The Maine Artist’s Animals: Bernard Langlais at UNE
September 15, 2014 - December 2, 2014
Biddeford Campus Art Gallery
The Maine Artist’s Animals gathered paintings, drawings and sculptures that together highlight a powerful concern in his work: how to explore the aesthetics of form through animal representation. Whether in paint, pencil or pen as well as with paper, formica, wood and nails, the artworks chosen here from the Kohler Foundation’s 2014 gift to UNE’s permanent collection combine simple materials to considerable effect. Sometimes folksy, sometimes cartoonish, but always carefully designed to show recognizable animals, these artworks also often call attention to their own constructedness. An early pioneer of a trend among artists that has only intensified in recent decades, Langlais goes beyond the mere intention to observe animals with his art. His purpose, instead, seems to be to provoke our thinking about them.
Bernard Langlais’ ambition was simple: he wanted to be the artist who represented Maine. A native Mainer, born the son of a carpenter in Old Town in 1921, he served in the navy during World War II, after which he returned to study art at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, among other places. Although his art training led him to spend many years in New York, Washington, and Paris, the man known to friends all his life as Blackie came back to settle for good in Cushing, Maine.