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Benny Andrews: There Must Be A Heaven

<SPAN class=pie>Benny Andrews (1930-2006), <EM>The Way to the Promised Land (Revival Series),</EM> 1994. Oil on canvas with painted fabric collage, 72" x 50 3/4" x 1/4", signed and dated. Photo: Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.</SPAN>
Benny Andrews (1930-2006), The Way to the Promised Land (Revival Series), 1994.
Oil on canvas with painted fabric collage, 72" x 50 3/4" x 1/4", signed and dated.
Photo: Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.
Benny Andrews: There Must Be A Heaven
NEW YORK  •  Michael Rosenfeld Gallery  •  Ongoing
A specialist gallery in modern and contemporary African-American art, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery presents Benny Andrews: There Must Be A Heaven, an exhibition of thirty-six works that span from 1964 to 2005. It is the first comprehensive survey since Andrews’s death in 2006.  The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue featuring an essay by Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims and a foreword by Congressman John Lewis, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (Georgia).

A self-described “people’s painter,” Benny Andrews (American, 1930-2006) was born in Plainview, Georgia, to a family of sharecroppers. In 1948, he received a small scholarship to attend college, but eventually had to drop out. He joined the US Air Force in 1950, served for the duration of the Korean War, and received an honorable discharge in 1954. With funding from the GI Bill, Andrews returned to school, enrolling in the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1958, he received his degree and left Chicago for New York City.

Settling in a tenement on the Lower East Side, he developed the “rough collage” technique that became a hallmark of his style. As Sims in her catalogues essay explains, “Andrews’s use of collage came out of that fact that he found oil painting ‘too academic’ and imbued with more ‘sophisticated’ associations. He found the textural quality of collage appealing, and he used it to ‘keep himself off balance.’ . . . Andrews’s work, with its calculated awkwardness, unconventional techniques, and Southern focus, exists provocatively alongside that of self-taught artists. But as art historian and Andrews scholar J. Richard Gruber would caution us, despite Andrews’s predilection for ‘realistic subject matter, he was intrigued by the fundamental issues associated with abstract art.’ While he was often in conflict with his instructors and peers over the emphasis on abstract expressionism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago . . . he would come to be ‘increasingly more convinced that all art was fundamentally abstract.’”

By the 1960s, Andrews had mastered this technique and exhibition opportunities followed. In 1965, with funding from a John Hay Whitney Fellowship, Andrews traveled to Georgia and began working on his Autobiographical Series. He continued to paint, exhibit, travel, write, and teach until his death from cancer at age 76. During his lifetime, he lectured extensively and received numerous fellowships, grants, and other awards from prestigious international institutions. His work is featured in over thirty permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, High Museum (Atlanta, Georgia), Art Institute of Chicago, Studio Museum of Harlem, and Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC).

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery Website

Contact: Michael Rosenfeld Gallery
100 Eleventh Avenue at 19th Street
New York, NY 10011
Tel: (1) 212 247 00 82

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