An upcoming exhibition at the Parrish Art Museum — “John Graham: Maverick Modernist” — will be the first comprehensive retrospective in 30 years of the provocative artist’s work. The show will be on view from May 7 through July 30 and will feature 60 paintings as well as a selection of important works on paper from Graham’s influential four-decade career.
The exhibition explores how Graham (1886-1961) became a significant figure in the development of a distinctly American approach to art-making in the first half of the 20th century and in what ways his continuous self-reinvention mirrored the attempts of American artists to define a new direction.
Organized chronologically and featuring works from 1923 to 1959, the work in the show illustrates the development of Graham’s style beginning with cubist-influenced still lifes, nudes, landscapes, and portraits followed by more abstract works in the 1930s, to radical stylistic change in the early 1940s. That’s when Graham veered from abstraction and began producing portraits inspired by Renaissance and 19th-century French artists. Work from Graham’s later output alludes to his eclectic interests such as the occult and mysticism
“In many ways Graham has been a hard artist to pin down, eluding as he does the oft-told narratives of modernism,” said Parrish curator Alicia G. Longwell, who organized this exhibition along with guest co-curator Karen Wilkin, consulting curator William C. Agee of Hunter College, and French art historian Sophie Egly. “His protean career as painter, theoretician, and polemicist is long overdue for reconsideration and it is the aim of ‘John Graham: Maverick Modernist’ to show how this artist remains relevant today.”
“John Graham: Maverick Modernist” opens with a members reception and special talk on Sunday, May 7 at 11 a.m. The public may join the museum on the day of the reception; pre-registration suggested. For more information visit www.parrishart.org or call (631) 283-2118.