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Francis M. Naumann Fine Art opens exhibition of works by artist Kathy Ruttenberg
Kathy Ruttenberg, Private Myths, Public Dream at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art. Photo: Fionn Reilly.

NEW YORK, NY.- On Thursday January 10th in New York City, artist Kathy Ruttenberg's new exhibition Private Myths / Public Dreams opened at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art, with a preview attended by collectors, curators, friends & family as well as fellow artists such as Hugo Guinness & Elliott Puckette, Kiki Smith, Adam McEwen, Katrine Boorman and the artist's mother Janet Lee K. Ruttenberg.

Known for a singular and fantastical mix of human, nature, and plant forms in her work, Ruttenberg’s extraordinary imagination has enabled her to turn her dreams into her reality. Her imagery—both figurative and biographical—is primarily concerned with the tensions of the natural world and human relationships, expressing a distinctly feminine perspective. Thematically, the natural world and our relationship to it underpin the artist’s work and feature broadly in her narratives, in which species merge and figures serve as mythic landscapes.

Personal and self-reflective, the artist’s latest works in this exhibition offer a new insight into Ruttenberg’s world of fantasy and, as the title of the show suggests, they are thoughts and visions made manifest and brought into a public space with powerful flights of fancy.

Other works in the exhibition—which include ceramic sculptures and watercolor drawings—started as maquettes for “In Dreams Awake”, a significant public art project commissioned by the Broadway Mall Association of six monumental outdoor sculptures by Ruttenberg on view until March 2019 from West 64th through West 157th Streets in Manhattan.

As the British art historian John Richardson says, “Kathy Ruttenberg’s artwork is baffling and bewildering…Her work is unlike anything else that has ever been done before and there is nobody in her field that can touch her for fantasy or magic. There is also a menace in the joyous abundance of her mythological figures and darkness in her humor.”

The show also marks the release of the book, In Dreams Awake: Kathy Ruttenberg on Broadway, with a critical essay written by Deborah A. Goldberg, Ph.D. and published by Pointed Leaf Press, New York.

There is a long history of artists who create figurative work in clay, but the ceramic artist with whom Ruttenberg bears perhaps the closest affinity is American artist Beatrice Wood (1893-1998), often referred as the “Mama of Dada”, whose work has been the subject of prior exhibitions at Francis M. Naumann Fine Art. As a corollary to the Ruttenberg exhibition, a selection of Wood’s figurative ceramic sculpture and drawings will be on display in a smaller space between the two main galleries.

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