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exhibition: Raisons d’Être

date: 27 September – 1 December 2012

Peter Freeman, Inc. is pleased to present Raisons d’Être, an exhibition of painted works, mostly on canvas and also some sculpture.

The exhibition is unusual for including both a group of extraordinary 19th-century American paintings by Victor Dubreuil (active in New York City 1886-circa 1900), John Haberle (1856-1933), William Michael Harnett (1848-1892), and John Frederick Peto (1854-1907), together with works from our moment by David Adamo, Alex Hay, Catherine Murphy, and Sylvia Plimack Mangold.

While the 19th-century works might have been most easily described in the past as Trompe l'Oeil, and the contemporary works could, with as easily flawed a shorthand, be described perhaps as photorealist, the dialogue between all the works from these two groups undermines both assumptions. Rather, a connecting vein of painting is revealed from both periods that is as much about a joy of paint and painting as it might be about careful depiction, deception, or a hyper-realistic, concentrated depiction of an object or a space that brings into focus what might otherwise remain unnoticed.

Of particular note in the exhibition are four works being shown for the first time: an 1883 Munich-period Harnett of a dead bird, a work certainly related to the first “After the Hunt” pictures of the same year; a rare 1976 painted sculpture by Sylvia Plimack Mangold of a metal ruler; Catherine Murphy’s 2011 “Studio Floor,” an exceedingly precise depiction of her paint-spattered studio floor that, as an image shifted to the wall, becomes an odd surrogate for abstract painting; and a recent Alex Hay painting after a scrap of wood.

For reproduction requests or general inquiries, please contact the gallery at 212-966-5154 or