Michael Kessler was born in 1954 in Hanover, Pennsylvania. He received a B.F.A. degree from Kutztown University. He currently lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
AWARDS / FELLOWSHIPS
Rome Prize, Painting, American Academy in Rome , 1990 Pollock/Krasner Award, Painting, New York, New York , 1992 Whitney Independent Study Program, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York , 1977 Awards in the Visual Arts-Five, Grant in Painting, South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art, 1985 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Grant in Painting , 1983
SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2013 Callan Contemporary, New Orleans, Louisiana Paia Contemporary Gallery, Maui, Hawaii Russell Collection, Austin, Texas Gallery Mar, Park City, Utah
2012 Schmidt/Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Gallery Mar, Park City, Utah Paia Contemporary Gallery, Maui, Hawaii Dean Day Gallery, Houston, Texas Joseph Gierek Fine Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma Artamo, Santa Barbara, California
2011 Gallery Bienvenu, New Orleans, Louisana Madison Gallery, La Jolla, California Butters Gallery, Portland, Oregon Paia Contemporary Gallery, Maui, Hawai Argazzi Art, Lakeville, Connecticut Ann Korologos Gallery, Basalt, Colorado Russell Collection, Austin, Texas
2010 Paia Contemporary Gallery, Maui, Hawaii Mark Gallery, Englewood, New Jersey Lanoue Fine Art, Boston, Massachusetts Gallery Mar, Park City, Utah
2009 Melanee Cooper Gallery, Chicago, Illinois Friesen Gallery, Seattle, Washington Joseph Gierek Fine Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma Schmidt/Dean Gallery; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Gallery Bienvenu, New Orleans, Louisiana Art Cube Gallery, Laguna Beach, California Madison Gallery, La Jolla, California
2008 George Billis Gallery, Los Angeles, California. Blink Gallery, Boulder, Colorado Nuart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico Artamo Gallery, Santa Barbara, California Schmidt Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Renee George Gallery, Charlotte, North Carolina
2007 Gallery Bienvenu, New Orleans, Louisana Sense Gallery, Menlo Park, California. Art Now Gallery, Gothenberg, Sweden Butters Gallery, Portland, Oregon Lanoue Gallery, Boston, Massesschuets Russell Collection, Austin, Texas Daniel Kany Gallery, Portland, Maine Dean Day Gallery, Houston, Texas
2006 Gallery Bienvenu, New Orleans, Louisana Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas, Texas Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, Idaho Melanee Cooper Gallery, Chicago, Illinios Schmidt Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Nuart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico Allyn Gallup Contemporary, Sarasota, Florida John Raimondi Gallery, Boston, Massaschucits Reed Savage Gallery, Miami, Florida Perry Nicole Fine Art, Memphis, Tennessee
Nuart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico Sense Gallery, Menlo Park, California. Butters Gallery, Portland, Oregon Friesen Gallery, Seattle, Washington
2004 Nuart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico Allyn Gallup Contemporary, Sarasota, Florida Schmidt/Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Magidson Fine Art, Aspen, Colorado
2003 Nuart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico Craighead Green Gallery , Dallas , Texas Butters Gallery, Portland, Oregon Littlejohn Contemporary, New York, New York Sense Gallery, Menlo Park, Ca.
2002 Schmidt/Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Nuart Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico Concept Art Gallery; Pittsburgh, Pa.
2001 Allyn Gallup Contemporary, Sarasota, Florida EVO Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico Bonfoey Company, Cleveland , Ohio
2000 Klein Art Works, Chicago, Illinois
1999 Littlejohn Contemporary, New York, New York Klein Art Works, Chicago, Illinois Mira Mar Gallery; Sarasota, Florida Schmidt/Dean Gallery; Phila, Pennsylvania
1998 Bemis Center of Contemporary Art , Omaha , Nebraska Craighead Green Gallery , Dallas , Texas
1997 Littlejohn Contemporary, New York, New York Klein Art Works, Chicago, Illinois LewAllen Contemporary, Santa Fe, New Mexico
1996 Littlejohn Contemporary, New York, New York Schmidt / Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, Pa
1995 Galleri Flesser , Helsingborg , Sweden Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, Nebraska Art Now Gallery , Gothenberg, Sweden Klein Artworks, Chicago, Illinois
1994 Klein Artworks; Chicago, Illinois Schmidt/Dean Gallery; Philadelphia, Pa. Castellani Art Museum, Niagara Falls, New York Concept Art Gallery; Pittsburgh, Pa.
