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Last updated: 1/25/2017
Home / Gallery Tour 1 / Gallery News / Gallery Tour 2 / Artists

Pierre Alechinsky (Belgium, 1927) and Central Park

The Dog King / Boxes / Central Park / Critters / Drawings / Faces / Grandes Marges / Hors Texte
Labyrinths / Landscapes / Maps / Margin and Center / Mark-Making / Screamers / Snakes / Transformations / Venice / Volcanoes
In 1987, the Guggenheim Museum presented a retrospective of Alechinsky's paintings and prints (not to mention a painted harpsichord). In the preface to the exhibition catalogue, Thomas M. Messer, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, observed that after the end of World War II, opposing tendencies to Parisian modernism arose, most conspicuously the examples "set by Jean Dubuffet in France and the Cobra artists in Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands were the most conspicuous. PIerre Alechinsky, surely one of the youngest participants in the shortlived but influential Cobra movement, was even then recognizable as standard bearer for the Belgians, marked as he was by extraordinary talent and early achievment" (and by early, one might ponder the fact that he was 19 at the time he began particiapting in planning of the group). Cobra has long since been recognized as a meaningful chapter in the history of modern art, and while happily, a few of its original adherents are still working vigorously, many others have left the scene [including, most recently Karel Appel, one of Aechinsky's closest friends and sometimes collaborators, in 2006]." Messer goes on to single out (of many possible formal traits, "the pervassive formal and iconographic presence of the two components that comprise the exhibition's title," Pierre Alechinsky: Margin and Center, while reminding us that "this conspicuous device applies only to a small fraction of the artist's total oeuvre and therefore appears magnified by its isolation" (pages 8-9). One of the central works in this show is Alechinsky's painting Central Park (1965), in which the central images is surrounded on the sides by a row of smaller drawings and at top and bottom by two rows of drawings (see p. 35 of the Guggenheim catalogue or the cover of Jean-Clarence Lambert's Central Park (Paris: Yves Rivière, 1976) or on p. 139 of PIerre Alechinsky: Paintings and Writings (with a forward by Eugene Ionesco) published by the Museum of Art: Carnegie Institute in 1977 for the exhibition to commemorate his being awarded the first Andrew W. Mellon Prize in 1977 or in Alechinsky (Valencia: IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, 2000), p. 55, or in, I'm sure, many other books and exhibition catalogues about the artist. It was also memeorialized in 4 large etchings (which we no longer have), a small etching (that we sold) and a lithograph (which we do still have—see immediately below).
Central Park. Original color lithograph, 1975. 175 impressions on Arches plus 50 on japon. There are also 25 impressions H.C. Central Park is also the subject of Alechinsky's most important painting, which depicts Central Park as a monster devouring everyone that enters its domain. Image Size: 495x657mm. Price: $3250.
Central Park. Original color etching, 1976. 200 signed & numbered impressions. When Alechinsky bought a co-op on Central Park West overlooking the park that runs down the middle of Manhatten for several miles, all of his New York friends warned him that he must unlearn the careless European habits that might lead him to stroll in the Park after dark. Alechinsky set to work and painted his most famous painting, titled Central Park, and began producing etchings, lithographs, and prints combininig the two media on the theme. There were stories in the early 1990s that Alechinsky had turned down several offers in excess of $2.5 million dollars for his painting of Central Park, but we are pleaseed to offer six prints on the same theme—and for considerably less money. Image Size: 119x119mm. Price: SOLD.
Central Park I. Original color etching and lithograph, 1976. 100 signed and numbered impressions. One of a series of four on the theme of Alechinsky's most important painting, Central Park as the monster who threatens everything that enters its domain. Image Size: 495x657mm. Price: SOLD.
Central Park II. Original color etching and lithograph, 1976. 100 signed and numbered impressions. One of a series of four on the theme of Alechinsky's most important painting, Central Park as the monster who threatens everything that enters its domain. Image Size: 495x657mm. Price: SOLD.
Central Park III. Original color etching and lithograph, 1976. 100 signed and numbered impressions. One of a series of four on the theme of Alechinsky's most important painting, Central Park as the monster who threatens everything that enters its domain. Image Size: 495x657mm. Price: SOLD.
Central Park IV. Original color etching and lithograph, 1976. 100 signed and numbered impressions. One of a series of four on the theme of Alechinsky's most important painting, Central Park as the monster who threatens everything that enters its domain. Image Size: 495x657mm. Price: SOLD.
Pierre Alechinsky, Paintings and Writings (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Museum, 1977). Published on the occasion of the award of the first Mellon Prize to Alechinsky, the deluxe edition of 100 is signed by Alechinsky. The book contains essays by Alechinsky on artists like Joan Miró and Bram van Velde, stories by Alechinsky, a photoducmentation of COBRA, and a good selection of Alechinsky's most important early paintings. The work is decorated by reproductions of drawings done especially for the volume. Although unsigned copies are presently selling for as much as $125 in the usedd book market, we are pleased to be able to offer several used copies for $50.00 each.
The winner of the first Andrew W. Mellon Prize for Painting (1977) and the French Grand Prix National for painting in 1984, Alechinsky has been recognized in recent years as one of the most significant living artists. (The art market has also noticed his stature: one of his paintings sold at auction about 15 years ago for over $2,000,000.)

