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West by West
Shirley West (1928 - 2010), was a painter and sculptor, originated from Texas, who lived in Tribeca, New York, for most of her artistic life. One of her teachers was Max Beckmann, who, in the 1950’s, invited her to study with him at the University of Colorado, Boulder. West had her first solo show of drawings and paintings at the Museum of Modern Art in Miami in 1961. Throughout the ’60’s and ’70’s, Ms. West was active in the Art Students League in New York. Between 1968 and the early ’70’s, she built three large concrete outdoor sculptures that were constructed and remain on permanent display in Gainesville and Micanopy, Florida. A late highlight of Shirley West’s career was her solo show Discovery: A Retrospective in October and November of 2009 at the Chelsea Art Museum, New York.
The current show, West by West features paintings and sculpture dating from the 1950’s to 2005. West’s early paintings are reminiscent of Leger, and Picasso, yet have a distinctive style all their own. Two large female portraits in earthy colors (1950’s) demonstrate the latter. In some of the still life paintings from the mid ’50’s, we see the influence of Cubism and Morandi. This small survey of West’s work shows her to have been a strong proponent of figurative expressiveness, as well as an abstract sculptor of considerable achievement. Her welded and engraved rocks, resembling a diary in stone, are pure visual poetry. Some evoke Henry Moore’s esthetic and Asian Scholar Stones, others are just found objects as those utilized by Land Artists, such as Richard Long.
New York writer Jonathan Goodman offered the following judgment in his text on the Chelsea Art Museum Retrospective: "Shirley West is both an explorer and a traditionalist. Within the confines of her style, we can see someone dedicated to the pursuit of a larger sensibility, in both the dimensions of the work, and the size of the ambition behind it. Thus it is easy to see this show as indicative of someone who has come full circle, in consonance with the four directions she has painted so vividly."
Ms. Roxane West, of New York and Dallas, Texas, oversees the Shirley West collection and is the late artist’s niece. Ms. West is an art collector with extensive experience representing various artists.
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