Threnody (1973-74) is a 250-foot-wide site-specific painting created by American artist Cleve Gray for the opening of the Neuberger Museum of Art. At that time, college students across the country were demonstrating against the conflict in Vietnam, a war that they felt to be unjust and inhumane. An active anti-war supporter himself, Gray saw this as an opportunity to express his hope for humanity’s spiritual and emotional healing. Threnody is a lament for the dead on both sides of the war. Although the theme of Threnody was conditioned by current events, Gray sought a more reconciliatory image and mood. Somber grounds of red, black, green and violet delineate the four walls in the space that he envisioned as a cathedral. Tall vertical forms engaged in a “dance of death and life” draw the eye upward, taking full advantage of the monumentality of the gallery.
Cleve Gray: Threnody is organized by the Neuberger Museum and curated by Avis Larson, Assistant Curator. Generous support for this project has been provided by the Honorary Council of the Neuberger Museum of Art and ArtsWestchester, with support from the Westchester County Government.