Will Insley, Foundations of ONECITY, Ten Artists On the Bowery

Westwood Gallery NYC

Sep. 8, 2024 - Oct. 21, 2016

262 Bowery
New York, 10012
(212) 925-5700


WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC is pleased to announce the relocation and launch of their new gallery at 262 Bowery. Established in 1995 by co-owners James Cavello and Margarite Almeida, WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC focuses on a contemporary program of artists, including rediscovered artist estates, current artist projects, secondary market and photography. WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC will present a series of exhibitions dedicated to artists in the Bowery Arts District, past and present.

The inaugural exhibition includes six large-scale modular paintings from the 1960’s, as well as smaller maquette collaged paintings which reveal the origin of Insley’s life-long ONECITY project. Also presented is an exhibition of “Ten Artists On the Bowery”, a portfolio edition from 1971 with ten silkscreen prints and ten biographical prints of artists who lived and worked in the Bowery artist community of its time. Along with Will Insley, these artists include Cy Twombly, Robert Indiana, Robert Ryman, Charles Hinman, John Giorno, Richard Smith, Les Levine, Gerald Laing and John Willenbecher.

Will Insley (1929-2011) created a 50 year artwork legacy entitled ONECITY. A merger of abstraction and architecture ONECITY is a massive 675 mile square labyrinthine imaginary city located in the center of the United States, housing 400 million people. In the 1950’s, after graduating with a degree in architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design, Insley never built a building, but began his art career with an exploration in various media. In the 1960’s he formulated grid and modular geometric paintings focused on the inner field and diagrammatic shaped paintings. In the 1970’s and 80’s he created detailed pencil drawings of ONECITY buildings and defined the city outline on a map of the U.S. He added photomontage to provide a view of building depth and dimension with tiny figures for scale as well as a large scale model of ONECITY. Into the 1990’s Insley’s paintings of ‘Wall Fragments,’ with intersecting mathematical lines, depicted fragments from ONECITY “to imply the greater, but present the lesser which could fit within an indoor space.” During these years he typed free flowing ideas about ONECITY, often positioning his typewritten text into constructed patterns.

Insley’s desire was to challenge and investigate the principles of architecture, civilization, social order, ideas, abstraction, even artistic beauty. He also wanted to leave perception to the viewer, especially with his ‘abstract’ buildings which convolve reality and non-reality. The societal order of ONECITY addresses the light and dark aspects of humanity through Insley’s interpretation of its citizens’ daily lives.

Will Insley’s works are included in the collections of numerous museums along with solo exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum NY (1984), the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (1976) and the Museum of Modern Art NY (1972). Many collectors and artists are intrigued with Insley’s work, such as the late Sol LeWitt who acquired Insley’s work for his own collection. Insley’s influences include Robert Smithson, Étienne-Louis Boullée, Frank Stella and other artists and architects. Over the decades his galleries have included Stable, Fishbach and Protetch. Insley also taught at School of Visual Arts for over 30 years.

In his late 70’s, after 15 years without representation, Will Insley reached out to Westwood Gallery NYC. Since then, the Gallery has acquired the artist’s estate and continues to catalogue, preserve and exhibit his art. Acquisitions from the collection support these activities which include plans to publish his writings and further explore ONECITY in books and film.

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