Frank Faulkner (1946-2018)

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Frank Faulkner (b.1946). Frank Faulkner (b.1946). Obscured Landscape #1, 19 x 25 inches; 22 x 28 inches framed. Black wood frame behind UV plexiglass. Excellent condition with no damage or restoration. Signed and dated en verso.

Born in Sumter, South Carolina in 1946, Frank Faulkner received his B.F.A. from the University of North Carolina in 1968, Phi Beta Kappa, and his M.F.A. from the same institution in 1972. Faulkner’s work quickly won him numerous grants and awards, including an individual artist grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1974.  He was selected for the Whitney Biennial in 1975, which prompted him to settle in New York.  There, he came to the attention of Dorothy Miller, Curator Emeritus of the Museum of Modern Art with a legendary eye for new talent.  Since then, Faulkner has continued to garner acclaim and awards.  He has been featured in dozens of one-person exhibitions (not to mention group exhibitions) in this country, as well as in Japan, Switzerland, and Germany.  Faulkner’s work is owned by leading museums (the Smith College museum in Northampton, Massachusetts, for example, the National Museum of American Art and the Hirshhorn in Washington, D.C.) and by renowned collectors such as Nelson Rockefeller, Baron Leon Lambert, Phillip Hanes and Abba Eban.  What a viewer first notices is the sheer elegance of the pieces, no matter what materials Faulkner uses—metal, wood and fabric as well as canvas and paper. Obvious, too, is the artist’s originality. Faulkner belongs to no school. His work is patterned but is far too intellectual to qualify as so-called “pattern art,” which mainly strives to be merely pretty. Rather, he paints in his own highly organized way, filling the surface without being excessive or boring. 

Faulkner sets up a system, say, of dots or dashes, then subtly changes the visual rhythms in order to add life and surprise—what he calls “the gymnastics of seeing.”  He works and reworks the surfaces 

of his canvases, often laying down one thin layer of slightly reflective gold, silver or bronze paint upon another until the final work seems to glow with inner light.  John Ashbery, a leading critic and poet, has likened Faulkner’s art to minimalist music, which achieves both simplicity and beauty from its obsessive repetitions.  The critic Carter Ratcliff describes it more simply as “brilliant artifice.” 

Faulkner’s current work, a series of paintings on paper, continues and deepens this exploration of the relationship between wrought surface and changing light. Another striking aspect of the work is the influence of the decorative arts.  Faulkner has made some paintings on wood that stand independently and fold open like screens.  Other pieces resemble large tapestries, and yet others take their inspiration from Art Nouveau inlays.  Faulkner is quick to admit his sources.  To him, the applied arts are indistinguishable from the fine art.  He knows and loves Samurai armor, Classical architectural details, chinoiserie, Persian rugs—the whole gamut of the applied arts—and they, of 

course, inform his creations.  Indeed, he is so interested in interiors that he has, while continuing to paint, spent much of the last decade restoring old houses and advising clients how to decorate their homes. (Many of the results have been featured in periodicals such as Architectural Digest and House & Garden.) 

Faulkner now lives and works in Hudson, New York. 

Philip Herrera, June 2006

Education:

M.F.A. University of North Carolina, 1972

B.F.A. University of North Carolina, 1968, Phi Beta Kappa

Awards: 

North Carolina Arts Council, 1991

Collaboration Artist Award, American Institute of Architects, 1976

SECCA National Endowment Grant, 1976

National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Artists Grant, 1976

Urban Walls Project, National Endowment for the Arts Grant

Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 1974

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1994

Associated American Artists, New York, New York, 1990

Associated American Artists, New York, New York, 1987

Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina, 1987

Wake Forest Arts Association, Raleigh, North Carolina, 1987

Gibbs Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, 1986

Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 1983

Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 1981

Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina, 1979

East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee, 1977

Selected Group Exhibitions:

Chicago International ArtFair, Chicago, Illinois, 1995

Associated American Artists, New York, New York, 1990

“New Concepts in Printmaking”, Associated American Artists, New York, New York, 1985

“Andrew Wyeth, A Trojan Horse Modernist”, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, North Carolina, 1984

“The Fabric of Ornamentation”, Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut, 1983

 “Transpersonal Images”, International Transpersonal Association Conference, Davos, Switzerland, 1983

 “The Spirit of Orientalism”, Nueberger Museum, Purchase, New York, 1982

“The Art of North Carolina”, Squibb Center, Princeton, New Jersey and Duke University Museum of Art, Durham, North Carolina, 1981

“Abstract Art in the 80’s”, Randolph-Macon Women’s College, Lynchburg, Virginia, 1981

“Patterns”, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York, 1979

“New York Now”, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, 1979

“13 Galleries”, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, 1979

“Southeastern Painters and Sculptors”, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, 1977

“Biennial of Contemporary American Art”, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York, 1975

“James River Annual”, Norfolk, Virginia, 1971

Selected Public Collections:

National Collection of Fine Arts, Washington, D.C.

Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C. 

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, uffalo, New York

Sammlung Ludwig, Neue Galerie, Aachen, Germany

Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, Delaware

Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, Missouri

Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts

North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, North Carolina

Ackland Memorial Art Center, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Pennsylvania State University Museum of Art, University Park, Pennsylvania

North Carolina State University Raleigh, North Carolina