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ENWALD-WOLF GaLLERY, ThE UNIVERSITY OF THE ArTS
Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
The University of the Arts
9 January-6 March, 1998
Selected Works on Paper
Museum of American Art of the
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
9 jANUARY-19 April, 1998
Organized by Leah Douglas, Gallery Director
The University of the Arts
T b i s e X h i b i t i t2 has been funded b y
The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
The Exhibitions Program at The University of the Arts
The Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Lend e r s to the e x bib.
Paul and Helaine Cantor
Doris and David Mortman
Mary Jane M^arcaslano and Ralph Gibson
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York
The Unfversity of the Arts
320 South Broad Street
Philadelphl^, pa 19102
Museum of American Art of the
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
118 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
I value above all the ability of- art to move me
emotionally and ps\'chically, without answers.
I make art that makes me question, that derives
its power from being vulnerable to interpretation,
that is intuitive, that is beautiful.
— April Gornik
EMBODIED LANDSCAPES: Paintings and Drawings of April Gornik
THIS EXHIBITION OF LANDSCAPE WORKS bv April Gornik
marks a number of firsts. Not only is it Gornik's first solo
showing in Philadelphia, a city known tor its indigenous prac-
tice ot contemporary landscape painting,' but it represents a
first-time curatorial collaboration between two local visual-arts
institutions: the Rosenwald- Wolf Gallery of The Universirv' of
the Arts, whose director, Leah Douglas, conceived ot and orga-
nized the exhibition, and the Museum of American Art ot the
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The exhibition has
been divided berween the two venues, with Gornik's paintings
featured at the former and her drawings and prints on display
at the latter.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Gornik studied at the Cleveland
Institute of Art before transferring to the Nova Scotia College
of Art and Design, in Canada; she currently lives in New York.
At first glance, the artist and her art present a number of para-
doxes: she is an urbanite who constructs evocative, sharply real-
ized views of nature in her lower- Manhattan studio; she is also
a thoroughly contemporary artist trained in the theories of con-
ceptualism who acknowledges a debt to the history of art, ren-
dering works that self-consciously recall America's late nine-
teenth- and early twentieth-century landscape tradition. Yet,
these apparent tensions resolve themselves in the hybrid nature
of Gornik's art and its sources. Neither realist nor abstract, the
work falls somewhere in berween; one critic has described her
stylized approach as "cultivated primitivism," referring to her
"faux-naif obsession with rendering the particularities of
a scene. "-
Dubbed a neoromantic in the eighties, Gornik has long
been measured against the reach of history. Apparently because
of the artist's own stated predilection for certain nineteenth-
century American painters — Martin Johnson Heade is most
frequently cited - critics have viewed Gornik as a latter-day
(or postmodern) luminist. This view is legitimate on many
levels. As a category of landscape painting virtually invented
by post-war art historians sympathetic to modernist aesthetics,
luminism - and, thus, Gornik's shared affinity with its practi-
tioners - is inherently at a historical remove. ^^ Although not
employed in the nineteenth century, the term "luminism" is
generally applied to the culminating phase of the Hudson River
School, the popular midcentury landscape tradition that has
been interpreted, both then and now, in terms of national iden-
tity. Less a coherent movement than a collection of stylistic
attributes, luminism is identified primarily by horizontal, open
compositions and an emphasis on light and atmosphere over
other natural effects.
More intimate in scale and mood than the bombastic
spectacles of Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt, the
quiet, contemplative waterside views by luminist painters like
Heade and Fitz Hugh Lane suggest the same lack of narrative
detail and detached artistic presence apparent in Gornik's
work. The smooth, glassy surface of a painting such as Moon
Bay (1996) conveys a silent, static quality (punctuated by the
massive islanded rocks) that in nineteenth-century imagery may
have evoked Ralph Waldo Emerson's theory of transcenden-
talism - the notion that the divine spirit is present in all physi-
cal matter — the major intellectual tenet of luminism.
Although the sheer size of Gornik's work, both paintings
and drawings, seems to share more with the sublime produc-
tions of Church and Bierstadt, its internal spatial immensity
and concern with minimalist structure recalls luminism's essen-
tially conceptual nature.'^ Moreover, the intrinsic theatricality of
Gornik's landscapes, with their mysterious threat of impending
disaster - for example. Smoke (1985), and Wind Behind Rain
(1993) - underscored by the transitional suggestion of many
of her titles — echo such works as Heade's stormy views of
Like the so-called luminists, Gornik approaches landscape
as an exploration of light and form; she is less interested in ren-
dering the details of any specific locale than in describing imag-
ined views in spatial terms. 5 She uses atmospheric space to
beckon the viewer into her unsettling, depopulated landscapes,
in an effort to show "space looking back at you."'' This inven-
tive approach to her subject matter has given Gornik's imagery
a highly distinctive quality. Despite the apparent disappearance
of the artist's hand in the scene, these works of bewitching,
almost surreal beauty reveal a signature sry\e and sensibility
unmistakably her own.
