Date: April 11, 1999
Contact: William Jefferson
"Cleve Gray, Painter: A Quarter of a Century," an exhibit of the works of the abstract expressionist painter, will be on display from April 11 to July 7 at the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine. An opening reception is planned for 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 11, and the public is invited.
The twenty paintings that comprise the Colby exhibition are representative of Gray's work over the course of a twenty five-year period, including work from the artist's Zen Garden series, among others.
A New York native who has lived in rural Connecticut since 1949, Gray began his career as a student of cubism, studying with Jacques Villon and Andre Lhote in Paris following his World War II service in Europe. By the mid-1950s he had abandoned cubism for pure abstraction and a personal style that is recognizable, as art historian Barbara Rose has noted, "in its mastery and fusion of the two great traditions of the civilized world, the Western European and that of the ancient cultures of China and the Far East."
Over the course of a long and distinguished career, Cleve Gray has been the subject of numerous museum and gallery exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. In 1972 he was commissioned to create a major work for the Neuberger Museum of Art at the State University of New York in Purchase. The resulting piece, a sequence of fourteen 20-foot square panels that occupy an entire gallery space, is called Threnody, its title derived from a form of musical composition that is a lament for the dead. An active opponent of the war in Vietnam, Gray has said that the "sense of tragedy in the 60's and 70's had insisted itself upon me as the subject matter for the walls."
Gray's belief that one of the purposes of art is to heal is embodied in all of his work, from Threnody, to the Zen Garden paintings, to the In Prague and Holocaust series, inspired by his experience as a member of the occupying forces in Europe at the war's end and a visit to the Jewish cemeteries in 1984-85.
Gray has also written extensively about art and artists, as a contributing editor of Art in America and as editor of several art books, including John Marin by John Marin. A critical retrospective of Cleve Gray's career, written by Nicholas Fox Weber and published in December, will be available for purchase at the museum shop during the exhibition.
The Colby College Museum of Art is on the college's 700-acre campus in Waterville. Museum hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and from 2-4:30 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free, and the museum is accessible to persons with disabilities.
Opening in the fall of 1999, the museum's new Lunder Wing, designed by Los Angeles architect Frederick Fisher, will add 11 galleries and 8,000 square feet, allowing for the exhibition of approximately 150 more works from the permanent collection. The Lunder Wing galleries will trace the development of art in America from the middle of the 18th century into the early 20th century.