The William Campbell Contemporary Art gallery in Fort Worth has been open since 1974. Yet, despite its long history, it has resisted any temptation of becoming complacent or set in its ways when it comes to displaying truly quality, inspiring and, often, ground-breaking work. Often gazing forward into an innovative and provocative artistic future, the gallery’s current exhibition honors two late masters of their individual artistic craft: Cynthia Brants and Charles Umlauf.
Old friend, John Graves, once described Cynthia Brants as possessing a “lifelong compulsion to experiment radically with forms, subjects and materials.” And, indeed, in the works on display at the Campbell, we see all of those qualities in Brants, along with her clear nods to such important early influences as Cezanne, Klee, Picasso, and Braque. Brants was never far removed from what would be a life-long conversation with Cubism and all its iterations. The results of Brants 70 years of eclectic and prodigious painting and printmaking can be seen in such public collections as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Old Jail Art Center, and Princeton University, among many other venues.
As for Charles Umlauf, one of the 20th century’s most productive sculptors, he could easily roam from meticulous realism to dreamy abstraction, sometimes within the same work. And Umlauf was never wedded to one tangible material, instead applying his ineffable artistic approach to everything from terra cotta and bronze, stone, alabaster, marble, to various unusual woods. His subject matter was stunning in its variety, veering from group works (often involving mothers surrounded by their children) to figures plucked from mythology and religious parables, to spunky animals and gorgeous nudes. Umlauf’s Texan connection began in 1941 when he moved to Austin to help launch the University of Texas’ then fledgling art department. In 1985 he was named Texas Artist of the Year by the Houston Art League. His work can often be seen in such prestigious collections as the Smithsonian Institution and New York City’s Metropolitan Museum.
Details: Cynthia Brants and Charles Umlauf: Work from the Artists’ Estates continues through February 15 at the William Campbell Contemporary Art gallery, 4935 Byers Avenue, Fort Worth. More information: 817-737-9566 and www.williamcampbellcontemporaryart.com.