Monday, June 19, 2017

Francis Quirk Honored with Competitive Ossabaw Island Fellowship- All of the Ossabaw Artwork We Could Find

Francis Quirk was an Ossabaw Island Fellow and spoke fondly about the institution with Pennsylvania friends. We believe he may have also capitalized on his time in Georgia to reach out to patrons and obtain other commissions. Note that he has a portrait in the Georgia Museum of Art. We also believe he may have visited the region on multiple occasions.

Many were painted while spending time at the Ossabaw Island Foundation

Ossabaw Island is a national treasure preserved by Eleanor Torrey-West and her family for the benefit of present and future generations. Ossabaw is a 26,000 acre undeveloped barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean owned by the State of Georgia and located in Chatham County and not too far from Savannah. The island was generously transferred to the State of Georgia on June 15,1978 and designated as Georgia’s first Heritage Preserve with the written understanding that Ossabaw would “only be used for natural, scientific and cultural study, research and education, and environmentally sound preservation, conservation and management of the Island’s ecosystem.” The acquisition was made possible by the generosity of Mrs. West and her family, a personal gift to the State of Georgia from Robert W. Woodruff, the assistance of The Nature Conservancy, and the State’s commitment to preservation of the island.

Ossabaw Island. Georgia Location and Orientation Map ,
Ossabaw Island on Georgia's Coast
The Ossabaw Island Foundation is a public non-profit 501 c3.  Through a public-private partnership with the State of Georgia, inspires, promotes, and manages exceptional educational, cultural, and scientific programs that are designed to maximize the experience of Ossabaw Island, while minimizing the impact on its resources.

The Foundation welcomes all creative people including writers to come and work on the island and be inspired by Ossabaw's solitude and beauty.

In order to continue to balance their operating budget they are no longer able to support complimentary stays.

We have been able to find images of several works painted at the Island.

Glossy White Faced Iris- This painting was featured on the pamphlet for Quirk's solo show at Lehigh in 1973. The pamphlet only showed this black and white image. 

Image of Francis J. Quirk painting   Glossy Whire Faced Iris black and white image
Black and White Image of Glossy White Faced Ibis by Francis J. Quirk  oil on Canvas  From 1973 Exhibition Pamphlet at Lehigh University.


At the 2016 Maine auction of paintings from his estate, we were pleased to see the actual painting and we provide a color image below. In comparing the images, we can see that the pamphlet showed a cropped portion of the original image. 

Painting of Glossy White Faced Ibis by Francis Quirk
Glossy White Faced Ibis by Francis J. Quirk  Oil on Canvas  Exhibited at Lehigh University in 1973

The following images were also identified at the Maine sale.  One interesting aspect of this set is that they include a number of different styles and media including oil, pastel and watercolor. 

The first, is a pastel of a copse of trees that is nicely executed.

trees on Ossabaw Island  pastel by Francis Quirk
Pastel Artwork of Trees executed at Ossabaw Island by Francis J. Quirk
The second is a watercolor of wetland birds. The trees are painted in a light ethereal manner.
Ossabaw Island birds by Francis Quirk
WatercolorArtwork of Egrets and Ibises executed at Ossabaw Island by Francis J. Quirk
The next work depicts wading birds in wetlands with some birds in flight in the background.
Ossabaw Island artwork of birds  Francis Quirk
Artwork of  Ibises executed at Ossabaw Island by Francis J. Quirk
Pastel of sky with wetland bird accents. This work is reminiscent of Japanese screens in which the birds may make up just a small portion of the work.
Francis Quirk  artwork of birds at Ossabaw Island Georgia
Pastel Artwork of Egrets and Cranes executed at Ossabaw Island by Francis J. Quirk

This monochromatic oil painting is unusual in that it is a technique not frequently used by Quirk. This painting demonstrates Quirk's strength as a representational draftsman of great technical skill. This is one of two paintings at the Maine sale. Unfortunately, we ran out of memory and did not capture an image of the other painting. We hope it will if re-emerge in time.  
Ossabaw Island landscape painting by Francis J. Quirk
Monochromatic oil painting executed at Ossabaw Island by Francis J. Quirk (cropped)

