George Ortman's art had really appealed to me, although until I saw this listed in a Heritage sale I never purchased any of his art. His prices had risen so much, with his high public price over $11,000.00. It definitely has some damage, but still is so beautiful. I am listing it at a price to just cover what I paid over four years ago.
Country of Origin: U. S. A.
Artist: George Ortman (American, 1926 - 2015)
Media: Pencil and colored chalk on paper.
Size: 19 3/4 by 18 inches (50.2 x 45.7 cm) (sheet); framed 21 3/4 by 19 3/4 inches.
Signed: Lower center "Ortman"
Condition: Significant water damage including staining and wrinkling; light overall paper discoloration.
Provenance: PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DR. AND MRS. HENRY AND MARY ANN GANS.
Howard Wise Gallery, New York;
Harris B. Steinberg;
Parke-Bernet Galleries Lot 210;
Following is The New York Times obituary of George Ortman, by William Grimes, December 18, 2015.
George Ortman, whose constructed, collaged canvases of the late 1950s and early ’60s, with their geometric shapes and signs, pointed a way past Abstract Expressionism and toward the austerities of Minimalism, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 89.
His wife, the painter Lynn Braswell, confirmed his death.
Mr. Ortman, who was deeply influenced by Surrealism, came of age in the heyday of American abstraction but chafed at the limitations of the flat canvas. He began cutting holes in his canvases and inserting objects wrapped in an aura of mystery. Later, he fitted geometric shapes together in rectangular works that combined elements of painting and sculpture, assemblages that showed an affinity with artists like Robert Rauschenberg and Louise Nevelson.
His interest in signs and symbols led him to incorporate crosses, arrows, diamonds and stars into his work, often deployed in rigorous patterns that anticipated the enumerative impulse in Minimalism.
“I grew up amid Action Painters, and my reaction to all that is symmetry — order in a very strange world,” he told Time magazine in 1964. He added, “People are no longer interested in what Mr. Green says to Mr. Red.”
Beginning in the 1960s, in a continuing series of works he called “imitations,” he translated famous paintings like Botticelli’s Primavera or The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci into the geometric forms underlying their structure. In several constructions from the mid-1980s based on the Seurat painting The Posers, he recast the central figure as an amalgamation of circles, diamonds and squares.
He was, in a sense, written out of the New York art scene as Minimalism entered its triumphant phase, and for the 30 years he taught at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., near Detroit, he did not show in New York.
“He had been on the cover of Art in America and was really a presence in the late 1950s and 1960s,” said Mitchell Algus, who began showing Mr. Ortman at his gallery in 2001.
”He was a precursor of Minimalism but not a party member, so to speak. By the time Minimalism was codified, in the early 1970s, he was not part of it.”
George Earl Ortman was born on Oct. 17, 1926, in Oakland, Calif. At 5 he began taking art classes at Mills College, where his father, an electrician, was a maintenance worker. After three years, his mother, a German immigrant, enrolled him in a school of cartooning and illustration.
After graduating from high school he enlisted in the Naval Air Corps. Taking advantage of the G.I. Bill, he enrolled in the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland (now the California College of the Arts), but left after a year and a half for New York, where he made etchings and engravings at Atelier 17, the print workshop founded by the Surrealist printmaker Stanley William Hayter.
At the time, he was influenced by Giorgio de Chirico, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí and Roberto Matta.
“Most of my work involved fantasy images, images mainly derived from primitive art,” he told the website Geoform in 2010. “I felt that these painters created a new space in which to express their vocabularies. I, too, wanted to create my own space to house my furniture, my vocabulary.”
After moving to Paris, where he studied at the workshop of the Cubist painter André Lhote, he began experimenting with the picture plane, adding constructed elements to his canvases, or cutting holes into which he placed mysterious objects.
In the 1949 work Beginnings, his first venture into this new territory, he cut a slit and three circles into an abstract oil painting on Masonite board, inserting painted dowels and thread.
After returning to New York in 1950 he studied with the abstract painter Hans Hofmann and began showing his work at Tanager Gallery, a cooperative space. He married the actress Julie Bovasso, with whom he founded the Tempo Playhouse in the East Village, where New York theatergoers got their first exposure to the works of Jean Genet and Eugene Ionesco. The marriage ended in divorce.
In addition to his wife, Ms. Braswell, Mr. Ortman, who lived in Manhattan and Castine, Me., is survived by a stepson, Roger Whidden, the child of his second wife, Conni Whidden, who died in 1991; two step-grandchildren; and two step-great-grandchildren.
Mr. Ortman’s constructed canvases, shedding some of their surrealist trappings and biomorphic forms in favor of sharp, brightly colored geometric shapes and simple symbols, attracted critical attention as he began exhibiting at the Stable Gallery and the Howard Wise Gallery. Brian O’Doherty, writing in The New York Times in 1964, called them “classics in American art.”
The presence and power of Mr. Ortman’s symbols particularly intrigued him. “His symbols, deprived of function, become not symbols or signs (i.e. things standing for or referring to something else) but things,” Mr. O’Doherty wrote. “Symbol and sign are stripped down to their inner identity, a sort of object-identity, and the mystery of the symbol becomes the mystery of the thing.”
Mr. Ortman was included in the seminal exhibition “Toward a New Abstraction,” at the Jewish Museum in New York in 1963. Two years later, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis mounted a retrospective of his work, pointing to “the force and mystery of the object” as the engine of his creativity.
In 1970 Mr. Ortman accepted a position as head of the graduate department of painting at Cranbrook, where he taught for the next three decades. After returning to New York, he began showing at the Mitchell Algus Gallery. He remained active as an artist, refining his constructions and, in recent years, building-like sculptures — Gehry-esque or pyramidal — in cast aluminum, marble or bent Bainbridge board.
In 2012, Algus Greenspon, the gallery’s successor, exhibited more than 60 years’ worth of Mr. Ortman’s constructions.
The highlight was a 1959 work, Tales of Love, an arrangement of vividly colored circles, squares and triangles, with collaged bits of canvas, that suggested a quilt or game board.
Roberta Smith, writing in The Times, called it “a lost masterpiece.”
****Please note that the physical colors of this item may vary from the pictures in the listing, given the quality of the camera, the lighting and the background used.
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George Ortman (American, b. 1926 - 2015) - Signed Original Pencil and Colored Chalk on Paper - Well-Listed Artist