Art After Dark

Saturday, June 29 - Sunday, October 27, 2013

Art about the world after dark was for centuries primarily the province of literary artists where night was often seen as a time of danger and evil, from Beowulf’s monster, Grendel, lurking in the darkness, to Frankenstein’s creature brought to life on a dark and stormy night. Contemporary horror stories and films still use the nighttime as the backdrop for horror.

The French Baroque painter Georges De La Tour (1593 – 1652) was one of the earliest painters known specifically for creating night scenes. Many of his figural groupings were illuminated by candle flame.

For much of the history of the visual arts, regardless of their content, art works were created by the light of day. Artists’ studios were designed with large skylights facing north to take advantage of the most constant source of light. In the late 19th century gas light, and later the electric light, allowed enough brightness for artists to work successfully with artificial sources. The Impressionists—particularly Toulouse Lautrec and Édouard Manet—utilized both artificial and natural light in their attempts to accurately paint the changing qualities of the atmosphere.

With technological advances in contemporary culture, light is a constant presence, day and night. In color photography the camera records the color spectrum as it is, not filtered through the mind and eye of the artist. Sensitive films and long exposures allow photographers such as Steve Fitch, Kay Kenny, Xavier Nuez and Matthew Pillsbury to capture available light, no matter how dim, exploring momentary glimpses of otherwise hidden nocturnal activities.

Painter Yvonne Jacquette is inspired by the nature of the contemporary world, often seen from an aerial perspective at night, where it is never truly dark. Her scenes disorient the viewer and depict the constant fluid and dense nature of human activity. Robert Yarber comments on contemporary civilization, often creating illuminated night scenes where the light sources may not make sense, but rather heighten his exploration of dream worlds or nightmares.

This exhibition features the work of six artists: Steve Fitch, Yvonne Jacquette,  Kay Kenny, Xavier Nuez, Matthew Pillsbury and Robert Yarber, each of whom explore the night world from dreams to nightmares, and sometimes a little of both.

View selected works in the exhibition »