The above image is Leon Berkowitz’s “Unities #16”, oil painting on canvas, 84 x 60 inches, 1972.
When I dropped out of medicine to pursue art full-time, I moved to Washington DC. It was 1976 and the Washington Color School still had considerable local influence. It was founded in the late 50’s and matured in the 60’s. The most notable members of this group were Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland. In trying to find my own avenue of artistic expression, I befriended Leon Berkowitz, one of the founding members of this School. At that time, I was exploring surrealistic themes using oil painting. I met with Leon many times to exchange ideas. Eventually our paths separated—I started to create conceptual art installations.
A week ago, while exploring the art galleries in the Chelsea district of New York, I was stunned to look up and see one of Leon’s distinctive pieces on display, in the front window of the Hollis Taggart art gallery. I could not believe my eyes! I had seen this work over 40 years ago, and here it is on display!
When I knew him, Leon (1911-1987) taught painting at the Corcoran School of Art. In the area of color field paintings, he never received the acclaim and recognition that he deserved. It was an incredible experience to so unexpectedly meet an old friend, albeit through his art work.
Leon’s “Thresholds of Perceptibility” exhibit continues through November 2 at the Hollis Taggart art gallery, 521 W 26 Street, New York. If you have a chance, this is an exhibit worth visiting.