Max Ferguson - Painting My Father
April 16 – June 29, 2012
The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum in New York is pleased to announce the thirteenth solo exhibition of Jewish painter Max Ferguson, Painting My Father.
The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum is located at One West Fourth Street in New York. Hours are Monday-Thursday, 9am-5pm and Friday 9am-3pm.
"Despite spending so much time in Jerusalem, I continue to paint primarily New York-themed imagery," says painter Ferguson, who divides his time between New York and Jerusalem. "I don't want anyone ever saying about me Oh, I didn't know he was Jewish. With my Ellis Island name, people often assume I am not." His work is essentially autobiographical, with his father and himself being his most frequent models. It is his father who is the focus of this exhibition, showing thirty paintings he has done of him over a thirty year period, coinciding with what would have been his father's 100th birthday. His paintings, at once timely and personal; timeless and universal, capture the tones and moods of a rapidly changing New York. His concentrating on images associated with an older New York (Coney Island, mom-and-pop shops, etc.), stems not so much from nostalgia, as it does from a desire to capture things while they are still here. Many of the subjects he has painted have already gone the way of the wrecking ball, or been renovated beyond recognition. Max Ferguson has worked on a number of series including Coney Island, Jewish imagery, and people in the subway.
His wife and their three children were all born in Jerusalem, and he has had his paintings exhibited at the Israel Museum.
Ferguson learned the discipline for his meticulously rendered paintings while doing animated films as a teenager, graduating from New York University film school in 1980. But it was while spending a year at an art school in Amsterdam that his interest switched to painting. He developed an enduring admiration for Dutch seventeenth-century painters and has sought to integrate their concern for craftsmanship with contemporary urban realism. As Ferguson says, "For me, the ideal artistic marriage would be Vermeer and Hopper."
Ferguson is also known for the backs of his paintings, a unique hybrid of open diary, scrapbook, and messages in a bottle.
His works are in many prominent public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The British Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, and Yeshiva University Museum.
In conjunction with this exhibition, curated by Laura Kruger, a fully illustrated 32 page catalogue is being published, with an introduction by noted art historian, Gail Levin.