Talk Art Season 14 continues with a truly special episode!!! We meet artist Jimmy Wright (b. 1944, Kentucky) who has lived and worked in New York since the early 1970s. We discuss queerness, Queer Art of the 1960s & 70s, grief, a lifetime of painting, his close friendship with the Chicago Imagists, being taught by Ray Yoshida and his extraordinary new solo exhibition ‘Flowers For Ken’, which has just opened in New York at Fierman West gallery, 19 Pike Street and runs until October 23rd 2022.
Text by Ashton Cooper: "In 1988, Ken Nuzzo was diagnosed with HIV, an official pronouncement that confirmed years of suspicion, but had long been avoided for fear of losing the insurance coverage provided through his government job. For the next three years, Ken’s partner Jimmy Wright cared for him in ways both familiar and painfully unfamiliar in their 16-year-long relationship. During that time, Wright also began work on a pair of monumental paintings titled Flowers for Ken. The first of these, Flowers for Ken, Sunflower Stem, was dated 1988-1991 to reflect those “three years of horror,” as Wright described them, and the painting’s date of completion was mirrored by Ken’s death in 1991 at the age of 41. Measuring 6 feet high and wide, Flowers for Ken, Sunflower Stem depicts the backside of a massively enlarged sunflower in the process of decay, its spindly petals withered but still vibrantly orange-yellow as they erupt around the rim of the top-heavy flower. Its partner, Flowers for Ken, Sunflower Head, 1989-92, was completed in the months after Ken’s passing. It renders the same blossom, but this time from the front. Also measuring six feet high, the entire canvas is occupied by the dark center of the flower’s head, its spiral-patterned disc florets rendered in somber tones of brown and gray."
Wright's work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum of American Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Center for Book and Paper Arts, Columbia College, Chicago; The Springfield Art Museum, MO; among other institutions. Recent gallery exhibitions include The Queen’s Court, Fierman, NYC (solo), LA 73 – NY 74, M&B Gallery, Los Angeles (solo) and Rachel Harrison, Albert Oehlen, Jimmy Wright, Corbett Vs. Dempsey, Chicago, both in 2019. Fierman released a limited edition publication of Wright’s tearoom drawings, featuring writing by Alissa Bennett and Alison Gingeras, published by Heinzfeller Nileisist. In 2016 Corbett Vs. Dempsey published a major monograph of his work from the 1970s entitled New York Underground. Wright stopped making this body of work as the AIDS crisis wracked the gay community and New York changed. The extant drawings from the period as such serve as a dreamlike document of an oft mythologized cultural moment. The first of Wright’s many flower works, were painted 1988-91, in homage to the artist’s partner who had recently died of AIDS. In 2018 he was named Academician of the National Academy of Design.
We love Jimmy's paintings. Thanks for listening!!!
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