A Lifetime of Sketchbooks

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Untitled Mixed Media 10 X 6.5 X 2 Inches © Courtesy of the artist & Fred Torres Collaborations
A Lifetime of Sketchbooks

505 West 28th St.
New York, NY 10001
October 25th, 2012 - January 5th, 2013
Opening: October 25th, 2012 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM



Fred Torres Collaborations is pleased to present Madeleine Gekiere: A Lifetime of Sketchbooks, from October 25th, 2012 through January 12th, 2013. This second solo exhibition of Gekiere's work with the gallery will show 20 of the sketchbooks she has compiled throughout her life. In addition to the displays in vitrines on pedestals, pages from the sketchbooks will be projected onto a wall.  An opening reception will be held on Thursday, the 25th, from 6 to 8 PM. The artist will be present.

W.G. Sebald called the Swiss writer Robert Walser "a clairvoyant of the small." The same could be said about Madeleine Gekiere whose works−ranging from painting, drawing, and assemblage to film−all favor a modest format rich in the emotional resonance of life's intimate detritus. This keynote rings especially true in Gekiere's sketchbooks, which in their compressed intensity pair her exuberant, fantastical, witty style with the essential melancholy of little things barely snatched away from obsolescence.  Gracing her art with the poetic power of arte povera, these sketchbook pieces with their tenderly salvaged remnants of the quotidian serve also as visual diaries of Gekiere's long life. The book itself has always been an object of her artistic inspiration and exploration: snippets of the printed page can be found in her collages, and the hollowed-out body of a hardcover volume may serve as a container for a three-dimensional piece. Gekiere capitalizes on our left-to-right language-scanning habits to guide the viewer's eye in reading her images, which often progress in a repetitive, rhythmic manner. From the tools of the printing arts, Gekiere frequently selects stamps and stencils to employ with varying degrees of accuracy, nonchalantly proving the uniqueness and unpredictability of every single mechanical application: depending on the amount of ink, the stencil of a bee morphs from a faint memory of a ghost insect to an anatomically precise representation to the ambiguously symmetrical shape of a Rorschach. Last but not least, her sketchbooks have been the foundation of her work as an illustrator and author. In an esthetic treatise disguised as a children's book−The Frilly Lilu and the Princess− the artist charmingly lays out her belief in the peaceful coexistence of the intuitive and the rational, the fanciful and the square. Like her compatriot Paul Klee, with whom she shares a playful serenity, Madeleine Gekiere effortlessly combines freedom with the systematic.

Madeleine Gekiere was born in Switzerland in 1919. She lives and works in New York. Gekiere studied at NYU, Brooklyn Museum School, and the Art Students League. Gekiere began exhibiting in the 1950’s with Babcock Gallery, and continued to show there through the 1970’s. Between 1953 and 1963, her books were named five times by the New York Times as one of the “Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year.” In the 1970’s and 1980’s her experiments in over 20 films screened extensively throughout the U.S. More recently, in the fall of 2011 Anthology Film Archives screened several of her short films including the1980 film Chewing. In addition to Babcock Gallery, she has exhibited at Forum Gallery, New York University, and Galerie Wolfsberg, Zurich. Her work is in numerous museum collections, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, and the San Francisco Museum of Art