Hosted by Frederick Holmes and Company: Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, “Revolutions Unseen” is an exhibition of Walter Quirt’s art that spans from 1939 to 1964. The evolution of his pieces through these years leaves the viewer with no question why Quirt is considered one of America’s most seminal modernist painters.
Quirt’s pieces guide the viewer through nearly 30 years of his artistic evolution, which began with surrealist paintings focused on color to elicit emotion in the viewer. As his work progressed, he focused more on texture and the pieces leaning more heavily on large gestural strokes. But throughout his entire artistic career, Quirt put meaning behind every piece, no matter the form it took.
Visitors walk into the gallery and are immediately entranced by vibrant colors and intricate linework. When examined further, icons in the images meant to evoke emotion reveal themselves to have religious connotations, despite Quirt having been an atheist. Quirt’s intentions are obvious, attempting to get an emotional response from the viewer through these designs.
One such painting, titled “The Damned,” depicts seven people within the colorful design, each one representative of one of the seven deadly sins.
In this gallery, viewers go through the evolution from radical social surrealist art to larger gestural paintings focused on emotion. It is rare to see such a large exhibition of intact work on display.
To the casual observer, the artwork looks like a child’s coloring book where, instead of filling the sections in with a realistic color, the most expressive and brightest hues available were chosen. Visitors feel like they have walked into candy land as their eyes are immediately filled with all the colors of the rainbow.
As the viewer walks through the first level of the gallery, their gaze is caught by beautiful sweeps of color, accented with black to reveal figures, yet connecting them into the backdrop cohesively as if in a Gotye music video. Next are colorful paintings with random shapes, lines, and angles, like a puzzle forced together to create a completely new image that does not match the box.
Ascend up the stairs to the upper balcony and you progress through Quirt’s life. Just at the top of the stairs, his art is already evolving. The images become less bright, letting the texture of the piece and the overlapping of the brushstrokes take main stage instead of the color of his earlier works.
In this gallery, there are three horses, titled “Horse,” “Creation Horse,” and “Untitled Horse II.” They span from 1959 to 1961, and in that short time, the evolution of Quirt’s work is clear.
Quirt’s work was a protest in a world surrounded by the chaos of World War II. But rather than compromise his style for success, he stayed an underrated artist until now.
“Quirt did not change who he was to satiate the art world,” said Travis Wilson, curator of the exhibition.
In his time, Quirt experienced firsthand that to be an artist of principle, the price was obscurity. Quirt accepted this fate fully and willingly. Indeed, this is depicted in much of his work.“People may not relate to the style or media used,” Wilson said, “but they will connect with the substance behind the art, the idea to defend the art you are making.”This exhibition is free for all to see. The exhibit will remain open through May 31.The verdict: Don’t let this exhibit go ‘unseen.’
Excellent review by The Seattle Times for Walter Quirt | Revolutions Unseen (May 1st, 2015)
This is a great little feature in this months (April 2015) Art and Antiques about the Walter Quirt show in Seattle.
Great write up on the show by Dewitt Cheng.
SF Examiner article: Walter Quirt|Revolutions Unseen