Monday, November 2, 2009

Albert York, Jackie's Favorite Reclusive Aritst

What makes someone become a recluse. Are you born that way? Does it happen because of the way life treats you? Are you happy as a recluse, cocooned in your own world without bother? Do you get lonesome? Do you like people?

Jackie collected him. I posed once for him when I was 19 or 20 years old.

Everybody in the Hamptons knew of him. He was the Hamptons version of JD Salinger or Andrew Wyeth.

His long time gallery informed the world of his passing.

He was an artist's artist. He painted very slowly, often destroying his finished work before anyone could see it, only to start again.

His life's work amounts to around 200- 250 paintings. They are small gems painted mostly on Masonite or wood. If you own one you are very fortunate.

He was known around the neighborhood because he did odd jobs. It was the paradox of working to survive to paint, but the work took over and he stopped painting.

Finally, he found a steady job gilding frames, and the time to paint again.

Most of these images are from the web site of the gallery that has been representing him since the 1960's, Davis and Langdale Company HERE.

The small, boxy and wholly idiosyncratic paintings of Albert York, have garnered the artist a coterie of admirers so unobtrusive in their fervor as to constitute the most genteel of cults. If "cult" seems too strong a word, one might consider the peculiar figure the artist cuts.
Reclusive, enigmatic and, one imagines, more than a little stubborn, Mr. York was the furthest thing from a careerist one could imagine: He worked slowly and didn't let a picture out of the studio since 1992.
Mr. York's allure can, in part, be traced to the integrity of his contradictions. He was solitary if not as constrained as a folk artist, and as cultured if not as cosmopolitan as his collectors and admirers.
Haunting and eccentric, Mr. York's depictions of forests, flowers, damsels and Indian chiefs meld the mythic, the biblical and the densely personal. Putting brush to canvas with a torpid ease, Mr. York infuses every pat, slur and mottle of oil paint with consequence. (This accounts for his high standing among painters.) A somber sfumato envelops the work from the 1960's, imbuing it with a dire, perhaps even repentant nostalgia.
Pictures of a more recent vintage trade the richly atmospheric for the impenetrably symbolic-their sign-like mysteries don't entrance so much as rebuff.
Nonetheless, Mr. York was, in his own dourly indelible manner, a treasure. He never underwent a temperamental makeover to start cranking them out like Robert Rauschenberg. The Davis & Langdale gallery is about as good an opportunity as we're likely to have any time soon to puzzle over Mr. York's homely, humble and mesmerizing pictures.

Albert York 1929-2009
Read his entire New York Times story HERE

Sourced from the NY Observer and The Davis & Langdale Gallery


angelo said...

Beautiful post and artist. Thank you for remembering and reminding us all. Hope your Holiday was wonderful. -A

La Maison Fou said...

Thank you for the post, I have heard of this artist, yet never lucky enough to meet him. A great post & NY Times article.

Blondie said...

Interesting post. Have a great Monday! Kori xoxo

Anonymous said...

What an interesting post....

I read you often :)

All the best,
Kathy :)

Diane said...

Beautiful post... I am an artist and really appreciate posts like this one... Thank you ... Diane

susan said...

I am intrigued by this story! Who knows what make someone a recluse--he certainly had a different kind of childhood from most. Sometimes I think the most talented people are cursed with tormented souls. How neat that you were his model. I hope you own the picture!

Anonymous said...

"I posed once for him when I was 19 or 20 years old."


Visual Vamp said...

Dear, sweet Anon,
Want to come up and see my etchings?
BTW I know who you are.
xo xo