Friday, 3 October 2014

Pietro Antonio Narducci and his “Sacra Mantra” …



 … the “New Jersey Lizard from the Swamps”, as he was known by his contemporaries at the Cedar Tavern in Manhattan, called his artistic pursuit – “the sacred search or journey”.
c/o de la Warr Pavilion


I suppose if I told you I’ve been looking for more information on this particular exhibition: “A Secret Service … Art, Compulsion, Concealment” for seven and half years – you’ll nod and say, yes, that sounds like you!


I had taken my uncle for a day out … before my mother was ill … when we went down to the coast to visit the area my paternal grandmother had moved to, his MIL: Bexhill-on-Sea.


We found the lane she used to live in – the house had been razed and they’d turned the area into a housing estate – sad: I remember very little of that era.


The staircase looking seawards
and across to the bandstand
The exhibition beckoned at the de la Warr Pavilion, some considered it an art-deco style museum, others the first Modernist building in England, built in 1935.


I’d no idea about the Exhibition … but they do have a good café-restaurant so we could look out over the sea … and watch the world go by.




I couldn’t get to grips with the Exhibition – it was way too modern for me – and I hadn’t started blogging … so my boundaries had not burst open.


My uncle couldn’t get his head round it either and declined to read the associated leaflet – a folded A4 sheet on cheap paper (possibly emulating 1950s paper), with a lot of detail in very small print.

The stunning handrail at the Pavilion

I had held on to the leaflet – it didn’t enlighten me … because I could find nothing on the internet about “A Secret Service” and the PAN Art Museum and Institute.  What on earth was it …



But I don’t give up … I had driven out to the Pavilion to ask ... the curator suggested it was probably the “A Secret Service” Exhibition … I still couldn’t find anything: I hadn’t typed in the qualifying words “Art, Compulsion, Concealment” … and I wasn’t after Secret Services!


This week I found the scrap of paper with the curator’s name on and his title suggestion … so I had another look: bingo ... I found the details …


I have no idea what fascinated me other than that seven and a half year itch would not leave: I needed to satisfy my curiosity …


Once I read the de la Warr’s exhibition notes on their website it all began to make sense … Richard Grayson, the artist and curator, had brought the Hayward Gallery Touring Exhibition to Bexhill.


Sixteen artists were featured spanning nearly 100 years of artistic expression … with me concentrating on the explanation about the PAN Art Museum and Institute (PAN for Pietro Antonio Narducci) in the small New Jersey town of Denville: which was my point of interest.


The Museum now houses the entire Narducci archive … at a rough estimate over 2,000 works in a wide variety of media. (I cannot even find details on this museum ... but I'm not taking a trip to New Jersey to find out!)

 
A palette of colours ... not Narducci's
The Independent’s obituary gives you a full write up about this incredibly talented artist … link at end of post; Narducci was one of the founding members of the Abstract Expressionism and Modernism … his main friends at the time were Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko …


He refused to exhibit ever again after students destroyed a classical fresco of wild stallions … he then became reclusive, painting for his creative muse …

Narducci's eagle logo for
American Airlines


While working and experimenting he needed to earn a living … so obtained work of all sorts including antique dealing and designing as a graphic artist – the American Airlines eagle logo is a Narducci original.


He moved from New York to Jersey, and founded a private museum filled exclusively with his own work, closed to visitors until after his death.


The PAN museum is a warren of small rooms, where Narducci lived and worked in the last decades of his life …


A Hubble image
He moved from neo-classical to Abstract Expressionism, to working with light and sound waves … to do this he used an oscilloscope wired to a camera kept on his fire escape pointing at the sun: the first ever paintings done utilising the energy of the sun …


… you’ll see some staggeringly amazing artworks in the video on the first retrospective, right from the first few seconds …


Here’s a story teller through his life’s works, who could think beyond our planet’s atmosphere, to express the art shown to us in Space … who could ‘predict’ what the Hubble Telescope would show us a few years later …


 
Another Hubble image
A professional, highly trained artist – one who was respected by the famous artists of his era … one who through the Exhibition “A Secret Service” kept this blogger on tenterhooks for over seven years to tell his story to another audience …


Enjoy our Sacred Mantra … I am somewhat surprised that I finally found my answer to the PAN Art Museum and Institute … it has been a stippled search over the years … but what an incredible artist …


