By WM Staff, December, 2018
Those who attended Art Basel Miami Beach may have noticed among the shrouds of collector favorites a new trend beginning to emerge﹣ the reintroduction of historically-overlooked artists to new audiences. One of the more impressive booths highlighting rediscovered masterworks was Venus Over Manhattan who, for their first time participating in an Art Basel fair, presented a concise and impressive solo booth of works by the late artist Maryan, a once celebrated post-expressionist painter regainging popularity among international collectors.
Born Pinchas Burstein in 1928, Maryan was a Polish-born artist and Auschwitz survivor. He lived in Israel for two years after the war, and moved to Paris in 1951, where he enrolled at the École des Beaux-Arts, and studied under Fernand Léger alongside his peers Karel Appel, Enrico Baj, and Jean Dubuffet. The artist relocated to New York in 1962 and enjoyed a successful career painting until his death at the Chelsea Hotel, in 1977.
At a moment when non-representational painting dominated popular tastes, Maryan’s work rejected total abstraction, and helped to reintroduce the figure into contemporary painting, The works on view in Miami, produced in New York between 1967 and 1972, were from Maryan’s “Personnage” series and featured a grouping of almost cartoonish figures that﹣ through the use of vivid colors and lurid details﹣ appear both playful and lugubrious.
Characterized by a centrally located figure dominating the composition, Maryan quickly established a reputation for using abstract techniques to render boisterously figurative subject matter. There is something hyper-contemporary about the work that seems to couple the violent compositions of Philip Guston and the abstracted icons of KAWS, yet with significantly lower price tags (prices were between $28k-$72K).
While Venus has developed a reputation for successfully reigniting the careers of artists such as Peter Saul and H.C. Westermann, their decision to show a lesser-known key figure at the main fair was a tasteful and welcome reprieve from the frenzied purchasing of more speculative artists. While, considering Adam Lindemann’s background of setting market records, their accessibility offered new or more curious collectors a chance to purchase a piece of history and more than likely the confidence to know their investment will grow. WM