Neil Jenney’s “Improved Picasso”...

Neil Jenney’s “Improved Picasso” Portraits With His Signature Frames

Neil Jenney’s solo exhibition at the West Broadway Gallery is the artist-run space’s second exhibition. The loft is run by Jenney himself and is currently showcasing a number of the artist’s Improved Picasso portraits, as well as some of his older works.

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“Improved Picasso,” Neil Jenney. Photo: West Broadway Gallery

The self-taught artist has been known for bypassing the traditional steps in an artist’s career, taking charge of his own work, presentation and distribution; his decision to open a pop-up gallery in his loft is only the latest radical act the 71-year-old pulled in his career.

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“Improved Picasso,” Neil Jenney. Photo: West Broadway Gallery

For his Improved Picasso paintings Jenney works with the artist Ki-Young Sung, who paints and sells copies of famous Picasso paintings at the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Jenney improves upon what he believes to be unfinished paintings and showcases them in his own signature frames. The thick, dark-stained wood now encase all of Jenney’s paintings after discovering,

“The Greek think of a painting as if they are looking through a window onto the scene. (…) I realized that the frame is the architectural foreground, the frame is here with you and presents the illusion so the frame is functional not just decoration”

The exhibition also features some of the artists “bad paintings” from the 1960s and 70s. Created as a rebellion against Abstract Expressionism and Photo-Realism, these paintings focus on figurative images made with acrylic paint that trace the careless strokes of the brush.

His newest paintings, in complete opposition to his older work, are meticulously painted landscapes or skies that are tightly cropped and framed–to which the artist refers to as “good paintings.” Jenney works mostly with oil on wood but has now turned to creating methodical Vermeer paintings.

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“Improved Picasso,” Neil Jenney. Photo: West Broadway Gallery

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“Improved Picasso,” Neil Jenney. Photo: West Broadway Gallery

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“Improved Picasso,” Neil Jenney. Photo: West Broadway Gallery


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Adriana Pauly is a curator and art writer with a MFA in Contemporary Art, based in New York. She specializes in artwork by emerging female artists as well as Latin American art. She has been published by Missy Magazine, Autre Magazine and is currently the Content Coordinator of Art Report.