1993 Art Now Gallery; Goteborg, Sweden Schmidt/Dean Gallery; Phila., Pennsylvania
1992 Klein Artworks; Chicago, Illinois Allentown Art Museum; Allentown, Pennsylvania Castellani Art Museum; Niagara Falls, New York Schmidt/Dean Gallery; Phila, Pennsylvania Mira Mar Gallery; Sarasota, Florida
1991 Art Now Gallery; Goteborg, Sweden
1990 Nina Freudenheim Gallery; Buffalo, New York Klein Artworks; Chicago, Illinois Schmidt/Dean Gallery; Phila., Pennsylvania Jack Tilton Gallery; New York, New York
1989 Art Now Gallery; Goteborg, Sweden
1988 Jack Tilton Gallery; New York, New York
1987 Barbara Krakow Gallery; Boston, Massachusetts Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, New York
1986 Art Now Gallery; Goteborg, Sweden Fabian Carlsson Gallery; London, England Wolff Gallery, New York, New York
1984 Jack Tilton Gallery; New York, New York
1983 Castellani Art Gallery; Niagara Falls, New York
TEACHING EXPERIENCE 1999/00 College of Santa Fe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Selections from the Vitale, Caturano & Company Collection, Bentley College, Waltham, MA
2005 New Work for the New Space Group Show, Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas ,Tx The History of the Gallery, Kustera Tilton Gallery, NYC The Plane Truth, Friesen Gallery, Seattle, Wa. Butters Brand, Butters Gallery, Portland, Or.
2004 The Non-Objective Object, Friesen Gallery, Seattle, Wa. Summer Group Show, Butters Gallery, Portland, Or. November in Sun Valley, Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, Id. Gallery Artists, Nuart Gallery, Santa Fe, Nm.
2003 Art for Life, Cascade AIDS Project, Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, OR Summer Group Show, Littlejohn Contemporary, NYC Abstraction, Art Resources Gallery, St.. Paul, Mn.
2002 Nature Reined, Butters Gallery, Portland, OR Summer Group Show, Littlejohn Contemporary, NYC
2001 Introductions, Butters Gallery, Portland, OR 12th Anniversary Show, Lowe Gallery, Atlanta, GA
1999 After Nature II, Trevor Richardson, Herter Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts Amherst An Exhibition of Paintings by: Gregory Amenoff ,Bill Jensen, Michael Kessler,Rebecca Perdum,Katherine Porter
1998 Michael Kessler and Stephanie Weber, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, Nebraska Contemporary Abstraction, Klein Art Works, Chicago
1997 Abstract Confluence, Klein Art Works, Chicago
1996 Elusive Nature, 1996 Cuenca Bienal of Painting, Cuenca, Ecuador. Curated by David Rubin, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona.
1995 Directors Choice, Horwitch/Lewallen Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico Gallery Artists , Klein Artworks, Chicago Illinois. Michael Kessler/James Bruss, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, Nebraska
1993 About Nature, Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, Cleveland, Ohio curated by David Rubin, Curator of Contemporary Art, C.C.C.A.
1991 Vital Forces, Nature in Contemporary Abstraction, The Heckscher Museum, Huntington, NY Romantic Abstraction, Works by Amenoff, Kessler, Raimondi; Helander Gallery, Palm Beach, Fl. Annual Exhibition, American Academy in Rome, Italy Drawings and Poems: Michael Kessler and John Yau; Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Vital Forces, Nature in Contemporary Abstraction; Heckscher Museum, Huntington, New York
1990 Five American Artists; Galerie D'Art, Copenhagen, Denmark Inner Natures: Four Contemporary Painters; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, Ca. “Holiday Invitational,” ArtSpace/Virginia Miller Galleries, Coral Gables (Miami), Florida
1989 Four Painters, Flint Institute of Arts; Flint, Michigan
1988 Pennsylvania Perspectives; Carnegie Mellon University Art Gallery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Recent Acquisitions; Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania
1987 Realism and Abstraction; The Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey
1986 Recent Acquisition; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo More Than Meets the Eye; Galleria Carini, Florence, Italy
1985 More Than Meets the Eye; Fabian Carlsson Gallery, London, England Awards in the Visual Arts-Five; Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio; Norton Gallery, West Palm Beach, Florida
1984 New York-Outside New York; The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, New York; Museum of Art Association, Monterey, California; Sunrise Museums, Inc. Charleston, West Virginia
1983 Five Contemporary Artists; Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania Selections 22; The Drawing Center, New York, New York
1980 In and Out of New York; White Columns, New York, New York
BIBLIOGRAPHY 2009 D. Eric Bookhardt, Michael Kessler at Gallery Bienvenu, New Orleans, Gambit, September, 2009
2008 Richard Speer, Michael Kessler at Butters Gallery, Portland, Oregon, Art Ltd. July, 2008 Kevin Costello, Finding Solace in Abstracts, Sarasota Herald Tribune, August 2008 Erin J. Smith, Michael Kessler : Graftings, CASA Magazine, November 2008 Colin Marshall, Michael Kessler's Graftings, Santa Barbara Independent, November, 2008
2006 D. Eric Bookhardt, Scratching the Surface, Michael Kessler at Gallery Bienvenu, New Orleans, Gambit, January, 2006
2005 Richard Speer, Michael Kessler at Nuart Gallery, Santa Fe, NM. ARTnews, November, 2005
2004 Kevin Costello, Kessler Landscapes Energetci, Enigmatic, The Sarasota Harold Tribune Roberta Fallon, Michael Kessler's New Paintings...,Philadelphia Weekly
