James Cohen Gallery: Michelle Grabner

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Vanessa Foster

Jason Bernagozzi

Digital Foundations I

December 11, 2016

Michelle Grabner Gallery

Artwork comes in numerous forms and mediums; be it something more traditional such as paintings and drawings, or something more out there and abstract, like pill bottle sculptures or other types of junk art. From two dimensional to three dimensional, there are seemingly endless types of art forms and styles. Recently at one of the Cohen art museums in New York there has been a gallery on artist Michelle Grabner, primarily displaying her bronze cast models of blankets and other textiles, as well as a few paintings done on a variety of mediums. 

Michelle Grabner is an American artist who began publicizing her works back in 1995 with a showing at the Milwaukee Art Museum, a gallery titled “25 Americans: Painting in the 90’s“. From there on she had numerous other galleries, presentations, and has displayed her work all across the country. Many of her works give off textural designs and feelings, and all seem to have a patterned design to them. Michelle works in numerous mediums, having done drawings, paintings, videos, and sculpting. She holds an MA in Art History, a BFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and an MFA in Art Theory and Practice from Northwestern University, and is currently working as a teacher at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, IL.

At the James Cohen Art Gallery Michelle currently has her displays centered around bronze castings of blankets that were hand-stitched and crocheted, some used as templates for her other works. These castings were produced by creating wax positives of the original textiles, and then pouring molten bronze into the wax molds, effectively destroying the original works in the process. Every figure retains the soft, loose feeling of the fabric it once was, and has immense amounts of details. They show the individual knots, lines of yarn, and every gap in the original work. It tricks the eyes to thinking the bronze itself is still as soft and posable as the original textile, and had me absolutely mesmerized. Each of these castings is untiled, and done this year, 2016. They all retain the original shapes and sizes of the blankets they were cast from, and each one stands over 50 inches in height. Along with these textile casts, Michelle presented some of her panel paintings, generally done with enamel, along side these bronze works. Her panel paintings have a textured, patterned look to them and are very simple in design. They have no shape or subject to them, and seem to be purely based on visual appeal or pattern, and some are even done with textiles on them.

Michelle Grabner’s bronze figure works displayed at the James Cohen Gallery have a surreal softness and look to them, still appearing as if they are the fabric they are based on. Her works all give off a textured look to them, despite some being two dimensional. The way she approached making her bronze figures is a common practice in making many models, but her chosen subject is what sets it apart from similar castings. Michelle’s current gallery helps show more traditional types of works, and things some people might claim to not entirely be art, yet it still captivates us and helps keep us involved.

Works Cited

Exhibit-e.com. “Michelle Grabner – Exhibitions – James Cohan Gallery.” Michelle Grabner – Exhibitions – James Cohan Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

Grabner, Michelle. Untitled. 2016. Bronze. James Cohen Gallery, n.p.

Grabner, Michelle. Untitled. 2016. Enamel on panel. James Cohen Gallery, n.p.

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