Divergent Paths

Anita Shapolsky Gallery

Apr. 6, 2024 - Jun. 3, 2023

152 East 65 Street
New York, 10065
PHONE (212) 452-1094


The Anita Shapolsky Art Gallery proudly presents Divergent Paths; selected paintings of
Ernest Briggs (1923-1984) and Jon Schueler (1916-1992) from the 1940s to 1980s, showcasing both their influences and divergence.

At the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, Briggs and Schueler studied
under artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, Ad Reinhardt, Mark Rothko, and
most importantly Clyford Still. Under his tutelage, both Schueler and Briggs would
conform to the impasto technique in their early paintings bearing “a familial resemblance
to Still’s while differing substantially because of their more explicit references to nature, their greater lyricism, and their stress on painterly finesse.” (The New York School: The Painters & Sculptors of the Fifties, Irving Sandler, Harper & Row,1978, p. 78.). By 1953, both Schueler (at the invitation of Still) and Briggs had moved to NYC and quickly became part of the avant-garde of the New York art scene. In the following years, their paths and style would further diverge.

Throughout his career, Briggs remained committed to exploring the expressive possibilities of paint and canvas drawing inspiration from the fundamental forms of nature, architecture, and calligraphy. His early paintings displayed both dynamism and discord within strong, lyrical colors and seemingly wild displays of emotion. Later his work was characterized by a more geometric, hard-edged styling, and muted color palette, focusing on the material, and natural qualities of paintings and permeated with a deeply reflective personal metaphor.

At the CSFA, Clyfford Still introduced Schueler to the work of J.M.W. Turner whose use of light and color to capture the fleeting effects of the sky deeply influenced him. Similar to Turner, Schueler’s skyscapes would blur the line between abstraction and representation using depth and luminosity to capture an emotive record, visualizing his experiences, including those of World War II. After living in NYC, Schueler relocated to Scotland where the ever-changing skies were a source of inspiration as he pursued creating “a painting most like nature”. Schueler saw his work as a means of conveying the emotional and spiritual dimensions of the natural world. Subsequently, he would favor minimal shapes, almost eliminating figuration, allowing for a viewer’s personal associations to shape their experience. These “Skyscapes” are the defining aspect of his oeuvre; an exploration of color and emotion, an evocation of nature.

Also on exhibit in the upper gallery, Derek Buckner. Born and raised in Brooklyn, his paintings have captured the shifting industrial areas of the Gowanus Canal and its surroundings for the past twenty-five years. His affinity for urban landscapes “explores the relationship between destruction and growth, strength and impermanence” as he captures the atmosphere of each location.

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