The Lockwood Gallery in Kingston, NY presents Bruce Cahn: Discovered, a solo exhibition highlighting the prolific, though little-known practice of the late artist Bruce Cahn (1942-2020). Cahn’s creative approach was meticulous and extensively varied, exploring all media of visual art with aesthetic, conceptual, and technical precision. This focused survey will bring together over fifty multidisciplinary works—including marble sculptures, watercolors, oil paintings, photographs, and ceramics.
Who was Bruce Cahn?
Born in the Bronx, Bruce Cahn led an eccentric, solitary life driven by an all-consuming desire to live life as an ongoing creative process. The son of a prominent New York City caterer, he spent his childhood comfortable but socially disinterested, preferring to spend time in his parent’s basement sculpting anatomical studies of the human form or mounting shows upstairs of his drawings and prints.
After attending the Horace Mann School where he studied sculpture under the esteemed arts instructor Ion Theodore, he worked briefly for his father’s Kosher catering company at the Grand Concourse employing his skillset and love of form to create custom ice sculptures for events.
He continued his education at Bard College, where he studied with Harvey Fite, whom he visited at his quarry, Opus 40, in Saugerties, NY; Rhode Island School of Design; and with sculptor José Mariano de Creeft. He also became a lifetime member of The Art Students League, a refuge he routinely frequented to draw, paint, and make sculptures.
An outsider in many senses of the word, Bruce Cahn was a prolific and reclusive creator of a diverse range of distinctive images and sculptural objects. His practice was both obsessive and spiritual, working tirelessly, day-after-day, in private to perfect each hand made visual art discipline—a goal he believed that would prepare him for his next life. Once he’d become an expert in one medium, he would turn to another – always learning, always growing.
In his isolation he amassed a lifetime of highly unique pieces, produced over a 25-year period inside of his modest Chelsea studio or cottage in Woodstock, and included street photography, analog photographs, nude watercolor studies, geometric oil paintings, and eccentric self-portraits. In this large and unusual collection, Bruce Cahn’s extraordinary talent as a colorist, his sensitivity to line, and rhythmic compositions combine to create a formal beauty that finds a place in any defined art category.
Bruce Cahn’s devotion to creativity was broad and continuous, an internal contest of mastery. Now, the public has the opportunity to view his prodigious body of work from a singular vantage.
Exhibition Highlights Include:
• PHOTOGRAPHY—Cahn’s world class lighting, expertise, and creativity is on full display in this “Master Class” on black and white photography that examines a nuanced range of subject matter ranging from figure to street photography. All of the images were self-printed by Cahn in his lifetime, and most are non-editioned, unique prints.
• WATERCOLORS—With a watercolor practice rooted in formal Color Exploration and Color Theory, Cahn quested to achieve something new with the medium. His complex colorwork, in examples such as “Reclining Nude” and “Portrait, is absolutely unique and hypnotic.
• SCULPTURE— As a student of sculptors such as Fite and de Creeft, the quality Cahn’s sculpture is envisaged. A number of the artist’s sculptures will be on display in the current exhibition including his final, unfinished artwork.
• CERAMICS—With only four examples known to be in existence, this is one of the rarer mediums employed by Cahn. All pieces will be included in the current exhibition.
A portion of sale from Bruce Cahn: Discovered will go to support the charities People’s Place and the Woodstock School of Art. This exhibition was organized in partnership with Bruce A. Cahn Estate and made possible by the endless support of his loving wife, Mavie Cahn.
My introduction to the work and world of the late artist Bruce A. Cahn was by personal invitation from his wife, Mavie Cahn. It was an invitation I couldn’t refuse. “Just have a
look,” she said. “You won’t be disappointed.”
Despite any reservations, my curiosity was piqued.
There was the distinct feeling that I was being drawn into an operation commonly known as an “art deal.” It is extremely rare for a curator to agree to view a body of work by an artist who, for all intents and purposes, was and is completely unknown. A ghost, both figurately and literally.
As Curator of THE LOCKWOOD GALLERY, a 14-month-old jewel box quickly building a reputation, the very idea of showing a virtually unknown artist made me sweat.
As I pulled into Marigold Homes, I thought to myself, “Is this the location of an inevitable disaster and the end of my career?”
“This could go only two ways,” I thought. “Great art? Possibly. Fabulous upholstery and custom shades? Most assuredly!”.
Upon entering, it became apparent that I could only locate a single entrance and exit. The second thing I noticed was three or four intimidating hard sided black cases, the kind of cases that say, “we mean business.”
Again, my curiously piqued. As a curator, art is my drug of choice and I’m an admitted addict.
Introductions and pleasantries were exchanged before the first of the black cases was opened. Each and every photograph was presented in a perfectly sized matte. I went through the contents of the four cases slowly. I asked relevant, curator worthy questions.
Not paying attention to the answers, never allowing my eyes to leave the images.
The single word that came to mind was “masterworks”. Each and every image I examined ticked a mental checkbox—Lighting? Perfect! Composition? Perfect! Content? Surprisingly versatile! The person who created these images was as strong in the studio as he was En Plein Air.
I asked, “Are there more?” and Mavie politely smiled and answered, “I’ll show you.” A week later, I’d been through hundreds of works of art in the Woodstock cottage.
It was astonishing. This master artist, Bruce A. Cahn, lived in Woodstock for 14 years within walking distance to both The Kleinert and WAAM and across the street from The Center for Photography. Yet, every professional in the town had never heard of the silent genius I was so taken with.
Two weeks later, I visited Bruce’s Chelsea Studio where he was equally elusive.
“Bruce? I don’t know a guy named Bruce.” His neighbors repeated.
I had now worked my way through thousands of pieces of art. I was taking my first forensic dive into the work and world of an artist no one seemed to know.
Well, Bruce A. Cahn, thanks to you I’ve seen it all. As a curator, I feel I can comfortably say I’ve met you and I know you. With your approval, I am going to put you on the walls of THE LOCKWOOD GALLERY and introduce you to my favorite and growing group of friends.
It is long overdue.
Alan Goolman, director of Lockwood Gallery.
ABOUT THE LOCKWOOD GALLERY
Originally designed as the offices and conference room for Lockwood Architecture, PLLC and Dynamsm Builders, Michael Lockwood, art enthusiast and (when time permits) student at The Woodstock School of Art, soon developed an alternative vision for the spectacular space he had built.
The Lockwood Gallery specializes contemporary art and under the direction of curator Alan Goolman, has become known for its narrative driven exhibitions featuring the work of well-established artists from the Hudson Valley and beyond.