Alechinsky was just barely out of his teens when he burst onto the art scene as one of the original members of the COBRA group, and over the years he has emerged as one of the most imaginative and witty artists of our times. Alechinsky fans are everywhere. John Russell, who in 1986-87 devoted three separate columns in The New York Times to Alechinsky, sees him as "a man of strange blameless passions. Decorated invoices, worthless stock certificates, obsolete air-force navigational charts and ancient hand-written archival materials spark his imagination. . . . He has a taste for nature’s upheavals." Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican novelist for whom "the garden is the center of the world," has described Alechinsky as a man who "paints gardens. . . . He knows that the history of gardens is the history of all of us. . . . Alechinsky . . . chooses any of the forked paths of the manicured gardens at Blois or Hampton Court and then transforms them, ferociously, into the savage gardens of the primitive mind, the original unity of dream and awareness, reason and imagination, desire and reality." Indeed, it may be that it is his dream of recovering that lost unity that makes him, as The Times called him, "a poet of entanglement, [who] resolutely turns the emphasis away from himself, preferring to act rather as historian and referee than as autobiographer. . . . His touch is light, his thought rapid, his view of the world as sharp as it is benign. There is no better companion, and not many who keep us so consistently amused and are so generous with their findings."

Alechinsky has had major retrospectives at The Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh (in 1977, the Year of the Snake),  the Guggenheim Museum in NY (987; it then traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, the Hannover Kunsteverin, and the Musée royal d'Art moderne in Brussels), the Palais des Beaux-Arts and the Musées Royeaux des Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Musée National d'Art Moderne, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Boymans-von-Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Louisiana Museum in Humlebaek, and museums in Aalborg, Brême, Copenhagen, Darmstadt, Des Moines, Düsseldorf, Gordes, Hanover, Marseille, Metz, Mexico City, Munich, St. Paul de Vence, Toronto, and Zurich. The most recent encyclopedic Alechinsky museum shows of which I know were held at the  Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris (1998; a modified version of this show traveled in 1999 to the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Monteray, Mexico), and the Museo José Luis Cuivas, Mexico City), IVAM Centre Julio González (Valencia, Spain, 2000); Alechinsky (Ostend: Musée d'art moderne, 2000), Alechinsky:Dessins de cinq décennes (Paris: Centre Georgres Pompidou, Musée national d'Art moderne, Cabinet d'art graphique, 2004), Alechinsky (Carl-Hennig Pedersen and Else Alfelt Museum, Herning, Denmark), Alechinsky de A à Y (Brussels: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, 2007-2008: see pages 283-290 for a list of all of Alechinsky's one person shows).

