Frye Art Museum

photo by Jill Berarducci

Seattle, Washington


Robert Van Vranken: Silent Paintings


Intellectually stimulating paintings of mysterious architectural spaces by Maine artist Robert Van Vranken (b. 1946), are on view in the exhibition Silent Paintings, at the Frye Art Museum, Fri. Nov. 10 through Sun Jan. 7, 2001. In the words of Frye Director Richard West, "Lucid architectural constructs turn into tantalizing labyrinths that are underpinned and overlaid with the history of their own creation."

Van Vranken builds his fames from found architectural elements, occasionally incorporating doors and window frames in the mounting of his paintings. These paintings are made much in the same way a plaster wall is constructed. After the plaster dries, oil paint is applied. The painting becomes a collective process of the addition and subtraction of plaster, paint, and collage materials. Van Vranken explains that, "These paintings are a synthesized collage of mistakes. There is never a master plan and if there is, no one ever takes it seriously...these paintings are a simple record of billions of infinite small moments." (left: Untitled (The Empty Bell - After Jamie Wyeth), 1999, oil and mixed media on plaster on board, 39 x 42 1/2 inches, Collection of Peter N. Maduro)

With plaster, paint, and collage items, the artist creates rooms without people that merge into dream-like compositions. In the words of one critic, "Examining layer upon layer of iconographic hints, ghost remnants, collaged texts, private musings, and trompe l'oeil details, feels like rummaging through a surrealistic wardrobe."

A native of New York State, Van Vranken graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine and received an M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art institute in 1985. The artist has been the recipient of many awards, including multiple residencies at the Djerassi Foundation and the MacDowell Colony. In 1991, Van Vranken was a lecturer in visual arts at Princeton University.

An illustrated catalogue produced by the Frye will be available through the Frye museum store.

Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Frye Art Museum.

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This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 4/6/11

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