Karen Wilkin

Karen Wilkin

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BRATTLEBORO — Curator Karen Wilkin will discuss the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center exhibition “Figuration Never Died: New York Painterly Painting, 1950-1970” on via Zoom and Facebook Live at 7 p.m. Dec. 3.

On view at the museum through Feb. 14, “Figuration Never Died” highlights a generation of New York artists who absorbed the lessons of Abstract Expressionism but never abandoned figurative painting. The exhibit features work by 10 artists: Wolf Kahn, Robert De Niro Sr., Lois Dodd, Jane Freilicher, Paul Georges, Grace Hartigan, Alex Katz, Albert Kresch, Paul Resika and Anne Tabachnick.

Kahn, who for 51 years made his second home on a hillside farm in West Brattleboro, was a longtime friend and patron of the museum, along with his wife, artist Emily Mason, who died in December 2019. Kahn died in March 2020, six months before the exhibit opened.

“I’ve long been interested in the stubbornly independent artists of this generation who embraced figuration at a time when abstraction seemed imperative,” Wilkin said. “I’d already written about many of them, including Wolf (Kahn) himself, Dodd, Resika, Kresch and Katz.”

She noted that while the show had to be tightly focused for installation at the museum, she also “had the luxury of producing a substantial, copiously illustrated publication to accompany the exhibition and extend the life of ‘Figuration Never Died’ for years to come.”

The 120-page book was published by The Artist Book Foundation and is available for purchase in the museum gift shop and online at brattleboromuseum.org.

“One sad note,” Wilkin added. “Wolf Kahn knew about the show and was excited about it. He loaned important works. I wish he had lived to see the exhibition installed.”

Wilkin is a New York curator and art critic and the Atelier Head of Art History at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture, where she teaches in the M.F.A. program. She is a regular contributor to The New Criterion and The Wall Street Journal as well as a contributing editor for art for The Hudson Review. She has organized numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally on modern painters and sculptors.

The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, at the intersection of Main Street and routes 119 and 142, Brattleboro, is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is on a “pay-as-you-wish” basis. The museum is wheelchair accessible. More information is available by calling 802-257-0124 or visiting brattleboromuseum.org.

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