Mosaic is Light: Works by Jeanne Reynal, 1940–1970
Jeanne Reynal was a New York school artist, one of the first collectors to purchase a Jackson Pollock work from Peggy Guggenheim, and friend to such luminaries as Arshile Gorky and Willem and Elaine de Kooning. As such, one cannot command a full understanding of art in the twentieth century without apprehending the life and work of Jeanne Reynal, who pioneered a new form of mosaics. That opportunity is here, at last: the first major retrospective of Reynal’s contribution to postwar American art, “Mosaic is Light” at Eric Firestone Gallery, presents work spanning three decades.
Reynal was fascinated by the ways in which glass tiles and stones, hand-cut at a bias, reflected light, and applied tesserae of tile, stone, glass, and shells to a ground of cement to make the majority of her work. The first room of the gallery is dedicated to primary-colored, polygonal works from 1959 and 1960, such as the red-speckled hexagonal work Songs of the Tewa (1959), grouped around monumental and freestanding sculptural works inspired by indigenous sculptures, such as the six-foot, two-pronged Lovers (1970). The second room is dedicated to the biomorphic, Surrealism-inflected works that nearly pass for thickly applied abstract works, as in Blue Window (1953). A table made in collaboration with Isamu Noguchi sits in the middle of the space—a physical reminder of the many ties Reynal had, as well as the part she played, in the art of postwar America.
Jeanne Reynal, Untitled, 1945. Smalti and pigmented plaster on board, 24h x 18w x 1d inches.