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Beyond Category: At U-M, Kamrowski's 'Journey' Spans Vast Realms of Modern Art

Beyond Category: At U-M, Kamrowski's 'Journey' Spans Vast Realms of Modern Art image Beyond Category: At U-M, Kamrowski's 'Journey' Spans Vast Realms of Modern Art image
Parent Issue
Day
25
Month
September
Year
1999
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Donated by the Ann Arbor News. © The Ann Arbor News.
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AT U-M, KAMROWSKI'S 'JOURNEY'
• SPANS VAST REALMS OF MODERN ART
By JOHN CARLOS CANTU
"Gerome Kamrowski: A Visual Journey" is among the
small number of art displays that will be among our essential
viewing this year. The exhibit, in the East Quad
Gallery of the University of Michigan Residential College,
gives us a shorthand artistic autobiography of Ann Arbor's
greatest living visual arts legend
This exhibit - more so than any other such Kamrowski
display this last decade - shows us REVIEW howthemasterseeshimse~.
The book on Ann Arbor's artistic lion
in winter reads more like fiction than fact. And even ifit's
taken a while for him to get his just due - after all. he left
the New York scene for the U·M School of Art just as the
NewYorkartscenewasabouttoexplode- he's long been
considered one of the progenitors of the single most significant
contribution American artists have made this century
to the visual arts.
Kamrowski, Robert Baziotes, and Jackson Pollack supposedly
"discovered'' gestural abstract expressionism during
a proverbial morning-after of hard-riding artistic
camaraderie. As Kamrowski confinned in an interview I
shared with him six years ago, they were reduced to slinging
paint around the studio and, well ... you can fill in the
details from here.
Yet, as he also said in that interview, "action" painting
worthy only of a momentary glance, in his opinion. He had
other issues to explore. And he intended to explore them
See KAMROWSKI, 02
NEWS PHOTO· LAUY f . WRIGHT
Kamrowski's glass and plexiglass construction
1Passage,' from 1Gerome Kamrowski: A Visual
Journey.'

despite the obvious profit others were to make
of this priceless aesthetic commodity.
That's pure Kamrowski: blunt and honest.
"Gerome Kamrowski: A Visual Journey," in·
augurating this year's University of Michigan
Residential College East Quad Art Gallery season,
is equally blunt and honest.
For one thing, there's no gestural abstraction
no-less explosive and far-reaching an exhibit in
terms of the genres Kamrowski's explored and
mastered only to discard them in the restless
search for his next artistic revelation.
It's this restlessness that makes the display
essential viewing. Kamrowski's search for the
fenn beneath the surface of his work is both profound
and exhilarating, from the Surrealism he
studied in the 1940s ("Nightbird," "White Network,"
''Facets," "Membrane," and "Limitations
and Indebtedness to Nature") through his own
brand of fanciful expression from the 1960s
through 1980s (''Prism," "Hi-Composition," and
''Enclosed"), and up to his equally imaginative
menagerie of mixed-media creatures ("Critter
No. 13 and 538") which have preoccupied him
through this last decade.
As this exhibit shows, Kamrowski takes the
notion of artistic freedom seriously - so much
so that no single style of art and no single orientation
takes center place in this display, except
perhaps his heartfelt affection for the fourlegged
"critters" that have emerged from his
most recent burst of creativity. Everything else
in his lengthy career is modestly represented.
Few artists - like few actors or athletes -
can be said to define his or her occupation. But
Kamrowski is clearly an artist's artist. And his
"Visual Journey" gives all who are interested in
the visual arts, whether practitioner or observer,
a keen sense of the artist's passion for his
chosen endeavor.
"Gerome Kamrowski:A Visual Joomey" will continue
through Oct. 11 at the University of Michigan
Residential College East Quad Art Gallery,
701 E. University St. Gallery hours are noon to 8
p.m., Monday-Friday; and noon to 4 p.m., Saturday.
for information, call (734) 763-0176.