Location: 556 W. 22nd St., New York
The Chelsea Art Museum was created to foster an understanding of postwar artistic originality and to further the language of abstraction in contemporary culture.
The Museum also seeks to provide a venue for national and international artists who may be less familiar to New York audiences, and to offer exhibitions, public forums and interactive, multi-media cultural activities to the public and its diverse membership. Chelsea Art Museum is committed to scholarship and outreach; to the development of important thematic exhibitions and programs which link art to such crucial issues as the environment and the expression of human rights. The Museum aims to create transcultural dialogues and provide an arena in which individuals can gather as a community to explore and enjoy contemporary art.
The Chelsea Art Museum is also the Home of the Miotte Foundation, which is dedicated to archiving and conserving the oeuvre of Jean Miotte and providing new scholarship and research on L’Informel. Miotte’s extensive collected works are preserved as a legacy for New York, where he has had a studio in SoHo since 1978.
The art of Informel (or Informal Art) had an important role in the European and American post-war art scene, and Miotte was an early proponent. Meaning “formless,” or “away from form,” Informel is related to Abstract Expressionism, but seeks to strip away all reference to representation, and to become a new kind of international language.
Miotte (b.1926) has exhibited regularly since 1952. He first arrived in New York in 1961 with a Ford Foundation cultural exchange grant, and after a period of work and travel throughout the U.S. he had his first New York one-man show in 1962 at Alexander Iolas. Later his work was exhibited by the Martha Jackson and Gimpel & Weitzenhoffer galleries.
Miotte describes abstract painting as “a voyage through the 20th century”—revealing at once an experience of alienation and yet breaking through barriers of nationalism to create a wholly international language. Within his framework of gestural abstraction, Miotte continues to grow, fighting repetition, pushing at the boundaries of the gestural mark of paint on canvas. Miotte is represented in the collections of the Guggenheim Museum, MoMA, and numerous other major museums in the U.S., Europe and Asia. In 1980 he was the first Western painter invited to exhibit in post-Mao Bejing.
The collection of the Chelsea Art Museum includes many European abstract artists often labeled as Informel, including Corpora, Lakner, Kirkeby, Millares, Miotte, Santomaso, Schumacher, Stöhrer, Thieler, Vedova. The collection also holds American abstract artists Francis, LaNoue, Mitchell, Motherwell, Riopelle; a large body of works by the Affichiste Mimmo Rotella; and works by Jean Arp, Olivier Debré, Jean Fautrier, Sam Francis, Ellen Levy, and J.P. Riopelle. Sculptors in the collection include Bernar Venet, Pol Bury, Kanter, Robert Cronin, Jeff Beer, Johannsen and Zadkine. The collection also has an important selection of rare books and works on paper. Growing the collection is an important priority for the Museum.
History of the Building that Houses the Chelsea Art Museum
The new Chelsea Art Museum (CAM) is located in the heart of Chelsea at 556 West 22nd Street at 11th Avenue. The three-story, red brick building — each floor 10,000 square feet — has large windows with views of the Hudson River and abundant natural light. An open glass staircase joins the gallery spaces. The complete renovation of the building was planned and supervised by Alfredo Caraballude and Michel Morris of the CMA Design Studio.
The building, erected in 1850, stands on a parcel of land that was once owned by Clement Clarke Moore, renowned author of T’was the Night Before Christmas. In 1915, the Church Temperance Society leased the building as a rest home for longshoremen, many of whom were Irish, Italian or German immigrants working the foreign commerce lines on the Chelsea piers. Longshoremen waiting for shape-ups (work calls) spent hours out doors in all kinds of weather. The only alternative was the saloon. The Rest offered them reading materials, games and light refreshment, provided the men respected the rights of others. A description of the building at the time reported, Often more than a hundred of the denizens of the waterfront can be seen at one time, reading, sitting about in groups playing games, or formed into circles outside the groups, following the play with words of encouragement or derision (The Longshoremen by Charles B. Barnes, published by the Russell Sage Foundation).
Prior to its recent renovation The Chelsea Art Museum housed a factory for Christmas ornaments.