My Missed Chance to Buy a Lynne Drexler

February 13, 2015

 

There’s a Lynne Drexler painting hanging in an alcove of musician John Legend and model Chrissy Teigen’s Manhattan apartment. It's big and colorful, and it dominates the room. Just like every Drexler painting I’ve ever seen.

 

I first became aware of Lynne Drexler in the 1990s on Monhegan Island, where I’d inherited a cottage. A tiny island an hour’s ferry ride from Maine’s coast, Monhegan has been an artist’s haven since the mid-1800s. Some of America’s best artists have worked there, including Rockwell Kent, Edward Hopper, George Bellows and the Wyeths.

 

While visiting, I kept seeing Drexler paintings in private rooms over the island. They were large-scale abstract canvases—hung in these small, weather-beaten cottages—and they were larger than life. I’ve always been drawn to colorful paintings and am enamored with Abstract Expressionists like Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler.

 

At the time, I didn’t know that Drexler had studied under Motherwell, but I wanted one of her pieces. However…

 

My friend Tralice Bracy kept encouraging me to sit down and talk to Lynne, but I never found the opportunity. During my years visiting the island, my brushes with her were happenstance and brief. Before I knew it, she’d died, I’d sold my house and I hadn’t bought one of her paintings (which I’m sure I could have gotten for under $1,000 at the time).

 

It wasn’t until opening my gallery in 2004 that I discovered Drexler was a Motherwell disciple and I was actually able to buy one of her paintings. She was one of the Monhegan artists I was most interested in representing because I recognized that her work was undervalued in the marketplace. And I personally loved it.

 

Of the two Drexler pieces I have now, Orange Encapsulated is a visualization of music. Drexler had a great affinity for music and used it in her work. Her luscious colors and swirling textures are complex and not unlike a piece of classical music. The other piece I have, Rocks, powerfully captures Monhegan’s Cathedral Woods—an atmospheric place—in a perfect blend of abstraction and representation.

 

An abstract expressionist, Drexler became more representational the longer she lived on Monhegan. I like to think the island’s physical beauty sank deeper and deeper into her work. 

 

About Elizabeth Moss

 

 

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