The first temporary exhibition at Old Dominion University's Barry Art Museum
features the complex, chromatic work of American abstract painter Joan Thorne. This retrospective, "Joan Thorne Light, Layers, Insight," consists of 30 large-scale works (28 oil paintings on canvas and 2 drawings) spanning the artist's career from the early 1970s to 2018.
"Not only does this exhibition represent a first for the Barry Art Museum, but Thorne's work resonates with the permanent collection American modernist painting of the 20th century, a cornerstone of the museums collection. It is also a core subject in the University's art history curriculum," said Jutta-Annette Page, executive director of the museum. "This exhibit will not travel, so this is the only time the public will be able to see it."
Thorne, who was born in New York City, trained at New York University and at Hunter College in the 1960s under noted sculptor and art theorist Tony Smith (1912-1980). She burst onto the New York art scene as one of the few women in the Whitney Museum's 1972 annual show, "Contemporary American Painting," alongside Georgia O'Keeffe, Helen Frankenthaler, Alice Neel and Audrey Flack. The Barry Art Museum's collection includes two artists represented in that show, Al Held and Jules Olitski.
She has held several highly regarded awards and artist residencies, including a Prix de Rome in Visual Arts awarded by the American Academy.
Complex layering of shapes and patterns in bright colors characterizes her intuitive work. "It's as if music is playing color," remarked her friend and fellow New York artist Faith Ringgold.
"I consider myself a metaphysical abstractionist making images which come out of my life experience. The images in my paintings are not only drawn from visual inspiration, but from memory, dreams reverie as well as the intuitive process of painting," Thorne said in a statement on her website. "I am interested in connecting the poetic image with the painted and in the metaphysical content of the painting. Color is of foremost importance in my work."
Large in scale, the strong visual effects in Thorne's paintings simultaneously focus and dissolve when seen up close. A challenge to be captured digitally and in print, they invite contemplation and demand to be seen in person.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalog published by the museum with essays contributed by Vittorio Colaizzi, associate professor of art at Old Dominion University, and Richard Vine, managing editor of "Art in America" magazine that place Thorne's artistic works in the broader context of modern and contemporary art.
The exhibition is free and open to the public and runs through May 10, 2020. The museum is located at 1075 W. 43rd St., Norfolk, Va. For more information, go to barryartmuseum.odu.edu
or call (757) 683-6200.