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Lynne Drexler

Play of Color | Curated by John Kenneth Alexander

 27 March – 14 April, and online through 19 May.

Bonhams is pleased to present Lynne Drexler: Play of Color, a private-selling exhibition, on public view in New York from 27 March – 14 April, and online through 19 May. The exhibition, which features 29 works by the American painter, is curated by gallerist and art consultant John Kenneth Alexander, a longstanding champion of the artist.

The American Modernist Movement

and the Eastern European Exodus

April 15 - May 15


The history of Modern Art is a story of cultural upheaval, political turmoil, and mass emigration within the vast global artistic diaspora of the early twentieth century. This is a story about artists who fled their homelands because of religious and political persecution amidst the ongoing wars and conflicts of Europe.

Many artists of the modernist period had emigrated from the turbulence of war-torn Europe. Once establishing themselves in America and finding their artistic voice, these artists often followed convergent paths. Many artists were taught by icons of Modernist thought such as Hans Hofmann, who himself was an immigrant from Germany. Others participated in the public works projects of the 1940s such as the WPA. Many artists eventually immersed themselves in the art movements of the day such Abstract Expressionism. Artists from different backgrounds socialized and learned from one another within America’s mosaic of cross-cultural influences.

Many artists had emigrated from Eastern Europe. A broad grouping and diverse mix of people from various countries and cultural backgrounds, many fled from the yolk of oppression within Imperial Russia. In the last period of the Russian monarchy (1721-1917), the Russian Empire covered almost 1/6 of the world’s landmass at its greatest expanse and contained more than 100 ethnic groups within its boundaries.

This exhibition focuses on three artists who escaped the persecution and violence within the decline of the Russian Empire and the emergence of the Russian Revolution.

NORMAN CARTON (1908-1980)

Norman Carton was born in the Dnieper region in Ukraine while under Imperial Russian rule.  He and his family eventually escaped the turmoil of Eastern Europe and settled in Philadelphia.

Norman Carton’s career spans multiple art movements throughout several decades. During his career as an artist, he worked as a muralist, set designer, illustrator, textile designer and educator. The majority of works in this exhibition are from his time in Paris in the early 1950s. Carton eventually became a teacher.


HELEN GERARDIA (1903-1988)

Helen Gerardia was born in 1903 in Dnipro, Ukraine within Imperial Russia. After immigrating to the United States, Gerardia settled in New York, eventually studying with Hans Hofmann. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Gerardia remained committed to her hard-edge geometric abstract style of painting.

Even though women of the 50s and 60s tended to be disregarded as serious artists, Gerardia was able to successfully navigate her way through the gender-biased atmosphere of the male-dominated New York art scene. She founded the Gerardia Workshop, was also an original member of the Vectors artist group, and a delegate to the U.S. Committee of the International Association of Art. From 1967 until 1969, she was president of the American Society of Contemporary Artists.


JACOB SEMIATIN (1915-2003)

Jacob Moses Semiatin was born to Polish Jewish parents in the Portobello region of Dublin, Ireland — the heart of the Jewish community in Dublin. His parents had emigrated from Siedlce, Poland in Imperial Russia. Semiatin emigrated with his parents and siblings in 1920. Semiatin eventually settled in Brooklyn, New York. He was known primarily as a watercolorist, painting landscapes in the 1930s and 1940s. Semiatin eventually transitioning to abstract expressionist watercolor painting by 1959.

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