"Six Panels," a new series of exhibitions organized by guest curators in the Glass House Painting Gallery, opens Saturday, May 31.
When the Glass House in New Canaan was the private residence of Philip Johnson and David Whitney, the gallery had an active life, as new works were acquired and displayed. Building upon this legacy, "Six Panels" -- named for the gallery's unique display system -- will inaugurate the Painting Gallery as a site of temporary exhibitions for the public.
" `Six Panels' is an exciting next step as we transform the Glass House from a static house museum to a place of active cultural exchange," Glass House Director Henry Urbach said.
The series' first exhibition, which runs through July 15, presents the work of Al Taylor, an artist who Johnson and Whitney collected and knew well. "Six Panels: Al Taylor" is organized by Robert Storr, a former senior curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art who worked closely with Johnson and Whitney, and is now the Stavros Niarchos Foundation dean of the Yale School of Art.
"Six Panels: Al Taylor" comprises a selection of drawings and three-dimensional assemblages fashioned from humble, often whimsically chosen materials, including wire, bits of scrap wood, tin cans and broom handles. Although Taylor trained as a painter, he worked dialogically between media: drawings would often form the basis for assemblages, which in turn would generate new explorations on paper.
When asked about the relationship between these seemingly independent modes of making, the artist said, according to the Glass House, "Working on paper or on pieces really is the same thing; it's all one activity that I am not interested in separating. ... I am trying to find a way to paint; all of this activity is leading towards painting."
"Taylor thought in three dimensions," Storr said, "whether the work at hand was a flat drawing or a convoluted and suspended amalgam of disparate shapes. He is one of the most inventive `space-makers' in the recent history of contemporary art."
Taylor was born in 1948 in Springfield, Mo., and studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and the Whitney independent study program. He moved to New York in 1970, and lived and worked there until his death in 1999. His first solo exhibition took place in 1986 at the Alfred Kren Gallery in New York, and his work has been included in numerous exhibitions in America and Europe.
As the senior curator in the department of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, Storr, in 1996, co-organized "From Bauhaus to Pop: Masterworks Given by Philip Johnson." In 2002, he was named the first Rosalie Solow professor of modern art at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University. He has also taught at the City of the University of New York Graduate Center, the Bard Center for Curatorial Studies, the Rhode Island School of Design, Tyler School of Art, New York Studio School and Harvard University. From 2005 to 2007, he was director of visual art for the Venice (Italy) Biennale, the first American invited to assume that position.
Designed by Johnson and completed in 1965, the Painting Gallery is a cloverleaf-shaped berm structure that includes three tangent circular rooms with rotating display panels. During their lifetimes, Johnson and Whitney used the gallery to store and display their collection, most of which they eventually gave to MoMA. Today, the gallery showcases a selection of the Glass House permanent collection, including works by Robert Rauschenberg, David Salle, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, Frank Stella and Andy Warhol.
For information, visit theglasshouse.org or call 203-594-9884.