For Immediate Release
Mia Munzer Le Comte: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
June 28 – September 4, 2014
Reception to honor the artist: Saturday, August 30, 2014 from 5-7 p.m.
Art On Main, The Gallery at Barnbrook Realty
271 Main St., Great Barrington, MA 01230
Contact Information: Peggy Reeves, Curator, (413) 528-2446
Open during regular business hours of Barnbrook Realty, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Great Barrington, MA – Art On Main is very pleased to present the work of Mia Munzer Le Comte, (1909-2003), who lived and painted in the Berkshires from 1966 to 2003 at her home in Alford. The exhibition of her paintings was made possible with the help of her son, Douglas Le Comte who has been caring and keeping track of the collection through the years. A tour through the home in Alford, now a family retreat, traces the trajectory of his mother’s life, an account of her odyssey through her art.
Married to a writer, John Milton scholar, college professor, Edward Le Comte for 60 years, Mia Le Comte was herself a writer. Much of what we know about the life that gestated this art is from her memoir published in 1986 which is dedicated to her mother who perished in a concentration camp in Poland. “I Still Dream of Prague” is the story of “the halcyon days in Prague before World War I, the aftermath of that war, her marriages, her success as an artist, and the approach of World War II.” Hitler’s occupation of Prague on her 30th birthday is the beginning of the story of her survival as she escapes the horrors of the war and her transformation from innocence to worldliness through the emigration experience. In this exhibit, we will see Le Comte’s deep connection to the universal longing for the “land that I heard of once in a lullaby,” in paintings such as “The Flight,” and “The Leaving” which recounts the Biblical exodus from Egypt. We make the long psychic journey as Mia Le Comte did escaping to Rome, Nice, Paris, Lisbon and finally to “the blue skies” of America in a series of paintings with more idyllic subjects set in the “Garden of Eden” and “Garden Party” with friends in the Berkshires.
After earning a Master’s degree in Fine Arts in 1929, Le Comte studied with two famed Expressionists, Karl Hofer (1878-1955) in Berlin and Oskar Kokoschka, (1886-1980) in Paris. Hofer’s lighter, happier palette appears to be the greater influence. From Hofer we see domestic scenes, families and gatherings of figures in stillness and tranquility while from Kokoschka, Le Comte has absorbed the power and direction of the brushstroke and movement. The dream is always present as it filters through her subjects and appears on canvas in the forms, sometimes floating, of people and places from a rich imagination. One may feel the presence of Chagall, of a Surrealism based on the deep connection to the immigrant consciousness, framed by the pogroms of the past and the Holocaust about to happen.
Shortly after her exhibition at the Galerie Rousseau in 1939, Hitler occupied Paris and Mme. Le Comte fled to the US, arriving after a harrowing journey which took many months. She left most of her paintings in the custody of a friend, the writer Andre Germain. When she returned to Paris after the war, her friend had disappeared without a trace and the paintings have never been located. After seeing New York for the first time in January 1941, she set to work for an exhibition of modern Czech artists which toured the US and Canada. The Berkshire Museum mounted two one-women shows in the 70s and her audience expanded here and abroad.
The collective title of the 26 paintings exhibited in 1970 at the Berkshire Museum “The Family Album,” was inspired by a visit to Prague in 1965 which brought back memories to her of “all that is lost and gone.” She brought with her to the US something of the trauma of her central European heritage but adversity is, very often, the breeding ground for humor. Le Comte farmed that wit with a series of plywood cutout figures of cultural icons of theater, politics, music and literature. Josephine Baker, Benny Goodman and many others are in private collections but Norman Mailer and Ed Koch will be attending this show.
With representation at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in New York and the show at the Berkshire Museum, Le Comte’s work was very briskly collected in the 70s and then again shows at the Spencertown Academy in the 90s propelled her work into the spotlight. Her paintings are widely exhibited internationally and in many public and private collections in the Berkshires. An extensive list of galleries and private collectors is available at www.artonmain.blogspot.com.
Mia Munzer Le Comte’s work is represented in Great Barrington and is on view at Wingate Ltd., 420 Stockbridge Rd., Great Barrington.