Larry Poons

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Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm

Broadbent House, W1K 3JH, London, UK
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm


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Larry Poons

London

Larry Poons
to Sat 31 Jul 2021
Tue-Sat 10am-6pm
Artist: Larry Poons

To schedule an appointment, please email: contact.london@alminerech.com

Almine Rech London presents the gallery’s first exhibition with American artist Larry Poons.

Artworks

Centaur, 2020

Acrylic on canvas
139.7 x 247.7 cm / 55 x 97 1/2 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Kaffee, Kaffee, 1988

Acrylic on canvas
194.3 x 132.1 x 6.35 cm / 76 1/2 x 52 x 2 1/2 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Message to Gort, 1982

Acrylic on canvas
236.2 x 186.7 cm / 93 x 73 1/2 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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The 4 Fenton Bros, 1985

Acrylic on canvas
219.7 x 198.1 cm / 86 1/2 x 78 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Carioca, 1986

Acrylic on canvas
221 x 170.2 x 5 cm / 87 1/8 x 67 1/8 x 2 in.
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Yellow Cat on Hand, 1976

Acrylic on canvas
270.5 x 168.9 cm / 106 1/2 x 66 1/2 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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The Hanged Man, 1994

Acrylic and mixed media on canvas
229.2 x 257.2 cm / 90 1/4 x 101 1/4 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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The Music, 1990

Acrylic and mixed media on canvas
224.8 x 136.8 x 5 cm / 88 1/2 x 53 7/8 x 2 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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One Inch Less Wild, 2001

Acrylic and mixed media on canvas
200 x 281.9 cm / 78 3/4 x 111 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Happy Carlo, 2017

Acrylic on canvas
172.7 x 398.1 cm / 68 x 156 3/4 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Warrior River Boy, 2019

Acrylic on canvas
170.2 x 281.9 cm / 67 x 111 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Bye Bye Corinthian, 2016

Acrylic on canvas
171.5 x 332.7 cm / 67 1/2 x 131 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Esmeralda, 2018

Acrylic on canvas
156.5 x 316.5 cm / 61 5/8 x 124 5/8 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Mme Penseroso, 2010

Acrylic on canvas
174.6 x 99.7 cm / 68 3/4 x 39 1/4 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Ash Nobody, 2000

Acrylic and mixed media on canvas
198.8 x 300.4 cm / 78 1/4 x 118 1/4 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Babe, 2007

Acrylic on canvas
169.5 x 238.8 cm / 66 3/4 x94 1/8 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Sweetheart of the Rodeo, 2018

Acrylic on canvas
165.1 x 237.5 cm / 65 x 93 1/2 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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No Home, 2010

Acrylic on canvas
170.5 x 269.6 cm / 67 1/8 x106 1/8 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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Musicale Rose Madox, 2020

Acrylic on canvas
138.7 x 181.3 cm / 54 5/8 x 71 3/8 in
© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Dan Bradica

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For over half a century, Larry Poons has been identified as heir to the heroic era of American painting, following in the footsteps of such greats as Pollock, de Kooning, and Rothko.

In 1969, aged 32, Poons featured in the landmark exhibition New York Painting and Sculpture 1940-1970 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Curated by Henry Geldzahler, who devoted the show’s culminating gallery to the artist, this seminal exhibition saw Poons’ work stand out alongside those American greats, the final room glowing with his early “Dots and Lozenge” paintings, as well as several then-recent expansive, colourful abstractions later regarded as iconic works in the Colour Field movement. The youngest artist included in the exhibition, Poons was at the time regarded as the promising, guiding star who could lead the way toward exciting new possibilities for contemporary painting.

Over the course of the five decades since the Met exhibition, Poons has more than fulfilled that promise. His trajectory was, however, not what that most critics and art-world observers were expecting, or perhaps were even equipped to understand. Poons, as it turns out, was a much more radical painter than anyone could have imagined. Indifferent to the demands of critics, curators, and the marketplace, he remained steadfast on his own, inimitable path, constantly evolving and always surprising his audience.

This exhibition at Almine Rech London constitutes a concise Larry Poons survey that picks up where Geldzhaler’s show left off. Works from across the decades feature alongside those created in the past year, and in all Poons demonstrates his virtuosity with seemingly effortless panache. Already an art-historical figure, with the vibrant, energetic, and surprising works he continues to produce, he reenforces his stature as one of the most significant artists of this moment. Fifty years on, and widely regarded as among the foremost colourists of the latter half of the twentieth century, Poons is as relevant today as ever.

Larry Poons and Painting: An Epic Journey
Works from 1976 to the Present

When the preeminent curator Henry Geldzahler featured Larry Poons’ work in the landmark exhibition New York Painting and Sculpture 1940-1970, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which opened in late 1969, he devoted the show’s culminating gallery to the artist — at 32, Poons was the youngest included. The room glowed with Poons’ early “Dots and Lozenge” paintings, as well as several then-recent expansive, colorful abstractions, later regarded as iconic works in the Color Field movement. Geldzahaler thereby positioned Poons as heir to the heroic era of American painting, following in the footsteps of Pollock, de Kooning, and Rothko, whose seminal works preceded Poons in the exhibition plan.
Poons was regarded as the promising, guiding and rising star who could lead the way toward exciting new possibilities for contemporary painting.

