David Fertig

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The life and times of the late 18th Century, especially the pomp and pageantry of the military have been the focus of David Fertig’s work for the last decade.  While it is tempting to see Fertig as a history painter, yearning to resurrect the ancient dichotomy of Academicism versus Romanticism, this viewpoint is not correct.  Fertig’s ambition is to engage a much more current moment in the history of painting, namely the New York School, its antecedents and aftershocks, Especially as it relates to the figurative tradition.

His use of ships and soldiers as subject matter stems from his deep interest in the period, about which he is a self-taught authority. Fertig’s curiosity about the late 18th Century affairs of Europe and North America has led him to read primary sources about the armies and navies of the time such as the proceeding of inquests into the loss of vessels made by the British Admiralty and the personal correspondence of the field marshals. He prefers to study first-hand accounts to later fictionalized ones. To aid in his an-making, Fertig consults etchings, paintings and sculptures from the era, which give him a good sense of the appearance of the people and things he depicts. Fertig harnesses his passion for a particular moment in history to address the timeless concerns of painters: composition, colour, line, light and the integration of figure into landscape.

The surface and handling of paint is perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Fertig’s work.  As a young artist in the early 1960’s, Fertig absorbed the ethos and approach of Abstract Expressionism, another heroic moment in history, which was the dominant style at the time.  His brushstrokes and facture relate directly to Post-War painting, especially as practices by John Graham and Nicolas de Stael.  While this movement is usually associated with abstraction, Fertig prefers to look at the figurative impulse within it.  From his swirling impasto and scumbling emerge entirely convincing illusions of space and figures, much like Fertig’s mentor, Robert Kulicke.  Furthermore, Fertig does not dismiss illustration art (he adored Treasure Island as a child) and as his titles suggest, he does want to tell a story, or at least suggest one. Fertig’s work conveys what he imagines actually happened.  In this regard, Fertig should be grouped with his friend, Robert Andrew Parker, as well as more widely renowned artists such as R.B. Kitaj and Jim Dine.  All of these artists privilege the figure, allow nature to influence their painting and convey a narrative to their audience while staying true to the stylistic achievements of their immediate predecessors.
– Jay Grimm for the 2012 Galerie Bellefeuille exhibtion of David Fertig’s work.

 

Background
 1946     Born, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education
1972     Art Institute of Chicago, MFA
1967     Philadelphia College of Art, BFA
Solo Exhibitions

