Plansky Essay

Painter, paintmaker, teacher, devotee of opera, Carl Plansky has left an indelible legacy. Friends of Carl Plansky abound. His list of friends penetrates the art world. Carl has left the world of painters, of artists, richer than he found it.

This exhibition, 'Carl Plansky & Friends', celebrates Carl's legacy, his dedication, his contributions, with paintings of his own and with those of nine 'Friends.' The 'Friends', drawn from a larger group of intimates, stand together to confirm their individual relationships with Carl, his paints and his friendship. Milton Resnick, Pat Passlof, Jake Berthot, Cora Cohen, Susanna Coffey, Bill Jensen, Margrit Lewczuk, Judith Linhares, Mary Jo Vath, all of whom could show together in any gallery in the world and all of whom have in common, a history with Carl Plansky.

A black and white snapshot from December of 1957 depicts a smiling six-year-old Carl, at an easel, paintbrush in hand, working on a painting of a ship at sea, and wearing that era's requisite toy six gun in holster. Not quite thirty years later, Carl was given a paint milling machine by painter Milton Resnick. Agreement tends toward the latter occasion as the beginning of Williamsburg Handmade Oils, but who knows that some inkling of his future didn't inform the six-year-old's smile?

It might be to every painter's advantage to start and develop a paint company - to be immersed literally and figuratively in the world of pigment and resins. Obviously this has not been the path for many painters, but for Carl, why not? He reveled in using paint, its stuffness, and in gaining understanding as to where the limits of the materials could be pushed. And he needed great quantities of paint. 'I really need to feel my physical involvement with the paint...' he asserted in a lecture at the New York Studio School about his art and life.

Plansky engaged time-honored pictorial subjects: landscape, still life, figuration, and again, from his New York Studio School lecture, he stated, 'I need to look at something when I paint...' And his 'looking', as transmuted into paint, invests his subjects with urgency, energy, poignancy and power. If, as the attribution to Willem de Kooning goes, that 'flesh was the reason that oil paint was invented...' then we can observe that Carl pushed the boundaries of his paintmaking process to invest his own paintings with the elemental force of his subjects, whether landscape, still life or figure, to suit his personal vision and quest for identity.

Carl's legacy lives on beyond his own fantastic oeuvre and beyond the unique paints of Williamsburg Handmade Oil. As with the 'Friends' in this exhibition and dozens of other artists who knew him, his legacy lives on through the bonds of friendship.

Jim Walsh
Director, Sam & Adele Golden Gallery