Robert Vickrey (1926-2011)
Venice Magic, 2001
Egg Tempera on gesso panel
8 x 9 3/4 in.
Signed lower right
Robert Vickrey (1926-2011)
Although Robert Vickrey announced his presence on the New York art stage in 1951, the very year that the New York School of Abstract Expressionism was launched, he still managed to stay true to what he thought might just survive the ages, let alone find a place in contemporary art museum and gallery exhibitions as well as support from art collectors.
He quipped that when the Whitney Museum of American Art selected one of his early nun paintings The Labyrinth for its Whitney Annual in 1951 “I almost fell over” and when they purchased it for their permanent collection “I did fall over”. With that he accepted representation at the Creative Gallery in New York City that same year. He would not be without New York representation for the next fifty years, a testament to his confidence that what he had to offer was viable, if not always “popular”.
In 1954 his fourth New York exhibition was at the long-established Midtown Galleries,who not only sold his work with regularity through the late 1970’s, but also sold the greatest number of his paintings to museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Butler Institute of American Art. Because of their convenient 57 th Street location scores of art directors from many magazines saw his paintings in their exhibitions (both group and solo).
The Gruskins advised him when asked by these magazine and book art directors to sell images of specific paintings for single usage in their publications. The art world would later attempt to labelVickrey as a commercial artist, which was not the case at all since he was not painting a new painting to fit a story line, but instead they were using an already created painting to fit the article. Some of his paintings were selected for the covers of Psychology Today and the AMA Medical Journal.
By the late 1970s, and partly due to the new interest in photo-realism in art, Vickrey found himself being coaxed away from galleries who were interested in his unique lyrical realist paintings in egg tempera, and in the 1980’s, alkyd oil. First was Hirschl & Adler Galleries from 1978 to 1981, then ACA Galleries from 1981 to 1987, the Kennedy
Galleries from 1988 to 1993 ending with Gerald Wunderlich Gallery from 1994 to 2001 – completing the fifty years of continual New York Gallery representation and exhibitions. Essentially the tragedy of 9/11 dealt a blow to many galleries in New York City including Wunderlich. By that time he was selling almost all he could create via his galleries on Cape Cod and Naples so he decided to not pursue further New York representation with another gallery. Plus he was 75.
When Vickrey moved from his Fairfield, Connecticut home to one on Cape Cod in Orleans he liked the idea of consigning works to a local gallery where he could easily see quick sales results. He started his first relationship with the century old Munson Gallery in 1976 and then moved to Tree’s Place Gallery in 2000, who still exhibit his work today for his estate.
Perhaps the only gallery to match Midtown’s record for sales and exhibitions is the Harmon-Meek Gallery in Naples, Florida which did annual exhibitions starting in 1981 and through his death in 2011 with a memorial exhibition. The gallery also curated and loaned more than twenty-three Vickrey exhibitions (mostly retrospectives) to museums from coast to coast.The Vickrey estate is also represented by the gallery presently.
Vickrey had a dry wit and penned numerous articles to the local Cape Cod newspapers, also authoring books The Affable Curmudgeon in 1987 an then Cape Cod’s Cockiest Crook in 1996 which was about the traumatic episode of his personal investment counselor stealing his entire life savings (along with ten other Cape Cod residents) which he discovered on Friday the 13th in December of 1991.
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