Manny Farber | From The Mid-Eighties
Quint Gallery’s ONE begins its 2021 season with Manny Farber’s 1985 painting, From The Mid-Eighties.
This tabletop composition is comprised of four panels within two frames, scattered with the everyday objects that Farber came to be known for: flowers and vegetables from his wife Patricia’s garden, cut-out constructions, magazines, candy and cigarettes. Handwritten notes cover the surface with thoughts carved into paint: practical reminders about his daughter’s flight arriving at 8:45, guides for his own composition-making (“Don’t let it get too bottom heavy”), and song lyrics scribed into paper and rulers. In this case, Tina Turner and David Bowie occupied equal space in Farber’s head, distinguishing it as a moment existing squarely in the eponymous time period, if not already made plain by the still-fresh pumpkin engraved “1985.”
In an essay on Manny Farber and Termite Art1, novelist Jonathan Lethem suggests that a Farber painting induced Micropsia, “the hallucination that one’s body is a tiny speck in a gigantic universe of titanic objects--and often that one is crawling or feeling their way over these outlandishly supersized surfaces,” which holds true as minimal flower arrangements often grow diagonally out of the plane and past the viewer, leaving them to discover the potential of each object spilling over in front of them.
Born in Douglas, Arizona in 1917, Farber began painting in the 1930s. Before joining the faculty of the University of California, San Diego Visual Arts Department in 1969, he was a film critic in New York, writing for the New Republic, the Nation and Artforum. Known in the 1950s and 1960s for his shaped abstractions from collaged paper, Farber began painting still lifes in 1974. He retired from teaching in 1987 and continued painting at his studio in Leucadia, California until his death in 2008. His solo exhibitions since 1982 have included The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles; The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; MoMA PS1, New York and The Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA.
¹Lethem, Jonathan. “Termite Footprints.” Manny Farber Paintings and Writings, by Manny Farber et al., H & B, 2019.
Hours: ONE is presently open by appointment only, Tuesday-Sunday 11AM-5PM.
To make an appointment: Please email Glad at [email protected] or text her at 858.454.3409.