2009 An Intimate View

Short Rest Oil on canvas

Short Rest
Oil on canvas

AN INTIMATE VIEW: Small Paintings and Drawings by Ben Solowey featured a never-before-assembled collection of small works by Ben Solowey. Small paintings give viewers a more personal experience, inviting a closer, more discrete interaction with the work of art. These works leave no barriers between artist and viewer.

AN INTIMATE VIEW was the first exhibition to focus exclusively on Solowey’s small paintings and drawings. Included in the exhibition were oil paintings from virtually every part of his career, and almost every genre. The earliest work was a 1925 self portrait that Solowey painted at the end of an eight-month European sojourn that belies the influences of the experience.

There was a 1932 still life, Nasturtiums, that is perhaps the most modern work he ever painted. Visitors could contrast that with a late work, Summer Bouquet, painted in the twilight of his life filled with flowers from his own garden. There were landscapes from France and Germany alongside landscapes from the Bucks County farmland surrounding Ben’s Bedminster studio where the exhibition took place.

“Small paintings have virtues that grander, more awe-inspiring paintings cannot match,” writes Florence Coman of the National Gallery of Art of small French paintings from the late 19th century. These works were an influence on Solowey. One only has to look at Manet still life and then a small 1965 oil of Ben’s favorite flowers, Peonies, to see the resonances between the two artists’ work. As the National Gallery’s Coman writes, these intimate works “are more experimental, the perfect means for an artist to try different styles, techniques…[and they] can showcase virtuoso brushwork that might be less prominent in a monumental painting.”

With our Second Studio devoted to the small works, Ben’s main studio featured a new installation of Solowey oil paintings, drawings, and sculpture.