Francis Quirk landscape painting of Ossabaw Island
Monochromatic painting executed at Ossabaw Island by Francis J. Quirk (as photographed in the original frame)

 The final work is another oil painting of wading birds. 
Francis Quirk Painting of Ossabaw Island Birds
Oil painting of birds by Francis J. Quirk (cropped)

Painting of Ossabaw Island Birds by Francis J. Quirk
Oil painting of birds by Francis J. Quirk (as photographed in the original frame)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Another "Impossible Art Painting" by Francis J. Quirk Comes To Light.

Through Pennsylvania friends of Francis Quirk, we have obtained another image of a Quirk painting for the exhibition discussed in an earlier (September 19, 2016 post.

Pennsylvania Artist Francis Quirk , Impossible Art Painting by Francis J. Quirk
Clutch Plate Painting in Frame by Francis Quirk 

Painting by Pennsylvania Artist Francis Quirk , Impossible Art Painting by Francis J. Quirk
Clutch Plate Painting by Francis Quirk

Quirk Participates in "Impossible Art" Exhibit in 1970 with Avinash Chandra, Lenore Laine, Sybil Wilson, and Anthony Tortona- Including Quirk's Paintings

Francis Quirk did travel in some impressive circles.  In the February 13 1970 issue of Lafayette, the College's student paper an art exhibition/opening is mentioned in the Happenings section. As we began to research the artists Quirk brought to Lehigh in this exhibition, we became increasingly impressed with their collective vibrancy.

The "Impossible Art" exhibition at Lehigh University would include works by Avinash Chandra, Francis J. Quirk , Lorna Laine, Sybil Wilson and Anthony Tortona. 

Avinash Chandra was a well known artist from India.

Avinash Chandra Painting   Exhibited with Francis J. Quirk
Avinash Chandra at his easel.
Painting by Avinash Chandra
Painting by Avinash Chandra

Chandra is well profiled including a discussion of this particular work on the South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts  Archive

Avinash Chandra painting nude in New York
This black and white photograph depicts Avinash Chandra at work in his studio in New York. The style of the painting in the photograph is consistent with Chandra's artistic development in the 1960's and early seventies. 

Artist Avinash Chandra was born in Simla,India,in 1931. As a child,Chandra knew he was born to paint and in 1947 he enrolled at the Delhi Polytechnic Art School. His father had wanted him to study Engineering and for six months Chandra's family were unaware he was studying art. However,excelling in his chosen field,Chandra graduated in 1951 with a first class degree. He then joined the staff,teaching fine art to undergraduates. 

Chandra's formal artistic training taught him little about Indian art and more about the 'alien' art of Europe and the west. As a young painter,he began painting landscapes which were highly acclaimed. They expressed nostalgia for the trees and landscape of the Simla hills using vibrant colours. At twenty-one years old,Chandra was the youngest artist to be granted a solo exhibition by the progressive artist's movement,the 'Delhi Silpi Chakra'. One of his first paintings,'Trees',was bought by the then newly established Museum of Modern Art in Delhi,and was awarded first prize in the First National Exhibition of Indian Art at the Lalit Kala Akademi in 1955. However,after three successful exhibitions and relative fame,Chandra grew dissatisfied and felt limited by the artistic scope in Delhi. Yearning for artistic liberation,in 1956 Chandra and his then artist wife,Prem Lata (d. 1975),left Delhi and moved to the UK,following an art scholarship awarded to Lata to study at the Central School of Art in London. 

