Artists and the Natural World, April 2 – May 2, 2009

The McKee Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of its exhibition, Artists and the Natural World, on view from April 2 – May 2, 2009.

Click here to download the press release.

Vija CELMINS (American, b. Riga, Latvia, 1938)
Whale 1990
15 x 10 3/4 inches, 38 x 27.5 cm

Jeanne SILVERTHORNE (American, b. 1950)
Phosphorescent Yellow Roses, Woody 2009
rubber and phosphorescent pigment
12 x 12 3/4 x 5 inches, 30.5 x 32.5 x 12.7 cm
edition 2 of 3

March 17, 2009



The McKee Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of its exhibition,
Artists and the Natural World, on view from March 29 – May 2, 2009.

The artists selected for this show are not the new Audubons, the naturalist painters of the 19th century, or the realist or landscape painters of today. They are not the artists you would expect to associate with the natural world. This exhibition is about those artists whose main body of work is not generally about observant reality. The use of the natural world in their art is marginal, and yet their interest in it is profound. Occasionally, that interest peeks out and takes you by surprise when they draw a realistic tree, sculpt a bird in wood, or make a red rubber rose.

Among the 20 works in the exhibition a special focus has turned out to be birds. It is surprising how many artists know a lot about birds. Not only is there a fascination with the miraculous ability to fly, but with the many details of their physical appearance. If you speak to one artist about another artist’s interest, often that artist will add some very personal experience and specific facts to the conversation. They know the habitat, the color of the beak and the wing, the song, the genus.

Artists watch the outside world closely. Birds are the hardest to observe because the looker must concentrate on identifying their attributes quickly before they fly off, adding to the challenge of capturing, understanding and re-creating. It is curiosity on the hunt for knowledge.

The artists in this show leave the natural world behind in their mature work, but do not completely sever ties with this deep interest, using it symbolically, formally, or whimsically when they choose, in contrast to artists who never refer to the physical world or those whose work is defined by it.

This exhibition has only a few artists in it, a small sampling, the beginning of an idea, of a communal admiration of nature’s mystery. It is a spring show full of small surprises.

The artists included are Vija Celmins, Philip Guston, Vlatka Horvat, Soo Kim, Klara Kristalova, Leonid Lerman, Martin Puryear, Jeanne Silverthorne, Yun-Fei Ji, and others.

For further information and photographs, please contact Karyn Behnke at or telephone 212-688-5951.

Vlatka HORVAT (American, b. Croatia, 1974)
Birds Shelf 2009
13 photo-sensitive bird figurines
4 x 29 x 6 inches, 10.2 x 73.7 x 15.2 cm

Philip Guston (American, 1913-1980)
Bird Feeder 1976
ink on paper
19 x 24 1/2 inches, 48.3 x 62.2 cm