Harold Bruder Paintings from: 1960's | 1970's | 1980's | 1990's | 2000's | 2010's
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1970 – Wall Street Journal (Elizabeth Stevens)

“Harold Bruder, perhaps the most thoughtful artist in the show, gets his painting ideas from family album-type photographs – pictures of kids, a party or an outing. Bruder’s “Winter Evening,” two small children in blue pajamas sprawled on a rose colored couch, is a dramatic close-up in muted color. The children are strangely foreshortened by a long lens, their heads grotesquely large in proportion to their feet. As Bruder notes in the small catalog that accompanies the show, the camera is “a Cyclops” staring at life with a “cool and dispassionate single eye” and producing images of “oddity and mannerism.”

Other Bruder canvases have a way of transforming the momentary and insignificant into something more important. His group of middle aged executives and their wives enjoying an outdoor lunch at somebody’s country place or his group of mothers and children exploring a park have a timeless quality that is almost surreal.”

1972 – Art News

“Harold Bruder is an exponent of a realism that inherits its subject matter and formal values from the work of classicizing artists such as Poussin or Annibale Carracci. Bruder solidly constructs his figures through chromatic modulations and brilliant light into masses and volumes. Covered in togas and standing in front of temple architecture, his figures appear like a sculptural relief on a Greek or Roman stage. His figures, painted in bright primary and pastel colors, are usually overwrought with emotion, dramatically concealing their faces in their hands or throwing up their arms tpo block their distress from the viewer. Bruder is not intent in creating a formal serenity in his canvases, on the contrary, he uses his figures as elements to create tension, a tension which sharpens as the viewer examines the work more closely. This visual emotionalism, which reflects the emotionalism of the poses of the figures, is achieved by cramming the elements not only close to each other but to the picture plane as well.”

1973 – Artforum

“Some interesting aspects of the handling of subject matter are raised by three exhibitions of representational painting. Harold Bruder is the most problematic of the three artists. His attitude toward the subjects he depicts is abstract. Rhetorical gestures abound, but no specific messages are conveyed. The paintings recall the work of Puvis de Chavannes – many figures standing about in studied poses dressed in voluminous robes but not communicating with one another. In Celebration, with figures in dance-like positions, he raises more questions than he answers. We are given no substantial clues to the meaning behind the rituals he depicts, their purpose, or even their era. An interesting compositional device – averting the face of the central figure – serves to deepen the mystery. He minimizes the hierarchal focus on this figure and equalizes the allover interest of the painting. His figures exist in an indefinite; friezelike spatial plane that almost feels as though it lies in front of the picture plane. The sensations of volume created by the massive draperies are held in check by an overall bland tonality which is interrupted only occasionally by areas of Poussin-like primaries, abstractly deployed…Bruder reimagines the golden age of Classicism.”


1976 – Arts Magazine

“Harold Bruder avoids histrionics which would distract from the informal mood of most of his paintings, meant to capture life as it really is. Of course I am not referring to the few murals in which he actually shows a flair for dramatic expression. In “October Afternoon: Metropolitan Museum”, people are going about their business, oblivious of being painted, but all are reacting to the slight chill in the air and to sunlight that gives them some warmth. Theirs is a shared attitude that creates unity. They are all on the move, which does not prevent the artist from observing their gestures. Two well-observed figures, a photographer and a woman, stand naturally in front of an open V-shape that would involve eight figures on a ground plan of the composition. Above them, near the entrance to the museum, the next most important is arranged in a circle, but this is so expertly hidden that it seems quite casual. Since Degas, nothing has looked more natural, in spite of the drastic simplifications of form.”

1982 – Newsday (Malcolm Preston)

“To say that Harold Bruder is an illusionist is to say his canvases rival reality. His large paintings entitled “Vault Series” now on view at the Queens Museum, are extremely accurate observations of the folds, creases, gathers and rumples of draped fabrics. They astonish us with the precision of their perspective and their control of light. And within the very limited context of their subject matter, fabrics, they create an illusion of three dimensions where there are but two.

The literal translation of trompe l’oeil is ‘fools the eye’ and that is exactly what Bruder does. He dazzles us, has us believing that what we see is really cloth of different colors, of different textures. His images, about seven by eight feet, are massive, and the hills and valleys created by the stretched, tucked and gathered material are big and impressive.

Yet despite the illusion of reality, what Bruder has done in these paintings of fabric – taut, silent and complicated in their arrangements – is to give us an abstraction. Although we are aware of the subject, we are more inclined to respond to the movement of the composition and the dynamism of the color.

There is no narrative here, no allegory, no symbolic reference, just cloth and color and texture and movement. It is as if Bruder has taken his cue from the folded drapery of Giovanni Bellini’s Madonnas, or the richly painted cloth that lies beneath Giorgione’s “Sleeping Venus,” and blown them up to super-kingsize.

Other references to Renaissance painting are also apparent. The way in which Bruder handles light reminds us of the special sparkle and gleam of Titian, and there is something of the solidity and plasticity of Michelangelo in the drawing of the fabric itself. There is also a somewhat Venetian love for the richness of velvet and the gloss of satin, along with a Florentine emphasis on the dignity of large folds of drapery.

The color of each of the six canvases is quite different. Each painting seems to have limits, a curtailment in the range of tone. “Royal Lime” is blue along with an acid green, given added accent by a touch of violet. “Venetian Interior” is rich in reds, while golds, yellows and oranges dominate “Overflow.”

Why are these paintings called “Vault Series”? Is it because in the arrangement of the fabric, which Bruder tacks to his studio wall much as one would set up a still life, one cloth seems to spring, to leap over another? Or are these arrangements intended to suggest a vault, a chamber? Perhaps the title indicates just a simple covering of the implicit canvas depth?

Whatever the title suggests, it is finally the image that gives the work its meaning. And in the case of Bruder’s paintings, the tour de force of his illusionism, the complexities of his designs, along with his use of color and texture and light evoke feelings of tension, anxiety, beauty, even serenity, depending on the viewer’s state as well as that of any one particular canvas.”