2003 Richard Speer, Kessler at Butters Gallery, Willamette Week, Portland, Or.
2002 Edward J. Sozanski, Philadelphia Inquirer, Taming the Grid, Michael Kessler at Schmidt/Dean Gallery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Robert Nott, Surface Matters, Pasatiempo, The New Mexican Kurt Shaw, Southwest Influences..., The Pitsburgh Tribune
2001 Douglas Max Utter, Mind Over Matter, The Cleveland Free Times
1999 Trevor Richardson, After Nature II, Herter Art Gallery, University of Massachusetts Amherst An Exhibition of Paintings by: Gregory Amenoff ,Bill Jensen, Michael Kessler,Rebecca Perdum,Katherine Porter
1997 Kathleen McCloud ,A Capricious Artistic Journey Beginning With Paint , Pasitempo, The New Mexican, Oct. 3, 1997 Victor M. Cassidy, Artnet Magazine, http://www.artnet.com/home.html ,Forty to Fifty Layers David Ebony, ArtNet Magazine , http://www.artnet.com/magazine/reviews/ebony/kessler.html .....David Ebony's New York Top Ten , Michael Kessler at Littlejohn Contemporary , NY Miriam Seidel , Art In America , Michael Kessler at : Schmidt/Dean (Philadelphia) and Littlejohn Contemporary (New York) Roberto Aguilar, EL COMERCIO , Cuenca , Ecuador , A Mystical Version of the Ecology , The U.S Room in the 5th Biennialle
1990 Doll, Nancy “Inner Natures” Four Contemporary Artists; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara King, Elaine A. Nature in the Age of Masscult. Jack Tilton Gallery; New York, New York Rubin, David S. The Paintings of Michael Kessler: Preserving Nature's Umbilical Chord; Klein Artworks, Chicago, Illinois Stein, Judith. Michael Kessler: Paintings Nina Freudenheim Gallery, Buffalo, New York
1989 Yau, John. Four Painters; Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan
Nature in Evolution; The Scandinavian Works; Art Now Gallery, Goteborg, Sweden
1988 Yau, John. Michael Kessler's View of the World; Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, New York
1987 Carrier, David. Michael Kessler; Jack Tilton Gallery, New York
1986 Gambrel, Jamey. Awards in the Visual Arts 5; The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston- Salem, North Carolina Yau, John. After the Fall; Fabian Carlson Gallery, London, England
1984 Rifkin, Ned. New Work: New York/Outside New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Made in Philadelphia 6; Institute of Contemporary Art, Phila., Pennsylvania
1983 Kotik, Charlotta. Landscapes and Imagery: Paintings and Drawings by Michael Kessler; Niagara University, Niagara Falls, New York
PERIODICALS 1997 Seidel, Miriam, “Michael Kessler at Schmidt/Dean and Littlejohn Contemporary” , Art in America, July 1997 Ebony, David, “Michael Kessler at Littlejohn Contemporary, New York City”, ArtNet Magazine, April 1997 McCloud, Kathlieen, “A Capricious Artistic Journey Beginning With Paint”, Pasatiempo, The New Mexican, October 1997
1996 Altabe, Joan “Kessler’s Subtle Paintings Reveal Depth”, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, October 11, 1996 Yellin Outwater,Myra, “Move to Santa Fe Colors Michael Kessler’s Paintings “, The Morning Call, Alentown, Pa. Novenber 17, 1996 Aguilar, Robert, “A Mystical Version of the Ecology”, El Comercio, Cuenca, Ecuador
1995 Melrod, George, "Openings", Art and Antiques, November 1995, page 40
1994 Holg, Garrett. "Kessler at Klein-Chicago", Artnews, April, 1994, page 177. Kohen, Helen. "Michael Kessler's Roman Geometry", Miami Herald, April 6, 1994. page 14G Wiens, Ann, "Kessler at Klein-Chicago", New Art Examiner, May 1994, page 44
1992 McCracken, David. 11 Year in Italy Catapults Kessler's Work", Chicago Tribune, (October 30)
1991 Sozanski, Edward. "On Galleries", The Philadelphia Inquirer, (April 16)
1990 Carter, Holland. "Michael Kessler," Art News 89 (December), no.10, 165 Cohen, Ronnie. "Michael Kessler," Art Forum 29 (November), no. 3, 169 Rice, Robin. "Cool Slate and Weathered Wood," Philadelphia City Paper (March 16) Sozanski, Edward. "On Galleries," The Philadelphia Inquirer (March 4) Wooster, Ann Sargent. "Michael Kessler," Arts Magazine 65 (December), no. 4, 82
