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June 2011

Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, Features Works by and Selected by Sigmund Abeles

For the first time in history, the Columbia Museum of Art in Columbia, SC, opens its Modern and Contemporary vaults to famed South Carolina artist Sigmund Abeles to present An Artist’s Eye: A Journey through Modern and Contemporary Art with Sigmund Abeles. The major summer exhibition will be on view from June 17 through Oct. 23, 2011. The Museum will also present the exhibit, It Figures: The Art of Sigmund Abeles, on view from June 17 through Oct. 23, 2011.

As an invited guest curator, Abeles selected over 80 works from the Museum’s esteemed Modern and Contemporary collection. His selection is based on his personal taste, preferences and attitudes about contemporary art, which he developed over a 50-year career.

An Artist’s Eye broadens the visitor’s understanding by providing a unique perspective. “The premise is that an artist brings a different ‘eye’ and set of criteria in evaluating art than does a curator or an art historian, whose training tends toward historical context rather than artistic practice. This different viewpoint - born from a background of method, process, creation and materials - can yield a new and interesting perspective to the selection and display of modern and contemporary artwork from our collection,” chief curator Todd Herman said.

Abeles was part of the art scene when many of the pieces in the show were created and in some cases knew the artists, including Jasper Johns, personally. He provides a rare look into the lives of the exhibition’s artists by engaging visitors with personal anecdotes and offering first-hand accounts of the artists and their work. Abeles’ ability to bring vast experience as an artist, a South Carolinian, a teacher, and his deep connections to the early years of the Columbia Museum of Art promises an exhibition full of variety.

“I would love to own and live with the sassy and bold Paula Rego colored lithograph, to take it home with me,” Abeles said. “The Chuck Close is sheer magic, his engaging portrait of Philip Glass created with Close’s fingerprints, for sure is innovative, fresh and contemporary. I adore the rich painterly way Paul Wonner wrought a space-filled landscape with Abstract Expressionist means. To include some heroes I actually knew was so satisfying, namely, Jack Levine, Paul Cadmus and Isabel Bishop, a teacher who became a friend.”

In conjunction with An Artist’s Eye, the Museum will present a small exhibition highlighting the drawings, paintings, pastels, prints, and sculpture of this prolific, talented and tireless artist, It Figures: The Art of Sigmund Abeles, on view from June 17 through Oct. 23, 2011.

This group of approximately 12 works demonstrates Abeles’ lifelong fascination with the figure (and horses) and sure-handed draftsmanship. Viewing examples of Abeles’ own work provides visitors a deeper understanding of his viewpoint as an artist and a clearer appreciation for the selection of works in An Artist’s Eye. Each exhibition enhances the other to create a richer and more profound experience.

The Columbia Museum of Art organized two other exhibitions of Abeles’ work: Sigmund Abeles Prints in 1981 and The Max Drawings - Sigmund Abeles in 1987.

The Museum will offer the Artist Salon Series, gallery talks by local artists, which takes place at noon in the exhibit, An Artist’s Eye. The talks are free with admission or membership. The schedule includes: Friday, June 24 - Gallery Talk led by Phillip Mullen; Friday, July 22 - Gallery Talk led by Boyd Saunders; Friday, August 19 - Gallery Talk led by David Yaghijan; Friday, Sept. 23 - Gallery Talk led by Tarleton Blackwell; and Friday, Oct. 21 - Gallery Talk led by Jeff Donovan.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 803/799-2810 or visit (

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