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Benny Andrews: There Must Be a Heaven

March 19 – May 18, 2013


1 of 32

Many Sins, 1964
oil on canvas
97 1/2 x 51 1/2 inches, signed and dated

Dinner Time, 1965
oil on canvas
39 1/4 x 51 inches, signed and dated

There Must Be a Heaven, 1966
oil on canvas
38 x 23 1/2 inches, signed and dated

Cradle, 1967
oil on canvas
67 1/4 x 50  1/2 inches, signed and dated

Witness, 1968
oil on canvas with painted fabric collage
48 x 48 x 1 inches, signed and dated

Down the Road, 1971
oil on canvas with painted fabric collage
55 x 48 x 1 1/2 inches, signed and dated

Liberty #6 (Study for Trash) (Bicentennial Series), 1971
oil on canvas with painted fabric collage
78 x 39 3/4 x 1/4 inches, signed and dated

Circle Study #10, 1972
oil on canvas with painted fabric collage
48 x 42 x 1/4 inches, signed and dated

Circle Study #11, 1972
oil on canvas with painted fabric collage
55 3/4 x 48 x 1/2 inches, signed and dated

Sexism Study #24 (Bicentennial Series), 1973
oil on canvas with painted fabric collage and rope
96 x 50 1/2 x 2 inches, signed and dated

War (Study #1), 1974
oil and graphite on canvas with painted fabric collage and rope
34 x 25 x 1 1/4 inches, signed and dated

Study for Portrait of Oppression (Homage to Black South Africans), 1985 oil on canvas with painted fabric and paper collage
43 1/2 x 28 1/8 x 1/2 inches, signed and dated

The Homeless, 1989
oil on two joined canvases with painted fabric collage
84 x 24 x 1/2 inches, signed and dated

The Hunters, Study (Southland Series), 1989
oil on canvas with painted fabric collage
42 x 24 x 3/4 inches, signed and dated

Demagogue (America Series), 1990
oil and graphite on paper with painted fabric collage
50 3/4 x 27 7/8 x 1/4 inches, signed and dated

Poverty (America Series), 1990
oil and graphite on paper with painted fabric collage
50 1/4 x 38 3/4 x 1/4 inches, signed and dated

The Soil (American Series), 1990
oil on paper with painted fabric collage
63 x 38 3/8 x 1/4 inches, signed and dated

War Clouds Study, 1990
oil and spray enamel on joined paper with painted fabric collage
49 3/4 x 22 x 3/4 inches, signed and dated

Thresh Hold (World Series), 1992
oil on paper with painted fabric and paper collage including
Xerox reproduction
30 x 22 7/8 x 1/2 inches, signed and dated

Fruits of War Study #2 (Cruelty and Sorrow Series), 1994
oil on canvas with painted fabric collage and rope
37 x 24 x 1/8 inches, signed and dated

The Way to the Promised Land (Revival Series),  1994
oil on canvas with painted fabric collage
72 x 50 3/4  x 1/4 inches, signed and dated

Confinement One (Music Series), 1996
oil on canvas with collage including  painted fabric and foam core, screws, wire and staples
72 x 50 x 1 inches, signed and dated

Ode to The Road (Musical Interlude Series), 1999
oil on joined paper with painted fabric and paper collage
55 1/2 x 22 1/4 x 1/8 inches, signed and dated

Baptist Heaven (Human Spirit Series),  2000
oil on three joined canvases with painted fabric collage
98 x 72 x 1/2 inches, signed and dated

Family Study #3 (Human Spirit Series), 2000
oil on paper with painted fabric and paper collage
39 1/4 x 27 1/2 x 1/8 inches, signed and dated

Flying High (Human Spirit Series), 2000
oil on joined paper with painted fabric and paper collage
42 1/2 x 22 1/2 x 1/4 inches, signed and dated

Coming Together (W.W. Law Series), 2004 
oil and graphite on paper with paper collage
29 3/4 " x 22 1/4 " inches, signed and dated

Migrant Packers (Migrant Series), 2004
oil on canvas with collage including painted fabric, rope, string and staples
50" x 50" x 3/4, signed and dated

Leaving Home (Migrant Series), 2004
oil on joined paper with painted fabric collage
38 x 55 1/2 x 1 inches, signed and dated

Afro-American Fragments (Langston Hughes Series), 2005
oil on paper with painted fabric and paper collage
33 1/2 x 22 1/2 inches, signed and dated

Home Sick Blues (Langston Hughes Series), 2005
oil on joined paper with painted fabric and paper collage
41 3/4 x 40 3/4 x 1/4 inches, signed and dated

Mississippi River Bank (Trail of Tears Series), 2005
oil on canvas with painted fabric collage
70 x 50 1/2 x 3/4 inches, signed and dated



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Press Release

Opening Reception, Saturday, March 16, 2013 from 6-8pm

(New York—March 5, 2013) Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is pleased to present Benny Andrews: There Must Be A Heaven, an exhibition of thirty-six works that span from 1964 to 2005. It is the first comprehensive survey since Andrews’s death in 2006 and the first solo exhibition of his work at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, which recently moved to 100 Eleventh Avenue in Chelsea. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue featuring an essay by Dr. Lowery Stokes Sims and a foreword by Congressman John Lewis, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives (Georgia).

