Gary Snyder/Project Space will present a one-person exhibition of drip paintings and works on paper by Janet Sobel (1894 – 1968). She is best known as the self-taught artist whose drip paintings of the early 1940s influenced Jackson Pollock. Her work has been acclaimed both in the “high” art world of Abstract Expressionism and in the “Outsider” or “Folk Art” world of self-taught artists.
Sobel was born in 1894 in the Ukraine, emigrated to New York in 1908, and married and raised a family of five children before becoming “one of America’s most talked about surrealist painters…” Completely untrained, Sobel first painted in 1937 at the age of 43. She began with figurative images that were painted in a primitive style. By 1943 her work had moved into a spontaneous expressionistic style of abstraction that gained her serious admiration among such art world luminaries as Peggy Guggenheim, the surrealists Max Ernst and Andre Breton, the philosopher and educator John Dewey and critic and collector Sidney Janis.
Her first one-person show was at Puma Gallery at 108 West Fifty-Seventh Street in 1944; a short essay about Sobel by John Dewey introduced the checklist. She was in the Women show at Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery in 1945, and in 1946 Guggenheim gave her a one-person show.
Clement Greenberg and Jackson Pollock attended the Peggy Guggenheim exhibition in 1946, and most probably the 1944 show at Puma Gallery. Greenberg later recalled that after seeing Sobel’s all-over drip paintings, “Pollock (and I myself ) admired these pictures rather furtively… The effect and it was the first really ‘all-over’ one that I had seen, since [Mark] Tobey’s show came months later, was strangely pleasing. Later on, Pollock admitted that these pictures had made an impression on him.”
In 2003 Gary Snyder Fine Art presented the first New York exhibition of Sobel’s work since the 1946 Art of This Century show. Since that time, works have been acquired and exhibited by the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The American Folk Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and others.
GARY SNYDER/Project Space
250 West 26 Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001
T: 212 929 1351
Image: Janet Sobel, “Untitled” (JS-013), c. 1946. Oil on masonite, 18 x 14 inches. Photo: Courtesy: Gary Snyder Project Space