Retrospective exhibition of artist Otis Kaye opens at the New Britain Museum of American Art

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Retrospective exhibition of artist Otis Kaye opens at the New Britain Museum of American Art
Otis Kaye, Custer II / Going Out of Business, 1958, Oil on panel, 48 x 60 in., Private Collection, Illinois.

NEW BRITAIN, CONN.- The New Britain Museum of American Art announces a retrospective exhibition of artist Otis Kaye (1885–1974), entitled, Otis Kaye: Money, Mystery, and Mastery on view from January 17–May 10, 2015. The exhibition displays Kaye’s mastery of trompe l’oeil technique and invites the viewer to ponder and explore the mystery that surrounds Kaye and his work. The French term trompe l’oeil translates to “fools the eye,” as the genre is defined as an artistic technique that creates the illusion of objects that seem to break out of the picture plane.

Thirty-four oil paintings, watercolors, pastel works, and etchings are accompanied by various materials from the Otis Kaye Archive and Trust. Visitors will be asked to uncover the riddles within Kaye’s works and life. Although visitors are presented with Kaye’s trompe l’oeil paintings, almost no record of the artist himself exists. Kaye did not exhibit or sell any of his paintings during his lifetime, but rather gave his work to family and friends. Kaye’s paintings are steeped in mystery, containing currency, letters, and other symbolic items that allude to politics, gambling, and the economic turmoil in 20th century. The Museum invites viewers to help answer the question of who was Otis Kaye by offering interpretations of the artworks and ideas about the artist’s origins.

Douglas Hyland, Director of the New Britain Museum of American Art, states, “Among the most compelling genres of American Art is trompe l’oeil and after a hundred year tradition of American paintings, including John Haberle, John Peto, and dozens of other masters, this art form reaches a new high with the extraordinary canvases of Otis Kaye. In terms of his technical skills and sophistication, Otis Kaye has no equal. It is astonishing to contemplate the complexity of his multiple layered allusions.”

The works featured in the retrospective are some of Kaye’s most masterful creations, generously loaned from various private collections and the Otis Kaye Archive and Trust. James M. Bradburne, Director General of the Palazzo Strozzi in Italy, and Geraldine Banks, Research Coordinator for the Otis Kaye Family Trust, have worked tirelessly to help produce this expansive retrospective. Ron Cordover’s generous contribution through the Cordover Family Foundation has allowed the Museum to produce a fully illustrated catalogue with contributions by James M. Bradburne, Mark D. Mitchell, Associate Curator of American Art and Manager of the Center for American Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Geraldine Banks.

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