MAY 1959
Reviews and previews
Lucia Vernarelli [Artists; May 2--21], born in this country of Italo-American parents, studied at the American Artists School under Solman. Since her first stay in Italy in 1949 which brought a new sensibility to her painting, she has shown in many group shows, but very fittingly made her debut in Florence last summer. Her first one-man show in New York consists of still-lifes and portraits in oil, and collages. Intimacy with the principles of the Italian Renaissance and a very personal feeling for her New York surroundings are blended in an understanding so unforeseen that its effect on the viewer is magical. Blues, imperceptibly shining purple and pinks, muted golden yellows and earth colors sift in an aura of dusk and clear stillness. Household objects rest in a clearing where longing has been distilled, the rushing of time is stopped. Entering a world where the mystery of an array of small objects, each quietly and precisely guarding its own little personality, is bypassed by daily time, one leaves other moods and judgments behind. Unintellectual and poetic, made by artless pleasure in slow care and an intuitive process faithful to the first vision, Vernarelli’s canvases are among the most unusual this season. The collages are purer than many shown today. They make nostalgia tangible and allude with silver and gold, with shreds of print, to the domes and public squares of historical Italy and its landscape. The large version of Pulcinella was the backdrop for Bolender’s ballet, Games, at last year’s Spoleto festival. $75-$300.

Lucia Vernarelli: People and still objects are studied carefully for their essential shapes and postures. In Miss Vernarelli’s oils they are presented straightly and steadily, and invested with an extraordi described simply, with broad, flat areas of paint enclosed by linear definition; this comes off most beautifully in the head of the younger figure in a double portrait. The color is carefully arranged to maintain exquisitely tasteful low-key relationships, yet can surprise you with the odd particular relationships that help to compose that general sense. This painting seems to be informed by early Italian frescoes as well as by early twentieth-century European art; these sources can fuse with the artist=s intense sense of the arrangement that will suit her equally intense sense of her subject. Delicately made collages, in which taste and nostalgia take over, are also shown. The combination is a light and pleasing relaxation of effort.
(Artists, May 2--21.)--A.V.