Margaret Bowland: Excerpts from the Great American Songbook

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • January 31, 2011

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Margaret Bowland, PARTY, CHELSEA GALLERY, 2009
Margaret Bowland, IT AIN'T NECESSARILY SO, 2010

Margaret Bowland’s Excerpts from the Great American Songbook explores problematic and provocative issues of race, gender, beauty and individuality in contemporary social thought.  She evokes great old musical standards like “Isn’t It Romantic,” with its velvet melody caressing one’s ear and lyrics hanging in the air:  “Soon I will have found some girl that I adore/Isn’t it romantic?/While I sit around my love can scrub the floor…”  Suddenly, it isn’t so romantic as the song floats one into the dark side of gender and race.  Bowland says “beauty makes sense to me…has weight for me, only when it falls from grace.  It starts to matter when it carries damage.  Sorrow allows [beauty] to cast a shadow”.  And what is the shadowy dark side of beauty?   Bowland’s paintings, conceived with a rich tenebrist light  seem to punch their way into one’s consciousness through the captivating metaphorical image of a young black girl whose inner awareness looks upon an outer world in which “it ain’t necessarily so”.  Everything is so audaciously familiar in Margaret Bowland’s paintings, so known and certain, and yet immediately, viscerally and fastidiously uncertain.

Bowland teaches at the New York Academy of Art, has shown at Tatistcheff Gallery, New York, at Thomas Paul Fine Art, Los Angeles, at Morton Fine Art, Washington, D.C. and is represented exclusively by Babcock Galleries.   Recent exhibitions at public venues include the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, California,  Art Fair 21, Cologne, Germany and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.  Her work has been reviewed by Jeff Wilkins, Peter Frank and F. Lennox Campello and the Fall/Winter issue of Tidal Basin Review carries an extensive interview of the artist by Randall Horton, and essay by Leola Dublin Macmillan entitled “Black Girls and Beauty:  Contextualizing the work of Margaret Bowland”.  “Margaret Bowland:  Excerpts from the Great American Songbook” is accompanied by a new book on the artist written by Siri Hustvedt and published jointly by Babcock Galleries and the Greenville County Museum of Art.

Margaret Bowland, FLOWER GIRL, 2009


Margaret Bowland: Excerpts from the Great American Songbook

March 1- April 22

Opening Reception: Tuesday, March 1, 6-8pm

Babcock Galleries

724 Fifth Avenue, 11th floor

New York, NY 10019


May 18-July 17

Greenville County Museum of Art

420 College Street

Greenville, SC 29601





Babcock Galleries
724 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York
About Babcock Galleries

From the Gallery’s earliest years it has been an important source for major works by America’s greatest masters. Highlights of Babcock Galleries’ history include the 1866 George Inness exhibition, which featured the monumental PEACE AND PLENTY now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among the Inness paintings we have placed in recent years are SUNSET AT MONTCLAIR acquired by the Montclair Art Museum and SUNBURST, an exceptional masterwork acquired through Babcock Galleries by the Palmer Museum of Art. Babcock Galleries has handled many works by Winslow Homer, including the famous THE GALE sold to the Worcester Art Museum in 1916 for a then record price of $30,000. The Gallery was also agent for the Estate of Thomas Eakins, placing significant paintings in major museums from New York to Honolulu. In recent years we have sold a number of significant Eakins works, including one of his largest paintings: A STREET SCENE, SEVILLE. For the past half century Babcock Galleries has also been the leading source for works by Marsden Hartley. More than fifty museums, including the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American Art, and the Huntington Museum and Library have acquired Babcock Hartleys. During the past few years we have sold nearly twenty major Marsden Hartley paintings, including one of his most famous works, MOUNTAINS IN STONE, DOGTOWN, 1931, which was featured in both the National Gallery’s Modern Art and America: Alfred Stieglitz and his New York Galleries, and the Wadsworth Athenaeum’s retrospective exhibition Marsden Hartley. For more than ten years Babcock Galleries has been the exclusive agent for the heirs of Edwin Dickinson. In that role we have sold more than one hundred works to important public and private collections nationwide. Similarly, as agent for the Estate of Charles Hawthorne, we have recently placed more than thirty works in collections. Today, Babcock Galleries remains a key source for important American art of all periods. In the past few years the gallery has sold many exceptional works including a life portrait of George Washington by Edward Savage; Charles Deas’ famous LONG JAKES, Randolph Rogers’ iconic NYDIA, THE BLIND GIRL OF POMPEII, a major luminist painting by Jervis McEntee; a classic Frederic Church American landscape; and Robert Duncanson’s amazing 1850 VIEW OF ASHVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA. In recent years five museums have acquired six highly important Severin Roesen still life paintings from the gallery. We have sold important works by Fitz Hugh Lane, Asher B. Durand, William Sidney Mount, Sanford Gifford, and placed more than twenty-five works by John F. Kensett, including what is perhaps his finest Beacon Rock, Newport painting. Masters such as Ralph Blakelock, Winslow Homer, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Mary Cassatt, and Childe Hassam have figured in sales and exhibitions. We are particularly pleased to have sold some of the finest works that have entered the market place by George Luks, Ernest Lawson, Arthur B. Davies, John F. Carlson, Arthur Dove, Charles Demuth, Georgia O’Keeffe, Max Weber, Milton Avery, and Franz Kline. Our current inventory includes landmark works by John F. Kensett, Severin Roesen, Childe Hassam, Robert Henri, Marsden Hartley, Charles Webster Hawthorne, Edwin Dickinson, George McNeil, Will Barnet, and Paul Wonner. Babcock Galleries’ long and distinguished tradition of connoisseurship and service assure the highest quality of important American art to our clientele, museums and private collectors alike.

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