March 10 through April 23,1989

Michael Harnett’s New Paintings are about perception — not only the images one perceives, but also the manner in which one perceives them. By working in his long, narrow format, Harnett studies the nature of the visual experience. With these paintings, the artist asserts his belief in the strength of the vertical. These carefully constructed views simulate the natural pattern of vision through a doorway –or keyhole –and stimulate inherent curiosity, drawing one deeper into the work. Harnett rewards this interest with vivid detail, imaginative symbolism, and intricate patterning of positive and negative shapes.

Even as Harnett is luring us into his paintings with such meticulously rendered information, their narrow borders exclude. These works persistently remind us of our status as outsiders. They flirt with accessibility but always maintain an arm’s length distance. Except for the floral still lifes depicted in several, life is depicted only indirectly. An exception is Self Portrait, in which one finds the reflection of the artist’s legs in the pose of classical sculpture. This art historical reference is but one example of the rich and diverse visual allusions that permeate these works. In many, anachronistic imagery and the artist’s personal iconography interrelate, adding to their complexity. Through the window of a comfortable home, in Memorial, for example, one sees ruins left by nuclear devastation. On the sill, table and floor are the remains of a floral still life echoing the shape of the rubble outside.

The curious format and intriguing subjects of these slices of hyperreality invite intensive examination. For our efforts we are rewarded with a more profound understanding of the nature of vision itself.

Anne Monahan
Curatorial Assistant

Checklist

The Fall of Phaeton, 1985-86
Oil on masonite, 66″ x 6″
Courtesy of Dolores Cohen, Madeleine Diamond, Linda Siper

Settignano, 1986
Oil on masonite, 72″ x 7-1/2″
Courtesy Dr. & Mrs. William Perlow

Loops and Ladder, 1987
Oil on canvas, 76″ x 10″
Courtesy of Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery

The Blessing, 1988
Oil on oak panel, 80″ x 8″
Courtesy of Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery

Projecting Peas, 1988
Oil on canvas, 84″ x 11″
Courtesy of Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery

Twilight Passage, 1988
Oil on oak panel, 91″ x 6″
Courtesy of Jeffrey & Dana Cooley

Porch Light, 1988
Oil on oak panel, 70-1/2″ x 10-1/2″
Private collection

Self Portrait, 1988
Oil on oak panel, 82″ x 8″
Mr. & Mrs. Donald Rechler

Itch, 1988
Oil on oak panel, 80-1/2 ” x 11-1/4″
Private collection

Verdant Flames, 1988
Oil on oak panel, 84-1/2″ x 8″
Courtesy of Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery

Memorial, 1989
Oil on oak panel, 90″ x 10″
Courtesy of the artist & Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery

Ascent to the Diamond Points, 1989
Oil on oak panel, 80″ x 12″ at widest point
Courtesy of the artist & Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery

Aspirations, 1989
Oil on oak panel, 90″ x 10″
Courtesy of the artist & Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery

A Particularly Difficult Painting to Title, 1989
Oil on oak panel, 66″ x 6″
Courtesy of the artist & Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery

Michael Harnett
Born in Fort Lee, New Jersey, 1952

Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, B.FA., 1975
Rosary College Graduate School of Fine Arts, Villa Schifanoia, Florence, Italy, M.FA., 1978
Woodstock School of Art, Woodstock, New York, Artist Residence, 1984
Millay Colony for the Arts, Steepletop, Austerlitz, New York, Fellowship in painting, 1985
Currently self-employed visual artist

Selected Exhibitions

1988
Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery, New York, NY

Connecticut State University Art Faculty Exhibition, Old State House, Hartford, CT

Twentieth Century American Realism from the Collection of Peter and Ronnie Blum, Aetna Art Institute, Hartford, CT

1987
Michael Harnett, Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery, New York, NY

1986
Art/Arte, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy

Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery, New York, NY

Contemporary Realism, Columbus Art Museum, Columbus, OH

Collector’s Choice, Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX

1985
Smallworks, New York University, NY

1984
Capricorn Gallery, Bethesda, MD

Annual Invitational, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH

1983
34th Annual Exhibition of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture, Silvermine Guild for the Arts, Norwalk, CT

1982
Connecticut Artist Annual Exhibition, Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich, CT

1980
Michael Harnett, Art Department Gallery, Smith College, Northampton, MA

American Students Living Abroad, Fortman Studios, Florence, Italy

The Morris Gallery displays the work of outstanding contemporary artists with a connection to Philadelphia, determined by birth, schooling, or residence. The exhibitions are chosen by a committee composed of area artists, museum personnel, and collectors, and the curatorial staff of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Currently serving on the Morris Gallery Exhibition Committee are: Moe Brooker, Diane Burko, Paolo Colombo, Faith Ginsburg, Dr. Perry Ottenberg, Carrie Rickey, Judith Tannenbaum; Academy staff Judith Stein, Morris Gallery Coordinator, Linda Bantel, Susan Danly, and Frank H. Goodyear, Jr., Ex Officio.

Copyright, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1989

Annie Stone

See Annie Stone's full Portfolio