Lecture with OSE Juror Cliff Chieffo

Cliff Chieffo Lecture

On the Final Friday in June dozens of people crammed in to the Principal’s Hall of the Cary Arts Center for a special lecture with Clifford T. Chieffo. Chieffo is the juror for this year’s Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, as well as a distinguished artist, art historian, and author. Every seat in the room was filled, while others stood or sat on the floor to learn from the accomplished art expert.

 “Modern Painting- What Were the Artists Thinking?” was an informed presentation, which covered major developments in painting from the Italian Renaissance to French Impressionism and onward. He discussed the importance of the perspective and foreshortening in Mantegna’s the Lamentation of Christ, the broken planes in fauvist still life paintings, the purposeful obfuscation of details in Degas’ portraits of ballerinas and more.  


Before the mid 19th century, many classical paintings were commissioned by the church and the wealthy upper class to commemorate history or to immortalize important public figures. The series of movements afterwards- Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, and Expressionism, for example – changed the way we looked at painting forever. And Chieffo was there to experience some of what we have come to recognize as hugely important shift in fine art painting.


The Abstract Expressionist movement took place in the heart of the art world- New York City. Rather than the soft landscapes, grand biblical scenes, and formal portraits of the more traditional movements, this was highly based on concepts and the exploration of aesthetic value, which Chieffo describes as “that sensation in which we experience the transcendence of time and are transported in to that moment”.

That transcendental experience was felt by those in the room as Chieffo went on to describe the appeal of high contrast in Motherwell’s work, the way Rothko used blocks of color to influence the psyche of viewer, the expressive, expressive dribbles in Pollack’s paintings, and more.

By the end of the night, the audience was left with the experience of learning about the evolution of the modern painting from someone who was there to experience it. CVA hopes you will join us in the future for more of these brilliant artist talks and lectures. 


Thursday, July 2, 2015
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