Jan 14, 2013 to Jan 26, 2013
BROWNE AND GREENE at HARMON-MEEK GALLERY
It may sound as if the Harmon-Meek Gallery is featuring two colors in its next show opening Monday, January 14, but the two artists featured are actually Byron Browne and Balcomb Greene. Together, they were leaders of an important abstract art movement in America during the 1930s and 1940s. Harmon-Meek Gallery will have works from each artist’s estate from those two decades on display at 599 Ninth Street North, suite 309, in Naples until through the 25th. Regular gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 5pm.
Both artists have been exhibited at the gallery for forty years but this is the first time they have been paired in a two-person show. Both were founding members, along with their artist wives (Rosalind Bengelsdof – Browne’s wife and Gertrude Glass – Greene’s wife) of the American Abstract Artists in 1937 which formed out of the Artist’s Union group a few years earlier.
In the early 1930s, John Welsey Green and George Byron Brown decided together to change their mundane names to Balcomb Greene and Byron Browne respectively. At the time, it was difficult to sell any art as the Great Depression presented the two with obvious hurdles. If that were not enough to overcome, most American collectors and museums were interested in the American Regionalists (such as Grant Wood, Thomas Hart Benton, Reginald Marsh, and Harmon-Meek Gallery artists: Aaron Bohrod, Adolf Dehn, and Clarence Carter) and Art Deco artists like Maxfield Parrish. Any parties remotely interested in abstraction were enthralled with the Europeans (such as Braque, Kandinsky, Miro, and Picasso). America’s previous attempt at introducing abstraction came during WWI when Alfred Steiglitz founded a gallery devoted to a select group of America’s first abstractionists: Geogria O’Keeffe, John Marin, and an artist this gallery represented from 1968 until his death in 1972, Stanton MacDonald-Wright.
The pair crashed the gate, built acceptance for American abstract art, and paved the way for the New York School of Abstract Expressionism that was unleashed in 1951. The two artists are seen in the 1935 photograph leading a protest march down lower 5th Avenue and 8th Street to the original Whitney Museum of American Art location for the Artist’s Union.
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