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Alternative Worlds

Mary Bauermeister, Lee Bontecou, Claire Falkenstein, Yayoi Kusama & Alma Thomas / June 1 – July 30, 2021


1 of 51
Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Wabenbild, 1957-58 pain...

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Wabenbild, 1957-58
painted layered paste on particle board
19 7/8 x 20 x 2 1/2 inches 
signed

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Untitled, 1957 pastel o...
Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Untitled, 1957
pastel on laid paper
19 3/8 x 24 3/4 inches 
signed
Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Untitled, 1958 pastel o...
Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Untitled, 1958
pastel on laid paper
19 1/4 x 24 5/8 inches
signed
Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Bilder, 1970 ink, gesso...

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Bilder, 1970
ink, gesso, glass, glass lens and painted fabric and wood construction
15 3/4 x 15 3/4 x 6 3/8 inches 
signed

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Needless Needles, 1972...

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Needless Needles, 1972
ink, lithograph, watercolor, colored pencil, glass, glass lens and painted wood construction
16 x 19 x 4 7/8 inches 

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Dennoch, 1979 ink on pa...

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Dennoch, 1979
ink on paper
17 3/8 x 24 1/2 inches
signed

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Silence, 1979 ink on pa...

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Silence, 1979
ink on paper
12 x 17 inches 
signed

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Wirbel, 2008 stones, wo...

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Wirbel, 2008
stones, wood and sand adhered to particle board
39 x 35 x 3 1/2 inches 

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Progressions, 2014 ston...

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Progressions, 2014
stones and sand adhered to plywood panel
21 1/4 x 21 1/4 x 6 inches 
signed

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) The Kennedy Brothers, 2...

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
The Kennedy Brothers, 2017
ink, lithograph, glass, glass lens and painted wood construction
24 5/8 x 32 1/2 x 7 1/8 inches 
signed

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Title Drawing No. 1, 20...

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Title Drawing No. 1, 2019
ink and graphite on paper
19 3/4 x 25 5/8 inches
signed

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934) Title Drawing No. 3, 20...

Mary Bauermeister (b.1934)
Title Drawing No. 3, 2019
ink and graphite on paper
19 3/4 x 25 5/8 inches 
signed

Lee Bontecou (b.1931) Untitled, c.1960 wall relief...

Lee Bontecou (b.1931)
Untitled, c.1960
wall relief constructed with denim, wire, welded metal, and soot
20 1/2 x 60 x 8 1/2 inches

Lee Bontecou (b.1931) Untitled, 1962 graphite on p...

Lee Bontecou (b.1931)
Untitled, 1962
graphite on paper
26 1/2 x 38 1/2 inches
signed

Lee Bontecou (b.1931) Untitled, 1963 welded steel...

Lee Bontecou (b.1931)
Untitled, 1963
welded steel and paint
21 1/2 x 31 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches 
signed

Lee Bontecou (b.1931) Untitled, 1963 welded metal,...

Lee Bontecou (b.1931)
Untitled, 1963
welded metal, canvas and wire
13 x 14 x 13 1/2 inches 

Lee Bontecou (b.1931) Untitled, 1967 colored penci...

Lee Bontecou (b.1931)
Untitled, 1967
colored pencil and gouache on paper
15 3/8 x 20 5/8 inches 
signed

Lee Bontecou (b.1931) Untitled, 1967 graphite and...

Lee Bontecou (b.1931)
Untitled, 1967
graphite and ink on velour paper
19 3/4 x 25 5/8 inches 
signed

Lee Bontecou (b.1931) Untitled, 1975 graphite on g...

Lee Bontecou (b.1931)
Untitled, 1975
graphite on gessoed plastic paper
8 x 17 inches 
signed

Lee Bontecou (b.1931) Untitled, 1998 graphite and...

Lee Bontecou (b.1931)
Untitled, 1998
graphite and colored pencil on black paper
24 x 18 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Sun, c.1954 steel,...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Sun, c.1954
steel, sheet metal, bronze and glass
22 x 38 1/2 x 33 1/2 inches 

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Sign of the U, 1954...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Sign of the U, 1954-60
copper
16 1/2 x 24 x 16 1/4 inches 

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, 1960 ink...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, 1960
ink and gold metallic paint on paper
10 5/8 x 14 1/2 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, c.1960 oi...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, c.1960
oil on canvas
41 1/2 x 41 1/2 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Point as a Set, c.1...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Point as a Set, c.1964
copper
5 5/8 x 6 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, c.1965 co...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, c.1965
copper
24 1/2 x 19 1/2 x 15 3/4 inches 

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled (Fusion),...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled (Fusion), c.1965
copper and glass
9 3/4 x 12 x 17 inches 

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, c.1965 co...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, c.1965
copper and glass
9 1/2 x 10 1/8 x 10 inches

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Tuolumne, 1967 oil...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Tuolumne, 1967
oil and acrylic on canvas
72 x 60 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Expanding Oval in G...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Expanding Oval in Gold, 1970
acrylic, oil and metallic paint on canvas
54 x 48 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, 1975 indi...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, 1975
india ink on paper
14 x 20 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, 1975 indi...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, 1975
india ink on paper
18 x 24 inches
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, 1975 indi...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, 1975
india ink on paper
14 x 20 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, 1975 indi...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, 1975
india ink on paper
14 x 20 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, 1975 indi...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, 1975
india ink on paper
19 x 24 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, 1975 indi...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, 1975
india ink on paper
18 x 24 inches 
signed

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997) Untitled, 1975 indi...

Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997)
Untitled, 1975
india ink on paper
18 x 24 inches 
signed

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) Nets, 1953 pastel and gouach...

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929)
Nets, 1953
pastel and gouache on paper
14 1/4 x 12 1/2 inches 
signed

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) Nets & Red No. 8, 1955-5...

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929)
Nets & Red No. 8, 1955-58
watercolor and pastel on paper with nylon netting
8 x 10 inches 
signed

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) Thaw in Early Spring, 1978 e...

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929)
Thaw in Early Spring, 1978
enamel paint and ink on heavy paperboard
26 x 20 inches
signed

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) Heart, 1984 mixed media asse...

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929)
Heart, 1984
mixed media assemblage with sewn and painted fabric, enamel and acrylic paint, painted wood box, others
11 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 4 3/4 inches 
signed

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) Ruins (Haikyo), 1986 mixed m...

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929)
Ruins (Haikyo), 1986
mixed media box assemblage with sewn and painted fabric, faux fur and paint
11 3/4 x 11 3/4 x 4 inches 
signed

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) Castle of Flowers, 1988 mixe...

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929)
Castle of Flowers, 1988
mixed media assemblage with sewn and stuffed fabric, silver and gold fabric netting and wooden box with fabric collage
12 x 6 x 4 1/8 inches 
signed

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) Dedicated to Arthur Rimbaud,...

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929)
Dedicated to Arthur Rimbaud, 1988
mixed media box construction with wood, fabric, mesh, silver spray paint and synthetic netting
13 x 9 5/8 x 5 3/4 inches 
signed

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) Pumpkin, 1991 acrylic on can...

Yayoi Kusama (b.1929)
Pumpkin, 1991
acrylic on canvas
35 3/4 x 46 inches
signed

Alma Thomas (1891-1978) Yellow and Blue, 1959 oil...

Alma Thomas (1891-1978)
Yellow and Blue, 1959
oil on canvas
28 x 40 inches 
signed

Alma Thomas (1891-1978) Abstract No.2, 1960 acryli...

Alma Thomas (1891-1978)
Abstract No.2, 1960
acrylic on paper
20 x 15 inches 
signed

Alma Thomas (1891-1978) Untitled, 1960 black ink a...

Alma Thomas (1891-1978)
Untitled, 1960
black ink and wash on paper
19 1/4 x 15 3/8 inches 
signed

Alma Thomas (1891-1978) Summer at Its Best, 1968 a...

Alma Thomas (1891-1978)
Summer at Its Best, 1968
acrylic and graphite on canvas
49 x 28 inches 
signed

Alma Thomas (1891-1978) Forsythia Glow in Washingt...

Alma Thomas (1891-1978)
Forsythia Glow in Washington DC, 1969
acrylic and graphite on canvas
34 x 40 inches
signed

Alma Thomas (1891-1978) Scarlet Sage Dancing a Whi...

Alma Thomas (1891-1978)
Scarlet Sage Dancing a Whirling Dervish, 1976
acrylic on canvas
72 x 52 inches
signed



Artists


Press Release

“Each new day, science provokes us to readjust and adapt to a new view of our environment. Penetration into the microcosmic and the macrocosmic reality unquestionably brings into being heroic generalizations which affect our lives to the minutest detail.” [1] —Claire Falkenstein

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is pleased to present Alternative Worlds, a group exhibition featuring five artists whose practices center repetitive mark-making, a deep interest in the intricacies of the natural world, and the poetic rhythm inherent to the act of artistic creation. Musing on our understanding of the earth, its place in the universe, and our own humanity, Mary Bauermeister (b.1934), Lee Bontecou (b.1931), Claire Falkenstein (1908-1997), Yayoi Kusama (b.1929), and Alma Thomas (1891-1978) each cultivated bodies of work whose central themes and technical approaches mirror each other in unexpected ways. Though each artist forged their own unique artistic voice with largely disparate styles and materials, common thematic undercurrents pervade: advancements in scientific understandings of the universe and biological life, evolving social justice issues resulting from the major political developments of the time, a preoccupation with the visual effects of repetition and formal rhythm, and an insistence on interpretive subjectivism. Spanning the second half of the twentieth century through the present—beginning with a Kusama net drawing dating to 1953 and ending with a text-based Bauermeister work created in 2019—Alternative Worlds converges a multitude of perceptual possibilities at once aggregate and open-ended.

