September 2022

Points of View, 2022

POINTS OF VIEW By Phyllis Tuchman               Isca Greenfield-Sanders’s figured landscapes¹ transport viewers to light-dappled lakes, mountain trails, rustic sites where wild flowers bloom, and ocean shores bounded by sandy beaches and sunny skies. These are well-trodden places that people like to visit. Often, they appear to be startingly familiar. You might feel that you have already been there—or to somewhere very similar. There’s her noteworthy palette to consider, too. It’s unobtrusive. Though you immediately notice how this third-generation artist² occasionally swaddles her scenic vistas in pinks or blues, you probably remain unaware that she also practices restraint. She doesn’t overload her canvases with lots of different colors.                  As it is, Greenfield-Sanders upends our notions of how landscape artists proceed. She is not a plein air painter. She does not sketch, let alone create watercolors, in front [...]

February 2021

Painting In Parallel, 2021

Painting in Parallel by DANIEL KEHLMANN I was lucky to discover the work of Isca and Sebastian simultaneously. It struck me immediately how much they talk to each other in their work, one centering nature and the other human beings. When I look at the paintings of Isca Greenfield-Sanders I often see beautiful, expansive landscapes, sometimes inhabited by tiny human silhouettes. But rather than being lost, overwhelmed or threatened by the powers of nature, they seem protected and at home. Nature isn’t hostile to them, and they are not hostile towards nature. Rather, nature comes to the fore as the majestic healing entity, quite literally, as well as spiritually. Isca’s work seems a reminder of the old idea that we have to inhabit the world, have to be in it, a part of it, because we are of the world, even though we don’t entirely belong there. There is a [...]

April 2020

Open Window, 2020

Open Window: On Isca Greenfield-Sanders's Grids By KRIS PAULSEN A mountain, a beach, a turbulent sky; canoes sneaking across a lake at night; a helicopter high above treetops, caught just before leaving the frame; bathers spied on from above: These are fragments, images pulled out of context and stilled from the flow of time. Their framing, angles, and depth of field all speak the language of photography and the mathematical discipline and distancing enforced by the lens. The moments they preserve are ripe with reportage, contingency, and—simultaneously—a certain familiarity wrought by amateurism and the automation of capture. Content tethers them securely to the vernacular idioms of the documentation of middle-class family life. One can easily imagine seeing them click into view during a living-room slide show that distills the history of a life to its special moments. Yet, in this act of committing to the archive and official memory, these [...]

October 2017

Keep Them Still, 2017

Keep Them Still By ADAM GOPNIK The first impression of Isca Greenfield-Sanders’ paintings is one of simple, intense visual pleasure, which is made deeper by the emotional accessibility of the scenes. A spare monochrome exquisiteness, lit by sudden flares of a single bright color (a dark red bathing suit on a pale green sand dune, a pink hat against a harmony of blue sky, sea blues, and bright composite whites) is her signature style. The aerated elegance of her surfaces may recall Milton Avery; her concentration on the single, plaintive isolated figure may recall Edward Hopper. Hers is an austere figurative style, sweetly touched by nostalgia and by longing. We recognize the bright light of an unspecified beach, somewhere in Maine or in a (then) unspoiled Bridgehampton or Cape Cod. It is a 1962 world still pre–logo and not so much prelapsarian as pre-lapse—before the errors of mass branding. The [...]

July 2016

Painting the Shifting Sands of Memory by Stacey Goergen, 2016

Painting the Shifting Sands of Memory by STACEY GOERGEN Isca Greenfield-Sanders describes herself as a landscape painter, and at first blush, her luminous paintings and drawings are easily interpreted as the romantic compositions this characterization recalls. Her canvases seem vaguely recognizable, tugging at the viewer's memory. They include people outdoors, often in scenes by the water or engaging in leisure activities, recalling a collective consciousness that at once seems specific, but by definition is very general. By understanding her working process and theoretical explorations, these landscapes can be better framed in a conceptual context. Examining the relationship of photography to painting, she refers to the passing of time, and the dissolution of film photography's image making as a rarified, time-consuming, and relatively expensive proposition, while simultaneously equating this transition to memory itself. In a world where the proliferation of images is facilitated by technology and digital media, what is the [...]

