Paintings by Richard Pousette-Dart on View at the Guggenheim Museum

Paintings by Richard Pousette-Dart on View at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


Exhibition Title: Richard Pousette-Dart
Venue: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York
Dates: August 17 – September 25, 2007

(NEW YORK, June 15, 2007) The work of Richard Pousette-Dart, youngest artist of the first generation of Abstract Expressionists, will be on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from August 17 through September 25, 2007. The exhibition, with approximately 40 paintings representing the artist’s career, premiered earlier this year at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Richard Pousette-Dart, curated by Philip Rylands, Director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, with Luca Massimo Barbero, Associate Curator of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, is organized in collaboration with the Estate of the Artist and the support of the American Contemporary Art Gallery, Munich. Following the New York presentation, the exhibition travels to Galleria Gottardo, Lugano, Switzerland, where it will be on view from October 10 through December 22, 2007.

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 (ca. 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. The exhibition will include an important painting from this period, The Atom One World (1947–48), which has been promised by the Estate of the Artist as a gift to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation).

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.”

In 1951, the solitude he needed for his life’s work required him to move out of New York. In 1958 he and his wife, the poet Evelyn Gracey Pousette-Dart, moved to the countryside near Suffern, New York, where his studio is still preserved today.

Glowing and mysterious “white” paintings from 1950–51, painted with white gouache/oil and pencil/graphite include Descending Bird Forms and White Garden, Sky. Pousette-Dart’s work in the 1960s contributed to the color 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, which are included in the exhibition.

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.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Skira and includes essays by Philip Rylands, Kirstin Hübner, and Lowery S. Sims, Director of the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, with a chronological biography by Enda Horgan.

As part of the series “A Curatorial Eye,” tours of the exhibition will be given on Friday, August 17, at 2 pm by Philip Rylands, Director, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and on Friday, September 21, at 2 pm by Karole Vail, Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

June 15, 2007 (Updated July 16, 2007)

Betsy Ennis / Leily Soleimani
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Tel: +1 212 423 3840


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