Works of a Modern Master

February 13th - April 17th, 2009

Norman Gorbaty

When I think of my work two words come to mind: Movement and Drawing. These concepts, as I understand, study and explore them, are recurring themes.

When I refer to “drawing” I don’t just mean the physical works on paper or the finished picture. I am also referring to the process I use in the actual “doing” of the art. This approach was greatly influenced by both Joseph Albers and Louis Kahn while at Yale. I make a mark. That mark tells me where the next mark should go and so on until the image begins to have a life of its own. It begins to tell me what it wants to be. It's for me to recognize what it wants to be and help it to become that. Sometimes I don’t give in and force a different direction, but again the piece begins to tell me what it wants to be and so on. It is this “doing” of pictures that I am about.

I am fascinated by the motion around us and often try to capture this in my work. There is movement in life as we “do” it. Everything moves. Images are constantly in motion. Whether we are physically moving or our surroundings are moving, or just our eye is moving we sense motion constantly. This movement combines with our differing perspectives of an image to create unique experiences which I artistically explore.

My journey formally began over fifty years ago while attending Amherst and Yale. At that time my focus was print-making. My works were shown in Brooklyn Museum's Print Annual for several years and included in a modest show at MOMA entitled Young American Printmakers. At around that time I married Joy, and made a switch to the less risky field of graphic arts in order to provide my family with more certain stability and comfort (or so I told myself). At the same time I continued doing my art outside the confines of my career.

After the passing of Joy, my “Old Beauty” in 2003 I have retired from my career as a graphic artist to focus completely on fine art. Joy was not only my inspiration, but she was also my audience and with her passing I found I have the need to once again show my work in more public forums.

Jules Michelet’s quote sums up both my journey and my passion for art: The end is nothing, the road is all. When a picture is finished it no longer belongs to me. You can hang it, show it, look at it, turn its face to the wall, say about it what you want, and do with it what you will. But the doing of the picture is mine. Only I own the doing.

About the Exhibit

In 1954 Norman Gorbaty was a promising young artist whose work was included in a modest show of American printmakers at New York's Museum of Modern Art. At Amherst he earned the Heisey Award for design in glass from Steuben and was honored with a scholarship to attend the inaugural session of the newly formed Yale Norfolk Summers Arts School. Upon graduating he received a Simpson fellowship from Amherst and a teaching fellowship from Yale where he enrolled to pursue his MFA. While at Yale, Norman found himself in a rich artistic environment influenced by teachers that included Joseph Albers, Alexi Brodovitch, Leo Leonni, Herbert Matter, Bernard Chaet, Gabor Peterdi and Louis Kahn, alongside students that included Richard Anuszkiewicz, Neil Welliver, William Bailey, Arnie Bittleman, and Jay Maisel. During his time at Yale Norman won the Summer Painting Prize from Joseph Albers and had his prints regularly shown in the prestigious Brooklyn Museum Printmaking Annual. His master's thesis Print Making with a Spoon was published by Reinhold and incorporated in almost its entirety in Gabor Peterdi's authoritative volume Printmaking Methods Old and New.

1954 was also the year that Norman proposed to Joy. They married in 1956 at which time practical considerations and pressures led him from a career in fine art towards one in graphic design. He honed his skills as a graphic artist working at Benton and Bowles Advertising as the Vice President Art Group Supervisor over the product launch of many now familiar brands including the IBM Selectric Typewriter, Pampers, and Crest Toothpaste. During this time he was invited to be the Adjunct Professor of Advanced Graphic Design at Cooper Union where he taught for almost a decade.

Upon leaving Benton and Bowles, Norman opened his own graphic design studio in 1968. His work includes credits for major motion pictures, museum posters, the redesign and covers for Time Magazine and US News & World Report, and the illustrations for numerous children's books. Norman has received recognition and awards for his work and has been asked to lecture at a host of schools including Yale, Carnegie-Mellon, Minneapolis School of Art and the Kansas City School of Art.

Throughout his fifty years as a graphic artist Norman continued to produce fine art amassing a large collection of works on paper and sculpture. With the passing of Joy, his “Old Beauty” in 2003 Norman no longer has his audience-of-one with whom to share his art. Having accomplished his goal of providing Joy and their two children with stability and comfort he has once again turned his entire focus back to fine art.

Norman is currently working in the studio on pictures and sculpture while cataloging and preparing his body of work for broader exposure.