Those Amazin' Mets
Gary T. Erbe (b. 1944)
Those Amazin’ Mets, 2005-2006
Oil on canvas, 64 x 45 inches
Signed and dated on verso
Born in Union City, New Jersey in 1944, Gary T. Erbe is a self-taught painter. Erbe got his start in the art world as an engraver from 1965 to 1970, and decided to pursue art full-time in 1970. During the late 1960s, Erbe developed a style that he called “levitational realism,” which takes its inspiration from trompe l’oeil painting and Cubism. Erbe’s work tricks the eye by displaying complicated arrangements objects against flat or shallow backgrounds, forcing the objects into the viewer’s space.
Like American trompe l’oeil artists of the late nineteenth century, such as William M. Harnett and John F. Peto, Erbe favors manmade, mass-produced objects over natural ones, and groups them together to weave a web of very specific meanings and associations. By depicting an assortment of memorabilia related to the New York Mets, Erbe conjured memories of a classic American pastime from a bygone era. The objects appear intensely realistic, to the point that one feels as though one can almost touch the baseball bat, catcher’s mitt, and peanuts. The flat blue background with hints of red crisply defines the outlines of the objects depicted, allowing for the objects to palpably project beyond the picture plane. The specially designed frame bears the name of the team and includes pitchers, fielders, bats, and a ball.
Erbe is currently working on a major forty-year retrospective exhibition, which will open in 2009. His work has been exhibited at many museums and galleries, and is included in the permanent collections of the National Arts Club, New York; New Britain Museum of American Art, Connecticut; Springfield Museums, Massachusetts; Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey; New Jersey State Museum, Trenton; Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia James A. Michener Art Museum, Doylestown, Pennsylvania; Boca Raton Museum of Art, Florida; Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; and the Canton Museum of Art, Ohio.
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