Scale & the Heraldic

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LargeStar_divider_200h In 1962-63, Richard Wengenroth was living and working on Rivington Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, during a sabbatical from his teaching post in Ohio. It was a storied period of intense and varied artistic energy in the New York art world. Pop art and artists made their spectacular arrival. “Happenings” connected previously separate worlds; there were still inexpensive watering holes, and art had not yet become big business.

Following a brief flirtation with Pop imagery, Wengenroth utilized a star image which, extracted from Pop context, could be employed as an image adaptable to more formal concerns. Working on large canvases, his work became increasingly severe and reductive, the star image working as a heraldic device.

As the work evolved, the star image was gradually subsumed into the imperative of Scale (understood as physical environment). By the mid-60s the paintings were, as he jocularly described them, “getting bigger and bigger with less and less in them”. They were well received, and were included in the 1967 invitational exhibit “Five Painters”, at the Columbus Museum of Fine Arts.