Sunday, March 7, 2010

Margaret Wenstrup Score

Starting with Charley Harper's work, we have slowly begun to evolve our taste in modern art as we oh so slowly collect when opportunity knocks. Recently a couple of local online auctions have shown me another world of optical art, 'op-art', in the works of Noel Martin and Margaret Wenstrup. Along with Charley Harper & other Mid Century Modern graphic artists, all these artists were products of the Art Academy of Cincinnati and helped lead a new era of vivid art. Margaret Wenstrup was the first female artist to win a Wilder Scholarship, and studied with another MCM art pioneer, Ralston Crawford in New York.
It was not coincidence that this auction coincided with last weeks 20th Century Cincinnati Show. So I bid on over a dozen pieces hoping to score at least a small piece. Most of Wenstrup's work really strikes me with her bold use of color and large scale work. I ended up winning a large 1967 Original Acrylica on Canvas Diptych piece that also hung proudly at the CAC in a recent exhibit. I temporarily propped it up on our living room mantle to show a sense of how large and dominant the piece is. We are planning to anchor our new studio space with this piece, ultimately there are only two or three spots in the house it could really fit.

To my understanding, with Margaret's recent passing, her family is auctioning of a majority of her work and estate. We were lucky enough to score these two pieces. This is the large signature on the back of the large piece.

The second piece is a 1957 Original Cast Plaster mod sculpture piece in collaboration with Preston McClanahan. It's almost a flat tile about 3/4" thick and weighs about 6 pounds, not an easy piece to hang. In thinking of what to do with it, we might have to carve out a place in our plaster walls to inset it in as a 'built-in' feature. It could also work sitting on the mantle once the Charley Harper pieces are finally framed. Talk about priorities!

Detail shot of the cast plaster piece.


  1. I think it looks pretty great on your mantle. Great piece.

  2. both very cool.

    maybe mount the mcclanahan in a niche just a few inches bigger than the tile so the space forms a "frame".