Max Schnitzler, 1943, oil on canvas (top), Ilyana Garmisa Druck, 1949, “Cubist Farm,” exhibited at the Minnesota State Fair and the Minneapolis Art Institute (bottom).
One of my favorite galleries in New England has always been Adam Tamsky Fine Art, which specializes in paintings primarily made by under-recognized painters from the 40s and 50s. For many years the gallery was a fixture on Wickendon Street in Providence, RI, but when I was in Stonington, CT, the other day for the Annual Stonington Village Fair, I saw that Adam has opened a new gallery on Water Street. I immediately pulled the car over and ran in to see what was going on.
Robin the gallery dog.
Two Coats of Paint: Your gallery is a gem. You have a keen eye for under-known abstract painters from the early to mid 20th century. Why are you interested in this particular period of abstraction?
Adam Tamsky: I had been a collector of 19th and early 20thC. Landscapes for almost 20 years beginning in the early eighties. When I first opened my gallery in Providence in 1999 I focused on small landscapes and period frames. Gradually I became interested in work by American painters from the WPA era (roughly 1936-42). The paintings I focused on were landscape and figural works but with a decided “Modernist” bent. Many of the painters from that period continued to change their style as they entered the war years and I simply followed their interest in experimenting with non-objective painting. I also read a lot about the “Irascibles” (Pollock, DeKooning, Rothko, et al) in an attempt to try to understand what they were doing. The 1950’s in New York City has now become my favorite period in American art and has proved a fertile ground for finding engaging works by lesser known artists.
Dorothy Seckler, “Road Crew,” 1940, oil on board. Seckler interviewed notable artists for Art News
1950-56 and Art in America
TCOP: How do you find the work you display in the gallery? Is there something specific you look for in a painting?
AT: Most of the paintings I find come from family members of the artists I seek. Some come from auctions, and a few are brought to me by pickers who have come to know my taste. As for what I look for in a painting, I am interested in works by trained professionals. People who can handle color and design deftly regardless of the style they choose. If I had to use one word it would be “quality”, but that would take several pages to explain.
, “Foggy Night,” 1948, oil on canvas (top), Jerome Seckler (Dorothy’s husband), “Abstract,” 1965, oil on canvas (bottom). Apparently Jerome Seckler studied with Hans Hofmann
TCOP: Has your focus changed since you opened the gallery in Providence 12 years ago? Do you think shows like “Mad Men” have increased interest in the Modernist paintings you sell?
AT: I don’t know about “Mad Men” in particular, but I have noticed an increase in Modern paintings and prints as well as modern furniture showing up in the popular magazines and current movies. I do expect to change my focus now that I have moved to a smaller gallery in Stonington. I will be showing more furniture, jewelry, and lighting from the fities and sixties. As far as objects from the fifties and sixties, I seem to be drawn to European design. I like the lighting designs that came out of Italy and France in the fifties and furniture and jewlery from Denmark and Sweden in the sixties. Perhaps this is unexpected coming from an art collector/dealer who has focused on American art for the past 30 years.
TCOP: Well, we all have to follow our instincts–I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of interesting light fixtures you uncover. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with Two Coats readers. Good luck in the new location.
AT: Thanks, Sharon. My pleasure.