Curated by Tayloe Piggott
Tayloe Piggott Gallery is pleased to present NATURE/morte, a group exhibition bridging midcentury Swedish oil paintings with contemporary works by Ed Musante, Greta Waller, Fiona Waterstreet and Mike Piggott, along with a stunning figure drawing by American master Paul Cadmus. The title of the exhibition alludes to nature, both animal and human, as evidenced in the deft brushstrokes of Musante and Cadmus, and the Parisian roots of the modern still life (nature morte), which Edouard Manet once called “the touchstone of painting.”
Self-taught or schooled, generations of painters have looked to the still life for inspiration, for practice, a method of investigation – of composition, of form. A century ago, the still life was considered the lowest of paint forms, following history paintings, portraiture, genre paintings, and landscapes. Through the ghosts of the artists of the past, artists whose names reverberate through art history like Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Giorgio Morandi, still life painting has risen to the upper echelons of painting.
This grouping of spectacular Swedish Modernists, unlike van Gogh, unlike Morandi, have yet to mount museums emblazoned with their names and, unusually for this gallery, are completely unknown to the American art market. Each and every one of these paintings is a work that resonates deeply for this curator. Each is felt in my bones. The kernel of truth within (for me) a truly fantastic work of art explodes meaningfully from the lines of that white chair, the sheen of that oil can, the exquisite roughness of this terra cotta pot. The Swedish school as a whole encapsulates five hundred years of painters, but these paintings, all dated around mid-twentieth century are poised to beg the question, “Why is one artist invisible and one not?”
Born in Manhattan in 1904, Paul Cadmus received his first instruction in the fine arts from his parents who were both professional artists. At fifteen, he enrolled for classes at the National Academy of Design before becoming a commercial illustrator. By 1931, he had saved enough money to travel to Europe—where he embarked on a bicycle tour of France and Spain with his lover, the painter Jared French. At the end of their trip, Cadmus settled for two years on the island of Mallorca but returned to the United States two years later. Cadmus’ 1934 painting The Fleet’s In! for the Public Works of Art Project earned him instant notoriety after it was ejected from the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s exhibition. In 1937, Cadmus had his first one-man show at New York’s Midtown galleries and in 1940 discovered the traditional Renaissance medium of egg yolk tempera which he utilized in the present work. The model in the present work has been identified as Jon (Farquhar) Anderson (1937-2018), a former cabaret star. Cadmus and Anderson met and began a relationship in 1965 that lasted until Cadmus' death in 1999. Throughout their 35 year long relationship, Anderson served as Cadmus' model and muse. Cadmus uses the inscription 'NM' in his signature to stand for 'Nantucket Man' and is a reference to Nantucket, Massachusetts where the couple met.
Ed Musante paints animals, primarily birds, on cigar boxes to a wonderfully engaging effect. Musante was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He grew up primarily in San Francisco, California and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Art History. He had various stints in West Africa working for the Peace Corps in Niger and the US Public Health Service Measles and Smallpox Eradication Program in Dakar, Senegal. Following 6 months of traveling Europe in a VW van, Musante attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He also received an MFA from the University of Idaho. He has lived in Tucson, Arizona since 2012.
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Greta Waller earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cooper Union in 2006. She continued her studies at the University of Los Angeles, CA, and received her M.A. in 2011. Waller has participated in several select summer and exchange programs, including the Chelsea College of Arts and Slade School of Fine Art in London, Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and the New York Academy of Art in Manhattan. In 2017, Waller was invited to participate in the Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts at The American Academy of Arts and Letters, from which the Academy chose her as an Art Award winner.
Mike Piggott was born in 1963, Charlottesville, VA. He received his BA at Virginia Commonwealth University and studied at the Winchester College of Art, Winchester, England. Mike Piggott has had numerous solo exhibitions at the Tayloe Piggott Gallery, Jackson, WY, the Lynchburg Fine Arts Center, Lynchburg, VA, and at the Neapolitan Gallery, Richmond, VA, and participated in various group exhibitions. Mike Piggott lives and works in Victor, Idaho.
Fiona Waterstreet is deeply fascinated by the wealth of experience that comes from sculpting clay. Bringing a form to life within her hands, Waterstreet enjoys the meditative process that begins in water and minerals and ends in anticipation as it transforms within a fiery kiln. She started throwing clay over a decade ago at the Greenwich House Pottery Studio in New York. After learning how to make cylinders and bowls, Waterstreet reached a point where she wanted to make something more dynamic with the clay. Treasuring the freedom of sculpting the material with her hands, Waterstreet created her distinct artform of abstract objects. Born in England, Waterstreet moved to the United States in the early 1980s and currently lives and works in New York City.