Joseph Drapell, Tibet and China, 1982
acrylic with additives on canvas, 79 in x 28 in,
signed, titled and dated verso.
Joseph Drapell and the New New Painters first came together in 1978. Kenworth Moffett, former American art curator, museum director and champion of the New New Painters, noted that the New New Painters have pushed the boundaries of artistic expression and technological development in the use of acrylic paints and gels during the past 25 years. “Acrylics enable the New New to recreate a very contemporary visual world of feeling: distinctly plastic, holographic, transparent, reflective, translucent, iridescent, glitzy, glossy, and with lots of eye-popping colour. Their paintings have the dark energy of our most passionate rockers (like Kurt Kobain) or fiercest rappers (like Eminem) but are far more sublimated thanks to the medium of painting, and an extravagant, psychedelic sensuality made possible by the new plastic paints.”1
Kenworth Moffett championed the New New Painters from their beginnings, despite the opposition from the New York colour field artists and the art world at large. Moffett had suggested that the New New Painters had been overlooked by the New York City art world. Moffett wrote in a 1992 Paris Exhibition catalogue “While not a formal organization, the artists featured in this book all know each other and feel themselves to be part of a group with a shared sensibility and common interest, just like the Impressionists, the Fauves, the Cubists, the Surrealists and the Abstract Expressionists before them. This group is the most exciting new movement or ‘wave’ of painters to appear in twenty-five years. For the first time since Color Field and Minimalism, modernist art has a whole new look and feel. It stands out by its raw aggressiveness of relief, texture, colour and drawing.” 2
Joseph Drapell studied art at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan from 1968 to 1970. Drapell was first discovered by the renowned art dealer Robert Elkon, who ran a contemporary art gallery in New York City. Robert Elkon represented a wide array of prominent artists including Agnes Martin, Sam Francis, John McCracken, John Wesley and William Tucker. The gallery also mounted two Modern Masters exhibitions each year, including works by such world-class artists as Matisse, Dubuffet, Pollock, Rothko, Miró, Balthus, Giacometti and Magritte. Robert Elkon held three exhibitions of Joseph Drapell’s works from 1971 to 1973. Drapell later found top gallery representation in the United States and Canada to both exhibit his work and the New New Painters.
The other core members of the New New Painters are twelve abstract artists including Lucy Baker, Steve Brent, John Gittins, Roy Lerner, Anne Low, Marjorie Minkin, Irene Neal, Gérard Paire, Graham Peacock, Bruce Piermarini and Gerald Webster. In the last few decades, we would have seen some of the terrific works of particular NNP artists in Canada, Graham Peacock, Roy Lerner, and Joseph Drapell. The New New have had over 25 shows together at venues in the United States, as well as in Canada, France, Germany, Belgium and even Korea. They have had 10 museum shows. In 1993, they were given a large exhibition at the Museé d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain in Nice, as well as more recent public art exhibitions. 3
Joseph Drapell’s painting “Tibet and China” reproduced above is a gorgeous example of the eye-popping work that the New New Painters are producing, as well, a great example of Drapell’s own unique artistic expression. Drapell developed a technique of applying paint with a broad spreading device attached to a movable support. Using reflective paint and acrylic gels to stimulate the creative process. In Drapell’s emotionally charged painting “Tibet and China”, 1982, we may speculate that the artist was influenced by current events considering ideas related to Tibet’s enduring struggle for independence from China.
James Rottman Fine Art carries a significant inventory of historical artworks by Joseph Drapell. Do not hesitate to contact us with inquiries regarding this artwork or other works by Joseph Drapell.
1,2,3The writings of Kenworth W. Moffett Artletter 2.0
Kuspit, Donald (1996) “Excess and Intimacy: Painting Besides and Inside Itself”, New New Painting.
Carrier, David (1999) “New New Painting and History of American-Style Abstraction”, The New New Painters. Flint Institute of Art.