Ernest Briggs | "Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism"

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Date: 
Thursday, 19 April 2018 to Friday, 15 June 2018
Opening: 
Thursday, 19 April 2018 - 6:00pm

"Four Decades of Abstract Expressionism" will celebrate Ernest Briggs, a second generation abstract expressionist, and his works from the 1950's, 60's, 70's, and 80's.

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Ernest Briggs was born in San Diego, CA in 1923. He spent his childhood and youth in California, and then served in the Army during WWII. He studied painting at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco under the faculty assembled by Douglas MacAgy. They included Mark Rothko, Ad Reinhardt and Clyfford Still, who had a strong influence on Briggs. Briggs first started painting in a figurative symbolic style, not really knowing where he was headed. Park, one of his first instructors, said “We don’t have a model; we don’t have still life; we just paint.” It was a revelation to Briggs, as he had thought there had to be a “subject”, as in the Ashcan or Regionalist style. The fact that one could include his own imagination as the starting point or as the interpretative or dominant element and that one could just paint was liberating for him. One could start with a stretched canvas, paint big color shapes and just feel his way through the process.

Briggs moved to New York in 1953. He had several one man and group exhibitions at the Stable Gallery. He participated in several Whitney Museum Annuals and in 1956 was included by Dorothy Miller in MOMA’s powerful exhibition “12 Americans”.

Briggs paintings are abstract, but their breezy composition and strong colors remind us of nature. The paintings have a fresh quality. We are trapped in illusion, reading the shape on a canvas as something real, but apart from its interpretation. We see wood, grass, animals, but paintings contain neither. The colors are pure and emotional; the brush strokes are energetic, volcanic, exploding in front of our eyes. The canvases are monumental and impressive; they catch our eyes and trap us in their powerful intimate world. Their physicality excites the senses of the viewer. 

Through his passion and explosive energies, Briggs was able to bring new life to American abstract expressionism, embodying the words of Georges Braque: “If painting doesn’t disquiet, what is it?”

Telephone: 
212.452.1094

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152 East 65th Street, Lower Level

New York, NY 10065

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