In the exhibition For All Her Innocent Airs, She Knew Exactly Where She Was Going, Albertz Benda creates a unique opportunity to encounter the under-the-radar female Pop artist Kay Kurt. With works dating back to the mid-1960s, the exhibition is a well-deserved retrospective celebration of Kurt, and her first time showing in New York in three decades.
Whereas the canonical Pop artists are associated with bright colors and mass production, Kurt’s works are technically masterful in an accomplished, self-evident way and executed in the vein of traditional painting. Generic hard candies and licorice dominate Kurt’s large scale food portraits – the candies are accessible and inviting, providing a link, both at the time of their creation and now, to the timeless joy of sweets, rather than reflections of a specific cultural product (think Warhol’s appropriation of Campbell’s or Brillo). The candies are interwoven into almost abstract jungles in Kurt’s monumental compositions, and she maintains a deep earthy palette dominated by blacks, browns and reds – a moodier alternative to her contemporaries similarly dealing with food like Wayne Thiebaud or Claes Oldenburg.
For All Her Innocent Airs, She Knew Exactly Where She Was Going is an aptly titled exhibition – it is colored by both a sort of innocence as well as a clear intent. The works speak to a sort of intimate familiarity taken in the comforts of food, and candy in particular, and offer a chance to discover the beautifully executed paintings of Kay Kurt.