in New York, NY / United States
23.06.2016 - 29.07.2016 10:00 - 18:00

James Cohan is pleased to present “Intimisms”, a group exhibition that considers the continuing legacy of the Intimists. A group of late 19th and early 20th-century artists that included Jean-Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, the Intimists created jewel-like portraits of family and friends in richly-colored interiors during moments of domestic quietude. Organized with artist Aliza Nisenbaum, the exhibition features twenty-six historic, established, and emerging artists and is on view at the gallery’s Chelsea location from June 23 through July 29, 2016.

Included in the exhibition are paintings by Joan Brown, Jordan Casteel, Susanna Coffey, Ben Degen, Louis Eilshemius, Nicole Eisenman, Jane Freilicher, Lucian Freud, Hope Gangloff, Anna Glantz, Heather Guertin, Heidi Howard, Ridley Howard, Sangram Majumdar, John McAllister, Alice Neel, Aliza Nisenbaum, Jennifer Packer, Ga Hee Park, Fairfield Porter, Giordanne Salley, Tschabalala Self, Sylvia Sleigh, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Taylor, and Patricia Treib.

Following the advent of the genre by its earliest French practitioners, artists have practiced successive modes of intimism inside rooms and behind closed doors, amongst friends and confidants, through diary entries and inner monologues, revealing confessions and secrets, all filtered through their aestheticized private view. The style privileges an artist’s ineffable affinities and communion with his or her subject, rather than emphasizing direct observation and storytelling. “Intimisms” considers the artists who champion this introspection, focusing on the interior spaces of their studios, living spaces, and bedrooms, while looking to friends, family, and lovers as subjects. Contemporary painters continue to press and stretch against the subtle confines of the genre, updating this endeavor for the 21st century.

For modern audiences, the most intimate moments are often posted, liked, and hashtagged instantaneously. How then are these previously private, sometimes clandestine, moments preserved in our era? Writing about a younger generation of painters working through the legacy of the Intimists, writer and curator Chris Sharp of Lulu in Mexico City raises doubts, “about the feasibility of intimacy, perceiving it less as a fact of life than an ethical mode, won through the increasingly rare act of paying attention.” For these artists, the act of painting actualizes and secures the personal intimacy they seek with their subjects.

Like Bonnard and Vuillard before them, these artists allow the physical interior to serve as a symbol for the soul and psyche, revealing that one’s personal viewpoint – a subjective view of reality – holds unique and vital meaning.

We would like to thank and credit Chris Sharp, from whose essay “Aliza Nisenbuam: Portraits, Letters, Books and Flowers,” this exhibition was in large part inspired.

Aliza Nisenbaum (b. Mexico City, Mexico) is a New York based artist. She is an assistant professor at Columbia University School of the Arts and has exhibited both in the United States and internationally. Recent exhibitions include Mary Mary, Glasgow, UK; White Columns, New York, NY; and Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico. Her work was also included in the Biennial of the Americas, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO; the Rufino Tamayo Painting Biennial, Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico; Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice, Italy; The Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL; and the Poor Farm, Manawa, WI.

Gallery hours Mon-Fri 10 am – 6 pm (Summer hours)


James Cohan Gallery
533 West 26th Street
10001 New York, NY
United States


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