James Barron Art is pleased to announce our inaugural exhibition at the Outsider Art Fair, presenting a two-person exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Janet Sobel and Norris Embry. 

Janet Sobel emigrated from Ukraine to New York in 1908. She captured the attention of the New York art world in the early 1940s with her Abstract Expressionist drip paintings. Despite the fact that she did not begin painting until age 43 and was entirely self-taught, Sobel earned admiration by such art world luminaries as Sidney Janis and Peggy Guggenheim, the latter of whom exhibited Sobel’s work in her Art of This Century gallery in 1946. Our exhibition highlights various stages of Sobel’s work, which quickly progressed from primitivism through Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism. Of particular significance is a rare full Drip painting, one of the last of Sobel’s great Drips not in a museum collection. “We are delighted to participate the re-evaluation of Janet Sobel and Norris Embry work,” says James Barron. “Sobel’s work is gaining new acclaim in our revisionist period. It is with great pride that we will exhibit one of her last, great Drip paintings still in private hands. Embry is that rare combination of a schizophrenic with an educated eye and our exhibition offers the full range of his extraordinary work.”

As a teenager in Chicago, Norris Embry developed a keen interest in avant-garde art, music, and literature, deciding in 1947 to devote his life to art. Embry then spent fifteen years traveling across the United States and Europe, developing his distinctive, colorful expressionist work. Embry spent time in Greece, on the island of Hydra, where he was surrounded by other creative figures, including poet Kenneth Koch and writer/musician Leonard Cohen; a striking portrait of Cohen is featured in the exhibition. Also included is a remarkable variety of mixed media abstractions, along with works on paper in pen and crayon from Embry’s notebooks of 1960 and 1961.

Our exhibition explores the dialogue between Sobel and Embry’s work as well as their disparate experiences as artists. With no formal training, Sobel investigated both figuration and abstraction, incorporating the influences of a wide variety of artists that she studied on her own. Conversely, Embry was well-connected to many artists; he spent a summer at the Art Institute of Chicago, and studied briefly under Expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka. In 1984, three years after Embry's death, Guggenheim Museum director Thomas Messer organized a solo exhibition of Embry's work.

James Barron Art specializes in modern and contemporary art, with an emphasis on art historical exhibitions. Our Outsider Art Fair exhibition continues our exploration into Janet Sobel’s work, following our exhibition Janet Sobel: Revisiting the Drip in April - June, 2016. New York art dealer Gary Snyder will give a gallery talk on Janet Sobel as "Primitive, Surrealist, and Abstract Expressionist" on Saturday, January 21 at 2pm at James Barron's booth 13. Snyder's Janet Sobel exhibition in 2002 was her first New York exhibition since her 1946 solo show at Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery. Snyder will discuss current Sobel scholarship in light of recent articles and her inclusion in the Royal Academy of Art’s "Abstract Expressionism" exhibition, which travels to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in February 2017.


Outsider Art Fair

January 19 - 22, 2017
Metropolitan Pavilion
125 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011

Thursday, January 19th: Early access 2:00 pm - 6:00 pm; Vernissage 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Friday, January 20th: 11:00 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday, January 21st: 11:00 am - 8:00 pm
Sunday, January 22nd: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm

Gallery hours:
Wednesday - Saturday 11- 5, Sunday 12 – 5
and by appointment