Pablo Picasso is certainly one of the most significant figures in the art history of the 20th Century. Considered to be one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. And particularly this wide variety of styles he helped develop is something that makes Pablo Picassoso great. Simply, he influenced a generation of artists, and inspired many others to create art based on his own works. Famous American artist Neil Jenney has created a series entitled Improved Picassos that will be exhibited at The West Broadway Gallery in New York.
Neil Jenney is an American self-taught artist who was born in 1945. He moved to Boston in 1964 and then to New York in 1966. In February 1967, Jenney was discovered by Richard Bellamy and exhibited his paintings at Bellamy’s Madison Avenue gallery along with Richard Serra and Bruce Nauman. Bellamy remained Jenney’s dealer until his passing in 1998. In 1969, Jenney developed what became known as "Bad Painting” – first shown at the Whitney Biennial. “Bad Painting” is the name given to a trend in American figurative painting in the 1970s by critic and curator, Marcia Tucker. She described this sub-movement as a group of artists whose work will be shown have discarded classical drawing modes in order to present a humorous, often sardonic, intensely personal view of the world. Yet, Jenney’s art goes far beyond “Bad Painting” movement. His body of work during 1969–1970, which is the period for which he was first known, was a reaction to minimalismand photo-realism. Simply, Jenney has used different styles in his art, and therefore, it’s difficult to classify his art by using strict categorization.
Between 2010 and 2015, Neil Jenney’s hobby was improving Picasso’s paintings. He bought and/or commissioned copies of Picasso paintings from artist Ki-Young Sung in order to improve the framing and the works themselves, which Jenney considered to be incomplete, unfinished, or misdrawn. A copy of Picasso’s Marie-Therese Leaning spotted by Jenney in artist Ki-Young Sung’s New York Port Authority Bus Terminal studio started the series. Ki-Young Sung makes his living by painting portraits from wedding and graduation photographs. At slack moments, he paints reproductions of work by well-known artists including Picasso. Jenney bought the Marie-Therese painting and reworked it, making many visible changes. Spontaneously, Jenney had been thinking about the framing of Picasso paintings in museums and galleries and felt that he could do a better job. By purchasing Ki-Young Sung’s copy, Jenney was able to experiment and created his now standard Narrow Side - Clear Face - Side Seam Frame, that he used for all the Picassos in the series. Jenney and Ki-Young Sung became friends and Jenney commissioned him to paint copies of Picasso’s that he wanted to improve including a portrait of Igor Stravinsky and Woman Reading (Olga).
The exhibition Improved Picasssos will extend the artist’s survey first seen at Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue in 2013 and will include two of the paintings in that exhibition. This is the first time that all of the eight paintings in the series will be exhibited together. The show takes place at an amazing art space – The West Broadway Gallery, whose mission is to exhibit Realism and Abstraction of the Idealized sort. The exhibition of Neil Jenney entitled Improved Picassos will be on view from February 14 until April 30, 2016 at The West Broadway Gallery in New York. The opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, February 14, 4-8pm.
Featured Images: Neil Jenney - Marie Thérèse Leaning, detail; Neil Jenney - Blue Eyed Olga , detail; Neil Jenney - Igor Stravinsky. Images courtesy of The West Broadway Gallery.