In a theater in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, we gathered shoulder-to-shoulder and to standing-room only capacity, to hear Knox Martin talk art. A true privilege to listen to the master artist, Knox enlightened us about the significance of 17th-century Dutch painters and placed their authority firmly in the history of art. He gifted us with the knowledge of Joan Miró, influenced by the Dutch realist painters and his series of works based on Old Master paintings titled Dutch Interiors after Hendrick Sorgh’s The Lute Player and Jan Steen’s Teaching the Cat to Dance. Knox took us even further into the geometry and balance of Frans Hals’s Merrymakers at Shrovetide. Then, he brought us forward to the Mark Rothko show he attended at the Betty Parsons Gallery in the 1950s and his encounter with Rothko who told Knox of his own work, “This is not art.”
The artist’s talk, in conjunction with his solo exhibition at LGTripp Gallery, readied us for the excitement of Knox's She series. Paint seems to dance and play off each canvas, never confined to its mere dimensions. The sparkle and shimmer of palladium and gold leaf make these beauties unreservedly glamorous. A regal eminence to each work dwarfs you in the gallery, reducing you to a simple attendant to a royal court. You almost feel as if you should bow or curtsy before them. Yet, an edgy drama is indelible, like a gasp one makes upon seeing something totally fresh, new, and spectacular. It is a stunning exhibition of Knox’s power as a painter and artist, bringing his sophistication and scholarship of the past into the 21st century.