American Birds (Endangered, Extinct, after Audubon), 2018-19 marks the first exhibition of a new series of paintings by Ann Craven (born Boston, lives and works in New York City).
American Birds (Endangered, Extinct, after Audubon), 2018-19 includes paintings of seven distinct birds, rendered in oil on linen, across three scales, lifting from John James Audubon’s compositions whilst with freedom echoing her own language, inserting backdrops or “wallpaper”. These include signature flowers and fruits, sunset fades, and painterly collages of homage, including to Picabia and O’Keefe. In this homage to Audubon, Craven’s selected birds are chosen for their endangered, near extinct or extinct category.
Craven’s selection to begin this new series – her series most often recur, which she calls “continuums” - are from within those birds painted by Audubon in Birds of America, first published 1827, that today are threatened or have been extinguished. The culmination of looking closely at Audubon’s imagery as source material, from her huge accumulated archive of bird books, nature magazines, cinema, YouTube and web screenshots, is significant to Craven’s wider practice. She chooses entities from the natural world that have power in reality, and also as images, symbolically, emotionally, psychologically. Birds, and Craven’s other subjects from nature, foremost the moon, also deer, panda, cats, derive and continue to elicit iconic status as images, across culture “high” and “low”, historically and today.
Humankind’s physical and psychologically conflicted relationship with nature, at once destructive, oppressive, however also commemorative and celebratory, has been a consistent thematic concern for Craven, foundational to her own philosophy being the belief in nature’s ascendancy and ultimate triumph over humans.
In American Birds (Endangered, Extinct, after Audubon), 2018-19, the emphasis on protection and preservation merges conceptually with Craven’s painting process. The blending of emotional and systematic return to a repertoire of subjects from nature, revisited and re-presented, symbolizes an act of life-force, acknowledgement of cycles of life, examination of memory, and the pre-eminence of not only nature, but also time, painting its passing as record. Craven calls this “The continuous just past.”
Ann Craven has exhibited widely internationally since the 1990s. Her solo exhibition Birds We Know is currently at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Maine, USA, (June - October 2019). TIME was at Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers, France in 2014 and Shadow’s Moon and Abstract Lies, FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims, France, 2008. Her work has been included in many institutional group exhibitions including most recently Painting the Night, Centre Pompidou Metz, France (2018-19). Other recent solo exhibitions include Promise (Birds for Chicago), 2019, Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago, (2019); Sunset Moon, KARMA, New York, USA (2018); Animals 1999 – 2017, Southard Reid, London (2017); Hello, Hello, Hello, Maccarone, New York, USA (2016); Untitled (Palettes: Naked, Tagged), 2013-14, Southard Reid, London, UK (2015); Ann Craven, Hannah Hoffman Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2014); Hello, Hello, Hello, Southard Reid, London, UK (2013). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Centre d’art Contemporain La Halle des Bouchers, Vienne, France; Eva Presenhuber, Zurich, Switzerland; Rob Tufnell, Cologne, Germany; Gesso Space, Vienna, Austria; White Columns, Gladstone, and 39 Great Jones, New York, and Remap3, Athens, Greece, amongst many others.
Craven’s paintings are held in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum, New Museum, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, The Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies, Columbia University, Perez Art Museum, Miami, USA, Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers and FRAC Champagne-Ardennes, Reims, France.