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"Two Mythic Figures" by Gertrude Barrer, Amer., (1921-1997)
Gertrude Barrer, Amer., (1921-1997), Two Mythic Figures, Tempera, Ink and Varnish, 1950, 8-7/8 x 11-3/4, signed and dated in ink, on cream colored wove paper, sheet considerably toned with traces of tape at four corners verso. Gertrude Barrer was a member of the group of painters in New York in the mid to late 1940s including Steve Wheeler, Ruth Lewin, Peter Busa and Howard Daum who came to be know as the "Indian Space" painters. The name derives from their embrace of the flattened space, conventionalized form and equality between of positive and negative space as design elements, all absorbed from study of Native American sources and art of the Northwest Coast instead of Europe. Will Barnet, whom Barrer studied with at the Art Student's League, also embraced these ideas in his own explorations of abstraction. As she embraced, personalized, then transcended Indian Space concerns for all-over patterning and ambiguity between positive and negative form, Barrer infused her own hybrid imagery with elements of both organic and man made structure, and monumental and mythic themes. This image from 1950 reveals Barrer's mysterious structures and symbols here with a spiritual and sentient presence. A transitional work by Barrer as she moved away from the flat interlocking positive-negative shapes associated withe the Indian Space group towards the articulation of more personal and universal symbols.