Opening of 'Disruptions & Continuities: Recent Work by George Wardlaw'
September 25, 2019
5:00 pm-7:00 pm
Herter Art Gallery
UMass Amherst Campus
The Herter Art Gallery at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is honored to inaugurate its 50th year on campus with 'Disruptions & Continuities: Recent Work by George Wardlaw'. While also tracing back to work made in the last six years, it presents Wardlaw's final series, Disruptions. In this final body of work, Wardlaw enters into a dialogue with Picasso's portraits of women, to confront the latter on his treatment and depictions of women. Interjecting with imagery from his own lexicon of hard-edged geometric abstraction, Wardlaw relentlessly layers, arranges, and rearranges to mutate the syntax of these complicated portraits. The resulting work is a new gestalt – a dynamic terrain of contesting forms and legacies.
Made primarily on an iPad due to his increasingly failing health, this body of work was painted on canvas by his studio assistant, Kelsi Giguere. A practicing artist and a recent graduate from the Department of Art at the University, Giguere quickly assumed the role of a collaborator. Thereby, what began as an assistantship evolved into a partnership of mutual respect and a mentorship that had a profound impact on both Wardlaw and Giguere. Wardlaw, who passed away on July 26th while preparing for this exhibition, was a distinguished member of the avant-garde art scene in New York City during the 1950’s and ‘60’s. His work has been exhibited widely in galleries and museums, including the deCordova Museum, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.
Wardlaw’s academic career spanned nearly seven decades beginning at the University of Mississippi where he established and taught a metals program. He went on to teach at SUNY New Paltz, and then to Yale University, where he taught painting and ran the Yale Norfolk Summer School of Art. From 1968 until 1990, Wardlaw served in various capacities in the art department at UMass Amherst, including seventeen years as department chair. He was a beloved and inspirational teacher, colleague, and a prolific artist until the very end.
The oldest exhibition space on campus, Herter Art Gallery is a significant landmark in the University’s commitment to public education as well as the cultural history of the region. It supports the teaching mission of the Department of Art, to which it belongs, by supporting, pioneering, and redefining contemporary art.
Herter Art Gallery is located at the north end of Herter Hall west of the Fine Arts Center. Public parking is available at all times behind the Robsham Visitors Center and at meters along Haigis Mall. Nights and weekends parking is also available in Lot #71, west of the Whitmore Administration Building.