Birmingham artist Beverly Erdreich has worked primarily as a painter and mostly in an abstract, lyrical style for most of her career, which began in the mid-20th century. Born in Dothan, she attended Newcomb College in New Orleans, graduating with a degree in art history, before moving to Birmingham in 1961. She pursued her passion for painting abstract canvases up until 2001, when the violence and destruction visited upon the United States and its people had a profound effect on her art. Once the Pandora’s Box of man’s inhumanity toward his fellow man opened for Erdreich, she felt compelled to make art that addresses the social malaise characteristic of our world today.
Erdreich’s latest series of work was inspired by her abiding interest in art history, and specifically the relationships between her contemporary concerns and that of artists of the past. In this installation, the Museum will present a group of her drawings that were conceived as variations of compositions by the great Spanish painter/printmaker Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish, 1746–1828). Between 1810 and 1820, he created a series of etchings now known as The Disasters of War, inspired by the terrible violence that accompanied the Peninsular War of 1808–1814.
Erdreich’s drawings are created atop reproductions of these powerful compositions, bringing the stinging brutality of Goya’s interpretation of nineteenth-century atrocities into a modern context. Works such as the piece Enterrar y Caller (Bury them and Keep Quiet) (2017) in Goya’s time referenced political executions, but Erdreich’s piece calls attention to the plight of migrants who drown while crossing the Mediterranean Sea for Europe. Other compositions address the international problems of extrajudicial executions, terrorist actions, and violence against women.
Above: Photograph of the 2018 installation of the exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
Erdreich’s drawings are created atop reproductions of these powerful compositions, bringing the stinging brutality of Goya’s interpretation of nineteenth-century atrocities into a modern context.
Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.
Support for this exhibition was made possible in part by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.