Donald Jurney was born in Rye, New York, in 1945, and was educated at Columbia University, the Pratt Institute, and the Art Students League. Nearly thirty years ago, he began his career with a one-man show at a temporary gallery space. Prescient collectors bought up the paintings at prices from fifty to two hundred dollars. With more than twenty subsequent one-man exhibitions, the reception has been the same: continuous sold-out shows.
Jurney’s work is firmly rooted in the great landscape tradition, stretching from Dutch 17th century painting, through the Barbizon and Hudson River schools, to late 19th and early-20th century French and American impressionism. His work is also informed and enlivened by the influence of modern painting. It is this union, one of timeless motif and lively surface, that distinguishes his work.
His paintings are a summons to celebrate the poetry of the commonplace. Like many of the masters he respects, Jurney begins with pencil drawings made in the field. Often, years elapse before the drawing becomes the motif for a new painting. In the studio, a painting develops with the indelible stamp of a certain day and hour, particular weather, and a unique sense of place.
At first glimpse, Jurney’s work is profoundly based in traditional landscape painting. But a closer look reveals that the tree which we see as millions of leaves is, in fact, a dense matrix of quite random marks, combining to give the impression of great detail. Through great economy of means, Jurney invites the viewer to enter into a compact with him, one in which the language of painting becomes as important as the subject of the picture itself. Our reward is the pleasure of a traditional realism that is refreshingly, and surprisingly, animated by the vigor of abstraction.
Donald Jurney has lived and worked in the Hudson River Valley, in England, and in the Berkshires. For a number of years, he has painted extensively in France. A recent interest has been kindled by a trip to the West of Ireland, and he anticipates soon exploring the coastal marshes and estuaries of Boston’s North Shore.
But wherever his travels take him, we can be sure of an invitation to come along, through his paintings, and of the chance to share his unique vision of the landscape---- inspired by his unflagging enthusiasm for the remarkable world about us.