Exposition Art Blog: Gray Foy - Surrealism

Gray Foy - Surrealism

"Gray Foy (1922–2012) was a mid twentieth-century American artist who created a visionary body of drawings from 1941 to 1975. His drawings are generally divided into two phases. First, from 1941–48, the artist drew figurative Surrealist landscapes and interiors. Then beginning in the late 1940s, he concentrated on botanical subject matter, both naturalistic and imagined
At his second one-person exhibition at Durlacher's in 1957, his observations of nature had matured, as evidenced by the intricate biological invention in such works as Uprooted Plants (1955, Whitney Museum of American Art). As his work evolved through the 1950s, the artist developed an understanding of constant change in nature and honed his ability to depict such metamorphosis.In the three decades Foy was active, he found a way to convey his fertile awareness of nature's disorder as well as its order by refining his technical prowess. Achieved by a delicate feathering technique, the edges of the depicted organic matter gradually disappear as lighter and lighter pencil pressure traverses the sheet.About 1957 Foy began a series of related still lifes that involve leaves or branches wrapped by human hands into clusters or sheaves, or assembled by birds into nests. With its inner pinkish radiance and veined leaf surfaces, Cluster of Leaves (ca. 1957), for example, quivers with the power of an incubating egg. These drawings are metaphors for efforts to control the untamed sprawl of natural vegetation.In one group of works, Foy developed an additional illustrative mechanism, preparing the drawing paper with a teeming texture, introducing earthy tones and chlorophyll-like colorations. The activated surfaces simulate organic matter such as soil incrustation, moldy walls, lichen-covered rocks, or pond scum. In his book The Language of Ornament, art historian James Trilling described the effect: "Gray Foy’s drawing evokes the richness of a living coral reef, or the cheerfully haunted rocks that provide a background to some of the finest Persian miniatures."Wikipedia

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