Picture of the Week: Untitled (Frog) by Michael C. Luchs

October 16, 2023

Untitled (Frog), Michael C. Luchs, Cass Corridor, 1996, oil, marker, fabric, colored glue on illustration board, nails, in artist's frame, 28 x 22 in.

Michael C. Luchs was a talented artist. Though born in Portsmouth, OH, he went on to become a notable member of Detroit’s Cass Corridor movement. Luchs graduated from Olivet College in 1961, spent time at the University of Michigan in 1964, then moved to Detroit where he studied at Wayne State University (1966-68). He composed artwork with a variety of media in a range of sizes, from paintings and drawings to sculptural works. Luchs often employed gritty, found materials for his artwork, reflecting the history of Detroit’s landscape, along with the edginess of the Cass Corridor aesthetic. He and his wife, artist Kathryn Bracket Luchs, eventually moved out of the city to the remote Lewiston, Michigan. Nevertheless, he maintained his Detroit aesthetic. 

Luchs helped represent the Detroit art scene when he participated in the significant exhibition, Kick Out The Jams: Detroit’s Cass Corridor, 1963-1977; This show debuted in 1980 at the Detroit Institute of Arts, traveled to Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and was featured in Art in America magazine. Luchs’ art has also been celebrated in solo shows, including “Cass Corridor: Connecting Times” in 2017 at the Simone DeSousa Gallery and “Fictitious Character” in 2018, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, along with countless group exhibitions; One significant group exhibition Luchs was showcased in was the 2017 Invitational Exhibition of Visual Arts at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York, where won the 2017 Academy’s Art and Purchase Award. His work is part of several collections, including those of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Wayne State University, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, and the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, along with many private collections throughout America. Luchs passed away in 2021, but he will forever be remembered as an integral member of the Detroit art community. 

Luchs explores a consistent set of subject matter throughout his work, from rabbits to frogs to guns. One example of his classic subject matter is his 1996 work Untitled (Frog). This is a common title for many of his works, but he develops a great deal of diversity within this one subject. In this rendition, he creates a visually rich image with twists and turns of oil paint, marker, fabric, colored glue, and nails. This expressive treatment of media may refer to the movement of frogs as they leap through their environment. Though a highly abstracted image, Luchs maintains the contours of a frog sprawled across the large illustration board in black and white, complete with a round head and body, and webbed legs and feet. Luchs juxtaposes the black and white with electric shades of green, orange, and yellow. Perhaps these colors allude to a frog’s natural green color, and the plants within their natural habitats. The addition of the nails adds to the texture of the work, along with the industrial aspect of the Cass Corridor art movement. Luchs composes an intriguing juxtaposition of a subject from nature with the trademark aesthetic of the city. 

Written by Angela Athnasios

Sources: https://www.simonedesousagallery.com/artists/michael-luchs/michael-luchs-bio/


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