Kapera & JKK FINE ARTS Gallery of European Art
Works on paper from Dr. Albert Grokoest Collection
May 2nd to May 26th, 2006
Friday, May 5th, 2006, 6pm – 10pm
Art and Medicine. The
Power of Healing.
In 1962, John
Canaday, in an article Mysterious Visitors in The New York Times wrote, that: “Lebenstein
is said to regard himself as an abstract painter. He is not. He is the inventor of a race
of creatures that could hardly be more concrete in spite of their unfamiliarity. They
disturb, they delight, they hypnotize because they are at once so tangible , so explicit,
and so strange. He is a kind of occultist who has materialized a band of spirits that we
have known somewhere and that each of us remember in a different way. His art is not to be
explained but to be enjoyed for the responses it stimulates”.
Jan Lebenstein (1930-1999), one of the most famous contemporary Polish painters.
From 1948 to 1954 he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. He immigrated to
France in 1959 in the wake of the Grand Prix awarded to him at the first Biennale of the
Young in Paris. With the series “Abominable Creatures”,“Bestiaria” and “Carnet Intime” he
entered the archetypal, existential, and profoundly meaningful world of animal and human
images. Since 1958 when his “Small Figure in Blue Frame” was presented to Guggenheim
International Award Lebenstein’s works were shown at almost twenty collective exhibitions
in the United States, e.g., in Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1961 and 1966, National
Gallery in Washington, DC, in 1963, Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1961,1964, and
1967, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1962, Spertus Museum in Chicago in1975, Frye
Art Museum in Seattle in 1993. His works (mostly his Axial Figures) were included into
collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art,
Spertus Museum, Notre Dame University Art Museum, Indiana, and in the Hirshhorn Museum in
Washington, DC. Hundreds of works could be found now in the most prestigious and
discriminating private collections in the United States, Europe, and Japan. His works had
found their way into the collections of famous politicians as vice-president Nelson
Rockefeller, philanthropists as John D. Rockefeller III, businessmen’s as David G.
Thompson, Joseph H. Hirshhorn, Jan Mitchell, writers as Joseph Alsop, Mary McCarthy, John
Canaday, and especially musicians from the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera
Orchestra, and many others.
Dr. Albert Grokoest (1917-1991), Professor of Medicine at the Columbia University
College of Physicians and Surgeons and Chief of the Arthritis Clinic at Roosevelt
Hospital. He was on the faculty for over forty years. He had a great passion for the arts
and music (he played viola). He was on of the founding Board Members of the Orpheus
Chamber Orchestra. He also served as attending physician to the New York Philharmonic on
tour. His medical genius helped many artists, including, Mark Rothko, Jennings Tofel, Ed
Scheier, and one of the best Polish painters from Paris, Jan Lebenstein.
Art and Friendship. Power of Healing. A close and long lasting friendship
for more than thirty years developed between Lebenstein and Dr. Grokoest . The doctor
acquired more than 100 works by the artist and at the same time his patient. Polish
painter credited Dr. Grokoest with saving his life. He wrote in his letters: “What you say
of the effects my work has upon your students (Columbia University Medical School) is
truly astonishing, and I cannot think of anything better in the way of appreciation” (May
1966), and further “Your letters vibrate so – I feel understood without having to
disclose. It is a tremendous help and sustenance. Especially in this crazy world of ours.
I can’t tell you how important it is for me to have a friend like you” (July 1968).
“If it is true that a great work is a multi-faced, this is exactly what Lebenstein’s
work is like. Because of its exceptional value, it has the privilege of confronting the
visions of not only Kafka, Strindberg, Böcklin, Füseli, Swedenborg, but the extended
family also including Goya and Munch … Grosz, Bruno Schulz, and Bacon.