What does it mean to be a landscape painter -
stereotypically one of the most tradition-bound practices —
in the postmodern age? In Gornik's case, it signifies a
serious exploration of the meditative qualities of the genre
through highly sophisticated formal means. Never simply an
unmediated recording of reality, landscapes have always been
loaded with cultural meanings. Gornik's contrived settings
—drawn from memories, dreams, imaginings, as well as
photographs — are no exception. An artist who finds the
answers in her head rather than outdoors, Gornik eschews the
plein-air approach of her historical predecessors both in her
drawings and paintings. Although she uses the former as
preliminary guides for the latter, her drawings (and prints)
are fully realized tonal productions, full of luminous,
Gornik describes her art in terms of her own emotional
landscape, a concept most apparent in the recent waterfall
paintings and waterway drawings. Examining the implications
of landscape as a metaphor for human sexuality - that is, the
body - these images also beg comparison with the sensual,
organic landscape imagery of such American modernists as
Georgia O'Keefife, Arthur Dove, and Charles Burchfield.
Gornik's critical and popular success, which has
positioned her as one of the most prominent landscape painters
in the contemporary art world, reveals much about the endur-
ing taste for the genre and its transformation in America. As
Carter Ratclifif has observed, Gornik "persuades us to reimagine
the familiar elements of landscape" through a language of per-
sonal expression.^ Whether understood in the aesthetic context
of romanticism, luminism, surrealism, or even postmodernism,
her work conveys an emotional and psychological resonance
that speaks to many.
— Sylvia Yount, Curator of Collections
Museum of" American Art of the
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
1 See catalog for Lisa Panzera's recent curatorial exploration. An Extended
View: Landscapes by Philadelphia Artists, May 28-August 1, 1997
(Philadelphia: Levy Gallery for the Arts in Philadelphia, Moore
College of Art and Design).
2 Stephen Westfall, "April Gornik at Edward Thorp". Art In America,
(October 1986), 168.
3 John Wilmerding, Introduction, American Light: The Liiminist
Movement, 1850-1875 (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of
Art, 1980), 11-20.
4 Barbara Novak, "On Defining Luminism," American Light, The Luminist
Movement, 1850-1875, (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of
Art, 1980), 28.
5 In an interview with the author, Gornik cited Henri Matisse as her
all-time favorite artist, admiring his use of color and light as
6 Carter Ratcliff April Gomik: Recent Paintings. April 21 -May 26, 1990
(New York: Edward Thorp Gallery), 13.
7 Ibid., 8.
Turning Waterfall, oil on linen, 76" x 76", 1997
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2011 with funding from
LYRASIS IVIembers and Sloan Foundation
Moon Bay, oil on linen, 72" x 96", 1996
Waterfall, oil on linen, 70" x 62", 1995
Stepped Waterfall, oil on linen, 69" x 65
Wind Behind Rain, oil on linen, 79" x 90", 1993
Smoke, oil on canvas, 76" x 100", 1985
selected works on paper
Following the Waterway, charcoal on paper, 29" x 40", 1995
Waterway Clearing, charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 1995
Two Clouds, charcoal on paper,
38 X 50", 1994
Atlas, charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 1993
Inside Out, charcoal on paper, 38" x 43", 1991
Cloud Plume, charcoal on paper, 53.5" x 41.25", 1991
Impending Rain, charcoal on paper, 38" x 50", 1990
Divide, intaglio, 31" x 39", 1994
Light After the Flood, intaglio, 24" x 41", 1987
I. TURNING WATERFALL • OIL ON LINEN • 76" X 76" ■ 1997
I. MOON BAY ■ OIL ON LINEN ■ 72" X 96" • 1996
3. WATERFALL • OIL ON LINEN • 70" X 62" • 1995
4. STEPPED WATERFALL • OIL ON LINEN ■ 69" X 65" • 199'i
5. WIND BEHIND RAIN ■ OIL ON LINEN ■ 79" X 90" ■ 1993
6. SMOKE ■ OIL ON CANVAS ■ 76" X lOo" ■ 198s
7. FOLLOWING THE WATERWAY ■ CHARCOAL ON PAPER • 29" X 40" ■ 199<i
8. WATERWAY CLEARING ■ CHARCOAL ON PAPER ■ 38" X 50" ■ 199s
9. TWO CLOUDS ■ CHARCOAL ON PAPER ■ 38" X So" • 1994
10. ATLAS ■ CHARCOAL ON PAPER ■ 38" X 50" ■ 1993
II. INSIDE OUT ■ CHARCOAL ON PAPER ■ 38" X 43" ■ 1991
12. CLOUD PLLIME ■ CHARCOAL ON PAPER ■ 53.5" X 41.2s" • I99I
13. IMPENDING RAIN ■ CHARCOAL ON PAPER • 38" X 50" • 1990
14. DIVIDE ■ INTAGLIO • 31" X 39" • I994
15. LIGHT AFTER THE FLOOD • INTAGLIO • 24" X 41" ■ 1987
April Gornik: Bibliography
Born: April 20, 1953. Clevel.ind. Ohio
Lives: New York, NY
Cleveland Insritute of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, 1971-75
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Nova Scotia, Canada, B.F.A., 1976
ONE PERSON EXHIBITIONS
