DescriptionARNOLD AARON FRIEDMAN (American, 1874-1946)
Untitled (Leaf Abstraction I), 1921
Oil on canvas
20 x 26 inches (50.8 x 66.0 cm)
Signed and dated lower left: Arnold Friedman '21
PROPERTY FROM THE KING COLLECTION, TEXAS
Zabriskie Gallery, New York;
Sid Deutsch Gallery, New York;
Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York;
Acquired by the present owner from the above, March 2005.
Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, "Arnold Friedman: The Language of Paint," May 24-June 30, 2006;
El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, "Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection," September 8, 2013-January 5, 2014, no. 75.
W.C. Agee, Arnold Friedman: The Language of Paint, exhibition catalogue, Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York, May 2006, p. 21, pl. 5, illustrated;
P.S. Cable, Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection, exhibition catalogue, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 2013, pp. 186-87, no. 75, illustrated.
"Ironically, although Arnold Friedman occupies a marginal position in American modernism, soon after his death he was praised for his color and texture as one of the country's best painters--and this by none other than Clement Greenberg, the high priest of twentieth-century formalism. Most of Friedman's paintings of people, domestic interiors, still lifes, and landscapes followed a style that could be said to blend American social realism with the Post-Impressionism of the French Nabis, Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard.
"However, during the 1910s and early '20s Friedman pursued color abstraction, and [Untitled (Leaf Abstraction I) is] among his boldest and most audacious creations in this realm. While the painting possesses neither the color range of the artist's other abstractions nor the textured pigment found in is later pictures, [the work] activates sonorous contrasts of deep browns and greens and features the smoothly textures skin of the painted canvas...[The work reveals influence from Paul] Cézanne and Cubism, but its originality resides in the way the artist has expressed his own sense of design, drama, and action, by appearing to hone in microscopically and give his natural forms full bodily expression. In the words of American modernist scholar William C. Agee, here Friedman depicted 'the inherent patterns and movements of plants and foliage. There are multiple intertwining elements in the 1921 painting...,more like branches than leaves but each element is distinct and independent, almost sculptural, even anthropomorphic, and moves like a dancer over and through the surface.'
"Born to Hungarian Jewish parents in Queens, New York, Friedman began working as a post-office clerk during his teenage years and continued the job until retiring in 1934. His employment meant he had to paint in the evenings, but in 1905 he was able to study at the Art Students League with Robert Henri. In 1909 the artist took a six-month leave-of-absence from the post office in order to study in Paris. There he experimented with the Neo-Impressionist style of [Camille] Pissarro's paintings from the late 1880s, and absorbed the lessons from Cézanne and Cubism that would inform his abstract explorations such as [Untitled (Leaf Abstraction I)]. Friedman was among the directors of the Society of Independent Artists incorporated in late 1916, and he held his first solo exhibition in 1925 at the Bourgeois Gallery" (P.S. Cable, Modern American Painting 1907-1936: The Maria and Barry King Collection, exhibition catalogue, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas, 2013, p. 186).
Estimate: $30,000 - $50,000.
Lined canvas; minor frame wear along the extreme edges; several small spots of faint dry craquelure near the bottom edge; under UV exam, there appears to be minor inpainting along the right edge, and scattered pinpoints and flecks of crack-fill inpainting throughout. This painting is framed using Optium (museum acrylic glazing), which provides clear legibility for examination with both white light and black light. In order to maintain the integrity and airtight sealing of the housing, the painting was not viewed out of the frame for the condition report. Should you wish to have a more extensive report, we recommend firsthand inspection by a professional conservator. For assistance, please contact the department.
*Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.
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