Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts

Montgomery, AL



after HISTORY: The Paintings of David Bierk


The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts presents "after HISTORY: The Paintings of David Bierk" on view from November 11, 2000 through January 7, 2001. David Bierk, an artist who has reconsidered traditions and ideas of the past to create an art for the new millennium, focuses on three distinct subject areas in his paintings - landscapes, still lifes, and what the artist calls "history paintings." Bierk abstracts and adapts these subjects to create personal tributes to the works of such renowned masters as Caravaggio, Vermeer, Ingres, Fantin-LaTour, Manet, Bierstadt, and Hopper, among others. While basing his compositions on art masterpieces from the past, he places these new images in a contemporary context with a boldness and bravura that is vintage Bierk. (left: Portrait in Stone, from Leonardo, 1999, oil on canvas, concrete, From the collection of Kristan Newell, Toronto, Canada; right: Locked in Migration, to Petrus Christus, 1998, oil on canvas, steel)

Well before the movement or term "appropriation" was coined, Bierk was plumbing the riches of art history for images that suited the direction of his work. As early as 1969, he revisited a Leonardo da Vinci landscape as a background for his own self-portrait. The artist's approach to historical images is not simply curatorial, but conceptual. The work he creates "after" the masters is never a straight copy, rather it is always contemporized and re-contextualized by adjusting its traditional presentation. Thus, Bierk's paintings after the masters are created purely in the spirit of praise, celebration, and as an homage to the act of painting. (left: A Eulogy to LIfe, Locked in Migration, to van Brussell, 1998, oil on canvas, rusted iron on board, Collection of Becky and William Matthews, Atlanta, Georgia; right: A Eulogy to LIfe, Locked in Migration, to Van Os, 1998, oil on canvas, rusted iron on board)

Viewers will experience the fusion of past and present in this exhibition of works from Bierk's early career to his most recent works. His compositions frequently address the nostalgia of our times for the traditional painting styles of previous centuries, while demonstrating how these classic styles have coalesced and been transformed to create the pluralism indicative of the modern age. (right: Locked in Migration to Manet, No. 1, 1997-98, oil on board, steel)

By confronting the present with the styles and techniques of the past, David Bierk creates an art that is both classic and contemporary. Bierk's paintings are respectful celebrations of art history and a recapitulation, for a new age, of ideals and values that are timeless. In opening this dialogue with history both the artist and the viewer must now reconsider the past as we move into the future. (left: A Eulogy to Art & LIfe, Locked in Migration, to Rembrandt, 1999, oil on canvas, steel, From the Collection of Mimi and Richard Fishchbein, New York, New York)

This exhibition, organized and circulated by the MMFA, is sponsored locally by Regions Bank and co-sponsored by the Harmon-Cone Company. Following its showing at the MMFA, after HISTORY: The Paintings of David Bierk will travel to the Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN; Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, GA; Las Vegas Art Museum, Las Vegas, NV; and Evansville Museum of Arts and Sciences, Evansville, IN. (left: A Distant Light, Locked in Migration, To Bierstadt, 1999, oil on canvas, steel)

Rev. 11/1/00

Read more about the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Resource Library Magazine

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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