Tribeca/NY-17 Gallery Guide, October 1985

Robert Metzger, Director, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art Tribeca/NY-17 Gallery Guide, October 1985

“Max Coyer’s remarkable new series of paintings, drawings and constructions verify the creative ability of this gifted young artist. The exhibition is entitled “The Recovery of Jean Cocteau” and these works refer, rather cryptically, to the recovery of Jean Cocteau from an addiction to opium in the clinic of St. Cloud in 1929. For Cocteau, this was but one of many drug cures which spanned his lifetime. As part of his rehabilitation, Cocteau made a series of drawings which illustrated the text of a journal he was writing in the hospital.

Coyer takes these drawings as a point of departure, but completely transforms them by adding color and incorporating references to various periods of art history. Beginning with the simple one-dimensional line drawings of Cocteau, Coyer’s gift for innovation amplifies their latent intricacy by adding quotations from the volumetric space of architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Falling Water” house, in particular, is incorporated into the works as part of the cultural geometry.

Art historical references run the gamut from the Art Nouveau structures of Victor Horta to such Old Masters as Angelo Bronzino and Diego Velasquez to early twentieth century artists such as Giorgio de Chirico and Kurt Schwitters. Coyer has fused these diverse sources into an enchanted realm of his own making, although the spirit of Cocteau permeates the entire vision. The dual meaning of the title relates to the recovery of Cocteau from drug addiction as well as the rediscovery of Cocteau’s work by an American artist who is himself on the verge of discovery by a wider public.