Birds, Fish and Cages (1951)
Dwight Ripley's series of drawings in colored pencil and ink, which he calls "Birds, Fish and Cages," provides whimsy, satire and humor via a refinement of style and beauty of detail which calls to mind the graceful inventiveness of Gothic manuscript illumination. Ripley satirizes modern sculpture by festooning it with tassels, filling its crevasses with exotic birds, and studding it with stained glass windows. He puns mildly by substituting a Miró for the mirror of an eccentric chest-of-drawers stuffed with fish and desecrates a Mondrian with a Rococo frame. When all the fun is over, these intricate little compositions stand soundly on their own merits, alive in line, rich in texture, strong in over-all design. –Betty Holliday, Art News 50, November 1951, 57.
Wit and nonsense are more or less displaced persons in an age of anxiety, but they emerge unscathed from their underground in the current exhibition of Dwight Ripley's fantastic drawings at the de Nagy Gallery. There is no point trying to puzzle out what they mean or even to describe them, for they scoff at the judgment of reason. Some barbs are shot at modern art and there seems to be a good deal of mysterious traffic between birds and fish. They are made simply to delight, and delight they do. –Stuart Preston, The New York Times, October 28, 1951, 2:97.
Botanist, linguist, collector of Miró and Pollock, of birds and of fish, and inspired designer of rococo contraptions, Dwight Ripley works out his satirical whimsies in pen and ink, and colors them with crayon pencil. They are meticulous, erudite, highly amusing drawings, reminiscent of Steinberg and Bemelmans. Ripley has a steady hand and excellent aim and he takes several of our modern sculptors–the birdcage, Bendel bonnet school–for a ride, converting their works into delicately grotesque "shaggy dogs." –James Fitzsimmons, Art Digest 26, November 1951, 59.