HEADS, curated by Peter Selz
March 3 — April 30, 2011

The human head has been the inspiration for artists since time immemorial. And with its multifarious range of expressions remains an inexhaustible object for the painter and sculptor, open to unlimited formal investigation and infinite expressive interpretation. An increasing search for veracity led, in the early 19th century, to the invention of photography, creating doubt about the very survival of representational painting. Perhaps Susan Sontag was right when asserting that "a photograph is a powerful instrument for depersonalizing the world" ¹ and painters and sculptors persisted in analyzing and revealing the human face. The Cubists shattered and dismembered the face of the sitter and re-assembled it in a new rational order on a flat two-dimensional surface. The Surrealists, open to the irrational aspects of human thought and feeling, found ways to convey the dream and erotic associations in their work. Most striking is René Magritte's transformation of a woman's face into a map where her eyes are replaced by breasts, the nose by the navel, and the mouth by the vulva in his painting, Rape (1934). Some thirty years later, Andy Warhol eliminated any personal touch and replicated the mass-produced image of the post-industrial era. Now, in spite of the temptations of Photoshop and digital and virtual procedures, an increasing number of painters, brush in hand, build on the tradition of painting to create innovative works of individual authenticity. For this exhibition we have chosen renditions of the human head by artists working in London, Paris, Brussels, Dublin, Philadelphia, Seattle, Stanford, Berkeley, and the Los Angeles area. Artists included are Irving Petlin, Lucian Freud, Ann Gale, Edwige Fouvry, Alex Kanevsky, Sherie' Franssen, Jim Morphesis, Patrick Graham, Gottfried Helnwein, Nathan Oliveira, and Stephen De Staebler.