Historic Journal

Journal Archives, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts Archives, Reviews

Stephen Talasnik – Mythology: Recent Drawings

March 13, 1987
AUTHOR
Judith Stein

A writer and curator, studied at Barnard College, and has a Ph.D. in art history from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Eye of the Sixties, Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art, (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2016). Her curatorial projects include Red Grooms, A Retrospective, for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and The Figurative Fifties, New York School Figurative Expressionism, co-curated with Paul Schimmel. Her exhibition, I Tell My Heart: The Art of Horace Pippin, traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1995, and earned a best catalogue award from AICA/USA. Her articles, interviews and reviews have appeared in Art in America, Art News, and The New York Times Book Review, as well as on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air and Morning Edition. Among her honors is a Creative Capital/Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant; a Pew Fellowship for literary non-fiction; and a Lannan Foundation writing residency in Marfa, Texas.

March 13 through April 26, 1987
To some eyes, the use of color in art may seem a teleological necessity, as it has been in television and film. Yet it is just this atavistic sense of belonging to an earlier time and place that commends a grissaille palette to Stephen Talasnik. He is an artist attracted by the black and white of classic documentary photography, in which images appear at one remove from the depicted reality.
Stephen Talasnik’s primary work has always been drawing. He often teases an extraordinarily velvety chiaroscuro from his charcoal and graphite images by using such subtractive tools as erasers. Surfaces are like a palimpsest as the artist seems to delve below the forms to reveal earlier strata of visual information. His classically inspired subjects appear both physically and figuratively “unearthed.” Because he is such an inventive appropriator of past styles, Talasnik’s drawings are mysteriously allusive, evoking a strong feeling of history.
Mythology, the title of his Morris Gallery exhibition, consists of four series of black and white works on paper. The largest in scale, “Fossilized Frescoes,” includes two vertical drawings in which the figure makes an appearance for the first time in his mature work. Working from the model, Talasnik addresses the body directly, dealing with a human presence as distinct from the mosaicized bodies in the “Legends” series. Recent travels in Italy inform the imagery in the “Manuscripts” and “Travel Drawings” series. Talasnik’s highly original imagery, matched by his bravura techniques, results in a compelling and beautiful body of work.
Judith Stein
Associate Curator and Coordinator, Morris Gallery
Checklist
1. Visionary: Manuscript Series #1, 1985-86
Pencil on Stonehenge paper, 31 x 22″
Collection of The Prudential Insurance Company of America
2. Seducer: Manuscript Series #2,1985-86
Pencil on Stonehenge paper, 31 x 22′
Collection of The Prudential Insurance Company of America
3. La Battaglia: Hero: Manuscript Series #6 (diptych), 1986
Pencil on Arches W.C. paper, 31 x 22′
Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell Gallery
4. La Battaglia: Heroine: Manuscript Series #7 (diptych), 1986
Pencil on Arches W.C. paper, 31 x 22″
Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell Gallery
5. Duplicity: Manuscript Series #8,1986
Pencil on Arches W.C paper, 311/2 x 22″
Private collection, Philadelphia
6. Flaying: Manuscript Series #9,1986
Pencil on Arches W.C. paper, 311/2 x 22″
Collection of Fred Gilbert, New York
7. False Messiah.Legend Series #1, 1986
Charcoal and Negro pencil on Stonehenge paper, 42 x 42″
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Resnick
8. False Fire: Legend Series #2,1986 Charcoal and Negro pencil on Stonehenge paper, 42 x 421 Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell Gallery
9. The Infidel: Legend Series #3,1986
Charcoal and Negro pencil, 42 x 42″
Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell Gallery
10. The Obsession: Legend Series #4, 1986
Charcoal and Negro pencil, 42 x 42″
Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell Gallery
11. The Mirage: Legend Series #5,1986
Charcoal and Negro pencil, 42 x 42″
Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell Gallery
12, Fishtrap, Dawn: Legend Series #6, 1986
Charcoal and Negro pencil, 42 x 42″
Collection of James F. Anthony III
13. Fishtrap, Dusk: Legend Series #7, 1986
Charcoal and Negro pencil, 42 x 42″
Collection of James F. Anthony III
14. Revelation: Fossilized Fresco #2,1987
Charcoal and carbon pencil on Stonehenge paper, 96 x 42′
Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell Gallery
15. Desecration: Fossilized Fresco #3, 1987
Charcoal and carbon pencil on Stonehenge paper, 96 x 42′
Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell Gallery
16. Tuscany: Shroud #2, 1987
Pencil on Stonehenge paper, 17 x 24′
Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell Gallery
17. Umbria: Shroud #3, 1987
Pencil on Arches W.C. paper, 17 x 24″
Courtesy of Dolan/Maxwell Gallery
The works for this exhibition were made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Steven Talasnik was born in Philadelphia in 1954. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design (1972-76), and earned his Master of Fine Arts from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and in Rome (1977-79). From 1980 through 1986, he served as gallery coordinator for the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial in Philadelphia. Currently, he is an adjunct instructor of drawing at the Tyler School of Art, and he has been appointed assistant professor of art at Temple University Japan in Tokyo, effective fall 1987.
Talasnik has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1985) and the MacDowell Colony (1987), and he was also a visiting artist at the Brandywine Graphics Workshop. His work is represented in numerous permanent art collections, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Free Library of Philadelphia, the University of Delaware, the Philadelphia College of Art Print Collection, the FICA Victor Company, The Prudential Life Insurance Company, and the Synthes.
Selected Individual Exhibitions
1987
Dolan/Maxwell Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1985,1984
Janet Fleisher Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1983
Drawings and Sculpture, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA
Drawings, Dubois Art Gallery, Lehigh University, PA
1981
Drawings, Rosemont College, Rosemont, PA
1980
Drawings and Burial Artifacts, Stockton State College, NJ
Selected Group Exhibitions
1986
Pertaining to Philadelphia: Works on Paper from the 70’s and 80’s, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
American Graphic Arts: Watercolors, Drawings and Prints from the Collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Works on Paper III, Dolan/Maxwell Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Still Life in 2 and 3 Dimensions, Art in City Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1985
Golden Years: 50 Year Alumni Invitational, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
An Inside Place, Noyes Museum, Oceanville, New Jersey
1984
Contemporary Works on Paper, Frumkin and Struve Gallery, Chicago, IL
Selections 27, Drawing Center, New York
Philadelphia Drawing Competition, Philadelphia Art Alliance, first prize, Philadelphia, PA
21st Biennial Exhibition, University of Delaware, purchase prize, Newark, DE
1983
Five Years of Fleisher Challenge Exhibitions, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA
1982
10th Annual Works on Paper, Second Street Gallery, Charlottesville, VA
1981
5th International Drawing Biennale, England
American Drawing, Royal College of Art, England
1980
Challenge Exhibition, Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA
1979
Small Works on Paper, Newcastle Museum, England
Bibliography
Burton Wasserman, “Galleries,” Camden Courier Post, August 14, 1979.
Victoria Donohoe, “The Nude: As Abstract Declines, Realism Returns,” Philadelphia Inquirer, August 10, 1980.
Penny Baker,”A Delightful, Absurd History,” Atlantic County Sunday Press, September, 1980
Edward J. Sozanski, “Art of Drawing Thriving Nicely,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 10, 1983.
Penny Baker, “Shecky, A Phantom of the Theatre,” Atlantic County Sunday Press, May 15,1983.
Burton Wasserman, “Exhibitions in Sight,” Art Matters, June, 1983.
Sid Sachs, “Stephen Talasnik: Philadelphia Art Alliance,” New Art Examiner, December, 1983.
Victoria Donohoe, “On Galleries,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 25,1984.
Edward J. Sozanski, “On Galleries,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 20, 1984.
Victoria Donohoe, “Tyler Exhibit Showcases Its Alumni,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 26, 1985.
Edward J. Sozanski, “On Galleries,” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28,1985.
Judith Heep. “Stephen Talasnik: Janet Fleisher Gallery,” Art Matters, April, 1985.
Edward J. Sozanski, “A Varied Exhibit at the Noyes,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 4,1985.
William Zimmer, “Enigmatic Interiors at the Noyes,” New York Times, August 25,1985.
Victoria Donohoe, “5 Artists with New Approaches,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 18,1986.
Edward J. Sozanski, “Art Among the Stacks,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 4,1986.
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. Currently serving on the Morris Gallery Exhibition Committee are: Cynthia Carlson, Paolo Colombo, Bill Freeland, Faith Ginsburg, Dr. Helen Herrick, Cheryl McClenney, Carrie Rickey, Eileen Rosenau, Judith Tannenbaum; Academy staff Judith Stein, Morris Gallery Coordinator, Frank Goodyear, Jr., Linda Bantel, Kathleen Foster, and Academy students Anna Yates and Treacy Ziegler.
Copyright, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1987
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