Hudson River Museum Presents Robert Zakanitch: Garden of Ornament

Famed Pattern & Decoration Artist at the Hudson River Museum Summer 2017

Press Preview: Thursday, June 1, 10am with artist Robert Zakanitch

The art of Robert Zakanitch is on view in Robert Zakanitch: Garden of Ornament at the Hudson River Museum from June 3 to September 17, 2017. The exhibition draws from an array of Zakanitch’s works that explore depictions of floral beauty in this artist’s 50-year career in which he explored color, line, and form. Zakanitch’s art has been seen around the world in solo and group exhibitions, and is in the collections of major museums in the United States and Europe.

Zakanitch, who began painting in the 1960s, first as an Abstract Expressionist and Minimalist, became, only a decade later, the driving force for a small but dedicated group of Pattern & Decoration (P&D) artists. Inspired by the handiwork with which women had always decorated their homes, these artists believed that the graceful line of ornamentation was art, an art stemming from our domestic environments. Zakanitch relished curving line and the lush color of all things animate and inanimate, and they became part of his passage to represent the social world.

In the mid-70s, Zakanitch taught at the University of California, San Diego, and there met artists exploring the patterns of Asian and Middle Eastern textiles. New York Times critic Holland Cotter reviewing the Hudson River Museum’s 2007 exhibition, Pattern and Decoration: An Ideal Vision in American Art, 1975–1985, commented on the worldview of the Pattern & Decoration artists. “They looked at Roman and Byzantine mosaics in Italy, Islamic tiles in Spain and North Africa. They went to Turkey for flower-covered embroideries, to Iran and India for carpets and miniatures, and to Manhattan’s Lower East Side for knockoffs of these. Then they took everything back to their studios and made a new art from it.” With broad compass, Zakanitch chooses his materials—silkscreen, canvas, paper, watercolors, oil, gold leaf—and the images he creates are as varied as the materials on which he presents them. This is evident in the whirling circles of a snail’s shell (In Quest of the Holy Snail, 2010), the fragile lines of a vine (Talisman, 2011-12), the black and blocky body of a crow posed against a pattern of repeating flowers (White Flower Crow, 2006), or the whorls of a flower head (Raspberry Swirl, 2010). In more than 20 works, from the 1980’s through the present day, from small relief paintings and 8-foot diptychs to an actual flower-decorated chair, this exhibition shows Zakanitch’s art in all its variety of color and form.

Museum Director Masha Turchinsky said, “We are particularly proud to offer this exhibition of artist Robert Zakanitch, whose pioneering work appeared here at the Museum in our Pattern and Decoration exhibition in 2007, a comprehensive survey that was widely recognized. The beauty of this art that celebrates nature is part of our landscape on the Hudson as well as the interior environment in our historic Glenview home.”

One of a number of artists who have recently moved their studios to Yonkers, Zakanitch now works in a downtown space that faces a garden and is infused with the nature he paints. Laura Vookles, who curated the exhibition, said, “I have always admired the brave way Robert Zakanitch embraced the beautiful in painting at a time it was anathema. People have always found joy and comfort in being surrounded by lovely visual objects. Zakanitch takes that tenet to new levels.”

Also on View

Floral Arrangements: Highlights from the Collection
June 3 – September 17, 2017
Floral Arrangements illustrates the ways we express our love of flowers with more than 30 objects from the Museum’s 19th- and 20th-century collections, including paintings, photographs, textiles, and ceramics. The exhibition includes botanical studies by Joanna Kellinger, a 1934 drawing by Georgia O’Keeffe, a “Mimosa” rug by Henri Matisse, as well as photographs by Rudolf Eickemeyer and Edward Steichen. Also on view are the period rooms of Glenview, the Museum’s Gilded Age home on the National Register of Historic Places, where more floral collections can be seen, from decorative arts to stylized flowers on woodwork, friezes, and tiles.

The exhibitions Robert Zakanitch: Garden of Ornament and Floral Arrangements: Highlights from the Collectionare organized by the Hudson River Museum.
The exhibition is featured on the HRM website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter via the hashtags #RobertZakanitch and #HRMGarden.
Image: Robert Zakanitch, Chicken Iris, 2008. Courtesy of the artist.

Summer 2017 Programs

Collaboration with Wave Hill
The Hudson River Museum and Wave Hill, a public garden and cultural center in Riverdale, NY, will both show the flower in art in summer 2017 exhibitions: At HRM, Robert Zakanitch: Garden of Ornament (June 3 -Sept. 17) and at Wave Hill, Flora Fantastica! (July 16–August 27), featuring artists Nancy Blum, Amy Cheng, Elisabeth Condon, and Jill Parisi. The two neighboring institutions also collaborate on three summer programs.

Saturday, June 24, 2pm
The Horticulturist’s Eye
Hudson River Museum
Tour the Museum’s summer exhibition, Robert Zakanitch: Garden of Ornament, with Wave Hill’s horticulturalist Matthew Turnbull and Hudson River Museum curator Laura Vookles, and enrich aesthetic appreciation with scientific content.

Saturday, Aug 5, 2pm
Floral Inspiration
Wave Hill
Curator Laura Vookles looks at Victorian floral decoration in a slide presentation of Glenview, the Museum’s 1877 historic house; Jennifer McGregor, Wave Hill Senior Curator, discusses how artists in Flora Fantastica! bring flowers to the forefront in public art projects.

Wednesday, Aug 9, 1:30pm
Flowers Abound
Hudson River Museum
Nancy Blum, known for her public art installations, is featured in Wave Hill’s Flora Fantastica exhibition. In an illustrated talk, Senior Curator Jennifer McGregor discusses Blum’s work, followed by a tour of floral decoration in HRM’s Victorian home.

A Contemplative Summer Wellness Series
Saturday, June 17, 11am–12pm
Yoga in the Garden – Breathe and Move in Nature (mixed-level class)

Saturday, July 15, 11am–12pm
Contemplation in Nature: Meditate Amongst the Flowers 

Saturday, August 19, 11am–12pm
Chair Yoga: Gentle Stretches and Breath Work in a Natural Setting

Saturday, September 16, 11am – 12pm
Tai Chi: Move Like a Gentle Breeze

Other Programs:

Wednesday, June 14, 1:30pm
Arts in the Afternoon: Robert Zakanitch
Pattern and Decoration artist Robert Zakanitch is interviewed by Curator Laura Vookles

Wednesday, July 12, 1:30pm
Sally Apfelbaum: Photographs from Giverny

Wednesday, August 9, 1:30pm
Flowers Abound