Garden of Ornament, a solo exhibition of the works of Robert Zakanitch, a driving force in the Pattern and Decoration (P&D) movement of the mid-20th century, explores this artist’s depictions of floral beauty. In the past several years Zakanitch has expanded his art from pattern making to paintings that channel his decorative impulse into art that combines elements of ornamentation, representation, and even decorative whimsey.
The exhibition features selections from Zakanitch's 2007 oil painting series Tureens, including Ms. Austen Regrets and White Rabbit as well as some of his recent monumental gouache paintings, and Fireglow, 2011-12 from the series Hanging Gardens.
Zakanitch, one of a number artists who have recently moved their studios to Yonkers, grew up in New Jersey, and he recalls the embroidery and floral-patterned linoleum in his Czechoslovakian grandparents’ house. In Yonkers his studio, facing a garden, is infused with the nature he has painted since the 1970s, when he moved from Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism towards pattern and ornamentation, the new aesthetics espoused by feminists and multiculturalism. Zakanitch has written, "Beauty is. It is as natural as breathing. Its allure is transforming and I never thought art was about anything else."
The Hudson River Museum has long been committed to Pattern and Decoration artists. In the 1980s, several P&D artists, such as Cynthia Carlson, worked on projects that drew their inspiration from the Museum’s Victorian home Glenview, where patterned tiles and wall coverings decorate the house. In 2007 the Museum included Robert Zakanitch in its exhibition Pattern and Decoration: An Ideal Vision in American Art, 1975-1985 (October 27, 2007 – January 20, 2008), the first full-scale survey of this historical movement. The catalog of the exhibition, published by the Museum, is a standard in the field. Arthur Danto, American art critic and philosopher who introduced the publication said, "Pattern and decoration is something to live with; it is art that is part of our lives."
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, the catalog referenced above, Pattern and Decoration: An Ideal Vision in American Art, is the first comprehensive survey of the Pattern and Decoration Movement (P&D) and an exploration of its enduring contribution to the American art scene. Generously illustrated, it explores the work of artists prominent within the P&D Movement in the 1970s: responsive to non-western art and folk art as well as textile design and wallpaper, their work has, in turn, influenced many quarters of the art world. The book includes an introduction by Arthur Danto, art critic for The Nation; essays on the role of feminism in P&D by art historian Temma Balducci, assistant professor of art history at Arkansas State University; essays on the legacy of P&D by critic John Perrault; and, a major study on the scope, reception, and history of P&D by Guest Curator Anne Swartz , professor of art history at the Savannah College of Art and Design.