1998 Universiu' ot the Arts, Philadelphia, PA and the Museum ot American Art
of the PennsyUania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
1997 Turner- Runyon Gallery, Dallas, TX
1996 Eduard Thorp Galler>-, New York, NY
1995 Kohn Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1 994 Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY
Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, NY
Offshore Gallery, East Hampton, NY
1993 Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine Universin', Malibu, CA
Mary Ryan Gallery, New York, NY, 1993, "April Gornik, Prmts"
1992 Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY
1990 Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY
1988 University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, CA
The Sable-Castelli Gallery, Toronto, Canada
1 987 Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY
1986 Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, m'
1985 The Sable-Castelli Gallery, Toronto, Canada
Galerie Springer, Berlin
1984 Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY
Texas Gallery, Houston, TX
1983 The New Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY
1 982 Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY
University ol Colorado Art Galleries, Boulder CO
1981 Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY
1997 Center lor Curatorial Studies Museum, Bard College,
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, "In Plain Sight"
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY, "Gallery Group Exhibition"
Hammond Gallery, Lancaster OH, "Eight From Ohio: In
and Out ot Bounds"
1996 Turner & Runyon Gallery, Dallas, TX, "Inaugural Exhibition"
Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Gainesville, FL, "Destiny Manifest:
American Landscape Paintings in the Nineties '
Freedman Gallery, Albright College Center for the Arts, Reading PA,
"20/20: The Visionary Legacy ol Doris Chanin Freedman"
Fotouhi-Cramer Gallery, NY, NY, "By the Sea"
James Graham & Sons, NY, NY "Water"
Fine Arrs Gallery at Southampton College, Southampton, NY,
"Master Workshop Exhibition"
Viridian Artists Inc, NY, NY, "The Paris Review Print and Poster Series"
Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, New York, "Re- Presenting Representation 11"
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY "Summer Gallery Group"
The Work Space at Dolgenos Newman & Cronin, New York, NY,
"Down The Garden Path"
Mary Ryan Gallery, NY, "Elementum"
Art Museum at Florida International University, Miami, FL, "American Art
Today: Night Paintings"
California Center For the Arts Museum, Escondido, CA,
Lizan-Tops Gallery, East Hampton "Light and Shadow: The
Galerie de la Tour, Amsterdam, 1995. "100 Personal Heroes Part 2"
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY, "Winter Gallery Group"
Gallery Camino Real, Boca Raton, FL, "Landscape Not Landscape"
Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY, "Inspired by Nature"
Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT, "Timely and Timeless"
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY', "Summer Galler.- Group '
Jan Weiner Caller)-, Kansas City, MO, "Still Light"
Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, CO, "Mountains of the Mind: Ametican
Mountain Landscape Painting from 1850 to the Present"
Feigen Inc., Chicago, IL, "Changing Views "
Jan Abrams Gallery, L.A., CA, "A Woman's Nature"
The Morristown Museum, "Living With Art: The Collection of
EUyn and Saul Dennison"
Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Cleveland, OH, "25 \ears"
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY, "Gallery Group"
Whitney Museum, Fitchburg, CT, "Landscape as Metaphor"
The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Arr, Ridgefield, CT, "Four Friends"
travelled to: Rayburn Foundation, New York, NY, and
Ringling Museum, Sarasota, FL, and
Oklahoma Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY "Gallery Group"
Transamerica Pyramid Lobby, San Francisco, "Selective Vision"
The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY, "Romance and Irony in
Recent American Art"
The National Museum of Women, Washington, DC, "Presswork: Art of
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Univ. of N. Carolina, Greensboro, NC
"Art on Paper"
Parrish Museum Design Biennial, Parrish Art Museum, Southampton,
Edward Thorp Ci.illery, New York, NY, "Summer"
Mary Ryan Gallery, New York, NY, "Landscapes"
Annina Nosei Gallery, New York, NY, "Landscape Painting"
1 990 Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY, "Gallery Group Exhibition"
Museum ol Art. Rhode Island School ol Design, Providence, RI,
Residence of the Ambassador, Mexico Cit)', Mexico, Mexico Cit\-, Mexico,
