San Francisco Debut: Wojciech Fangor: The Early 1960s Exhibition

Heather James Fine Art is bringing Wojciech Fangor: The Early 1960s to San Francisco from October 11 – December 31. This is the first U.S. travelling solo exhibition of one Poland’s preeminent Post-War abstract artist in more than 25 years.

Fangor’s (1922-2015) painting, M63, 1969, is part of the San Francisco Modern Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Recently his work has been experiencing a major resurgence of interest. M77, 1968 sold for $492,500, far exceeding its estimate of $200,000-$300,000, at Bonham’s' Post-War & Contemporary Art  sale last spring in New York. Additionally, Skira Editore released the first international publication dedicated to Fangor.

Challenging and re-inventing ideas about pictorial space, the nine large-scale paintings focus on the artist’s breakthrough period, and relate to California Color Field Painting and Op Art. Each work on view reflects Fangor’s distinctive use of saturated color and blurred silhouettes to create mesmerizing optical illusions. For example, #29, 1963 represents a standout among Fangor's signature concentric circle paintings, which feature incandescent configurations of pulsating contours. Works such as Pink and Black Spindle, 1960, and Red Moons 2, 1961, feature bold abstract shapes accentuated by dispersed, edgeless transitions between colors, which create an illusion of movement. Taking a different turn, in Green Points, 1961, and #3, 1963, Pointillism magnifies the effect of the oscillating picture planes -- drawing the viewer's focus either to the transition of colors, or to the spaces between dots. The exhibition, is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by guest curator, Polish art historian Patryk P. Tomaszewski.

Fangor first gained international exposure in the U.S., having his painting included in the 1961 exhibition, 15 Polish Painters, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and his first U.S. solo exhibition that same year at the Gres Gallery, Washington, D.C. A Ford Foundation fellowship brought him to the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Washington, D.C. in 1962. The fellowship proved to be critically important by allowing him to solidify theoretical work he had begun in Europe concerning what he termed "Positive Illusory Space."

I discovered that my paintings with diffused edges of color and shape create a spatial illusion, which is not directed to the inside of the surface (like perspective) but extends in the opposite direction toward the outside of the surface into the real space between the painter and the viewer.

Heather James Fine Art, San Francisco is located in the historic fine art building 49 Geary Street and is the fourth location spearheaded by co-owners James Carona and Heather Sacre.

The gallery opened in 2018 and each season hosts rotating selections from preeminent artists including Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, Fernand Leger, Childe Hassam, Tom Wesselmann and Ai Weiwei, among others. Recent exhibitions include The Paintings of Sir Winston Churchill and California: North and South.