Art News

Babcock Galleries Shows Ten Paintings by Robert Schwartz

artwork: Robert Schwartz - "Living on Grasshoppers", 1990 - Gouache on paper - 8" x 8 1/2" - Courtesy Babcock Galleries, San Francisco. On view in "Robert Schwartz" from September 8th until October 7th.

New York, NY- Babcock Galleries are proud to present “Robert Schwartz”, ten of the artists paintings, on view at the gallery from September 8th through October 7th. Robert Schwartz provides a portal into a world of emerging gay culture and social upheaval of the 1960s, seeking to expose truths about the human condition by depicting people involved in curious behaviors set in a world of his own invention. The 10 exquisite paintings in this exhibition represent the first major presentation of the late San Francisco-based artist’s work since 2005 and are accompanied by an exhibition brochure with an essay by art journalist and critic Carol Kino.

Robert Schwartz (1947-2000) painted detailed cross sections of a world where characters move about in the ironic overlaps of incongruous realities. With an intricacy often compared to that of medieval miniatures, each of Schwartz’s paradoxical narratives is expertly composed in a space rarely exceeding 10 inches wide–inviting close examination of his intriguing, yet revealing social scenarios. Working in gouache on paper and oil on panel, Schwartz created what critic Donald Kuspit calls “a kind of little theater.” In his sets, representative landscapes, evocative of old-master sensibilities, are juxtaposed with urban architecture. In his figurative scenes, casts of nudes play on public stages next to others who are fully clothed. The artist’s wry sense of humor emerges from the tension of opposites; these depictions of peculiar relationships, impeccably rendered mysteries, averted gazes, veiled desires, all become almost familiar. “Nothing is left to chance,” writes Kuspit. “Nothing is incomplete.”

artwork: Robert Schwartz - "Life of Birds", 1991 - Gouache on paper - 6" x 6" Courtesy Babcock Galleries, San Francisco. On view until October 7th.

Art in America’s Nathan Kernan, while seeing a likeness to the techniques of Joan Nelson and even early Robert Greene, cites Schwartz as a ‘prescient’ precursor to artists like John Currin and Lisa Yuskavage. Schwartz graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1970 and exhibited widely in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York.  In 1992, he received the National Endowment for the Arts WESTAF Award. Retrospectives of his work were held at the de Saisset Museum in Santa Clara, California in 1990 and at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum in 2000. After Schwartz’s unexpected death due to heart failure, the San Jose Museum of Art held a survey of his works, including 56 paintings, in September 2004 to January 2005. A major monograph, Dream Games: The Art of Robert Schwartz, by Barry Schwabsky and Susan Landauer, was published in conjunction with the San Jose exhibition.

From the Babcock Gallery’s earliest years it has been an important source for major works by America’s greatest masters. Highlights of Babcock Galleries’ history include the 1866 George Inness exhibition, which featured the monumental “Peace and Plenty” now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among the Inness paintings they have placed in recent years are “Sunset at Montclair” acquired by the Montclair Art Museum and “Sunburst”, an exceptional masterwork acquired through Babcock Galleries by the Palmer Museum of Art. Babcock Galleries has handled many works by Winslow Homer, including the famous “The Gale” sold to the Worcester Art Museum in 1916 for a then record price of $30,000. The Gallery was also agent for the Estate of Thomas Eakins, placing significant paintings in major museums from New York to Honolulu. In recent years we have sold a number of significant Eakins works, including one of his largest paintings: “A Street Scene, Seville”. For the past half century Babcock Galleries has also been the leading source for works by Marsden Hartley. More than fifty museums, including the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American Art, and the Huntington Museum and Library have acquired Babcock Hartleys. During the past few years the gallery has sold nearly twenty major Marsden Hartley paintings, including one of his most famous works, “Mountains of Stone, Dogtown”, 1931, which was featured in both the National Gallery’s Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and his New York Galleries, and the Wadsworth Athenaeum’s retrospective exhibition Marsden Hartley.

artwork: Robert Schwartz - "Three Virtues, Civil and Domestic", 1991 - Gouache on paper 4 1/4" x 4" - Courtesy Babcock Galleries, San Francisco. On view until October 7th.

For more than ten years Babcock Galleries has been the exclusive agent for the heirs of Edwin Dickinson. In that role they have sold more than one hundred works to important public and private collections nationwide. Similarly, as agent for the Estate of Charles Hawthorne, we have recently placed more than thirty works in collections. Today, Babcock Galleries remains a key source for important American art of all periods. In the past few years the gallery has sold many exceptional works including a life portrait of George Washington by Edward Savage; Charles Deas’ famous “Long Jakes”, Randolph Rogers’ iconic “Nydia, the Blind Girl of Pompeii”, a major luminist painting by Jervis McEntee; a classic Frederic Church American landscape; and Robert Duncanson’s amazing 1850 “View of Ashville, North Carolina”.

In recent years five museums have acquired six highly important Severin Roesen still life paintings from the gallery. We have sold important works by Fitz Hugh Lane, Asher B. Durand, William Sidney Mount, Sanford Gifford, and placed more than twenty-five works by John F. Kensett, including what is perhaps his finest Beacon Rock, Newport painting. Masters such as Ralph Blakelock, Winslow Homer, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Mary Cassatt, and Childe Hassam have figured in sales and exhibitions. We are particularly pleased to have sold some of the finest works that have entered the market place by George Luks, Ernest Lawson, Arthur B. Davies, John F. Carlson, Arthur Dove, Charles Demuth, Georgia O’Keeffe, Max Weber, Milton Avery, and Franz Kline. Our current inventory includes landmark works by John F. Kensett, Severin Roesen, Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, Marsden Hartley, Charles Webster Hawthorne, Edwin Dickinson, George McNeil, Will Barnet, and Paul Wonner. Babcock Galleries’ long and distinguished tradition of connoisseurship and service assure the highest quality of important American art to their clientele, museums and private collectors alike. Visit the gallery’s website at …