Alechinsky's most recent print retrospectives were held at the Museum of Modern Art (NY, 1981; organized by the MoMA, before it came to NY, it showed  at the San Jose Museum of Art, the University of Houston, The Edwin A. Ulrich Museum of Art at Whichta State University, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts), the Centre de la Gravure et de l'image imprimiée, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Moutier, Switzaerland (1982), Litos Perpetra: Pierre Alechinsky (Museuo de Belles-Artes, Caracas, 1990), Pierre Alechinsky: Carta Canta: mostra antologica dell'opera grafica 50-90 (Bologna), "Pierre Alechinsky: Graphics Retrospective (Taipai, 1992), Alechinsky: Labor de imprenta de cinco décadas (Museo de Arte Contemporaneo y Instituto de Artes Graficas, 1996-97), Pierre Alechinsky: Noir sur Blanc 1947-1997 (Geneva, Cabinet des esampres du Musée d'Art et d'HIstoire), Alechinsky, 50 ans d'imprimerie (Centre de la Gravure et de l'image imprimée de la Comunitée Française de Belgique, La Louverie, Belgium, 2000; the show then traveled to Poznan, Warsaw, Krakow, Quebec, Metz, Riom, and the Somme), Alechinsky: obra grafica (traveling show: Institut français de Valencia, Institut français de  Madrid, Institut français de Barcelona, Salamanca: Palacio de Abrantes, Universidad de Salamanca), "Alechinsky: Estampes" (Monte Carlo, 2000), Pierre Alechinsky: Estampes (Rieupeyroux, France: 2000), Pierre Alechinsky, estampes, 1975-2000 (Fougères: Galerie des Urbanistes, 2000), Primeurs et retrouvilles—Lithographies de Pierre Alechinsky (Paris: Editions Ateliers Clot, 2001), Pierre Alechinsky: Morsures et autres gravures (Strasburg: Misée d'art moderne et contemporain, 2002), Pierre Alechinsky: 50 jahr grafisch werk (Wortegen, Belgium, 2002), Pierre Alechinsky: lithographies réalisées aux Éditions Atelier Clot á Paris (Aux-les Bains, Musée Faure, 2003), Pierre Alechinsky: papier, cuivre, et pierre, depuis 1947 (Auvers-sur-Oise: Musée Daubigny, 2004), Les Impressions de Pierre Alechinsky (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale dee France, 2005), Pierre Alechinsky: Encres et espampes, 1969-2004 (Nice: Galerie d'art moderne et contemporain, 2005).