2007     Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco, CA

2006     “New Work” James Graham & Sons, New York, NY
2005     JG │ Contemporary / James Graham & Sons, New York, NY
            “Recent Paintings,” Paul Thiebaud Gallery
2004     “New Paintings”, Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2003     JG │ Contemporary / James Graham & Sons, New York, NY
2002     “Paintings & Pastels,” The More Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
2001     “Paintings & Pastels,” Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco, CA
            “Sea Fights, Storms and Shipwrecks,” Kerygma Gallery, Ridgewood, NJ
2000     “Recent Work,” Tatistcheff Gallery, New York, NY
1999     Annual Show, The More Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1998     “Sea Fights, Storms and Shipwrecks,” Kerygma Gallery, Ridgewood, NJ
            Annual Show, The More Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1997     Annual Show, The More Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1996     “Recent Work,” Evansville Museum of Arts and Science, Evansville, IN
            Annual Show, The More Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1995     Annual Show, The More Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1994     “Recent Work,” Carspecken Scott Gallery, Wilmington, DE
            “Recent Work,” Eastlake Gallery, New York, NY
1993     “Recent Work,” Eastlake Gallery, New York, NY
            “Recent Work,” Carspecken Scott Gallery, Wilmington, DE
“Pastels,” Eastlake Gallery, New York, NY
1992     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1991     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1990     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1989     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1988     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1987     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1986     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
            “Monotypes,” John F. Warren, Bookseller, Philadelphia, PA
1985     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1984     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
            “Recent Pastels,” Griffin-Haller Gallery, Washington Depot, CN
1983     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
            “Recent Paintings,” The Noyes Museum, Oceanville, NJ
1982     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1981     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1980     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1979     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1978     Annual Show, Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1977     “Delaware River Paintings,” Peale House Galleries, PA
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Selected Group Exhibitions
2006     “Summer Selections II: The Figure,” Mulry Fine Art, West Palm Beach, FL
2004     “Wood Work,” JG │ Contemporary / James Graham & Sons, New York, NY
2003-1976:        Various Exhibitions include: JG │ Contemporary / James Graham & Sons, New York, NY; The Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA; The Museum of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Pennsylvania, PA; Tatistcheff Gallery, New York, NY; Barbara Mathis Gallery, New York, NY; The More Gallery, Pennsylvania, PA; Elaine Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY; The Woodmere Museum, Bryn Mawr, PA; The Westmoreland Museum of Art, Greensburg, PA; The National Academy of Design, New York, NY; Marion Locks Gallery, Philadelphia, PA; Gross-McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA.
Public and Private Collections
Blue Cross of Pennsylvania, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, PA
Chemical Bank, New York, NY
Cigna, Philadelphia, PA
Citibank, New York, NY
Citicorp, Newcastle, DE
Colgate, University, Hamilton, NY
Cooper & Lybrand, Pennsylvania, PA
Deckart, Price and Roads, Philadelphia, PA
Duane, Morris and Heckscher, Philadelphia, PA
Evansville Museum of Art and Science, Evansville, PA
Greitzer and Locks, Philadelphia, PA
Hahnemann Hospital, Philadelphia, PA
Kidder Peabody, New York
Merrill Lynch, Princeton, NJ
Millersville State College, Millersville, PA
Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA
Penn Mutual Insurance Company, Philadelphia, PA
Pepper, Hamilton and Sheetz, Pennsylvania, PA
Price Waterhouse, Washington, D.C.
Provident Mutual Life Insurance Co., Philadelphia, PA
RCA Corporation, Cherry Hill, NJ
Schnader, Harrison, Segal and Lewis, Philadelphia, PA
Smith Kline Corporation, Philadelphia, PA
Subaru, Cherry Hill, NJ
Woodmere Art Museum, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, PA
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Bibliography
2007     Scott, Bill, “David Fertig at James Graham & Sons,” Art in America, April
2006     Cohen, David, The New York Sun, November 2nd
            Smoler, Frederic, “Combat Artist,” American Heritage, November/December
            Naves, Mario, “A Painter’s Enviable Touch – And His Napoleon Complex,” The
New York Observer, November 13th
            “Painting Honor and Treachery,” Forbes Life, December 1
2005     Naves, Mario, “David Fertig’s Particular Subject: Re-Imagining the Napoleonic
War,” The New York Observer, February 28th
            Gardner, James, “Art Attack,” New York Post, February 19th
2003     Naves, Mario, “Painting That’s Alive Today,” The New York Observer,
November 3rd
2002     Sozanski, Edward, “Accents on Dickinson,” The Philadelphia Inquirer,
November 1st
            Sozanski, Edward, “Soldiers at Sea,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, May
            Savadove, Larry, “Artist Out of His Time,” The Sandpaper, May 1st
            Brown, Gerard, “Argh! The Cruel Sea!” Philly News
2001     “A Selected Exhibition,” The Week, December
            Leng, Low Yit, “Art Thou Home?” Prestige, March
            Golonu, Berin, Previews, Artweek, October
1996     Sozanski, Edward J., The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 17th
1994     Gardner, James, The New York Review of Art, February
1993     Meyers, Susan, The Kennett Paper, Oct. 28th – Nov. 3rd
1992     Sozanski, Edward J., The Philadelphia Inquirer, March
            Mangravite, Andrew, “David Fertig’s Big-Top Display,” Welcomat-After Dark,
Mar. 25th
1990     Stern, Fred, “Letters from America,” Mizue, Spring
1989     Grove, Nancy, “Not so Simple,” Art and Antiques, December
1985     LeClair, Charles, “Painting Still Life,” Watson-Guptil Publications
            Scott, William, American Artist, November
1984     Leonard, Elizabeth, “Painting the Landscape,” Watson-Guptil Publications

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