“Worldscapes” is a term Lee Bontecou coined in the early 1960s to describe the variegated forms she perceived in the matte black swathes of soot that became an important compositional feature of her artworks. Though the term belongs to Bontecou, it is an apt descriptor for all works on view in Alternative Worlds, as each artist sought to convey a unique, imagined field of vision formally or conceptually grounded in the stylistic language each developed throughout her career. While Bontecou is most known for her innovative abstract wall relief assemblages featuring a central void, the selection on view emphasizes the artist’s career-spanning interest in environmentalism and social justice: a series of drawings featuring sharp-edged botanical subjects coalesce into scenes of ecological disaster and a group of works featuring horizontal stripes and bandsaw blades resembling gritted teeth evoke themes of imprisonment and despair (Bontecou’s Greenwich Village studio was a few blocks from a women’s prison).

Themes of institutionalization and containment are likewise apparent in the works of Yayoi Kusama, whose skeins of biomorphic forms simultaneously appear hemmed in and endless. Repetitive patterns of nets, dots, and cellular forms define the artist’s allover aesthetic, an impulse she has harnessed as both an artistic practice and a therapeutic approach to alleviating symptoms of her atypical psychology. Kusama’s ongoing desire to convey an infinitesimally detailed yet vision-encompassing experience is manifested in the works on view in Alternative Worlds, where the evolution of her obsessive patterning prompts the viewer to delve into the realm of the artist’s endless imagination.

A similar engagement with nature is apparent in the work of Alma Thomas, whose scintillating abstract paintings embody the artist’s appreciation for the interplay of botanical hues and organic patterns observable in the verdant flora of Washington, D.C., where she lived for most of her adult life. In her iconic work from the 1960s, rhythmic daubs of color arranged in vertical stripes are often set against a painted ground. These vibrant compositions consist of small strokes of paint, applied like musical staccato notes to manifest an improvisational, jazz-like rhythm. Thomas executed numerous paintings inspired by rays of sunshine illuminating and passing through leaves and blossoms. “Color is life,” she once stated. “Light is the mother of color. Light reveals to us the spirit and living soul of the world through colors.”

The effects of light and its refraction were also a key source of inspiration for Mary Bauermeister, whose lens boxes serve as receptacles for the artist’s thoughts and ideas. Dubbed “the mother of Fluxus,” Bauermeister’s long and multidisciplinary career is united by an approach to art making that relies on the participation of the viewer and a predilection for found objects. Both her assemblage works and text-based drawings contain visual, linguistic and philosophical paradoxes that require an active observation, conjuring a space where the viewer is challenged to contemplate their perception of art and the world around them.

The cosmic relationship between inner and outer realms is also a prevailing concern in the works of Claire Falkenstein, whose stylistic vocabulary recursively explores the formal qualities of positive and negative spaces. Primary among the works on view are examples of the artist’s Sun and Fusion series, created in the middle decades of the 20th century, which feature structures of interlacing, calligraphic and curvilinear forms composed of welded metal and glass. The formal tropes of Falkenstein’s sculptures are reflected in a series of works on paper she referred to as her Moving Point drawings, whose compositions extend the dynamic play of forms observable in her three-dimensional works; comprising single points of varying size and proximity, each drawing was designed to evoke the impression of movement in space.

Through the careful composition of richly detailed visual fields, Bauermeister, Bontecou, Falkenstein, Kusama, and Thomas construct artworks that are simultaneously holistic and integrated within the viewer’s own physical and visual space. Although these artists worked within distinct geographic and social scenes, formal harmonies abound when viewing their work in direct juxtaposition. Yet more revelatory is the affinity of conceptual frameworks each engaged to describe the vision they wished to impart through their work. At a time when exponentially accelerating ecological change further amplifies the threat of environmental collapse, advancements in space exploration render the colonization of new worlds ever more possible, and the explosion of readily accessible digital spaces allow the previously imperceivable experiences of the disenfranchised to circulate in the public eye, the works on view in Alternative Worlds provide space to observe, dwell, and imagine visionary realms both fraught and serene.

[1] Claire Falkenstein, “Statement by the Artist,” from Claire Falkenstein, exhibition catalogue (Fresno: Fresno Arts Center, 1969), n.p.

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
Established in 1989 by Michael Rosenfeld, the gallery opened its doors to promote the breadth of American art and those artists—known or unknown—that contributed to the establishment of surrealism, social realism, abstract expressionism, figurative expressionism and geometric abstraction. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is located at 100 Eleventh Avenue, New York, NY, 10011. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10AM–6PM. The gallery will be closed in observance of Independence Day from July 3 through July 5, after which the gallery will be open Monday through Friday, 10AM–6PM.

Press Inquiries
Dan Munn, Director of Communications
press@michaelrosenfeld.com, 212.247.0082