BLAKE GOPNIK on art | AT LEVY GORVY, ELEANORE MIKUS LAYS DOWN A CHALLENGE TO HIERARCHY
June 1, 2021
Beginning March 18, Lévy Gorvy will present Eleanore Mikus: Voiceless Poems, featuring the late artist’s seminal Tablet and Paperfold series. These two bodies of work, along with the innovative neo-expressionist paintings she initiated in the late 1960s, illuminate an experimental practice defined by Eleanore Mikus’s talent for fusing meticulously developed structures together to create artworks that hover between painting and sculpted relief. Meditative in nature, the works on view reveal Mikus’s skill at balancing opposing forces—stillness and action, chance and control—to achieve quietly sublime effects.
Born in Detroit in 1927, Mikus earned a Master’s degree in art history at the University of Denver, where she discovered and embraced lessons within the work of Wang Wei, a painter and poet active during the Tang dynasty who introduced monochrome painting to Chinese art. Mikus’s study of Eastern artistic traditions led her to understand paintings as “voiceless poems”—a synthesis that inspired the title of Lévy Gorvy’s exhibition. Painting in the Abstract Expressionist style in the 1950s, Mikus moved to New York City in 1960, joining the Art Students League and settling into a Lower East Side studio. She made her first Tablet works in 1961, exhibiting two the same year at the Whitney Museum of American Art. There, her art captured the attention of Ad Reinhardt, who initiated a friendship that lasted until his death in 1967. Presented at the Pace Gallery first in Boston and then New York, Mikus’s Tablets quickly gained wider attention, leading to acquisitions by major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
June 1, 2021