New York Life Gallery announces Sleeping Beauties, a collection of historic paintings curated by Ethan James Green. An intimate gathering of figuration and portraiture, this show explores how artwork brought together through personal instinct and sensibility can unearth serendipitous and intertwined histories. Green frames each unique work as an entry-point for historical discovery: revealing the forgotten lives of 20th-century artists who made significant contributions to the discourse of their times, working as teachers, curators, and collectors, while making artwork that feels immortal.
Helen Hatch Inglesby’s untitled portrait depicts a young Black man with chiseled muscles in cobalt briefs, reclined before an ochre curtain. Raphael Soyer’s Girl in Brown Jacket, portrays a gaunt woman with lankily clenched hands—her pursed crimson lips and unadorned indigo dress bursting from the canvas’ muddy brown background. Arthur B. Davies’ Cartoon, a title indicative of a preliminary sketch to a larger mural or tapestry, choreographs a flock of citron bodies rambling and swaying through a panorama of warm and cool lyric landscapes. As if awakened from a deep slumber, these Sleeping Beauties are delivered from the forgotten archive to the gallery wall.
Some artists have been essentially unknown until now, and the absence of information about many of the artworks offers a patina of mystery and a timelessness that traditional historiography often fails to include in its systematic genres. This collection, instead, occupies a liminal space with works from the past that retain relevance even in a contemporary context. With quiet romance, this archive welcomes a new audience to see glimpses of modern life in the works of artists decades ahead of their time.
New York Life Gallery | 167-169 Canal Street, Floor 5, New York
On View May 19-July 14, 2023
Opening May 19, 2023 | 6-8PM