase, NY
1980 With Paper, About Paper, Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Delahunty Gallery, Dallas, TX
Painting and Sculpture Today 1980, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
Three Dimensional Paintings, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
1981 Between Painting and Sculpture, Pam Adler Gallery, New York, NY
Jumping Off the Wall: 3-D Painting, Tyler School of Art, Temple of Independent Artists, New York, NY
1982 Energie New York, ELAC Centre d’Echanges, Lyon, France
1983 Artist/Critic, White Columns, New York, NY
1984 American Women Artists, Part II, Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, NY
Banner, Bolts and Bags: Work from the Fabric Workshop, CIGNA Corporation, Philadelphia, PA
1985 Recent Acquisitions, The Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Adornments, Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, New York, NY
1986 Group Show, Lisbeth Lipps Gallery, Amsterdam, Holland
Fifty Year Anniversary, Part II, Willard Gallery, New York, NY
1987 Alternative Supports: Contemporary Sculpture on the Wall, Bell Art Gallery, Brown University, Providence, RI
Group Show, Lisbeth Lipps Gallery, Amsterdam, Holland
The Morris Gallery displays the work of outstanding contemporary artists with a connection to Philadelphia, determined by birth, schooling, or residence. The exhibitions are chosen by a committee composed of area artists, museum personnel, and collectors, and the curatorial staff of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Currently serving on the Morris Gallery Exhibition Committee are: Moe Brooker, Paolo Colombo, Bill Freeland, Faith Ginsburg, Carrie Rickey, Eileen Rosenau, Judith Tannenbaum; Academy staff Judith Stein, Morris Gallery Coordinator, Frank H. Goodyear,Jr. and Linda Bantel.