June 2011

The Silent Glow of Light by Liv Stoltz, 2011

Isca Greenfield-Sanders: The Silent Glow of Light by LIV STOLZ In her work, Isca Greenfield-Sanders interweaves photography and painting. This mix poses many intriguing questions about the practice and development of photography in the post-digital era, as well as painting’s history and its contemporary practice. These two parallel lines of inquiry intertwine as the main thread running throughout her work. I will treat both discourses in their relevant contexts. Greenfield-Sanders’ latest series Film Edge Paintings is her most abstract to date, but in many ways they are a consistent step in her progression from the more figurative painting of her previous series. She finds the raw material for her work in rolls of tossed out 35mm film and negatives, which she finds in flea markets, and then transforms them into oil paintings. In her studio, the painting process is involved and complex. She scans the photographs, prints them on rice paper, [...]

November 2010

Isca Greenfield-Sanders Light Leaks by Nora Burnett Abrams, 2010

Isca Greenfield-Sanders Light Leaks by NORA BURNETT ABRAMS Your paintings are typically based on found photographs. Why do you begin with photography? Some artists work from imagination, some from life, some from film stills, but these days I find that the use of photography by painters is universal. One thing that distinguishes my work from others is that I include photography as a subject of my inquiry. I view the photographic image as raw data that I am translating from one medium (photography) to another (painting.) I marshal many available techniques and media, but fundamentally I am making oil paintings. The contrast between the ubiquity of photography and the rarity of painting fascinates me. What makes a photograph ripe for you? Choosing an image is a very rapid process for me. I paint from photographs that speak more about the history of art than they do the specifics of their [...]

October 2010

Foreword to the Light Leaks Catalogue by Adam Lerner, 2010

Foreword to the Light Leaks Catalogue From the MCA Denver by ADAM LERNER I often think about the words Pierre Bonnard wrote in a note to his friend Henri Matisse: “My work is not going too badly and I dream of seeking the Absolute.” I love the way Bonnard shifts so seamlessly from ho-hum conversational banterto the biggest thing imaginable. I like that he embeds a message about thetotality of all phenomena visible and invisible in a message akin to the kind ofdaily report a guy might give his wife: “Work was fine today, honey.” This wasan artist who, years after his wife had died, made paintings showing her taking abath. Bonnard depicted the everyday, but he was always searching for somethingthat transcended time. The same impulse strikes in the work of Isca Greenfield-Sanders, an artist who presents mundane instances from ordinary life and makesthem feel universal. Isca Greenfield-Sanders’ paintings [...]

June 2008

In the Air by Tinie Dalton, 2008

In the Air by TRINIE DALTON “It’s hard to make a painting right now without thinking of war,” Isca Greenfield-Sanders says of her painting series, Against the Fall. Employing her signature manipulation of vintage images, these new works depict single parachutists floating through the air or men huddled in groups learning to be paratroopers. Based on two sets of military parachuting slides circa 1942 and 1962, the paintings point to the wars of those decades—WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The show’s title is taken from the direct translation of the French word parachute. PARA (Against) and CHUTE (the Fall) connotes an artistic resistance to political ruin. Leavened by the artist’s formal interest in interpolating photography through painting, Greenfield-Sanders’ “parachute paintings” urge the viewer to acknowledge current politics through subject matter. Recent American survey exhibitions have sought to examine an artistic move away from a display of materialistic [...]

April 2006

A Conversation: Chuck Close and Isca Greenfield-Sanders, 2006

A Conversation Chuck Close and Isca Greenfield-Sanders CC: Let’s start at the beginning. Did you start out as a straight photographer? IGS: No, I’ve never been a photographer. Of course, my father is and I grew up having a darkroom in the house, but I was always more interested in painting. CC: Where did you go to school? IGS: Brown University where I double majored in painting and math. CC: They are mutually exclusive as far as I’m concerned. IGS: (laughs) I actually think that each discipline helped me with the other one. Math taught me to have a regimented step-by-step mind but my creativity pushed me to think outside the box. As a painter, without a method or plan of attack the lack of rules are overwhelming. CC: I don’t even know the multiplication tables. IGS: Really? CC: I can’t add six and seven in my head. I have [...]

