The Storytellers; the Cummer Museum's Newest Exhibit Showcases Narrative Art

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Byline: JUDY WELLS

Narrative art has a long history: Cave painters portrayed hunts, Greek sculptors carved friezes of great mythological battles, artists of the Renaissance brought biblical scenes to life, Impressionists transferred everyday life to canvas.

Even with the advent of photography and electronic media, narrative art continued, but in very different ways. The curators of "A New Narrative: Marden, Fitzpatrick, Stella, Warhol," which will be on display at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens through Sunday, Aug. 6, show us four disparate examples.

Frank Stella, fascinated by the way Russian constructivist artist El Lissitzky used an abstract vocabulary to tell the Jewish folktale Had Gadya, re-interprets the Old Testament story by exploring his own versions of Lissitzky's techniques.

Andy Warhol, the guru of pop culture, created silkscreen portraits of 10 Jewish people - Albert Einstein, Sarah Bernhardt, Sigmund Freud, Louis Brandeis, Franz Kafka, Groucho Marx, Golda Meir, George Gershwin, Gertrude Stein and Martin Buber - whose contributions he felt shaped the 20th century.

Almost as interesting, said Maarten van de Guchte, director of the Cummer, "are the ones he did not choose. Why not Anne Frank? The writer, Isaac Balshevis Singer? Marc Chagall?"

Chicagoan Tony Fitzpatrick relates his own luck in going from tattoo artist to writer/actor/artist in the 10 etchings of The Infinite Wager. Even when asked directly, Fitzpatrick refuses to put words with his images that might clarify their meaning.

"He stands by his decision to let art tell the story," said Holly Keris, associate curator. …