The Gold-Dust Gecko


He was so ahead of his time … but where else would we find art and Hubble, painting with the sun … then tied in to another Positive Letters Inspirational Story …




The Independent’s Obituary of Pietro Antonio Narducci

The de la Warr’s article on the “A Secret Service”Exhibition 

Narducci Art  - his daughters' website on his art

DTR Modern Galleries – who hosted, with Narducci’s daughters, the first retrospective of his works – the video is just under 6 minutes … but oh so worth watching  …

I'm off round middle England for a series of one-night stands,as a chauffeur, with Jenny from Vancouver Island - seeing elderly cousins, visiting her publishers and the archivist at Rhodes Library in Oxford.  I'm not away for long and hope to get on-line as I go ... I will be around!

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

55 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

Hilary, an amazing story. I'm so glad you continued your search for answers because now I know about an artist I would otherwise never have known about. Sad that he became a recluse, but then that seems to happen to the very, very creative.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

It still amazes me that some of the most talented people have been or are recluses. I guess it pays to spend time with yourself.

And YES I expect you to research something that nags at you!!! That's our Hilary.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

What a fascinating story! I've never heard of him at all.

And I had to laugh when you said you knew nothing about the Exhibit, but you knew there was a good cafe with a view, so off you went! LOL. Even art enthusiasts know their priorities! ;)

Manzanita said...

This is certainly a worthy read. How I admire artists/people who don't bastardize their beliefs or sell out. i shall view the video after I let the chickens out. And you, young lady, three cheers for your persistance and patience for sluethdom. I too love sluething. A chauffer, huh? Do you mean actually driving?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You can't find anything online about the museum? How incredibly odd...

D.G. Hudson said...

I absolutely love art tidbits like this, Hilary, and have never heard of the guy. You do find the unusual, and I am glad you pursue your curiosity as I do too. I have heard of some of his compatriots, very modern.

What an interesting post!

cleemckenzie said...

He was one multi-talented artist! I jumped over to see his daughters' website. He was obviously a wonderful father, too.

Paula Kaye said...

You amaze me in your quest for knowledge. I enjoyed the art!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mason, Teresa, Dianne, Manzanita, Alex, DG, Lee and Paula ...just so glad you enjoyed the art - I hope you all had a look at the video ... Cheers for now - Hilary

bazza said...

It occurred to me, Hilary, that the whole thing might be a fiction. I can cite two instances that come to mind. (1) In Flann O’Brien’s wonderfully funny novel The Third Policeman about twenty percent of the book is taken up with footnotes about the scientist de Selby, who turns out not to have existed. (2) The author Richard Condon always included after the title page of his books a quotation from The Keeners Manual. I also spent about seven years chasing librarian’s to try to find that book for me.....and then, at last, I found that Condon had made the whole thing up!
So, imagine my surprise when your artist turned out to be real (I think!).
This was an exceptionally enjoyable post.
Continuing my new experiment of naming the music I am listening to while posting or commenting - right now it's a radio version of Macbeth Listen on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nu7uI-nBYvg
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’
.

J E Oneil said...

Curiosity is a recurring illness. Which is a good thing since we can learn things we couldn't before.

Janie Junebug said...

How awful to destroy art. Heartbreaking for him and for humanity.

Love,
Janie

Munir said...

You take so much pain to look for answers and then write a post so we learn. Thanks .

Jo said...

I'd never heard of him either not that I know much about any modern artists. I like the idea of the similarities between his art and the Hubble pictures. Quite a concept isn't it?

As for destroying art, that has been done throughout history by all kinds of people. Same with books. Criminal thing to do.

Julie Flanders said...

I've never heard of this artist before. Another fascinating story. Not only about the artist, but also that you found that scrap of paper that led you to satisfy your curiosity after all these years. Thanks as always for sharing with us, Hilary.

Sherry Ellis said...

It does look like the exhibition was rather contemporary. I think it's a style you have to acquire a taste for.

SittieCates said...

Haven't heard of this artist before. Glad your perseverance paid off. It's a very informative post. Thanks for sharing the info, Hilary.

Milo James Fowler said...

Incredible stuff -- and great photos, Hilary. I'd never heard of this artist before, so thank you.

Madeleine Sara said...

My mother encouraged my love of art an architecture. She did an OU course and I learned a lot from what she told me. She used to test me on artist's work. I enjoy architecture design programmes too, though I have never heard of Narducci.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Hilary
Art is so subjective. I've never cared much for modern art. I will have to look at this guy's stuff.
Nancy

Stephanie Faris said...