Renting a flat in North London,Chandra made space to complete half-finished canvases he had brought from India. For two years,he worked alone,applying his early influences of Van Gogh and Soutine. He mastered the technique of oils and quietly observed the trends and themes of worldwide attitudes to art. Chandra's first exhibition in England was hosted by the Royal India,Pakistan and Ceylon Society and held at the Commonwealth Institute (then the Imperial Institute),London in 1957. The exhibition,although successful,left Chandra frustrated. He witnessed the same class of people attend his exhibition as those who had seen his work in Delhi - upper class colonial subjects with royal connections. Chandra felt far from liberated,and saw his initial arrival on the London art scene as being from one colonial environment straight into another. 

In 1959,the same exhibition toured to Belfast where Chandra lived for a period of time. Here,his landscape watercolour paintings reflected the city as he saw it,full of churches,steeple and trees. As time passed,Chandra replaced the churches in the foreground of his canvases with circular shapes he called 'heads',and moved the churches to the background of the landscape. His Belfast art was different from the work of his first exhibition in London,mainly because it became increasingly colourful. He painted his landscapes in vivacious reds and blues with strong black outlines and the finished pieces began to thrill him. 

The late 1950s was a turning point in Chandra's artistic development. It was at this time he desired to break away from what he felt were rigid teachings imposed on him in Delhi. He explored philosophy and searched for an artistic expression that was entirely his own,and not influenced by external teachings or interpretations. After a period of gestation,paintings and drawings 'began to flow like lava' from Chandra. 

It was the sale of a Chandra painting entitled 'Sun',to the famous tenor Sir Peter Pears (1919-1986) in 1960 at the Molton Gallery in London,that ignited the future value and pace of success of Avinash Chandra's work. The 1960s brought Avinash Chandra great public success and critical acclaim. Almost every national newspaper and major art magazine wrote about him. In 1961,Chandra's paintings were exposed to the European art world and were featured at various galleries around Europe. In 1962,the BBC produced a television documentary entitled 'Art of Avinash Chandra' exposing the uniqueness of his work. His paintings were showcased at solo exhibitions at the Gulbenkian Museum of Oriental Art in Durham,and in Newcastle,York and Middlesbrough as well as in a national touring exhibition in the United States. 

In 1965,Chandra became the first Indian British artist to be featured at the Tate Gallery,London,with their purchase of 'Hills of Gold'. In London,the art community described Chandra's work as 'refreshing','optimistic' and him as 'an artist of great ability'.

During the mid 1960s,Avinash Chandra undertook several corporate art commissions for coloured glass murals and became renowned for their magnitude and vibrancy. Among Chandra's commissions were a mosaic mural for the Indian High Commission in Lagos in 1962,the Pilkington Brothers new office building in St Helens,Lancashire,and a fibre glass mural for the new Indian Tea Centre in Oxford Street,London,in 1964.

In 1967 Chandra moved to New York following an award by the Fairfield Foundation Fellowship for Travel and Study. He held several exhibitions on the East coast and was well received by the American art community. Chandra returned to London in 1973 and married actress Valerie Murray in 1977.

The so-called erotic imagery of Chandra's 1970s work has led many critics to draw a direct line between his work and Khajuraho,(the intricate sculptures of Hindu gods,girls dancing and lovers,proclaiming the most exalted experiences of men and women upon the temple walls). However,Chandra saw this connection as part of the preconceived perceptions of how India is seen by the West. 

At this time,Avinash Chandra's main theme was the female body. He began with elegant line drawings which evolved throughout the 1970s,to subtle,erotic coloured drawings. Art critic Ronald Alley said of these paintings 'In Chandra's work,sexual images play a vital role,but it is important to realise that they are almost always introduced as part of a much larger experience in a wider context...their appeal Iies in their constant blending with other poetic images: spires,trees,flowers,hills,moons and stars.' 

Avinash Chandra continued to work within this theme until the mid 1980s,when his paintings gradually returned to landscapes and nature.

Lorna Laine was described on AskARt briefly "Lenore Laine was active/lived in New York.Lenore Laine is known for geometric abstraction." However, we were able to find at least one of her paintings in a French Museum.

