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Gary T. Erbe: Forty Year Retrospective

September 9 - November 8, 2009

 

Well-known fool-the-eye painter Gary T. Erbe is a self-taught artist from New Jersey, whose works depict pop culture from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The Boca Raton Museum of Art will showcase fifty of his trompe l'oeil paintings in Gary T. Erbe: Forty Year Retrospective, on exhibition September 9 through November 8, 2009.

Erbe (born in Union City, NJ in 1944- ) is internationally recognized for his realistic style of painting and has exhibited throughout the United States. Trompe l'oeil (to fool the eye) is illusionist painting that dates back to ancient Rome, 17th-century Dutch painting, and 19th-century American painting. Erbe works in a painstaking technique, building up layers of thin color glazes to achieve the illusion of real depth and volume in each painting.

These exercises in virtuosity often take up to a year to complete. This forty-year retrospective, drawn from private and public collections, presents Erbe's best works, including his collage paintings meticulously recorded from Erbe's own constructed and arranged tableaux.

Gary T. Erbe: Forty Year Retrospective has been organized by the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, and travels to The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, Albuquerque, New Mexico and New York City's Salmagundi Club.

 

Captions for images in the exhibition

 
1. '76 Special, 1975
Oil on canvas
8 x 15 inches
Private Collection
 
2. A Gentleman's Sport, 2004
Oil on canvas
58 x 25 inches
Collection of the Butler Institute of American Art
 
3. Ambush, 1998
Oil on canvas
18 x 20 inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
Gary Erbe's paintings often take as their subject the nostalgic remembrance of children's games and toys from earlier times. Here Erbe has captured perfectly the images and objects of a 1920s Milton Bradley game, the "The Five Wise Birds." Five colorful birds from the island of Woozoo sit on a fence. Each player gets six shots per turn with the "Riflepet" spring-loaded air gun which shoots corks at the birds. When a bird is hit, it flips over and a score is shown. The first player to 250 wins.
 
4. American Party, 2009
Oil on canvas
20 x 30 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
5. Arrangement in Brown and White, 1997
Oil on canvas
24 x 24 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
6. Art, Craft and Leisure, 1993
Oil on canvas
22 x 36 inches
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. David Rago
 
Erbe has tailored this work to the interests of his patron who commissioned the work -- David Rago, a specialist and leading dealer in American and European 20th-century decorative arts, and furniture. Rago is founder of Rago Arts and Auction Center, Lambertville, N.J., and Erbe brings to life in the painting the interests of this well-known auctioneer. Here we see editions of Gustav Stickley's The Craftsman, an American Arts and Crafts vase, cookbook, tennis racket, a Grateful Dead album and a video of Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious.
 
7. The Bachelor, 1999
Oil on canvas
14 x 10 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
8. Baseball, 1990
Oil on canvas
39 x 49 inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
9. Baseball Album, 2003
Oil on canvas
48 x 68 inches
Collection of the Butler Institute of American Art
 
"I wanted to re-create the icons of the golden age of baseball," says Erbe about his painting Baseball Album. The painting required fourteen months of continuous work to complete. Included are baseball uniforms, a 1952 Pirates souvenir, magazine covers and an illusion of a three-dimensional Kellogg's Corn Flakes box with a baseball champion on the front. The painting also celebrates the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates and the season that Bill Mazeroski's hit clinched the World Series against the New York Yankees with a home run.
 
10. Beach Chair Blizzard, 2003
Oil on canvas
50 x 46 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
11. The Big Splash, 2001
Oil on canvas
40 x 50 inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
12. The Brown Bowtie, 1998
Oil on canvas
23 x 32 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
13. Brown and Jazzy, 1987
Oil on canvas
30 x 37 inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
14. Cheap Music, 1981
Oil on canvas
23 x 33 inches
Collection of Richard Manoogian
 
15. Cheap Music II, 2000
Oil on canvas
30 x 30 inches
Collection of David Christ
 
16. Comics, (Paper Gold), 1986
Oil on bronze
17 _ x 28 _ inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
17. Contents of a Boy's Pocket, 1985
Oil on canvas
20 x 13 inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
18. Cookie Caper, 2002
Oil on canvas
14 x 20 inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
19. Double Image, 1984
Oil on canvas
34 x 38 inches
Collection of the Salmagundi Club
Gift of the artist in memory of Muriel Koestler
 
20. Double Jeopardy, 2000
Oil on canvas
45 x 60 inches
Collection of Zeny and Gary Erbe
 
21. Electric Cow, 2002
Oil on canvas
49 x 73 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
22. Fantasy in Pursuit II, 1983
Oil on canvas
64 x 75 inches
Collection of Center Line, NC www.centerline.net
 
23. Fire Lesson, 1977
Oil on canvas
21 x 12 inches
Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Michael Friedman
 
24. Frankie, 1966
Oil on canvas
26 x 16 inches
Collection of the artist
 
25. Frenzy, 2007
Oil on canvas
60 x 70 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
26. Golf in Winter, 2007
Oil on canvas
60 x 40 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
27. Gone Fishin, 1994
Oil on canvas
26 _ x 44 _ inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
28. Impressions, 1969
Oil on canvas
26 x 19 inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
"I studied the common thread which links 19th- century trompe l'oeil artists and decided to remove objects from their natural surroundings via levitation. I then began to create paintings with objects not related in reality and yet when juxtaposed within a composition would stimulate the mindIn 1969, I coined the term "Levitational Realism" and 1970 was the beginning of a new direction and to this day, my work continues to evolve. Painting is a long journey."
 