I'm not a fan of art museums, but the stories about PEOPLE definitely fascinate me. It's much more interesting to hear the story behind an artist's motivation than to simply stare at paintings. Great story!

Lynn said...

That is so lovely that you had this outing with your uncle - and the exhibit sounds fascinating, too.

Sad that the visit to the old property yielded that kind of result - I had the same happen when I visited my grandparents' home and it was gone - just nothing there.

Lynn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Inger said...

This is just wonderful. I am so sorry they destroyed his artwork, but it sounds like so much is left. I hope you have a nice time in middle England.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@bazza - I will reply with a better answer when I get back, there's an interesting answer; @ Jeanne - well I have a recurring illness then! @ Janie - appalling destruction; @ Munir - I appreciate you enjoy the posts; @ Jo - he was an amazing artist and so sad that destruction; @ Julie - I'm glad you enjoyed my story; @ Sherry - it was very contemporary but I'm glad I found out about Narducci; @ Sitticates - he was fascinating wasn't he; @ Milo - glad you enjoyed the info; @ Madeleine - interesting to read about your mother and her interest; @ Nancy - I hope you enjoyed the video @ Stephanie - I loved this story, like you; @ Lynn - I know there are sad memories here, but it was awfully glad I had a happy time with my uncle; it is so sad to see homes destroyed; @ Inger - his legacy will be extraordinary .... Trip going sling fine - thanks to you all ... Cheers from Malvern!!

mail4rosey said...

What a great story, and my gram always told me that perseverance pays off! :)

Michelle Wallace said...

A fascinating story about an amazing man!
...and you satisfied that 7-year itch! But that's to be expected...you're not one to give in...well done, Hilary!

Nas said...

Thanks for sharing this interesting and informative post, Hilary! I always learn a lot here!

Crystal Collier said...

Oh! I love art exhibits. It's been a long time since I got out to one, but it's the use of color and shape that usually gets me.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rosey ... your Gram was quite correct - it was perseverance and it did pay off ... @ Michelle - glad you enjoyed the story and as you say I don't give in easily ... @ Naz - thanks .. he has opened my eyes to the possibilities of art ... @ Crystal - I'm enjoying them more than I used to .. but that must be because I'm blogging ... and learn as I go ...

Cheers everyone - I'll reply properly tomorrow .. just got back - Hilary

Julia Hones said...

You gave me some interesting information about Narducci's art. Now I'd like to learn more about his art.
Thank you Hilary!

Friko said...

I had never heard of this artist, no wonder really, if he kept his art secret.

I once went to the De La Warr pavillion; I think it is a wonderful building while Bexhill itself I remember as pretty ordinary. J. played a concert there, a long time ago.

JJ said...

I love art and art museums. I never saw Narducci's work presented, but I know his name and that he was an abstract expressionist. I have very close friends who lived in Denville for many years, and I was probably introduced to his art through them. I have also seen his name in one of the textbooks for the art courses I teach, but never presented his work to a class. Maybe I will. Cheers!

Denise Covey said...

You are very tenacious Hilary. Great to have your questions answered after all these years. Shows how good blogging is for the brain!

Gattina said...

I have seen the Bexhill museum but only from outside. My love for modern art is a little restricted, if it is too abstract I don't like it.

Sara said...

Persistence is a very important value!

You definitely have it and I'm glad for it. Obviously, I had never heard of Pietro Antonio Narducci, but I love his works and enjoyed the video. The only thing I'd say about the video is there were too many people and I couldn't see the art as well I wanted to, until close to end. But his daughter talk was interesting.

The pictures you put up from the Hubble Telescope are very similar. Perhaps Narducci was a traveler of the universe and expressed the images he saw on his travels.

Whatever the case might be, thank you for continuing your research and discovering (and sharing) Narducci's art:~)

Happy day to you, Hilary!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Isn't it wonderful how the internet can help us scratch those persistent itches of curiosity that try to drive us buggy? Fascinating stuff. Like everyone else who has already commented, I never heard of this artist, either. Thanks for enlightening us. The similarity between some of his work and the Hubble images is quite fascinating.

TALON said...

I admire your tenaciousness, Hilary. And what a pay-off! What amazing artworks. I've never heard of him so this way eye-opening in more than one way. Very cool.

Karen Lange said...

