Joan Thorne in the 1980s: New Image Abstractionist

Joan Thorne in the 1980s: New Image Abstractionist

Quogue Gallery is featuring the works of Joan Thorne, a third generation New York School abstract painter, in several exhibitions. The gallery is featuring her works at Art Palm Beach January 16–20), then at Art on Paper in Manhattan (March 7–10), and culminating with a solo exhibition at the Quogue Gallery in July.

Thorne first achieved significant critical in 1972 when her work was included in the Whitney Museum biennial. The next year she was given a solo show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. In 1979, she was included in Barbara Rose’s seminal exhibition, “American Painting: The Eighties,” at the Grey Gallery at New York University. And the next year, she was included in an exhibition of critics’ picks at the Grand Palais in Paris, sponsored by the Société des Artistes Indépendents. In 1981 she was again selected for the Whitney Biennial. In 1987 the American Academy awarded Thorne the Prix de Rome in Visual Arts. She returned to Italy for the next twelve summers, painting in Siena.  When Barbara Rose curated “Abstract Painting of the 90s” at the Andre Emmerich Gallery in New York in 1991, she again selected Thorne.

Thorne’s works garnered laudatory reviews in the New York Times, Art in America, and ArtNews. Museums around the country with her paintings in their permanent collections include the Brooklyn Museum and The Albright Knox Gallery of Art. The painter Thornton Willis [b.1936] explained Thorne’s roots and those of the third generation. “As much as we like to place artists in neat categories, Joan’s art is unique. It comes from a highly personal vision, as does all moving art. For a long time, some conceptualists have been saying that painting is dead, but it remains very much alive…Joan has always been respected among artists as a strong painter whose expressions are uniquely her own.”

Art critic Stephen Westfall points out that Thorne emerged as a kind of “New Image Abstractionist” before developing a new dialogue with surrealism and biomorphism. “Thorne’s sensitivity and exuberance with color renders the optical energy of her compositions delicious, or erotic, rather than jarring,” says Westfall.  He observes that Thorne’s colors remain as exuberant as ever while she “is posing a renewed, vital, imaginative, phenomenological pictorial space rather than post-Minimalist signage.  We look through levels of color and decipher spatial conundrums; we experience color and brushstrokes as psychologically suggestive; every formal element is a vehicle for emotional content:  anxiety, tenderness, and joy.  Sometimes I wonder if we’ve gotten used to asking less of painting than we have in other epochs.  Thorne dares us to ask more, then delivers.”

Most recently, art historian Vittorio Colaizzi wrote that Thorne brings “a distinctive voice into a discourse from which she displays admirable independence”…with “an astute and thoroughly interiorized comprehension of the challenges abstract painting has faced from midcentury to the present.” (Woman’s Art Journal, summer 2016)

 

 

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