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Exhibition at Yale Center for British Art Highlights Major Works by Abstract Painters
John Hoyland, Tiger Walk 3.4.81, 1981, acrylic on cotton duck, 90 x 96 in., © John Hoyland, courtesy the artist.
NEW HAVEN, CT.- This fall, the Yale Center for British Art launched its 2010–11 season with an exhibition of major works by postwar British artists who came to maturity in the 1960s. The Independent Eye: Contemporary British Art from the Collection of Samuel and Gabrielle Lurie features thirty paintings and fourteen works on paper by Patrick Caulfield, John Walker, R. B. Kitaj, Howard Hodgkin, and Ian Stephenson, in addition to paintings by John Hoyland, England’s foremost abstract painter, all drawn from the collection of Samuel and Gabrielle Lurie.

The Independent Eye marks the first museum exhibition of selected works from the Lurie collection of British art, which will be gifted to the Yale Center for British Art. The exhibition brings to the forefront British artists who have produced provocative work over long and consistently prolific careers. On view are Caulfield’s seminal painting, Wine Bar (1983); two transcendental and viewer-enveloping Diorama paintings by Stephenson, dating from 1967; Walker’s monumental tributes to old master painting, realized through energized, tactile, abstract shapes; and a number of major works by Hoyland. The latter’s use of paint in vibrant, luscious color—splattered, brushed, dripped, and poured onto the canvas—bears out his own definition of the medium: “Paintings are there to be experienced, they are events. They are also to be meditated on and to be enjoyed by the senses, to be felt through the eye . . . Paintings are not to be reasoned with, they are not to be understood, they are to be recognized.”

Guided by their passionate belief in the primacy of the personal, emotional encounter with art, Samuel and Gabrielle Lurie have amassed a vital and dynamic collection of contemporary British art that spans the past four decades. The Luries trace the source of their collecting to an Ian Stephenson retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in 1977; in following years they discovered a penchant for collecting and formed close friendships with Hoyland, Caulfield, and Stephenson.

Their passion for collecting extends to a wide range of interests, including East and South Asian sculpture; Southeast Asian and African works of art; Pre-Columbian sculpture, textiles, and ceramics; and contemporary Japanese ceramics and ceramic sculpture. As Samuel Lurie tells it, “We love and collect art in so many different areas that each one is like an adventure. We start out knowing almost nothing about it, and we learn. It’s by our own efforts and work that we gain this knowledge and our own understanding of the art, and form our own conclusions.” They have an extensive personal art library and have written two books, Contemporary Japanese Ceramics: Fired with Passion (2006) and Love and Art (2009), about their journey as collectors.

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