You caught my eye right away with "New Jersey", for I spent a good part of my life there, growing up, marrying, and raising a family. Such an interesting story (or stories, actually) intertwined with other details. An incredible artist indeed, gifted for sure. Thank you for enlightening us with your journey and discoveries. Your posts are always so rich in detail and information!

Have a great weekend! :)

Carol Kilgore said...

I'm going to bookmark this post and come back when I have more time to explore the links.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julia - I hope you can find more .. I struggled to find much more. The links help as do some of the comments.

@ Friko - it was a strange story .. the PAN Museum I wanted to find out about and find out who Narducci was - something hooked me in.

the de la Warr Pavilion was meant to me more spectacular ... but it is a wonderful building all the same. They still do concerts, and relay plays or opera ... Bexhill is rather dull, I agree .. my grandmother lived a little way out.

@ JJ - I'm not brilliant with art - but I'm enjoying the learning process.

How interesting that you have close friends who live in Denville - and Narducci certainly 'mixed' with the village - well his family probably did and as you're interested in art - I'm sure his door was open for you.

Well - it will be interesting if you utilise some of his ideas and thoughts to your art class ... it is an interesting story and his work is amazing.

@ Denise - I did hang on in - not sure why .. but it's a fascinating story to tell: blogging is definitely good for the brain!

@ Gattina - it's worth visiting the inside; while modern art is a learning process ... as I'm finding out.

@ Sara - persistence had its last gasp here .. that slip of paper was on its way to file 13!!

I'm so pleased you watched the video - yes there were too many people, but it was quite comprehensive with his two daughters explaining his life ... and as that was the inaugural exhibition of his works after his death ... it's all that's available in video format (I think).

The Hubble pictures and Narducci's work do show some similarity don't they ... he must have had an amazing brain to 'see' and then paint those pictures ... the oscilloscope must help I guess ...

Just glad you enjoyed the art and story to it ..

@ Susan - I was surprised at first to be able to find nothing ... so this has been a labour of just putting a bit of paper to one side and forgetting for another year or two! Til that slip of paper raised its querying head again.

I was delighted to finally found out his story ... and aren't the Hubble images similar to his art ...

@ Talon - delighted you were enchanted with learning about Narducci and his incredible art ...

@ Karen - ah! New Jersey ... well you could relate to the area; I was bewitched with my findings - hence I knew it would make an interesting post ...I'm glad everyone seems to agree.

Thanks for your thoughts re the postings ...

@ Carol - that will be great to see you when you get back and you have time to explore the links ..

Cheers to you all - I'm so pleased that many of were interested in the post. Thanks - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi everyone to answer a few comments more fully:

@ Dianne - the outing was for my uncle, but I admit I wanted to see what the exhibition was about ... not really my scene: but now 7.5 years later I've learnt more than I saw at the exhibition!

@ Manzanita - yes I was chauffeuring my mother's cousin ...

@ Alex - I couldn't find anything ... but see next comment ...

@ Beste - who can't comment for some reason wrote:

I don't know why yet but I still can't post a comment on your blog page.
I didn't get a chance to read the other comments either so, if I'm not repeating information, I believe his former studio is now a private museum.

http://www.narducciart.com/studio.jsp
The Narducci link in the blog takes you to the page too ..

@ Bazza - you raised a very interesting aspect on Narducci being a fiction character ...

Also I don't know the two authors or novels you mention along similar lines of non-existing characters ...

I had found a book about Nat Tate by Richard Boyd - which was The Infamous Literary Prank that Fooled a Legion of Art Critics in the 1990s ...

David Bowie hosted the party ... see this Amazon link:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nat-Tate-American-Artist-1928-1960/dp/1408814463/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=1RGNWVGJXH06Z269GBRR

And yes Narducci was real ...

@ Jeanne - interesting thought about curiosity being a recurring illness ..

@ Madeleine - what a great way to learn through your mother doing her OU course ... I find architectural programmes fascinating too ..

Thanks to you all and I'm glad we've been able to add to the post ...

The studio - can be seen from the link above ...

... and then William Boyd's book about the hoax artist .. that I find fascinating ...

Thanks so much .. cheers Hilary

Theresa Milstein said...

As usual, you have excellent photographs here. I like the first picture in particular. Wish I lived near there to see the place in person! I love that you bring all these far off places to me. Thank you!

Empty Nest Insider said...