"Contemporary American Artists"
Graham Modern, New York, NY "Landscape on Paper"
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, "Harmony & Discord:
American Landscape Today"
Whitney Downtown at Federal Reserve Plaza, NY, and Fairfield Count\', CT,
"The (Un)Making of Nature"
The Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, "Romance & lron\' in Recent
Chicago Public Library Cultural Center, "Didier Nolet: Dreams ot a Man
Indiana University Art Museum, IN, "Echo Press: A Decade of Printmaking"
1989 The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY, "Painting Horizons:
Jane Freilicher, Albert York, April Gornik"
Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, "A Decade of
Greensboro, NC, Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Universit)' of Notth Carolina,
"Art on Paper 1989"
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY, "Summer"
Three Rivers Arts Festival, Pittsburgh, PA, "The Transformative Vision:
Contemporary American Landscape Painting"
The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton. OH, "A Cettain Slant of Light: The
Contemporary American Landscape"
National Gallery of Art, Wash, DC. "The 1980s: Prints from the Collection
of Joshua P. Smith"
Ruggiero Hems Gallery, NY, "Imminent Space"
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX, "10 + 10: Contemporary
Soviet & American Painters,"
travelled to: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA,
Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY and
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, Wl, and
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and
Artist's Union Hall of the Tretyakov Embankment, Moscow, and
Central Artists' Hall, Tbilisi, Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic, and
Central Exhibition Hall, Leningrad,
The WTiitney Museum of American Art, New York. NY.
"1989 Biennial Exhibition"
The Whitney Museum of American Art at the Equitable Center.
New York. NY. "Nocturnal Visions in Contemporary Painting"
The Montclair Art Museum. Montclair, NJ. "Art of the '80s from the
Chemical Bank Collection"
The Art Museum at Flotida International University, Miami, FL
"American Art Today; Contemporary Landscape "
1988 Museum of Art. Rhode Island School of [:)esign. Providence, Rl,
"Art for Your Collection"
The Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, NY, "Drawing on the
East End, 1940-1988"
Fay Gold Gallery, Atlanta, GA, "New American Landscape"
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York. NY, "'Group Show"
Marlborough Gallery, New York, NY, "Changing Perspectives in
Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville. SC. "Just Like a Woman""
National Academy ot Design. New York. NY. "Realism Today:
American Drawings from the Rita Rich Collection,"
travelled to: Smith College. Northampton. MA. and
The Arkansas Arts Center. Little Rock, AK, a)id
The Butler Institute of American Art. Youngstown, OH
1 98"" Edward Thorp Galler)'. New York. NY, '"Caller)' Group"
Wellesley College Museum, MA. "1976-1986: Ten Years of Collecting
Contemporary American Art, Selections from rhe Edward R.
Downe. Jr. Collection"'
Art Gallery, Long Island University, Southampton, NY, "The Masters 11"
Chemical Bank Gallery, New York, NY, "The Great Outdoors"
The Rockwell Museum, Corning, NY, '"Boundless Realism: Conteniporarv
Landscape Painting in the West"
Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York, NY, ""Disquiet in the Landscape"
The Whitney Museum of American Art, Fairfield Counrj', Stamford, CT.
""The New Romantic Landscape"
Sherry French Gallery. New York, NY. "Night Light/Night Life"
Squibb Gallery. Princeton. NJ. "Landscapes: Real & Imagined"
1986 Aldrich Museum ot Contemporary Art. Ridgetleld. CT. "A Contempotary
View ot Nature'"
Lorence Monk Gallery. New York. NY. "Manor in the Landscape"
Weatherspoon Art Gallery, The University of North Carolina at
Greensboro, NC. ""Art on Papet"
Freedman Gallery. Albright College. Reading, PA. ""The Freedman Gallery:
The First Decade"
Lehman College Art Gallery, Bronx. NY. ""Landscape in the Age ot .Anxien'"
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY, ""Group Show'"
Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles. CA, "Still Life/Life Still"
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ, ""New Narrative Painting:
Selections from The Metropolitan Museum of Art"
Elliot Smith Gallery, Saint Louis, MO, ""The American Landscape"'
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York, NY, "Group Show"
Luhring. Augustine & Hodes, New York, NY. "Watercolors"
Contemporary Arts Center. New Orleans. LA. ""Landscape. Seascape.
The New York Academy of Art. ""Landscape. Seascape,
Jus de Pomme Gallerj', New York. NY, ""Artists Pick Artists""