It is with great pleasure that are hosting the first major retrospective show of Nelson H. "Beebe" White (b. 1932, Waterford, CT). Since 1997, I've been lucky enough to make an annual pilgrimage to White's studio, in Italy or to his family compound in Waterford. In those several hours together, we'd go through the stacks of paintings, and to this art dealer's frustration, I would be denied access to some of the best works. "Beebe", smartly, held back. These primo paintings have acted as his ambassadors at museums and special cultural events over the years, as they represent his finest works across a broad spectrum of subject matter. Miraculously, on our recent trip to his home, nestled in the family compound at White's Point in Waterford, he allowed me to select each and every gem that we came across! The catalogue is a supersized version of our normal publication because there were so many important paintings to illustrate.
Interestingly, there's a seismic shift in his work this year, which is likely due to the Pandemic's disruptive impact on his traditional movements. After the summer sequestered on Shelter Island and in New London, White was barred from travelling back to his beloved life in Italy for the first time in over 65 years. His first winter in the United States in a very long time, has yielded some breakthrough autumnal scenes with "Autumn Creek, Lot 9", and the two "The Road, Shelter Island" paintings. Here White has pushed the color envelope, added more impasto than ever, and simplified the details which has somehow modernized and flattened the images. Most notable is the introduction of an almost dayglow orange, which pops against the bright blue skies, a quintessential East End sight throughout the autumn. These joyous paintings also recall the finest works of his father Nelson C. White and grandfather Henry C. White, who both reveled in the heat of this season's palette.
By the winter, we see that he pushed this move towards abstraction even further with "Coopers Beach Dec 27th" and "Sunset Seas and Sky, Feb 2021". These latest works feel like an apt culmination of over 70 years of painting out of doors, "en plein air". White, like many masterful painters as they enter their latter years, has eliminated unnecessary distractions from his compositions. After so many years of looking directly at color in nature, his mission has narrowed. In these latest works, White's sole focus has shifted to capturing the magic of the light, through pure color, deftly and liberally laid on his canvas, in wise yet still fresh marks.