You're Quite a Character!

Niki de Saint Phalle, Two Figures (Les Deanseurs Sculpture), 1978, polychromed ceramic, Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University Collection

You're Quite a Character!

Feb 10, 2013 - Sep 8, 2013


You're Quite a Character included a variety of figurative works selected from the museum's permanent collection with our family and children's programs in mind. However, these fun, colorful, and sometimes whimsical characters are sure to delight all audiences.

"I am a painter of joy", remarked Corneille at a 2007 opening of his work at the Cobra Museum of Modern Art in the Netherlands. According to Liz Robbins of the New York Times, Corneille was best known for radicalizing the conservative Dutch world in the early 1950s, making modern art not only acceptable, but embraceable as well. Who wouldn't find his made-up, little character in the work on display embraceable? Artists like Corneille, Horst and Miro all favored a more intuitive form of expression, drawing their images from the subconscious mind or the imagination, rather than from the real world. Their subjects are often placed in childlike contexts such as fantastic landscapes where birds, animals, and bizarre creatures roam. Miro stated, "For me a form is never something abstract; it is always a sign of something. It is always a man, a bird, or something else as in the quirky, Migratory Bird shown here. A member of the Surrealist artists of the 1930s and 40s, Miro showed such a natural innocence and simplicity in his work that Andre Breton called him "possibly the most Surrealist of us all."

Other artists in the exhibition, such as Avery, de Saint Phalle, Marini, Scanga and Tamayo, took their figures from the real world, simplifying their shapes and removing details that are not necessary to our understanding of them. In fact, for these artists, abstraction allows us to see beyond the details, to capture the essence of what the artist is trying to communicate, such as the joy of playing at the seashore or riding a horse on a beautiful day.