Tibor de Nagy Gallery presents its fifth exhibition of paintings by Biala (1903-2000), featuring over twenty works from the 1960s through the 1990s including selected works from the Harvey and Phyllis Lichtenstein Collection. Harvey Lichtenstein was an ardent supporter of new talent and the President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music from 1967-1999. The exhibition will run January 6-February 11, 2018.
Biala’s contribution to modernism has been noted by critics who championed her assimilation of the School of Paris and the New York School of Abstract Expressionism. Her eight-decade career began in the early 1920s when she hitch-hiked with her brother Jack Tworkov to study art in Provincetown. A fateful Paris encounter with English novelist Ford Madox Ford led to a ten-year relationship with the writer and a life-long relationship with France. Upon her return to New York in 1939 following Ford’s death, Biala was in the thick of a milieu of the New York School, befriending painter Willem de Kooning, and critic Harold Rosenberg among many others. Biala thrived on her transatlantic life maintaining a studio in America while returning time after time to her beloved Paris.
Biala’s approach was a synthesis which danced on the lines between representation and abstraction materializing in a uniquely personal style. Intimate interiors, subtle still-lifes, portraits, and long views of the many landscapes of her various travels acted as her creative point of departure. These initial subjects characterized components of Modernist French styles such as Intimism and were translated through the gestural strokes of Abstract Expressionism which epitomized her mature aesthetic.
In addition to celebrating her undefinable painterly uniqueness, this exhibition highlights the extraordinary relationship Biala had with the director of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Harvey Lichtenstein and his wife Phyllis. Biala and Harvey were related through marriage (Biala’s sister-in-law was Harvey’s first cousin). The Lichtenstein Collection includes emblematic examples from important themes of Biala’s career, as well as a cohesive representation of the significant places the artist featured in her paintings: France, Italy, and especially Spain.
About Harvey and Phyllis Lichtenstein
As one of the foremost theatrical producers of his time, Harvey Lichtenstein’s first Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) season included Alban Berg’s atonal opera Lulu; performances by a number of modern-dance troupes — Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham and Alwin Nikolais, among others; and the Living Theater’s evening of political protest, Paradise Now. He went on to start the Next Wave Festival where he presented important artists such as Robert Wilson and Pina Bausch. This exhibition aims to not only highlight the collection, but celebrate the Lichtensteins’ eye for talent and close relationships with visual artists.
Harvey and Phyllis not only loved the theater, but also the visual arts and amassed a small but important collection that solely included Daniel Brustlein (1904-1996), Jack Tworkov (1900-1982), and Biala (1903-2000). One historic note, for her 80th birthday Biala had one wish and it was to spend it in Seville, her favorite city in Spain. Family and friends gathered to join her there including Harvey and Phyllis. The group took a horse and carriage ride around the plaza at La Giralda. So memorable was the experience for Biala, she preserved it in the painting Horse and Carriage which would become part of the Harvey and Phyllis Lichtenstein Collection and is featured in this exhibition.