1989 Cyphers, Peggy. Arts Magazine 65 (January), no. 5, 107
1988 Newhall, Edith. "Galleries," New York Magazine (September), 72
1987 Carrier, David. "Michael Kessler: A Painter of Nature in the Era of Postmodernist Art” Arts Magazine 61 (May), no. 9, 32-33 Narrett, Eugene. "Michael Kessler," New Art Examiner 14 (April), no. 8, 45 Stapen, Nancy. "Michael Kessler," Artforum 25 (April), Wineberg, Jonathan. "Michael Kessler," Art in America 75 (November), no.11, 180-181
1986 Hall, Jacqueline. "Arts Flourish Southside New York," The Columbus Dispatch (September 21) Zimmer, William. "Winners on Parade at the Neuberger," The New York Times (May 11), 22, Westchester Section
1985 Bohn-Duchen, Monica. "Nine Painters from New York," Flash Art (October-November), no. 126, 56 Larson, Kay. "Fresh Faces for Summer," New York Magazine, 54-55 Raynor, Vivian. "Art: New York, an Anthology at the New Museum," The New York Times (June 22), Schwabsky, Barry. "Exotica: A Different World," Arts Magazine 59 (March), no.7, 120-121 Yau, John. "Michael Kessler," Artforum 23 (February), no.6, 87, "Michael Kessler's Drawings: Gesture as Image," Sulfer 14 (December), 88-93
1984 Warren, Ron. "Michael Kessler at Jack Tilton Gallery," Arts Magazine 58 (Summer) no. 10, 34-35
1983 Glueck, Grace. "Art-One Man's Biennial Assembles 102 Artists," The New York Times (April 15),
REVIEW MICHAEL KESSLER: THE SENSE(S) OF ABSTRACTION By Peter Frank
Beneath their pearlescent skin, Michael Kessler’s paintings breathe - breathe, you might think, like the flora whose limbs and trunks course through his compositions; but, no, they breathe more as music breathes. To be sure, the spine, visual and spiritual, of Kessler’s painting is that of the natural - the botanical - world. But the sense of structure that pervades his paintings maintains an elaborate, patterned density all its own, one you start to hear as you see it. Intricately contrapuntal partitions, multiphonic overlays, shifting sequences of dark and light, large and small, flatness and texture, color and grisaille predominate in particular in his newest work. In their flow and punctuation, these latest paintings are veritable scores for hearing - or soundings for seeing.
Although he acknowledges their musical nature, Kessler does not produce these tableaux in response to any musical stimulus, specific composition or general formula. Indeed, until recently his own commentary and others’ has stressed the natural - the "organic" - factors giving the work its swooping, crackling linear presence. The lyricism infusing Kessler’s painting resides, in fact, in its myriad branches and veins, factors that do not contribute to the paintings’ melodic or harmonic quality but flavor it with a nuance that determines timbre. You might say they constitute the instrumental - that is, optical - inflection here. But, to re-emphasize, such visual-sonic equivalence is no more impulse of the artist than it is the fancy of the viewer.
One may be on more secure ground identifying Kessler’s structure as architectural. The off-beat recurrence of geometric forms framing and interrupting the persistent, underlying treelike forms and images can certainly be likened to eccentric arrangements of windows in the façades of modernist buildings: Le Corbusier and Niemeyer would recognize Kessler’s sense of order as a recapitulation of their own. In many paintings the trees and branches appear framed by these apertures. But, goes the aphorism, architecture is frozen music, and there is a flow to these paintings’ disposition that urges the eye to travel, to see all the visual incident as at least potentially in flux. Deliberately or not, Kessler may have determined the moment at which architecture’s solidity gives way to music’s fluidity.
