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Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and now

Lisson Gallery W 24th St, New York

Curated by Alex Glauber & Alex Logsdail


Blue Joni

Polly Apfelbaum

Blue Joni, 2016

Crushed four way stretch synthetic velvet and dye

4267.0 × 1524.0 mm

© Polly Apfelbaum / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York

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Lynda Benglis


Pigmented polyurethane foam

1270.0 × 178.0 × 1499.0 mm

© Lynda Benglis. Courtesy Cheim & Read

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Untitled #55

Roy Colmer

Untitled #55, 1973

Acrylic on canvas

1727.0 × 1930.0 mm

© Roy Colmer. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

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Second Strawberry

Matt Connors

Second Strawberry, 2018

Acrylic, coloured pencil and crayon on canvas

686.0 × 762.0 × 25.0 mm

© Matt Connors. Courtesy Herald Street Gallery, London

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Untitled (Black Light Painting, Glitter Series)

Acrylic squares in acrylic on canvas

610.0 × 610.0 mm

© Mary Corse. Courtesy Lisson Gallery, and Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles

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David Reed

#18, 1974

Oil on canvas

965.0 × 1930.0 mm

© David Reed

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Queen Dragon

Lucy Dodd

Queen Dragon, 2019

Squid ink, hematite, black lichen, cinnabar, cochineal, and pigment on canvas

1527.0 × 1610.0 mm

© Lucy Dodd. Courtesy David Lewis Gallery, New York

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Ralph Humphrey

Flamingo, 1979

Casein and modeling paste on wood

1219.0 × 1219.0 × 102.0 mm

© Ralph Humphrey. Courtesy Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

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Jacqueline Humphries

Untitled, 2015

Enamel on linen

3226.0 × 2896.0 mm

© Jacqueline Humphries. Courtesy Greene Naftali, New York

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Joe Overstreet

Untitled, 1972

Acrylic on constructed canvas with metal grommets and cotton rope

2489.0 × 2235.0 × 597.0 mm

© Joe Overstreet. Courtesy Eric Firestone Gallery, New York

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Thirteen, Thirteen

Steven Parrino

Thirteen, Thirteen, 1993

Enamel on canvas

1054.0 × 1168.0 × 305.0 mm

© Steven Parrino. Courtesy Private Collection

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Howardena Pindell

Untitled, 1976

Mixed media on canvas

2400.0 × 2362.0 mm

© Howardena Pindell. Courtesy Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

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Dorothea Rockburne

Narcissus, 1984

Oil on gessoed linen

3124.0 × 2350.0 × 162.0 mm

© Dorothea Rockburne / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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Ruth Root

Untitled, 2018

Fabric, Plexiglas, enamel paint, spray paint

1422.0 × 2388.0 mm

© Ruth Root. Courtesy Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York

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Wrapped Piece (Harvard)

Sean Scully

Wrapped Piece (Harvard), 1972

Acrylic, fabric, wood

2083.0 × 2083.0 mm

© Sean Scully. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

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DGR-7 (Dodger)

Ted Stamm

DGR-7 (Dodger), 1975

Oil on canvas

2591.0 × 1651.0 mm

© Estate of Ted Stamm. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

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Stanley Whitney

Untitled, 1972

Acrylic on canvas

3708.0 × 2134.0 mm

© Stanley Whitney. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

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Installation Views

In September of 1975, Artforum published a special issue on painting. In addition to articles such as “Painting and the Struggle for the Whole Self” and “Painting and Anti-Painting: A Family Quarrel”—in which Max Kozloff said “brush wielders were afflicted by a creative halitosis”—were the responses to a questionnaire polling 21 painters on the state and prospects of the medium.(1) While the construct suggests an attempt to engage the question of painting’s future, the tone of both the preface and three questions is exceedingly stilted, rending it more of an obituary than rumination; an indictment of futility.

When Sol LeWitt declared in 1967 that the execution of the art object was now a “perfunctory affair”(2), it made Greenbergian formalism seem trivial and antiquated. As curator Katy Siegel noted in her 2006 exhibition “High Times Hard Times”, which explored unconventional painting from the late 1960s and early 1970s, a lack of a clear paradigm shift left the medium feeling listless. Terms such as “Lyrical Abstraction” and “New Informalism” failed to capture the breadth and dynamism of the medium, leaving many to simply condemn it. However, what if this lack of cohesion speaks more to a liberation of the medium as opposed to a symptom of struggle?

Painters Reply, curated by Alex Glauber and Alex Logsdail, aims to answer the Artforum questionnaire through an exploration of experimental painting practices starting in the 1970s and continuing to the present moment. The selected artists reveal how the pervasive antipathy towards painting perhaps afforded a greater degree of latitude whereby materiality, application, atypical support, performative impulse and format were all of a sudden in play. The exhibition brings together a diverse group of artists, including some of those published in Artforum’s responses to the questionnaire such as Joan Snyder and Dona Nelson, where the common denominator is aesthetic emancipation.

Following this survey of experimental painting from the 1970s, Painters Reply traces this vanguard spirit to the current moment. The selected artists advance painting by probing similar fault lines — aesthetic variables relating to materiality, execution and presentation. For instance, Jacqueline Humphries’ “Black Light Paintings” harness light to activate an otherwise static surface with similar objectives to Mary Corse who turned to glass microspheres in 1968 as a visual catalyst. Similarly, one can draw a through line between Joe Overstreet’s “Flight Pattern” series of the early 1970s and the current practice of Eric N. Mack. Overstreet’s unstretched canvases fluidly dissect space through a web of ropes which suspend his abstractions like sails anchored to the floor, walls, and ceiling surrounding them. "My paintings don't let the onlooker glance over them, but rather take them deeply into them and let them out—many times by different routes.”(3) This ethos resonates with Eric N. Mack whose painterly assemblages cloak spaces in works that collapse and fuse the histories of abstract painting and the aesthetics of fashion.

Artists include Polly Apfelbaum, Lynda Benglis, Sadie Benning, Roy Colmer, Matt Connors, Mary Corse, Lucy Dodd, Guy Goodwin, Ron Gorchov, Ralph Humphrey, Jacqueline Humphries, Al Loving, Israel Lund, Eric N. Mack, Dona Nelson, Joe Overstreet, Steven Parrino, Howardina Pindell, David Reed, Dorothea Rockburne, Ruth Root, Sean Scully, Joan Snyder, Ted Stamm, Stanley Whitney and Duane Zaloudek.

Installation view of Painters Reply: Experimental Painting in the 1970s and now at Lisson Gallery, New York, 27 June – 9 August, 2019 © Lisson Gallery

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