Balcomb Greene at Greenville

Balcomb Greene, "Angelina," 1984, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 1/4 inches

Balcomb Greene, "Angelina," 1984, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 1/4 inches

Lisa N. Peters

On June 11, the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina, opened an exhibition entitled Balcomb Greene: The Elements, consisting of ten works lent by Spanierman Gallery. The works on view are in the unique figurative style informed by principles of abstraction and photography that Greene developed beginning in the 1950s. Before becoming an artist, Greene completed a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, wrote three novels, and took part in a master’s program in English literature at Columbia University, which led to a job teaching English at Dartmouth College. As an artist, he was an iconoclastic figure with an intellectual frame of mind. His passion for exploring the connection between the physical and spiritual materialized in these late works, in which forms are recognizable yet dislocated in space and intercepted by variegated passages of light and shadow, conveying a sense of becoming and being at once. His Angelina seems to look into his subject’s soul, while in Island and Summer Clouds, sky, rocks, and water are infused with a light that can only be described as supernatural. Continue reading

Burgoyne Diller and the Restored Williamsburg Murals

Lisa N. Peters

Balcomb Greene - Untitiled," 1937-39, Brooklyn Museum, New York

Balcomb Greene, "Untitled," 1937-39, oil on canvas, 91-1/2 x 139-1/4 inches, on extended loan to the Brooklyn Museum, New York by the New York City Housing Authority

A number of years ago, several murals from the mid-1930s were installed at the Brooklyn Museum.  Their intriguing story soon came to light.  It turns out that they were part of a group of works commissioned in 1936 by the New York Mural Division of the Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project for public areas in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg Housing Project (designed by the Swiss-born architect William Lescaze and built in the then-modern International Style).  The murals had been forgotten for many years. In some cases they had been covered with rubber cement and used as bulletin boards. In others, they had been locked away in storage rooms. Continue reading