Over the course of five decades since the Met exhibition, Poons has more than fulfilled that promise. His trajectory was, however, not what most critics and art-world observers were expecting, or perhaps were even equipped to understand. Poons, as it turns out, was a much more radical painter than anyone could have imagined. Indifferent to the demands of critics, curators, and the marketplace, he remained steadfast on his own, inimitable path, constantly evolving and always surprising his audience.

The present exhibition at Almine Rech London constitutes a concise Larry Poons survey that picks up where Geldzhaler’s show left off. It includes a representative work of the 1970s, Yellow Cat on Hand (1976), a marvelous example of his richly textured “Throw” paintings. Here, cascades of innumerable rivulets of pigment flow down the large canvas like a mesmerizing waterfall. In these works, Poons embraces chance, as well as the laws of gravity. With prolonged viewing, the composition’s intense vertical thrust, combined with the constantly shifting range of indeterminate color, becomes arresting. Its dazzling sense of up-and-downward motion provokes a visual sensation not unlike the flickering optical effect of the contrasting colors in his earlier “Dots” paintings.

By the 1980s, Poons was renowned as one of the pioneers of Color Field painting, but defying expectations, he shifted away from a focus on pure color, and furthered his experiments with texture, enhancing the already rich impasto of his surfaces. In works such as The 4 Fenton Bros (1985) and Carioca (1986), he applied bits of foam rubber and crumbled paper to the canvas in order to slow the movement of the numerous layers of thrown paint. The results are enthralling allover compositions of richly nuanced textures and often earthy colors that recall rocky cliff faces or lichen-covered hillsides on a rainy day.

The large 1990 composition Music is a key work in Poons’ evolution. The surface of this sumptuous, prismatic-hued canvas has been built up with clusters of hemisphere—bisected rubber balls of varying diameters, and bits of rolled and crumpled paper fixed to the canvas and ensconced beneath many layers of shimmering pigment. This unique palimpsest indeed conveys a pulsating rhythm befitting the work’s title. Music alludes to Poons’ background in music, as well as his lifelong interest in it, and the work introduces a new, idiosyncratic type of pictorialism within his oeuvre. It represents a bold step forward, away from the constraints of Greenbergian formalism associated with the early days of Color Field painting, with its emphasis on flat surfaces and pure, unmodulated color.

I have long regarded The Hanged Man (1994) as one of Poons’ masterpieces, and therefore, one of the best paintings by anyone in the 1990s. The painting encompasses a Poons retrospective to that date unto itself, so it requires some knowledge of and an appreciation for a number of Poons’s earlier achievements. The title calls to mind The Hanged Man’s House (1873) by Paul Cézanne — with its dramatic diagonal lines, and eccentric, multiple perspectives. Poons’ composition is equally complex, arcane, and full of self-referential humor.

Atop a series of elongated, hooklike shapes and irregular rectangles of foam collaged onto the surface, Poons has applied thrown and poured passages of pink and purple, highlighted near the top of the canvas with painterly flourishes of purple and blue, redolent of his poured-paint works of the late 1960s, and the “Throw” paintings of the 1970s. Scattered across the surface is a hyper-active network of colorful hard-edge dots and lozenge shapes, which hark back to his early “Dots” paintings, which established his career.

In works of the early twenty-first century, Poons developed a distinctive pictorial language—in compositions of heightened color and crisp drawing—that often suggests landscape. In fact, the imagery of undulating geometric shapes, organic and architectonic forms, and searing color in works such as One Inch Less Wild (2001) and Untitled/02B-1 (2002) was inspired by his many cross-country motorcycle trips. A senior-division champion, Poons would annually traverse the United States on motorcycle, accompanied by his wife, artist Paula De Luccia. These works may be viewed as an homage to the various desert vistas and mountainous terrain of America that Poons knows so well. The artist, however, has transposed these landscape memories into his own painterly vocabulary of light and color. “Painting is color!” Poons often proclaims.

In his more recent works, Poons largely abandoned the three-dimensional elements that often served as the underlying drawing or armature for each composition. For the most part, he also abandoned brushes, and many recent works, including No Home (2010), and Bye Corinthian (2016) were painted primarily with hands and fingers. It seems as if Poons has returned painting to a realm of primordial artistic expression, in which the basic human emotions, and the physical and psychological sensations of living, are embodied in the fundamental mark-making capabilities of the human hand—the artist’s hand.

In recent masterful efforts, such as Happy Carlo (2017) and Centaur (2020) with their frenetically shifting clouds of light and color, realized by means of countless bravura touches of pigment, Poons demonstrates his virtuosity with seemingly effortless panache. Already an art-historical figure, widely regarded as among the foremost colorists of the latter half of the twentieth century, Poons is as relevant today as ever. With the vibrant, energetic, and surprising works he continues to produce, he reenforces his stature as one of the most significant artists of this moment.

– David Ebony, Author
This exhibition is organized in association with Yares Art, New York

© Larry Poons. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photo: Melissa Castro Duarte


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