November 2005

“Paintings for Harley”, Baldwin Gallery, 2005

Isca Greenfield-Sanders "Paintings for Harley" Baldwin Gallery, 2005 New York artist Isca Greenfield-Sanders presents “Paintings for Harley”, a new series of oil paintings and mixed-media watercolors that create a dialogue between painting and photography. Continuing her method of appropriating imagery from anonymous, discarded family snapshots, the artist explores memory and experience, in a tribute to the late Harley Baldwin. Inspired by two photos selected from her vast pictorial archives, she chooses incidental figures from the compositions’ backgrounds, rather than investigating the primary subjects. In the past, Greenfield-Sanders sutured together elements from several different compositions, engineering fictional scenes. Her new approach is nearly the opposite: mining one image for all of its inherent possibilities. Strangers walking along the beach represent a universal anonymity. Previously, the artist used the signature colors of photography, with saturated red, green and black hues. Now, she employs delicate pinks, yellows, and other mid-tones, shifting to a [...]

September 2005

Isca Greenfield-Sanders: Grids, 2005

Isca Greenfield-Sanders: Grids by NUIT BANAI In carefully crafted scenes of family idylls, Isca Greenfield-Sanders evokes a nostalgia-saturated world of picnics on freshly cut grass, crystal waters of backyard pools and afternoons on sun-drenched beaches This is a world of eternal beauty where boys and girls in colorful bathing suits frolic without care and light and shadow gently play on the rippling surface of perfectly calibrated waves. Collected from the personal archives of family estates, these images capture the hazy memory of a perfect moment in time. In that instant, they reassure us that life has always been this good. All we need to do is resign ourselves to dreaming. Yet, surfacing within this apparent tranquility is the modernist myth of the grid, a cognitive structure that creates and constructs a bold interplay of serendipitous contradictions. The grid’s singularity is that it allows contradictions to maintain themselves within the consciousness [...]

July 2005

Postcard: A Conversation with Isca Greenfield-Sanders by Lauri Firstenberg, 2005

Postcard, A Conversation with Isca Greenfield-Sanders by LAURI FIRSTENBERG Lauri Firstenberg: What was the impetus for your painting practice in terms of turning to American vintage family photographs as your source for subject matter? Isca Greenfield Sanders: You know, I saw something terribly lyrical in those family snapshots. Instead of simply depicting one family’s vacations they summoned a collective memory. Although I knew some of the character’s names (the slides were labeled) the images weren’t specific. I saw a woman in a wave and it reminded me of Matisse’s Bather of 1909 as much as “Grandma Alice” on Virginia Beach, 1961. Early in 2004, I started making a series of paintings that I loosely call “beach detail paintings”. The ten oil paintings in this show are a continuation of that series. My work up to that point had employed a one-to-one relationship with the original source material, which is to say [...]

June 2003

How to Save Memory for the Future Remarks on the Paintings of Isca Greenfield-Sanders, 2003

How to Save Memory for the Future Remarks on the paintings of Isca Greenfield-Sanders By BERND KLÜSER From a distance, Isca Greenfield-Sanders' paintings look like blow-ups of hand-tinted photographs of bourgeois family idylls dating from the 1950s. That first glance is deceptive: the surface of these works has been done in oils, and the cliché of an idyll which they show has been manipulated – a mixture of document and virtual reality. At a household auction five years ago the artist bought some metal boxes of the kind formerly used to store slides. To her surprise, the boxes were full of holiday and casual photographs of the members of a large American family. Her first reaction was to try and return the photographs to the seller, as she was only interested in the metal boxes. He congratulated her on the purchase of the metal containers and recommended that she throw [...]

April 2001

Arresting Tranquility: A View of the Works by Isca Greenfield-Sanders by Salvatore Lacagnina, 2001

Arresting Tranquility A View of the Works by Isca Greenfield-Sanders by SALVATORE LACAGNINA The dialogue between painting and photography was a core component of figurative art in the second half of the 20th century. In particular, if one considers the emblematic and prolific move from pop art to hyper-realism, one can see that the considerations which emerged at that time about the potential of painting and photography still remain an open issue today and thus fertile ground for interesting artistic questioning. From Lichtenstein to Warhol, Morley and Close, the processes of art still involve the reuse of existing images, thus doubling the multi-tiered levels of signification that derive from them. It is precisely through the ostentation of the artificiality inherent in any artistic representation that a considerable portion of contemporary art, whether conceptual or otherwise, has increased its potential for expression. The very nature of art "once removed" is thus [...]

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