Moss Galleries launches inaugural online viewing room with rare paintings by Lynne Drexler

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Moss Galleries launches inaugural online viewing room with rare paintings by Lynne Drexler
Lynne Drexler, Tossed Wave, 1969. 38 x 49.75 in.

FALMOUTH, ME.- Moss Galleries presents its first-ever online viewing room with the show Lynne Drexler: Bathed in Color. On view beginning August 18, the online exhibition explores the early work of Maine painter Lynne Drexler (1928-1999) with rare, never-before-seen paintings of her work from the 1960s and ’70s. Ten percent of sales from the show will benefit the Monhegan Museum of Art & History on Mohegan Island, the remote retreat off the coast of Maine where Drexler summered beginning in 1962 and later became a year-round resident. The exhibition will be on view through November 21, 2020.

Lynne Drexler: Bathed in Color features twelve works painted by Drexler from 1968 to 1971. On view to the public for the first time, these lush colorful abstract works—elements of which recall the work of Vincent Van Gogh and Gustav Klimt—show the progression of her artistic development and maturity as an artist. Drexler was a second-generation Abstract Expressionist artist with a distinctive painting style. Her vibrant paintings, executed with large, exuberant brush strokes, derive from abstract visions of both the landscape and still life. She was among the few female Abstract Expressionists during this time, and her work was often overlooked by the New York establishment. Recently, Drexler’s work has been in high demand after one of her paintings was featured in the home of celebrities Chrissy Teigen and John Legend in the February 2015 issue of Architectural Digest.

In the painting entitled Embattled Blue, Lynne pulls a lusciously organic curtain of blue, violets, and deep purples over a formal field of intense yellow squares. This painting could arguably be a visual record of her conscious stylistic change from those paintings of the early 1960s (and derivative of her teachers) to her own fully developed style.

Lynne Mapp Drexler was born in Newport News, Virginia in 1928. Drexler began her study of art as a child, painting landscapes at the age of eight. In the 1950s, she studied with one of the founders of the modernist movement, Hans Hofmann, in both his New York and Provincetown schools. His most famous tenet was the concept of “push and pull” where space, depth, and even movement on a canvas could be created abstractly using color and shape, rather than representational forms. Drexler embodied this concept with her early work focused on bright colors and composition. She would later incorporate representation into her work in the 1980s.

In graduate school at Hunter College in New York, Drexler studied with Robert Motherwell, the prolific painter and art critic. Motherwell taught her composition and draftsmanship techniques and the philosophy "that to be an artist meant first and foremost that one had to create work worthy of attention.” Motherwell helped establish her attitude toward art and its place in her intellectual development.

In 1961, her work first came to the attention of well-known contemporary artists who were members of the Tanager Gallery, an artists’ operated collective active in New York City from 1952-1962. Among the painters featured at Tanager were Alex Katz, Philip Pearlstein, Lois Dodd, and Sally Hazelet. In her solo exhibition at Tanager, Drexler had the opportunity to present her mature and independent style for the first time.

In 1962, she married fellow painter John Hultberg (1922-2005) and began summering on Monhegan Island, where she started to work and sketch outdoors. In the winters back in New York, she would transform these sketches into luxurious and colorful abstract landscapes. Drexler's love of nature became intimately intertwined into her work. In 1967, Drexler and Hultberg moved into the famed Chelsea Hotel, a mecca for the city’s bohemian arts community that included author, Thomas Wolf and play write Arthur Miller. Famous musicians like Bob Dylan and Patti Smith were also among its regular guests.

Classical music was also an intrinsic part of her artistic life. When she was in New York, Drexler attended up to three opera performances each week, and would often listen to opera and symphony performances with a sketchpad and colored crayons in hand to make drawings inspired by the music. Drexler's Pattern and Decoration embroidery and patchwork needlework influenced some of her later works and similar designs often appear in her painting's backgrounds creating a visual rhythm akin to music.

The artist finally moved permanently to Monhegan in 1983 and lived there until her death in 1998. Of the many artists who painted on Monhegan, she was one of only two —the other one being the watercolorist S.P.R. Triscott (1846-1925) – who have lived year-round and died on the island.

Drexler exhibited extensively throughout her life. In 2008 she was honored with solo shows at the Monhegan Museum and the Portland Museum of Art. Her work is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Monhegan Museum, Farnsworth Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and the Queens Museum, Greenville County Museum of Art, and the Portland Museum of Art, among others.

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