Kay Kurt in the Press
…Also especially interesting were the glycerine/candy picture by Kay Kurt. Licorice Graveyard was a conglomerate of strange, gleaming fruit-shaped transparent candies, massed together, enlarged and rendered on canvas in superlative realist illusionism. The painting is appealing in a rather vague way, evoking childhood memories of Saturday afternoon movies and boxes of Jujy Fruits, and yet rather unsettling by the exaggeration of the size of the object, massing them and emphasizing their corporeal and somehow slightly malevolent characteristics. As studies in light, color, and texture, they are equally attractive and engaging.
Van Baron, Judith. “Review.” Arts Magazine, Mar., 1974.
…Long residence in Germany, where they take their candy seriously, gave Miss Kurt a sharp eye for the outrageous in such matters. Then there is the question of scale: a wristwatch in the wine-gum takes on a whole other personality when it is magnified a hundred times. Next come some snappy juxtapositions: when a wine-gum fish swims through the wrist strap of a wine-gum watch we might think ourselves faced on the sea-bed with a scene that not even Commander Cousteau has set eyes on before. Hard behind comes the quality of the paint, which is succulent without being merely imitative.
When these paintings were first seen they were assimilated to the concept of Pop Art that was current at the time. But as we move into the 1980’s we realize that their power derives as much from an all-over compositional energy as from any brashness in the subject matter. A painting like “Wein Gummi II” (1973-74) has as much to do with Jackson Pollock as it has to do with Pop Art or super-realism. It has the same omnidirectional drive, the same equality of emphasis, the same sinewy twisting and twining. There will never be many of these paintings, given Miss Kurt’s methods of work, but every one of them deserves to be cherished.
Russell, John. “Review: Kay Kurt.” New York Times, Dec. 21, 1979.
…As though she has taken a fragment out of another painting and blown it up a hundredfold, concentrating on only one element, she paints gigantically, monumentally, with all the attention to light and transparency and sheen that Rubens devoted to the necklaces and arm bands that adorn the ripe bodies of his ravishing voluptuaries. She endows candies with the same lustrous splendor with which Caravaggio imbued his succulent bunches of grapes.
As in the early Dutch masters, Willem Kalf or Van Streeck or De Heem, who took such a sensuous delight in ordinary subjects, oranges so pungent, lemons so bitter, crystal wine goblets steeped in the musky nectar of fruity clarets and pewter mugs overflowing with ales – your mouth puckers and waters – Kurt’s subject matter is also ordinary, if one considers six-by-eight-foot canvases crammed with penny candies, lollipops, braids, pin wheels, nigger babies, jujubes and raspberry clusters ordinary.
French-Frazier, Nina. “Kay Kurt.” Art International, March/April, 1980.
…Kurt’s works are vibrant with color, light and form. They combine the best elements of both pop and op art, leading the eye to that provocative region where an intensely real subject suddenly dissolves into elements of form and color and just as suddenly comes back again…At the other end of the spectrum is the effect of the candy itself as the subject. The viewer never quiet forgets this. And it is always a bit of a shock—for the “serious” art generally appeals to our more refined senses—sight, touch and, occasionally smell, but not the baser appetite of taste…Each painting creates its own mood and motion, but, perceptually, all are harmonious, conveying a classical sense of balance and symmetry in a flawless executed style.
King, Shannon. “Candy Whets Artist’s Appetite for Whimsy.” Minneapolis Star, Nov 7, 1980
…The spirit of Surrealism is definitely aboard in the Weingummi paintings. With little imaginative effort the diminutive candy creatures of Weingummi enter the realm of the living; their curious, stylized crystalline, forms increasing the potential for fanciful interpretation. Are they cats, teddy bears or even mechanized animals? Weingummi II introduces the viewer to a peaceful world of gently intertwined, compatible forms. Everything is rendered with the most exacting realism and the candy origin of the species is never in doubt. But, confronted by the fructose fishes, reptiles, vehicles, and wrist watches, it is difficult not to think of Magritte’s strange hybrid beings or the soft time-pieces of Salvador Dali.
Kurt’s most recent work, Jordan Almonds, has no such overtones; it is, rather, and almost unapproachably hieratic image. A circular form, consisting of hard, satin-surfaced almonds surrounded by a wreath of silver grapes and vine leaves, the dish of candy floats before our eyes like a Robert Irwin disc. A glittering icon of consumer society, the picture is as immaculately realistic as anything Kurt as ever painted and shines with perfection. Looking at it you get the feeling that candy is as close to apotheosis as it ever will be.
Beal, Graham W. “Candied Views.” Walker Art Center Exhibition Catalog, 1980.
…Kurt, if anything, is one of the most accessible artists you are likely to come across these days. Her paintings reflect a whimsical sensibility wedded to a polished, increasingly perfect technique, and they unfailingly delight the viewer. They are more, of course, than just and eyeful of form and color: one can mention the surrealism and the influence of Pop, or draw comparisons with Magritte and Dali, and even speak of them as “icons of our consumer society,” but to stand before her vast canvases, mute and accepting, is probably enough.
Dixon, George. “The Art of Kay Kurt.” Minnesota Monthly, Nov., 1980.
…She works with the candy as other artists work with the human body. It comes dressed, and it comes undressed. Sometimes, when the candy doubles as sculpture (satyrs, cars, motorcycles, pacifiers), she works up some surreal conjunctions. But most times she takes the candy quite straight and with hypnotic results.
Russel, John. “Review: Kay Kurt and Others.” New York Times, Dec. 9, 1983.