Wednesday 1 February 2012

Richard Pousette-Dart - part 1

Richard Pousette-Dart (1916–1992) was a founding member of the New York School, which included Willem de Kooning, Adolph Gottlieb, Hans Hofmann, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko. 

Active in New York from the early 1940s, Pousette-Dart made important contributions to the Abstract Expressionist movement. He was the first of the Abstract Expressionist group to break through and paint mural-size canvases, e.g., Symphony No.1, The Transcendental (1941–42), and Undulation, (1941–42), which anticipated Jackson Pollock’s mural scale work in 1943.

During this period Pousette-Dart’s technique began to emphasize gesture, layers of paint, and evocative subject matter that were the first pictorial statements of what came to be known as “action painting” as seen in Comprehension of the Atom, Crucifixion (1944). In 1950, Pousette-Dart appeared in the historic photograph The Irascibles, depicting fifteen New York School abstract painters.

In 1947 Peggy Guggenheim gave him a solo exhibition at her New York gallery, Art of This Century, where the artist's best-known masterpiece and first large-scale Abstract Expressionist painting, Symphony No 1, The Transcendental, was able to be shown for the first time. 

1941-2 Symphony No 1, The Transcendental 
oil on canvas 22 x 36 cm

Pousette-Dart drew inspiration from Native American, African, and Oceanic art, as well as European and American artistic trends, and the writings of Freud and Jung. He was influenced by Oriental philosophy and American Transcendentalism and held to the conviction that the abstract symbols of painting could reveal universal truths by suggesting the mysterious realm of the spirit. In 1947 he wrote, “I strive to express the spiritual nature of the universe. Painting for me is a dynamic balance and wholeness of life; it is mysterious and transcending, yet solid and real.” 

1951 White Garden, Sky 
oil and graphite on linen 136 x 154 cm

Pousette-Dart’s work in the 1960s contributed to the colour field and lyrical abstraction that were an important evolution of Abstract Expressionism. His later works transpose the bright light and brushwork of Impressionism into abstract meditations, suggesting the frontier of the unconscious which Jung had described. These paintings have titles evoking the magic of their radiant, pulsating, and subtly colored surfaces such as Amaranth Garden, Night Landscape, Golden Presence, Byzantine Cathedral, and Lost in the Beginnings of Infinity.

Richard Pousette-Dart’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited nationally and internationally in solo exhibitions organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1969–70), the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1963, 1974, and 1998), the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, Florida (1986), the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana (1990), the Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan (1991), the Columbus Museum, Ohio (1991–92), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1997), the Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt (2001), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2006), the Fine Arts Museum, San Francisco (2006), and the Cincinnati Art Museum, Ohio (2007), in addition to innumerable group exhibitions.

All images © The Estate of Richard Pousette-Dart

c1930 Untitled 
oil on canvas 15 x 20 cm

1935 Head of Persephone 
oil on linen 61 x 51 cm

1939 Bird Woman 
oil on linen 183 x 102 cm

1939 River Metamorphosis 
oil on linen 95 x 114 cm

1940 Desert 
oil on canvas 109 x 183 cm

1940 Head of a King 
oil on canvas 25 x 23 cm

1942 Undulation 
oil on linen 122 x 239 cm

1943 Fugue No. 2 
oil and sand on canvas 104 x 270 cm

1943 The Centre 
oil on linen 141 x 121 cm

1944 Comprehension of the Atom, Crucifixion 
oil on linen 196 x 125 cm

1944-5 Figure 
oil on canvas 210 x 124 cm

1947-48 The Atom, One World 
oil on linen 128 x 136 cm

1950 Entrance 
oil on canvas 97 x 267 cm

1950-1 The Magnificent 
oil on canvas 220 x 112 cm

1952 Cascella II 
oil on canvas 166 x 114 cm

1952 Golden Dawn 
oil and graphite on linen 237 x 131 cm

1957 White Gothic #3 
oil on canvas 235 x 166 cm

1958 Blood Wedding 
oil on linen 183 x 284 cm

1958 Illumination Gothic 
oil on canvas 183 x 136 cm

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