Leave it to you to solve another mystery, Hilary! Have you thought about becoming an investigative reporter? It's nice that you had this special outing with your uncle. Thanks for telling us about this unusual artist.

Julie

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Anything by the water is generally where we gravitate to. Sad about the art being destroyed. Human beings are complicated, for sure. Very interesting story, Hilary, as usual.

loverofwords said...

Always learning from your blogs, Hilary. There is a Denver artist, Vance Kirkland, who painted in a similar way and has his own museum here in Denver. They both were interested in the Cosmos and way before their time and the Hubble. Inspiration is hard to describe--where does it come from? If we are indeed, the product of stars, perhaps a part of that stays with us.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Hilary, thank you for inspiring me to look at the video. I loved it. I, too, am fascinated and inspired by the cosmos. A series of paintings I'm working on right now is that type of abstract work.

You are such an amazing spirit! Thank you for your wonderful blog and for relating your adventures to us.

Mary Montague Sikes

Christine Rains said...

Love your tenacity! And what an interesting story. Have a terrific weekend. :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Theresa - the first photo was used as an 'advert' for the exhibition ... but reflects his style. I'm just glad you enjoy the postings ..

@ Julie - a tv cook, now an investigative reporter .. a few alternative late career ideas for me .. Yes going out with my uncle was special and he did so enjoy it ..

@ Joylene - such destruction ... and it does seem terrible now - as he'd won the Prix de Rome for his frescoes.

@ Nat - yes I see the Vance Kirkland Museum of Fine Art .. has similar artists associated with it, who were also contemporaries of Narducci.

The Kirkland Museum would be wonderful to visit ... looks fascinating ... I can see the similarities.

I wonder where we come from .. we could have that sprinkling of star-dust couldn't we ...

@ Monti - delighted you got here .. and had a look at the video ... interesting to read you're working on a series of abstract art ... it'll be good to see them when you're ready.

Delighted you enjoyed the visit across here ...

@ Christine - it has been a journey hasn't it ... 7.5 years finally satisfied ...

Cheers to you all ... and it's lovely you enjoy these eclectic oddities I bring to you .. cheers Hilary

Annalisa Crawford said...

I don't fully 'get' modern art - I think I need to know what the artist was thinking, and with some modern art, I just can't.

Charan said...

Loved this post, the photos and appreciate your passion Hilary in finding the answers!!

Take care,
Charan :)

Michael Di Gesu said...

HI, Hilary,

Well I finally made it! I'm so glad I did! FASCINATING does not even begin to cover it. I love artists that are brilliant beyond their times. And so multitalented.

The AA logo is so stunning. Art Deco at its best! IT's one of my favorite eras. And living in Chicago there are SO MANY deco buildings. I actually live in a transmittal building that was first started in 1912 and the section my condo is in was finished in 1925. It's a stunning brick and limestone building with art nouveau and art deco blended beautifully together!

I have come to appreciate modern art even more as an adult. Never my favorite when I first started out as an artist. I was classically trained. BUT so were almost all modern artists. That is what makes their work so incredibly brilliant. Their interpretation of the classics, twisted, stretched, contorted, and colored. Man's expression of his thoughts are completely limitless. That is why art is so incredible it is always changing and evolving.

Thanks so much for sharing this with us Hilary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Annalisa - nor do I, nor do I understand art .. but because of blogging I'm learning new things - so I quite understand.

@ Charan - delighted to read you enjoyed the post and its contents .. I was so pleased to be able to solve my mystery.

@ Michael - so glad you picked up on the AA logo: Art Deco at its best .. I didn't realise Chicago is so full of art deco buildings. The idea of a transmittal is interesting and to see your building took 13 years to complete the sections … and combines two art period-styles ... it must be amazing to look at.

I’m sure with an artist’s creative mind you do develop your skills and talents … and can see new possibilities wherever you go. Art as ‘man’s expression of his thoughts’ … is an interesting concept I’d not really realised before – thanks for this comment – it really adds to the post.

Thank you – I’m so pleased I pursued this mystery and now have successfully solved it as best I can, while letting you into its secret too … cheers Hilary

Juliet Batten said...

What fun. You are a born researcher Hilary, a Sherlock Holmes of history! Thank you.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Juliet - I really did want to know to what the "PAN" referred to .. and back then 7.5 years ago .. there were no obvious references. I'm glad I hung on - it's been so interesting finding out.

Cheers Hilary