Barry Spann is an international artist whose work is in many collections worldwide, including the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Bibliothèquenationale de France, Paris. He was born in Dickson, Tennessee, in 1948, began drawing at three and studying painting at six. He learned printmaking at the University of Tennessee, and in 1978 began an association with the Trianon Press, Paris, producing the collotype livre d’artiste Twenty-Seven Landscapes, 1984. Spann is now a painter. His subjects include landscapes, still lifes, and Buddhas. He divides his time between Knoxville and Paris.
Barry Spann is currently painting a new series of still lifes, oil on canvas. They were featured at a one-man exhibition at The District Gallery, Knoxville, from 6 October to 3 November 2017.
Le Cirque bouddha
A recent series of paintings, oil on canvas, is entitled Le Cirque bouddha (The Buddha Circus), Spann’s name for this world in which we find ourselves.
Mountain landscapes have been an important part of the Spann catalogue for many years. Oil on canvas and paper, these paintings have been exhibited widely in the United States and Europe and are in many public and private collections.
In 1990, he was commissioned by Whittle Communications to produce the artwork for its new headquarters in Knoxville, Tennessee. The resulting million-dollar project, the largest of its kind in Tennessee history, culminated less than two years later in twenty-eight enormous mountain landscapes on thirty-nine canvases. The complex is today the Howard H. Baker Jr. United States Courthouse and most of the original paintings remain.
Mountains and Moon was painted in 2012 in commemoration of the efforts of The Honorable Thomas W. Phillips and The Honorable Thomas A. Varlan to restore the Barry Spann collection in the Howard H. Baker Jr. United States Courthouse in Knoxville, Tennessee.
In 2013, Barry Spann was commissioned by the Paris-based Opéra de Poche to paint décor for a series ofchamber operas with scores by Evan Fein and libretti by Emily Anderson. The Island of the Ugly Sisters had its world première in Paris in 2013, City of Ashes in 2015. The Asian première of City of Ashes was in Beijing in 2016. Narcissa will première in Paris in the fall of 2017.
In the US, Spann will be painting canvases for Beauford, a chamber opera based on the life of artist Beauford Delaney. It will première in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 2019 with productions in Paris to follow.
Twenty-Seven Landscapes: 1977–1983
From his original series of graphite drawings, Barry Spann produced Twenty-Seven Landscapes: 1977–1983, 1984, a livre d’artiste of collotype prints. It is the last such work published in association with the TrianonPress, Paris, a fine books publisher known by its work for Britain’s William Blake Trust as well as a succession of books done with Marc Chagall, Georges Rouault, Marcel Duchamp, and Ben Shahn. Nicolas Barker, OBE, formerly Deputy Keeper of the British Library, has called it ‘a tour de force both artistic and technical.’
The Pursuit of Happy Results
The Pursuit of Happy Results by Emily Anderson, the book about Barry Spann and the making of Twenty-Seven Landscapes, was published in 1991 by David R. Godine, Boston. The introductory note is by Nicolas Barker.