Select Bibliography: General works: Daniel Abadie and Willy Van Den Bussche, Pierre Alechinsky (Ostend: PMMK, 2000); Pierre Alechinsky, Cent vingt dessins, donation de l'artiste (Brussels: Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels 1973); Pierre Alechinsky, Divers faits (Vevey: Musee Janisch, 2000); Pierre Alechinsky, Au Pays de l'encre (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 1998), Pierre Alechinsky, Dotremont et Cobra-foret (Paris: Galilee, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, Drawings and Prints (Jerusalem: Musee d'Israel, 1970); Pierre Alechinsky, Hoirie Cobra (Caen: L'Échoppe, 1990); Pierre Alechinsky, Ideotraces (Paris: Editions Denoel, 1966); Pierre Alechinsky, Le bureau de titre (Paris: Fata Morgana, 1983); Pierre Alechinsky, Le test du titre: 6 planches et 61 titreurs d'elite (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1974); Pierre Alechinsky, Margin and Center (NY: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 1987); Pierre Alechinsky, New Work: Pains de terre émaillé, Flora Danica drawings, Revalorisations (NY: Andre Emmerich Gallery, 1991); Pierre Alechinsky, Notes sur Orsay (Caen: L'Échoppe, 1989); Pierre Alechinsky, Paintings and Writings (Pittsburgh: Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, 1977); Pierre Alechinsky, Pierre Alechinsky: Werke 1958-1968 (Düsseldorf. Kunstverein fur die Rheinlande und Westfalen, 1969); Pierre Alechinsky, Reponses á un questionnaire (Caen: L'Echoppe, 1987); Pierre Alechinsky, The Future of Property. Fourteen Specimens re-evaluated by Pierre Alechinsky (NY: Lefebre Gallery, 1970); Pierre Alechinsky and Georges Duby, Alechinsky (Zurich: Maeght Zurich, 1980); Pierre Alechinsky, and Amos Kenan, Les Tireurs de Langue (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1974); Pierre Alechinsky and Karel Appel, Two-brush paintings. Their Poems by Hugo Claus. Foreword by Christian Dotrement (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1980); Karel Appel & Pierre Alechinsky, Encres á deux pinceaux (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1978); Alain Bosquet, Alechinsky (Paris: Le musée de poche 1971); Jacques Busse, Pierre Alechinsky (Chicago: Arts Club Of Chicago, 1965); Pierre Descargues, Alechinsky Bouches et Grilles (Paris: Galerie Maeght Lelong 1986); Christian Dotrement et al., Appel et Alechinsky: Encres à deux pinceaux, peintures, etc. (Saint Paul De Vence: Fondation Maeght, 1982); Georges Duby, Alechinsky (Zurich: Maeght Zurich 1980); Jacques Dupin, Alechinsky: Laves Emaillees (Paris: Galerie Lelong, 1988); Petit journal: Made in France 1947-1997 (Paris: Centre Pompidou, 1997); Jacques Putnam, Alechinsky (Paris: Celiv, 1990); Alain Robbe-Grillet, Pierre Daix et al., Pierre Alechinsky (Valencia: IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez, 2000); Alain Robbe-Grillet, John Yau, Daniel Abadie and Pierre Daix, Pierre Alechinsky (Paris: Jeu de Paume, 1998); Michel Sicard, Alechinsky Sur Rhone (Paris: Galerie Lelong, 1990); Michel Sicard, ed. Pierre Alechinsky: Extraits pour traits (Paris: Galilée, 1989); Giorgio Soavi, Alechinsky: XXXVI Biennale de Venise, Pavillon Belge (Venice: Venice Biennale, 1972).

Prints: Pierre Alechinsky, Alechinsky a l'imprimerie: 150 estampes (Paris: le Musee national d'art moderne, 1975, 1977); Pierre Alechinsky, Alechinsky (Rome: Edizioni 2RC, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, Aux petits soins (Paris: Atelier Clot, 1989); Pierre Alechinsky, Ces robes qui m'evoquaient Venise. (Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1988); Pierre Alechinsky, L'avenir de la propriéte (Montpellier: Fata Morgana, 1992); Pierre Alechinsky, Communication: 16 Manifestations d'Hypertrophie Calligraphique (Vouvière (Belgique): Editions du Daily-Bul, 1967); Pierre Alechinsky et al., The Complete Books: A Reasonable Catalogue (Antwerpen: Ceuleers & Van de Velde, 2002); Pierre Alechinsky and Michel Butor, Le Chien Roi (Paris: Daniel Lelong Editeur, 1984); Franck Bordas et al, Les Impressions de Pierre Alechinsky (Paris: Bibliothèque nationale de France, 2005); Michel Butor et Michel Sicard, Pierre Alechinsky: Frontières et Bordures (Paris: Editions Galilee, 1984); Michel Butor et Michel Sicard, Alechinsky: Travaux d'Impression (Paris: Editions Galilee, 1992); Michel Draguet et al., Alechinsky from A to Y (Tielt, Belgium: Lannoo, 2007); Rainer Michael Mason et al, Pierre Alechinsky: Noir sur blanc (Geneva: Caninet des Estampes du Musee D'Art et D'Histoire, 1998); Yves Riviere, Pierre Alechinsky: Les estampes de 1946 a 1972 (Paris: Yves Riviere Editeur, 1973).

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