Lenore Laine Painting
"Cadrans bleus dans boƮtes rouges"
from the Musee de L'Oise in Beauvais France.  Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais / Thierry Ollivier

Lenore Laine Portrait

Lenore Laine Painting   Exhibited with Francis J. Quirk
Painting by Lenore Laine
This painting was for sale on EBay. Not only does it stand out as an art work, but also it has an unusual provenance.  It was in the collection of the distinguished nuclear chemist Dr. Edward Sayre, who has made monumental contributions for over half a century in the intersecting worlds of chemistry and the humanities.  From his work on the Manhattan project through his work at the Smithsonian's Conservation Analytical Laboratory his contributions have been profoundly significant.  

Sybil Wilson went on to become known as a designer more than an artist. We found this bio and image on

Sybil Wilson was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1923. She studied at the Art Students League in New York with Ernest Fiene and, after having worked as a graphic designer in Connecticut, studied at Yale University with Josef Albers, receiving a BFA in 1954 and an MFA in 1959. Wilson also studied weaving privately with Anni Albers, and worked with her as editor on Anni Albers's 1961 book "On Designing." Wilson taught at the Rhode Island School of Design and at the University of Bridgeport, and exhibited her work in the 1960s and early-1970s. She was awarded the American Institute of Graphic Arts "50 Best" award in 1960, and her work is in the collections of New York University, University of Kentucky, University of Massachusetts and University of Bridgeport. Sybil Wilson died in 1997.

Sybil Wilson  Lehigh Exhibit with Francis J. Quirk
Black and White ARTIST: Sybil Wilson YEAR: circa 1970 MATERIALS: Acrylic on canvas CONDITION: Very good DIMENSIONS: 35 x 45 inches.

As to Anthony Tortona, we have not been able to track down information on him or his work.

Quirk's Contribution 

At the September 2016 auction in Maine, several Quirk paintings from the exhibition came up for sale. While they are not exceptional paintings, they do illustrate his draftsmanship and willingness to pursuue a new direction for the exhibition. They also add another argument for the case for his versatility.

Francis J. Quirk  Painting  for Impossible Art
Francis Quirk Painting for Impossible Art Exhibition at Lehigh University

"Impossible Art  Exhibition" "Francis J. Quirk" Lehigh University
Francis Quirk Painting for Impossible Art Exhibition at Lehigh University :"Pear, Ivory, Pine"

Label for "Pear, Ivory, Pine" by Francis Quirk

"Impossible Art Exhibition" Lehigh  "Francis J. Quirk"
Francis Quirk Painting for Impossible Art Exhibition at Lehigh University

Thursday, June 15, 2017

New Francis Quirk Maritime Painting Comes to Light

Through our blog we have been contacted by the owner of a previously unknown maritime painting by Francis Quirk. The wonderful work is "Boat in an Ocean" which depicts an outboard-motor powered boat carrying two people cruising beneath a blue sky. Perhaps, they are returning from a day of fishing. The boat is riding fairly low in the water and the bow has some cargo that might be fish, shellfish or netting. 

painting Quirk, Maritime Painting Francis Quirk, Maine Artist, Maine Painting
Boat in an Ocean by Francis J. Quirk
The painting was most probably painted in coastal Maine as Quirk had a house in Saco in the Kinney Shores neighborhood on Old Orchard Beach. He greatly enjoyed depicting maritime settings. This work is a bit different stylistically from other Quirk paintings in that the sky dominates the canvas. The artist has captured the period of morning light before the sky turns pink or the sunrise. The color palate is typical of his work. 

Maine Maritime Painting by Francis Quirk,   Boat in an Ocean, Quirk Artist, Maine Painter
Boat in an Ocean painting by Francis J. Quirk
The owner of the painting recently purchased it in a shop in central Pennsylvania.

Francis Quirk Signature, Maine Painter Francis J. Quirk,
Francis J. Quirk Signature on Boat in an Ocean Painting
We greatly appreciate the owner of this painting reaching out to us and providing these images.