Henry M. Gasser
Henry Martin Gasser (1909-1981). Untitled watercolor
on paper, ca. 10 x 14. Shown below as framed.
GASSER IS HOT!
Gasser prices have been rising since the 2017 major exhibit sponsored by Louis Salerno's QuestRoyal Gallery on New York's Park Avenue. The accompanying catalogue, "Henry Martin Gasser: Bound for Prosperity" cemented Gasser's place among American masters. We attended and took note of the excitement, which has driven subsequent buyer demand and record prices. But our interest in Gasser goes as far back as our acquisition of a John Grabach masterpiece (see elsewhere in our overall listing) because Grabach, also a New Jersey painter, was the predominant teacher and friend of Gasser, and they often worked together. Additionally, Gary Erbe's masterful study of Gasser's work, entitled, "Beyond City Limits" peaked our interest as far back as 2003, and we attended the accompanying Salmagundi exhibition where we saw little-known works by Gasser that exposed his painter's power.
This Gasser watercolor emphasizes his the drama of urban decay.
Gasser's "Black Backyard Newark brought $40,000
A master at watercolor and oil his work consisted of, in his own words, "everyday subjects that are available to most of us-street scenes, back yards, trees, old houses, etc. I looked for them in front of houses, in backyards, public parks, and elsewhere." He also painted numerous harbor and fishing village scenes. As QuestRoyal put it, "His work demonstrated a sense of place and feeling that most could identify with. He often "exhausted a subject" which becomes evident when viewing the body of his work for many of his paintings are just slight variations of previously completed compositions." We see a more important theme in Gasser's work, what he called "solitary silence" created by a focus on backyard's (a Grabach favorite) tenements, collapsing structures, and junk-heap vehicles. The sense of entropy is very strong, and goes deeper than the urban decay. There is often the small black figure, we call the "lurker," who is bent under the grotesque landscape as he struggles against darkness and stormy weather. This is certainly an image of the artist's own struggle to understand the human environment. Our work is serene, showing nature at peace, and we see it as 'pure' Gasser.