THE PAINTINGS OF ERNEST BRIGGS: ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONIST OF THE 1950s

At the Mishkin Gallery, Nov. 22 to Dec. 18, 2002

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The outsized canvases of Ernest Briggs testify to the sense of liberation and power he experienced upon leaving representational subjects behind. Briggs, a latecomer to the Abstract Expressionism, was first exposed to abstract painting as student at the San Francisco Art Institute in the years 1946-1951. There he studied with Clyfford Still, Mark Rothko and Ad Reinhardt and came under the influence of the New York School and its revolutionary ideas on the genesis of art in the subconscious mind of the artist.
Briggs arrived in New York in 1953 and, for several years, was a significant figure in avant-garde circles. His paintings combine a sense of unbridled energy, intense physicality, and heroic scale. His canvases are full of drama, the more so for Briggs’ nuanced lyrical use of color. Thirteen of Briggs’ highly charged works will be on view in the exhibition Ernest Briggs: Abstract Expressionist Paintings from the 1950s at the Mishkin Gallery, Friday, November 22 to Wednesday, December 18, 2002.
Opening reception Thursday, November 21, 5 to 7 pm.

Riding the crest of the Abstract Expressionist movement, in 1954 and 1955 Briggs had solo shows at the Stable Gallery, a major venue for avant-garde artists in the 1950s and ’60s. He was included in several Whitney Museum Annuals during this period, and in 1956 was one of the artists whose work was exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art’s influential 12 Americans exhibition. More recently, however, his work has largely been eclipsed by Pollock, Rothko and the other seminal figures of the Abstract Expressionist Movement. The current exhibition at the Mishkin Gallery offers a new look at the accomplishments of a painter whose dynamic canvases further a more inclusive understanding of the generation of painters that secured New York’s position as the art capital of the world.

From 1961 until his death in 1984, Briggs taught painting at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he passed along the principles of Abstract Expressionism to a younger generation of painters.

The Mishkin Gallery is located at Baruch College, 135 E. 22nd Street, New York City. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, noon to 5 pm; Thursdays, noon to 7 pm. The gallery is free and open to the public.

Mishkin Gallery