All that said, note should be made as well of the mood - the tone - set in these paintings. It is a shifting tone, one that doesn’t simply set organic intricacy against the geometric pacing of a built environment, but builds on the animated superposition of these two sets of elements, on the contrast and the continuity that maintain between them. Certain of the newer paintings can seem brittle, dry and wintry, while others radiate an earthy warmth. They evoke weather and flavor, age and scent. Metaphorically, at least, these paintings appeal to all five senses. You can taste them with your ears.
Michael Kessler invites such synesthetic hyperbole through a process of deformulation. He restricts his vocabulary to certain subjects and certain forms, then breaks down these forms and subjects by running them into and through one another. In musical terms, it is a formidable polyphony - a polyphony felt with an immediacy that transcends, or more to the point breaks through, metaphoric equivalency. You do hear them with your eyes.
Los Angeles December 2012
REVIEW Exhibition Review: Park City The Occasion of Hybrid Art Michael Kessler at Gallery MAR by Geoff Wichert
During the twentieth century, someone was always looking around and calling what he saw “the death of art.” Yet those years saw the creation of more original and innovative ways of art-making than in any other comparable era. Following the lead of painting, most of those newer approaches (collage, assemblage, serigraphy, installation, performance, video, encaustic, etc.) were viewed by their creators as more that just superficial novelties: the abstract expressionists saw their technical breakthroughs as formal replacements for traditional content (theme, subject matter, point of view). Even those artists who continued to draw and paint from life generally recognized that the style of presentation had become more important than the choice of what to present. For a pop artist, a ketchup bottle and a movie star were equal subjects, provided they were presented in a manner that looked appropriate to the time and place of their representation.
So painting entered the twenty-first century offering an unprecedented range of material choices. Such variety, however, does not equal complete freedom; after all, if the look of the work contributes materially to its content—indeed may BE its content—then that look has to be appropriate to the work’s purpose. Every art student learns to capture the superficial style of cubism—never mind that her work may not share the reasons why cubist art looked the way it did. Works making arbitrary approaches may have decorative virtue, but they clearly would not contribute anything original and legitimate to art. They would not, to use a phrase popularized by the contemporary art movement, “be part of the discourse.”
This history is necessary prelude to an experience that has become common in the gallery. On scanning a room full of art, it’s often the case that new works recall otherwise unconnected ones. Not that they are copies, or even influenced by the earlier work, but it seems as though a look from another time and place has percolated into them, creating a kind of hybrid. The result can be very exciting, as was the case last week, when I came across the paintings of Michael Kessler at MAR Gallery in Park City. Kessler was born in Pennsylvania in 1954, but has lived and worked in New Mexico for some time, so he may be thought a local artist. And although his work initially appears absolutely abstract, closer study reveals it to be rooted in nature —specifically in the emergence from plant architecture of its characteristic surface textures and forms. Finding an image that delivers such a powerful, purely aesthetic rush—the pleasure of rich color and strong line, working together to create a complex-but-unified experience within the frame—and discovering on further examination that it evokes and imports inferences about the world into which it emerges, is the kind of discovery one expects to make in the museum, among the old masters, not something today’s art often delivers.
A few further observations are worth making. As is generally true since the departure of the abstract expressionist “giants,” Kessler’s works run from small to middle size. Their surfaces are hard and glass-like, qualities that go well with their frequent suggestion of stained glass windows. They call to mind European post-WW2 stained glass, with its strong graphic quality: lead lines used to draw freely over an expansive background of colored geometry that is characterized by hand-made textures. In addition to printmaking, the glassy surface encourages a feeling of peering into a shallow space full of scratched, raked, or sprinkled patterns. Lines, varying in weight but usually accompanied by shadows or auras (as if backlit) wind and weave before these grounds, sometimes freely and at other times seeming to be contained in tubes or passageways that crisscross the panel. In addition to botanical details, topological impressions often suggest charts and maps.
It would be sufficient for many in the audience that these are beautiful, captivating, and hypnotic paintings that the eye will never exhaust. They will continue to reward careful and even casual study for as long as they are seen. But for those who want to find another truth—one that can be translated into words—there are metaphors to be found in their resemblance to so many natural events. Whether it’s the starry sky, or bubbles rising in a clear vessel, or the overlap of a texture and a line producing a recognizable object like a leaf or branch, a visual argument is being made in these images. The miracle of the language you are reading is that from a large-but-finite number of words and the rules for combining them, infinite variation is possible, and anything can be said. Michael Kessler demonstrates that from a similarly large-but-limited number of colors and two-dimensional shapes, a three-dimensional world of infinite possibility arises.
Sometimes I think I’m getting tired of art, but I could watch this happen all day, and for the rest of my life.