29. The Journey, 1999
Oil on canvas
37 x 30 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
30. Just Shirts, 1994
Oil on canvas
30 x 40 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
31. Lifeline, 1996
Oil on canvas
38 x 34 inches
Collection of Manuel de Torres
 
32. Lipsync, 1983
Oil on canvas
30 x 37 inches
Collection of the Butler Institute of American Art
 
33. Night Off, 2001
Oil on canvas
21 x 30 inches
Collection of Edmund Hooker
 
34. Past Season, 1969
Oil on canvas
36 x 24 inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
"In 1967, I discovered the Trompe l'oeil school of painting which immediately interested me. I felt that inanimate objects are universally identifiable and people can relate to objects. I also felt that objects when juxtaposed in a composition could help convey an idea. Thus I began to work in the style of Trompe l'oeil paintingIn 1969, I began reevaluating the small volume of work I created to date in that visual idiom. I asked myself a question. Do I want to be a follower of the 19th century Trompe L'oeil painters or do I want to be an innovator and find my own identity?"
 
35. Picture Show, 1995
Oil on canvas
42 x 38 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
36. The Pressure of Time, 1970
Oil on canvas
29 x 23 inches
Private Collection
 
The Pressure of Time was created in response to the suicide of a childhood friend of the artist. Working in his style of "Levitational Realism" in which the subject is suspended in the air, here we see a weight suspended within a metal frame fastened with a razor blade and hovering over a ticking clock. In the background, the premonition of the fallen weight is realized. This metaphorical composition sums up Erbe's statement that "Suicide is not a spontaneous act."
 
37. Red Horizon, 2004
C-print
52 x 38 inches
Collection of Zeny and Gary Erbe
 
38. Roots of Jazz, 2007
Oil on canvas
30 x 45 inches
Collection of Debbie and Kevin Courtney
 
39. Southern Comfort, 1996
Oil on canvas
38 x 38 inches
Collection of Marybeth and Joseph Cusenza
 
40. Southern Nights, 1999
Oil on canvas
32 x 32 inches
Collection of Springfield Art Museum
 
41. Southern Shadows, 2001
Oil on canvas
38 x 31 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
42. Staff of Life, 1970
Oil on canvas
10 x 14 inches
Collection of Zeny and Gary Erbe
 
43. Street Scene, 1977
Oil on canvas
8 x 17 inches
Collection of Jeffrey Cooley
 
44. Subway Series, 2008
Oil on canvas
55 x 45 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
Gary Erbe's subject here is the Subway Series, a series of major league baseball games played during the regular season between the American League New York Yankees and National League New York Mets. In the year 2008, when the artist completed the work, the Mets won four of six games, sweeping the series at Yankee Stadium. The Subway Series also references the preferred mode of transportation to the games: Subway line 7 goes to Shea Stadium in Queens, home of the Mets and on 4 line goes to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, home of the Yankees.
 
45. Survivor, 1981
Oil on canvas
60 x 48 inches
Collection of Richard Manoogian
 
46. Take Five, 1981-82
Oil on canvas
64 x 54 inches
Collection of Richard Manoogian
 
47. Those Amazin' Mets, 2005-06
Oil on canvas
64 x 45 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
48. Three Friends, 1995
Oil on canvas
16 x 23 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
49. Today's Special, 1970
Oil on paper
8 x 17 inches
Collection of New Britain Museum of American Art
 
50. Two Extremes in Winter, 1998
Oil on canvas
19 x 34 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
51. Virtuoso, 1982
Oil on canvas
32 x 22 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
52. Winterscape, 1997
Oil on canvas
39 x 49 inches
Collection of the National Arts Club
 
53. The Yellow Bow, 1996
Oil on canvas
21 x 36 inches
Courtesy of Godel and Company Fine Art, NYC
 
"Over the years, I have tried to bridge the gap between modern art and realism, never abandoning technique while trying to create a personal style of work attuned with the time in which I live." Here we see the artist's acknowledgement of the influence of modernism and Cubism. The overlapping of shapes and forms that visually push and pull and challenge the viewer to conceptually complete the picture owe much to Picasso and Braque.
 
54. You Can't Take it with You, 1978
Oil on canvas
16 x 13 inches
Collection of Richard Manoogian

 

Images

 

(Gary T. Erbe, Frenzy, 2007, oil on canvas, 60 x 70 inches. Courtesy of Godel & Co. Fine Art, NYC)

 

(Gary T. Erbe, Subway Series, 2008, oil on canvas, 55 x 45 inches. Courtesy of Godel & Co. Fine Art, NYC)


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