arts & entertainment
The Family Business
a seminal figure
in the Abstract
ermine Ford, daughter of painter
Jack Tworkov (1900-1982), keeps
two of her late father's pencil
drawings in her office. One is a portrait
of her at age 10, and the other is a self-
portrait of the artist.
The two images are very different from the
ones viewers will see Feb. 2-March 16 at the
David Klein Gallery in Birmingham, where
there will be a selection of his abstract works.
The exhibit, simply titled "Jack Tworkov,"
will be the first area solo show of the art-
ist's talents since the 1960s, when his paint-
ings regularly hung at Detroit's Gertrude
Ford, an abstract artist herself, will be at
the opening reception 4-7 p.m. Saturday,
Feb. 2. Although not planning to give a for-
mal presentation, she will freely discuss the
images on view and what they reflect about
"Nobody in the professional world would
recognize these drawings I keep particularly
as Tworkovs," says Ford, in a phone conversa-
tion from her New York loft. "I have a senti-
mental attachment to both of them:'
Ford's office area is in the combined living
and studio space she shares with her hus-
band, Robert Moskowitz, also a painter with
"We are a dynasty of artists," says Ford,
whose son, Erik Moskowitz, steers his artistic
attention to video projects. Tworkov's sister
and brother-in-law also were painters.
Jack Tworkov, who was13 when his family
emigrated from Poland to the U.S., switched
his attention from writing to painting after
seeing Impressionist masterpieces.
His gestural images of the 1950s — along
with the works of Willem de Kooning,
Philip Guston, Jackson Pollock and Franz
Kline — formed the basis for the Abstract
Expressionist movement in the United States.
A majority of the works in the Klein
showing were completed between 1948 and
1953, when Tworkov and de Kooning had
studios across the hall from each other in
New York City
"My father was one member of a group of
artists creating radical works for their time'
says Ford, who uses her middle name as her
last to establish identity apart from family. "It
was the first really American group making
January 31 • 2013
Portrait of Jack
Tworkov by Rudy
Burckhardt, ca. 1953
© Estate of Rudy
Jack Tworkov: Abstract Composition
(JT805), circa 1948, oil on paper.
Jack Tworkov: Brake III, 1960, oil on
Jack Tworkov: Untitled (House of the
Sun) (JT612), 1952, oil on paper.
art that was a clean break from European art.
"My father was particularly devoted to
experimentation and not allowing himself
to fall into formulas — even if they were his
own formulas — so that he always was push-
ing the boundaries of his own work.
"Even in a small exhibition, viewers can
see how works are related to one another and
how they also can seem very different from
Tworkov, who has one painting in the
collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts,
is being represented in this exhibit by both
paintings and works on paper. The exhibit is
accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue.
"It was a very privileged life to grow
up with my father as an artist:' Ford says.
"Unlike many artists, I had a very clear pic-
ture of what was required by professional art-
ists [who needed to make a living]:'
Tworkov, who was raised by an Orthodox
family, did not remain observant in America.
"My father was very interested in reading
about religion:' says Ford, also explaining
that The Prophet was one of his paintings that
she recalls as most beautiful. "He felt very
keenly that he was a Jew but didn't show that
"One of his closest friends was Ilya Schor,
who made Judaica for a living. He made it
for the richest synagogues, and I still have a
lot of his works, which portray Jewish life in
Tworkov, who headed up art studies at
Yale, helped teach Ford as her interest in
"I loved going to his studio, and he would
give me paints:' recalls Ford, who early on
would go off and paint on her own.
"When I got to be a certain age, he used
to have a group that would come to his
studio and draw from a model. I used to do
that, and he would give me pointers. I really
learned to draw the figure with his help.
"When I got a little older, he asked me to
make a painting using red, yellow, blue and
white. That was a lesson in the nuance of
mixing colors and what a full range of colors
can be mixed from those:'
Tworkov's comments about his daughter's
work were more subtle as she established her
"Later, he would come to the studio and
talk to me about my paintings, but it wasn't
like he was my teacher at that point:' she
explains. "He was very sensitive to that. It was
person to person:'
Ford remembers her dad as a great swim-
mer, who taught her that as well. They loved
Chinese food and had wonderful meals in
New York's Chinatown — either just the two
of them or with small groups.
"He was fun to be around:' she says.
"Jack Tworkov" will be on view
Feb. 2-March 16 at the David
Klein Gallery,163 Townsend, in
Birmingham. Opening reception:
4-7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2. Gallery
hours:11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Mondays-
Saturdays. (248) 433-3700; www.