A self-described “people’s painter,” Benny Andrews (American, 1930-2006) was born in Plainview, Georgia, to a family of sharecroppers. In 1948, he received a small scholarship to attend college, but eventually had to drop out. He joined the US Air Force in 1950, served for the duration of the Korean War, and received an honorable discharge in 1954. With funding from the GI Bill, Andrews returned to school, enrolling in the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1958, he received his degree and left Chicago for New York City.

Settling in a tenement on the Lower East Side, he developed the “rough collage” technique that became a hallmark of his style. As Sims in her catalogues essay explains, “Andrews’s use of collage came out of that fact that he found oil painting ‘too academic’ and imbued with more ‘sophisticated’ associations. He found the textural quality of collage appealing, and he used it to ‘keep himself off balance.’ . . . Andrews’s work, with its calculated awkwardness, unconventional techniques, and Southern focus, exists provocatively alongside that of self-taught artists. But as art historian and Andrews scholar J. Richard Gruber would caution us, despite Andrews’s predilection for ‘realistic subject matter, he was intrigued by the fundamental issues associated with abstract art.’ While he was often in conflict with his instructors and peers over the emphasis on abstract expressionism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago . . . he would come to be ‘increasingly more convinced that all art was fundamentally abstract.’”

By the 1960s, Andrews had mastered this technique and exhibition opportunities followed. In 1965, with funding from a John Hay Whitney Fellowship, Andrews traveled to Georgia and began working on his Autobiographical Series. He continued to paint, exhibit, travel, write, and teach until his death from cancer at age 76. During his lifetime, he lectured extensively and received numerous fellowships, grants, and other awards from prestigious international institutions. His work is featured in over thirty permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, High Museum (Atlanta, Georgia), Art Institute of Chicago, Studio Museum of Harlem, and Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC).

Andrews did not see art as a substitute for action. In 1968, he began teaching at Queens College, CUNY, where he was part of the SEEK (Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge) program designed to help students from underserved areas prepare for college. In 1969, he was a founding member of the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC), which advocated for greater representation of black artists, curators, and intellectuals within major museums. In 1971, the art classes he had been teaching at the Manhattan Detention Complex became the cornerstone of a nation-wide prison art program. From 1982 to 1984, he directed the NEA’s Visual Arts Program, and shortly before his death in 2006, Andrews was working on an art project in the Gulf Coast with children displaced by Hurricane Katrina. In 2002, he and his wife, sculptor Nene Humphrey, established the Benny Andrews Foundation to help emerging artists gain greater recognition and to encourage artists to donate their work to historically black museums. In 2008, The Foundation donated over 300 of Andrews’s artworks to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) to be distributed to appropriate cultural and educational institutions that will use the artworks as a foundation for education initiatives.

In 2008, Michael Rosenfeld Gallery became the representative of the estate of Benny Andrews, but the gallery has been exhibiting his work regularly since 1994. Most recently, Andrews was part of the 2012 exhibition Benny Andrews, Bob Thompson, Alice Neel, which brought together three New York friends, who steadily pursued figural expressionism in a creative landscape dominated by abstraction and minimalism.

Lowery Stokes Sims, author of “Benny Andrews: From Earth to Heaven and Back, is the Charles Bronfman International Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design. She was on the education and curatorial staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1972-1999 before serving as executive director, president, and adjunct curator for the permanent collection at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2000-2007). A specialist in modern and contemporary art, Sims is known for her expertise in the work of African, Latino, Native, and Asian American artists. She has lectured and guest curated exhibitions nationally and internationally and was a visiting professor at Queens College and Hunter College in New York City, a fellow at the Clark Art Institute, and a visiting scholar in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota in 2007. She has also served on the selection jury for the World Trade Center memorial and is on the boards of ArtTable, Inc., the Tiffany Foundation, and Art Matters, Inc.

Visuals available upon request.

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery is located at 100 11th Avenue (at 19th Street), New York, NY, 10011. Gallery hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 10AM-6PM.

For additional information, please contact Marjorie Van Cura at 212.247.0082 or mv@michaelrosenfeldart.com.

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