There has been an ongoing growth or revival of classicism in the art world, which often leads to the question: How does one explore the contemporary meaningfulness of the classical tradition? We think you will appreciate what artist John Woodrow Kelley is doing.
On view through April 29 at Eerdmans Fine Art in New York City, “Portraits in Stone” is a unique glimpse into the creative mind of painter John Woodrow Kelley as his affinity for and appreciation of traditional classicism continues to blossom. The show presents approximately 13 of Kelley’s newest oils; his pictures display ancient portrait busts from Imperial Rome and Classical Greece. In effect, they are portraits of portraits — and Kelley’s concept behind his representations is fascinating.

John Woodrow Kelley, “Massimo Hercules,” 2013, oil on canvas, (c) Eerdmans Fine Art 2016

The artist writes, “The Greek myths embody everything that is timeless about the human experience. They reveal truths and acknowledge mysteries. They survive in the subconscious of western man to the point that to learn about them is to experience a shock of recognition.” Bolstering the artist’s point, the gallery reports, “Kelley’s interpretations, at times full of pathos and at times surreal, are informed by the lens of today and question mimesis, beauty, and humanism.”

John Woodrow Kelley, “Farnese Hercules,” 2015, oil on canvas, (c) Eerdmans Fine Art 2016

“Portraits in Stone” will hang through April 29. To learn more, visit Eerdmans Fine Art.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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